In case you’re new to Medium Cool, BGinCHI is here once a week to offer a thread on culture, mainly film & books, with some TV thrown in. We’re here at 7 pm on Sunday nights.
In this week’s Medium Cool, let’s talk food-as-culture.
Tell us about an eating or cooking (or shopping?) experience that’s also a meaningful cultural experience.
This could just be a memorable meal in Rome, or Tokyo, or a recipe you learned from your Sicilian nonna.
Surprise us with something sweet, something savory, or maybe even something bitter.
How much time do you have? The thing I miss about India and the city of my birth in particular is the food. Fresh seafood, street food, fancy restaurants, and of course the home cooked meals. Summer drinks and desserts.
I could write a book about my food influences and how I have adapted them to the ingredients available in the northeast like cranberries for example. West coast (of India) meets the east coast (of the US).
The bowls of soba in dark miso broth with a garnish of chopped scallions I would slurp down in HS from the little shack at the train station just outside Sagami Depot where the Army had my family quartered.
I have a friend whose pandemic project is a blog called “Around the World in 195 Recipes.” Working her way alphabetically through the countries of the world, she selects a representative recipe, seeks out the ingredients, makes the dish, and puts together an appropriate music playlist. Then she writes about the food and the experience. She’s up to #44 (Cyprus) as of this writing.
just now happened on an essay at Salon on browsing the cookbook section of a used bookstore.
All my best food memories are from Singapore, though unfortunately, the cultural obsession with food lately resulted in the NYT journalist Clarissa Wei being cyber-bullied for making a not very appealing chicken curry.
Whenever I go back, I always have at least one breakfast in Little India. I get the egg and onion dosai and teh tarik, which is basically chai but “pulled” (tarik) through the air to cool it a bit and get a nice froth. And then an iced Milo, if I still have space. Best way to start the morning, unless you’re getting congee or noodles or mee goreng or… you get the drift :)
Edit: I forgot to add that most of the fun comes from tarik-ing the teh yourself, since you’re given your cup plus an extra. Very satisfying to get the perfect pull!
@schrodingers_cat: Ready to eat at your house……
@pluky: This is already a short story.
@SiubhanDuinne: This is really, really cool. What a great project.
Traveling with a Belgian friend in Italy – he had lived there for a year and was fluent – we went for late lunch at a favorite restaurant in Bologna. The owner brought out a pizza as a gesture of gratitude. It was paper thin with just tomato sauce and olive oil, also so thin you could see right through it. It was incredible. The tomatoes must have been perfectly ripe and the olive oil delicate. I remember the flavor to this day 30 years later.
@Emma: I’ve been cooking a lot since the pandemic started. I cooked a lot before, but even more so now. But it’s easy to get in a rut and these posts are REALLY making me hungry for food I’m not familiar with (or eat rarely). These dishes all sound amazing (and the drinks too).
We probably have a Singaporean restaurant here in the city, but I can’t think of one off the top of my head.
I could Bogart this thread…but won’t. I can’t wait to see the responses though!
@Dan B: I’m certain I’ve said this here before, but Bologna is my favorite city in Italy. It has everything, and the food is one magical experience after another.
I once at such a big lunch there that I had to take a nap on a park bench.
David ? ☘The Establishment☘? Koch
Poutine (french fries with gravy and cheese curds)
I was in Shanghai and my guide set up a dumpling-making experience with a local family. The couple were retired and had lived in the three-room apartment since the 70s. While we were making dumplings they talked about how life had been governed by ration books that dictated when you could buy a watch or a bike.
I was obviously the first white person to come to the apartment block in a while, because all their neighbors made excuses to drop in and look at me :)
The dumplings were good, but also the least important part of an amazing experience.
In the early 70’s Schezuan cuisine arrived in Seattle. A batch of guys ordered several dishes including Cashew Chicken. A big platter of tiny red chili peppers arrived with bits of chicken and cashews. We went for the full experience and were feeling numb and high 25 minutes in. The waiter came by and in horror declared that the peppers were “for flavor” not to be eaten!
Too late but I was relieved.
doesn’t mention aubergines.
When Baudelaire first published “Spleen”
he too forgot the aubergine.
Not one ballet by Balanchine
contains a single aubergine!
Even Esquire magazine
neglects the shapely aubergine.
Wagner was a Philistine —
his operas shun aubergines.
Elizabeth, the virgin queen,
never dined on aubergines.
I hiked the Upper Engadine
and did not find one aubergine.
In Rome, the Vatican’s Sistine
Chapel boasts no aubergines.
Though Aristotle’s Golden Mean
should guide our use of aubergines,
when I returned to New Orleans,
I gorged all night on aubergines.
For colds, take antihistamines.
For everything else, eat aubergines.
— Peter H. Desmond
Ceci n est pas mon nym
Two cafe memories come to mind, both of them about the conversation with locals rather than the food. In non-English-speaking countries, my wife and I try to get by without English with a patchwork of languages (seems a lot of Europeans have French as a second language, so that’s always a good fallback). We don’t want to be tarred with any negative stereotypes of Americans, but also it’s just more fun that way.
First one is in Italy. In Como I think. We’d been regulars at this one cafe all week. On the last day we were talking to the waitress and telling her we were Americans, but we’d been a little afraid to admit that. “Why?” she asked with surprise. “Because we’re ashamed that our country is being run by criminals” we said. (This was in the George W era. Remember when that’s what we thought was rock bottom?)
She laughed and said, “Just like the rest of us!”
Second one was maybe 4-5 years ago in Munich. We were eating at this little cafe and trying to decide about tipping and whether the bill already did or did not include a tip. So we had a brief conversation with our German waitress about tipping customs and how to read the bill. Then my wife said, “we’re not from here”. The waitress responded, “Where are you from?” When we said we were from the US, our waitress said “Me too” in English and immediately transformed from a German waitress to an American student. It was very startling.
I think she was studying at the university and had dual citizenship, which was why she was able to work there.
I went to grad school in New Orleans for two years. I loved everything about the cultural experience of NOLA and the surrounding bayous. We used to drive to all the festivals in the surrounding communities to sample the local food and culture. Those communities had a festival for everything and anything. I remember a whole festival celebrating andouille sausage.
The famous restaurants were kind of pricy for starving grad students but we used to save up our money and go to some of the more famous restaurants every once in awhile. But all the amazing food like po’ boys, muffulettas, gumbo, jambalaya, etc., you could get at all the little local cafes and diners all over NOLA.
My whole experience in NOLA was amazing and full of cultural firsts for me since I grew up in Iowa and, well, it was Iowa . . .
@Kineslaw: Food & community. I love films that show these moments.
@schrodingers_cat: there is a Kerala restaurant opening up near me.
@BGinCHI: We had several great meals and gelati in the best food city in Italia! Also in Verona, the appetizer of finely sliced rare tenderloin with arugula, parietal and a delicate mustard sauce – blanking on name.
@Ceci n est pas mon nym: My wife and I are very similar: we never go to museums, but hang out in cafes or other places where we can just blend into the local scene. It’s where the life is.
@Dan B: I don’t think I ate in Verona. One of the best meals I had was in an agri-turismo outside Brescia. My girlfriend at the time (a Bresciana) had a friend who was doing business with the family who ran it, so we came late and stayed late and it was epic.
I taught WarriorTeen how to make Challah. We’re doing bannock later this week (February Break, up here in the frozen Northeast). Since I’m the baker (HerrDoktor is the Chef), WT’s likely contribution to their Food and Community course is breads. And if they’re dumb enough to demand what “culture” a recipe comes from, the answer is always “Julia Child”. Being 57-Heinz-Variety by ancestry means you don’t have a single “culture”. Pfeh.
My project over the last few years has been re-creating my grandmother’s cinnamon rolls. I’ve gotten fairly close, but I’m stumped about what changes to try next.
The biggest jump was using brown sugar for the filling, and another improvement was to knead the dough a lot less to keep them soft.
Any experienced bakers out there with tips or suggestions?
@Scout211: Being from Ohio confused the west coasters. “Oh, where there’s corn!” Was a typical remark. “No, factories. You’re thinking of Iowa.” Was my reply.
Ah yes. A few years ago my wife son and I took a trip to Austria. This was with my wife’s choir, so it was a group trip, which meant doing everything as a group, and not much just experiencing the culture of the place. One night they had a bunch of rehearsals for a concert so my son and I got to walkabout a bit. We wandered away from the center of Salzburg and found a neighborhood Biergarten – the kind tourists never find. They world cup was on, and they had a projector running and the neighborhood was out there – friends, families, couples, etc. Sat down with my son and told the waiter we were two Americans that wanted a neighborhood experience, so we got some schnitzel and a couple of beers and watched the match. It was sublime. Slightly breezy, warm, everyone just enjoying themselves. Listening to conversations we could contextualize, but not understand. Listening to the neighborhood go by.
Ceci n est pas mon nym
I may have told this story before, but it’s one of my fondest European memories. We had just landed at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris and it was probably 9 am local time, 3 am by body clock. Totally jet-lagged, no sleep, exhausted. I went to the nearest coffee counter and tried to order, but my brain could not kick into French gear and I ended up saying “leche”. The brain finally kicked in and I tried to switch to French, but by that time the barista had decided she was going to serve me in “my” language and did the rest of the transaction in Spanish. She was obviously proud of her Spanish so I let it happen.
I call these my “international” experiences, where you’re speaking in a language that is not native to either one of you, and they are among my very favorite memories.
All our travels are heavily invested in food and food culture.
like the others I could monopolize this thread big time but I will highlight a few.
Learning to cook some traditional Italian dishes with our Italian teacher while watching Family Guy make fun of Italians in Italian.
The way the ladies at the piadineria would exclaim about the sky falling and Leto “growing up” because he finally had an espresso at night instead of cappuccino like a baby.
Sunday brunch at the Green Room – our weekly ritual that not only tasted amazing but developed a relationship with the owners and staff. They would bring us treats, we would bring them treats – like Oreo flavors they couldn’t get in England.
Little cooking lessons with other mil spouses from different cultures.
Treating our host country residents to American Thanksgiving.
The “tradition American potluck” we had with our Italian neighbors (they were so horrified but we did get them addicted to BBQ sauce).
The pub in Belgian I still dream about.
The time in Rome when I learned that I ordered fish with all parts still intact and squid rings. And the look the woman game me when I couldn’t eat it.
The walnut liquor in Croatia.
I used to get that a lot. Iowa/Ohio/Idaho. In the south, on the east coast and here in the west.
There was a meme at the University of Iowa (on t-shirts and sweatshirts):
University of Iowa
Idaho City, Ohio
South Korean stick chicken. As a former state department spouse I have been lucky to have sample street food from around the world. Nothing will ever be as good as chicken on skewers roasting on a random roadside cart in Seoul south Korea. The vendor always had hot mustard, and garden sheers to cut the skewer as you ate the impossibly moist chicken. I miss eating overseas more than I can put into words, stick chicken the most : )
Growing up our kitchen was mainly Piedmont/northern Mississippi, with some mainstream excursions, mostly from the Betty Crocker cookbook. Good wholesome stuff, simpler than the Big House southern cooking that many people think of. For instance, fried foods were made with simple corn meal or flour dusting rather than batter, and sweet potatoes were roasted and served with butter, not candied.
The “exotic” dish was spaghetti with a bolognese sort of sauce, which in my memory holds up quite well alongside the supposedly authentic versions I’ve had since. I’ve worked variations of it over the years. The one I made last night is a keeper, based on braised pork rib tips. Much cheaper than short ribs or oxtails.
this poem was recited in public on Bastille Day 2005 in a happier New Orleans, at a celebration of the aubergine, which was sponsored by a local farmers’ market.
it is one of six works that survived the scrutiny of the editorial committee. i’m sorry to have missed the event, which featured both a cooking lesson (eggplant recipes, natch) and a parade of french poodles.
We spent 2 years in Malaysia 20 years ago and I still grieve for the food of all varieties, all the Chinese variations, Southern Indian, Northern Indian, Malay, it was all amazing. My favorite, though, was a lunch diner run by an Indian cultural center. They specialized in classic Indian dances. The food was provided by Indian women who cooked it at home and brought it to the restaurant. They competed to outdo each other and everything was wonderful.
edited for spelling
My husband and I used to go to this small Italian restaurant in Chicago. One time the owner walked over to our table with the menus and said that everything on the menu is great, but the chef just got back from three months in Italy and feels like cooking. If you like he will make you stuff, lol. And stuffed we got. 23 plates worth.
In the late 70’s, Vancouver got a major influx of Vietnamese refugees. In the early 80’s I was a delivery driver for La Baguette et Echallotte, so of course, my delivery route included the first Vietnamese restaurant in Vancouver. The Grandparents did the cooking, the Mom and Dad did the serving and the kids ran around like kids. I always took my lunch break there, Pho in the kitchen with the family.
There used to be a column in the Georgia Straight, ( Vancouvers Alternative Weekly) called “Cheap Eats”. It used to feature lots of “ethnic” restaurants. For Vancouverites of a couple generations, it’s a key way that Vancouver became a “foodie” city. We travelled and ate in packs.
Cowgirl in the Sandi
I grew up in Illinois where we had meat and potatoes every night. Vegetables were corn and peas. If my parents really wanted to walk on the wild side, we would get take out (spaghetti and meatballs) from Spaghetti Charlie’s – the only EYEtalian restaurant where we lived.
When I was a senior in high school, I spent a weekend with a friend with more cosmopolitan parents and we went to a Chinese restaurant in St Louis. There were about 12 people at the dinner and everyone ordered something different and then passed around all the dishes. I could not believe there was food with so many different tastes and textures. It was amazing!
Even though we lived in Italy for only two years, I’ll always call it home. Prime example: during those two years we ate at this one sandwich shop almost religiously. Honestly dinner 2-3 times a week was going down to the shop and getting a piadinina. A piadinina is a flat bread sandwich with various fillings: meat, cheese, and some type of veg. The shop we went to, La Piadineria Montichiari, was owned by two old women. I say old, but honestly they weren’t that old. Mid/late 50s? Like all Italians in town they were pretty patient with us, but also like all Italians they weren’t that talkative/friendly at first. It took quite a few trips in there before they started to warm up to us, but once they did they’d always greet us as soon as we came in the door as if we were family. Didn’t matter how busy the place was.
What also helped bond us was the fact that I am a consummate coffee rule breaker. Located in their shop was one of the ubiquitous cafe machines that would dispense very good quality coffee for about 50 cent. What would Leto always get? A cappuccino. Why? Because for the same price as an espresso, I’d get twice the coffee! Plus I’m not a black coffee drinker. Doesn’t matter the style, it’s just too bitter for me. What this meant to the shop owner, though, was that I was a bambino. A baby! And yes, they did in fact call me a bambino quite a few times. The last time they did it, one of the women stopped me from buying my cafe, took money out of the register and said she’d buy my cafe if I got it “proper”.
Let’s just consider this a triple dog dare with no previous protocol observed.
Me trying to not to be the “ugly American” said, yes, she bought it, gave it to me, then proceeded to watch me drink it. And… it wasn’t too bad. There was much rejoicing, cheering, and claims that I had finally become… A MAN! I accepted my new status by alternating buying cappuccino and cafe when we stopped by.
When we finally moved, we informed them that we were leaving, and the date of our departure. They told us to come in the night before we leave as they had something special for us. So we arrived about 30 mins before closing, sat around, and when they closed up shop, the entire team (because we knew all the women there) took us back behind the counter and into the kitchen to give us personal hands on time making piadininas. Basically 1 on 1 lessons on the entire process. All the while we were speaking to them about where we’d been, where we were going, and just basically having an amazing time. When we finally left, there were definitely tears from everyone. I subsequently followed them on FaceBook where we keep in touch. I see the amazing sandwiches I can’t have anymore, they get likes and comments on me about how amazing those sandwiches look; I also saw one of the owner’s daughters (who worked there) graduated medical school, which was really cool, and was able to follow the local women’s semi-pro volleyball team (a few American’s play for them annually). It’s just another small connection I keep and cherish.
Avalune and I have a ton of stories like that, and they all involve food.
That is wonderful!
(As an aside, I have always assumed your first name was Paul. When I saw “Peter,” I realised I had been conflating you with the great saxophonist and jazz composer.)
More than 20 years ago, first trip out of the country to England for our honeymoon, we’re in a pub roughly mid-afternoon and decided to get something to eat. There were a few people around, probably locals. I will never forget the look on the waiters face when I asked for some milk to drink.
The best blue corn enchiladas are in Santa Fe New Mexico; and best Indian tacos are at the state fair native American plaza……I lived there over 10 years and always enjoyed these culinary delights…
I’ve been all around Spain…and love the variety of tapas, paellas, jamon and seafood. Tapas bars are lively and loud and a great way to eat a variety of local foodstuffs.
One of my favorite meals was in Florence, seated next to an older French couple there to enjoy the variety of mushrooms. We struck up a conversation in broken English and French and somehow learned about each other’s families and lives. After 2 hours, we hugged goodbye.
Major Major Major Major
Every Christmas I go to my sister in law’s husband’s parents’ house for an Italian “feast of the seven fishes.” It was totally new to me a few years ago. Didn’t really grow up around Italian culture.
My family’s mostly Czech and Irish and all our food traditions are Czech. Goose and dumplings! Kolachis!
My mom grew up near Wilber, Nebraska, which is one of two Czech foci in the US. My grandpa spoke Czech. Every summer when we went to visit the farm we would go and buy a bunch of stuff from Karpisek’s Market, the butcher shop, full of a zillion meats I can’t pronounce and run by the then-mayor’s family. Lots of sausage. Good times.
@dexwood: What a sweet story.
One of my meaningful food-as-culture experiences was the ten years I spent reading Raymond Sokolov’s regular “A Matter Of Taste” food/culture/history column in Natural History magazine.
Here’s one book he wrote:
Fading Feast: A Compendium of Disappearing American Regional Foods
Why We Eat What We Eat: How the Encounter between the New World and the Old Changed the Way Everyone on the Planet Eats
@delk: when Avalune and I first arrived back in the states, we were in the Philly area so we thought we’d have access to some pretty good Italian food. I’m just going to say… no. It was all basically Chef-Boyarde (sp?) grade. About two weeks after we arrived, we were hunting for a place to eat when we decided to stop by this one place (Mexican I think? Don’t even remember) when we saw a large sign for another Italian place. What differentiated this one was 1) it was new and 2) the name of the place was from southern Italy and it wasn’t common. So, interest piqued! We went in and it was empty, but the kid came over, took us to a table, got our drink orders, then off he went to the back. A few minutes later an older gentleman came out, and in a heavy Italian accent, asked us how we were doing. We said good, and then I asked him, “Parli italiano?” Dude’s eyes lit up and off he went. Turns out he was an Italian Naval warrant officer who did an exchange program with the local Philly naval station, liked it, and decided to stay. Brought his family over. Yes, a true Italian run joint. Everyone there was his family, and they’d been open for four months. It honestly felt like going home. I could get a proper quattro formaggi pizza. Avalune was able to get a pear pasta dish that was exquisite. And the best part? Homemade limoncello that he’d bring from the back just for us to sip after dinner and shoot the shit.
We haven’t been back since the pandemic started because it’s 90 mins away, but they’re still there. I think we need to make a trip back later in the spring.
There was a great Schezuan restaurant a couple of blocks from my apartment in NYC. I ate my weight in dumplings and sesame noodles!
thank you, Siubhan!
(and yes, the association of that first name with that last name is natural.)
@Cowgirl in the Sandi:
I also grew up in Illinois, and our meals at home were, shall I say, hearty but uninspired. But one fine day, when I was maybe 6 or 7, a Chinese restaurant opened up — The Village Inn, down a little flight of steps in the basement of a retail block. There was a cobbler next door to them.
Anyhow, they had an extensive and exotic menu. You could choose between chow mein and chop suey. That was it. Rice and fortune cookies, of course. We kids loved those nights when the grownups were too exhausted to cope even with Kraft Dinner and got takeout from The Village Inn instead.
Several years later, when I was in high school, Oak Park got a pizza parlour. With that, we became a truly international community.
We haven’t been able to go to Bangkok for two years, but my wife and daughter have a list of noodle shops and street food we will get when we go. I like chicken with cashew nuts at one place. If we go to Hua Hin there is a place at the night market with crab fried rice. Also stir fried vegetables. In Bangkok we will go to the Terminal 21 shopping mall to the food court to get pork with basil leaves.
OT: Possible face to face meeting between Putin and Biden. CNN
Major Major Major Major
@Jay: interestingly, pho is such an important ethnic dish for the Vietnamese but it’s not exactly ancient. Roughly 1900 in origin. It wasn’t even widely popular in Vietnam until the partition, and (so I’m told) it wasn’t until the diaspora that it became an important “identity” food.
@Scout211: New Orleans is totally the gateway food drug for culture-starved Iowans. When I was growing up in rural Iowa in the 1970s, at best the local chefs argued over how many potato chips to crush to sprinkle on the casserole.
But my parents took us to NOLA when I was 15, and my Dad (uncharacteristically) sprang for a couple meals in pricier places (Commanders Palace for one, IIRC). I was in heaven, and didn’t put ketchup on anything the entire trip.
I had a similar epiphany when I moved to Los Angeles almost 40 years ago with Indian food. My girlfriend (now wife) was working in an Indian restaurant to supplement her teachers income. The kitchen staff would make us dishes not on the somewhat touristy main menu. I never knew such flavors existed. Or that the spices in Vindaloo could be weaponized.
I forgot to mention Burns Night – traditional Scottish food and poetry.
in Croatia, one of the waitresses at the hotel we stayed in heard us talking about how we were having trouble finding the good walnut liquor we had so she brought us some of her personal stock. Hot dang!
I spent a whole summer when we got to Philly trying to figure out wtf was the deal with water ice. I thought it was like Italian ice or a slushy but people were saying they liked the chocolate chip one and I’m like wait a minute the hell is this stuff?
Major Major Major Major
@Major Major Major Major: I just remembered the first time my Czech grandpa went to an Irish pub. My dad got him a Guinness which he hadn’t had before. He took one sip, made the most hilarious “bitter beer face”, and went to the bar to get a pilsner.
There once was a time when I was married and my wife was the “office lady” for the Silicon Valley office of a Japanese aerospace company. She and the Japanese engineering team got along gangbusters.
So after a year, she made arrangements, and we built a temporary tatami table in our wood-floored living room, and seven Japanese engineers came over with sacks and sacks of groceries — many daikon, many kinds of fish, rice, pickles, miso base, tofu, shoyu, mushrooms, shaved salted dried tuna, plum seasoning, on and on — and a great deal of Japanese beer and sake — and they cooked a Japanese meal in our kitchen.
It took five hours to construct the feast, and four hours to eat and drink. A hilarious evening.
Ceci n est pas mon nym
@Avalune: I’ve always thought of it as Italian ice.
@Leto: Were you stationed in Vicenza? My aunt and uncle were about seven years after WWII
My cousins claimed there were canals.
OMG. So true! ?
The Bosna stand in Kitzbuhel.
Major Major Major Major
@Ceci n est pas mon nym: a long time ago my dad was on a train ride through Europe… I forget where, he was in the Air Force… and the only language he had in common with the other people in his compartment was Latin! So that was what they spoke.
@Ceci n est pas mon nym: It’s still murky as far as I’m concerned. The non fruity flavors have a slightly creamier texture to them like some weird ice cream/slushy baby. Im not a big fan.
@Dan B: We were west of Vicenza, Ghedi Air Base. It’s about 20 mins from Lake Desenzano, and an hour from Milan. 100 personnel there. Vicenza was our administrative HQ, and also where our son went to school at the DoDSS school. 90 min trip each way!
Google map of Ghedi.
I’m old enough to remember the United States before most anglos had learned to appreciate Mexican food. (I am reliably informed that before 1960 or so, there was no restaurant in New York City wherein one could order a taco).
But in 1962 or 1963, a fine Mexican cantina-style place opened in Des Moines, and in 1964 my Dad took me there for dinner — I’d never heard of enchiladas before, and tamales were something in cartoons that made the character’s face turn red before his head exploded in flames, and the only taco I’d ever had was made with hamburger. What a revelation! One of the specialties of the house was cinnamon tea they called canela, and just the fragrance when they brought that with the chips and salsa (I’d never had chips and salsa). I would never have guessed that something called “beans” could taste like those frijoles, and the sauces amazed and delighted me.
@Major Major Major Major: when we took a trip to the Christmas markets in Austria, I attempted to use my broken Italian on one of the merchants. She immediately stopped me, asked if I was American, and then told me in perfect English, “Everyone here speaks fluent English.” I laughed and said, ok! I know that’s not the case everywhere, but it was greatly appreciated at the time.
Get take out, something expensive you can reheat.
Due to the pandemic, other than the pub, there are a dozen restaurants we rotate take out from, because we like the food, like the owners, like the staff. We want them to stay open until the Pandemic is over in 2027. Some of it is convenient, some is not. Pizza for example. 30 minutes from work the “wrong way” to Il Mercado for a wood fired thin crust Margherita, large, 50 minute trip home, coldish by the time it gets home, careful reheat in the oven, ( thanks Guiseppi and Guilianna), 30% tip.
Food culture identity shock: when one of our group of American field course geology students, craving familiar food and tired of fried fish and chips, asked for pizza from the menu in a chip shop in Glasgow and watched incredulously as his frozen pizza was removed from its cellophane wrapper and tossed into the deep fryer.
@Omnes Omnibus: the kebab stand at Eskan Air Village, Saudi Arabia. I think I’d been there two weeks when my shop boss, an E-7, took me over there. I hadn’t really been out much, but it was over by the pool, tucked away, and jfc was it amazing. Schwarma with french fries on it, and that sauce? Whaaaaaaaaa!!!!!
@Leto: Awe that reminds me – I actually miss the kebab truck in Brackley. Whompwhomp
Village Pizzeria in Truckee, CA makes, or used to make, what I suspect are a pretty passable piadini.
My regular order during the years I used to ski in North Lake Tahoe.
Exotic meals when I was a kid were things like hamburger, meat loaf, and tuna casserole. It usually meant my dad was trying out some newspaper recipe for something he’d had in the university cafeteria as a grad student. Normal food was Cantonese home food, dishes too humble to show up in any restaurant menu. A lot of steamed things, now that I think about it. Maybe that’s not considered a restaurant-worthy technique. I rarely see things like steamed pork cake, tomato egg flower soup, quick-cooked fuzzy squash or wintermelon soups, steamed chicken with sweet Chinese sausage and mushrooms, etc. outside of home. Cooking those things for myself when I moved to Middle America helped to assuage the homesickness.
Ceci n est pas mon nym
@joel hanes: I’m not sure we’re there yet with Americans appreciating Mexican food. Some quick stories:
Two things come to mind. The first is sitting on the porch in the summer, drinking iced tea and snapping beans in the morning with my grandmother and great grandmother, who largely raised me and both of whom I loved beyond measure. Neighbors would stop and sit and talk for a while, and by the time it started getting really hot in the afternoon, we’d head indoors and cook the beans with new potatoes and cottage ham. It was so simple, but so delicious, and for my brother and me it’s still the comfort food we crave when things are stressful. We’d eat the “ham beans” while sitting out on the same porch in the evening, with corn on the cob from their garden, and watch the fireflies start appearing in the woods across the road. Blackberry pie for dessert.
The second is my Italian godmother, who taught me how to make homemade pasta when I was about 5 or 6 years old. She always wore rose perfume, and she used to sing to me in Italian while she cooked. Making pasta still brings back the smells of her kitchen on a Sunday afternoon, and the sound of her voice.
@Jay: So I Googled them and they’re gone. Which is like… oh man. That really fucking sucks as their food was so much better than anything else around. It’s a bbq joint now. Like… wtf.
Major Major Major Major
One of my favorite meat preparations is Mexican al pastor pork which is basically a döner/shawarma-style spit-roasted meat cylinder flavored with local spices, inspired by Lebanese immigrants to Mexico.
35 years ago I was in Chengdu in Sichuan province. A layover for my flight to Tibet to cap off my college year in China. Anyways a young cultured man made my acquaintance and treated me to dinner at a restaurant. Maybe gay…I dunno…was bad at picking up signals. ANYWAY he ordered a dish for me called (if memory serves) ma-po tofu. He dug into it with relish. I would take a mouthful and it would taste sooo good…for about 2 seconds. Then the heat would quickly build up in my mouth like a runaway nuclear reaction and last for 45 seconds or so. Eventually the pain would subside and I would take another tasty bite. 2 seconds yum..45 seconds agony..2 seconds yum……
@Avalune: the kebab place in Montichi!!! Remember them? They opened six months before we left. I’m afraid to Google them now…
@joel hanes: if I had more confidence in my bread making skills, I’d try to make them myself. I can get most of the stuff here, but not the vending machine cafe. I miss those so much!
I remember my first oyster. I was maybe 8 years old. We had oyster stew regularly but I didn’t eat the oysters. My dad always ate a few raw and I announced that I wanted to try one. He had me stand over the sink just in case. I loved it. Thus began my long love affair with oysters. I went to New Orleans and when someone asked my how I enjoyed it, I reported on the number of oysters I ate. I loved them raw, fried, stewed, scalloped. Just loved them.
Then, one night after an oyster feast, I felt sick. Likewise the next time. And so it went until I had to admit that I had developed an allergy. To both oysters and clams. It’s been years since I’ve had one. And to make matters worse, I am very good friends with an oyster farmer.
@Major Major Major Major:
much of the “Vietnamese” food is French influenced. You can’t make a good Mi Bahn without a good French Baguette which is why I was there. SnowCrab soup is French Steamed, BC/Alaska snow crab, Chinese Congee. It’s better in Vancouver than Ho Chi Minh City, because of the Crab.
One of the fun aspects about working there was the flash frozen “proofed” products. Box of 24 cinnamon brioche, or dark chocolate filled croissants for 20% less than wholesale. Preheat oven to 100f Friday night, turn off, put baking sheet in the oven. Saturday AM, 350f, and by the time you are ready for the second cup of coffee, fresh baked brioche, or other pastries, hot from the oven.
Made lot’s of Friday dates and pickups think I was a domesticated animal.
@JPL: Thanks. I told him that day he was ab arsonist, not a cook. Because of him I have a fantastic wife, have learned how to make furniture, know how to make a mean pot of chile stew.
@Major Major Major Major: we have a few Mexican places around here that do really good al pastor dishes.
@Mel: your first recollection is similar to my experiences growing up. My grandmother kept a garden out back and she grew a ton of veg. I spent a lot of time snapping beans, then same as you, beans/potatoes, and ham. Honestly don’t like green beans any other way. She and my grandfather both grew up during the Depression, so growing most of their own food was normal/expected.
@Ceci n est pas mon nym: we’ve been to New Hope a few times. Lot of really good food there, and some really amazing used furniture stores there too.
@sempronia: most of what you grew up with is now like fine cuisine being made by Michelin chefs. Just wondering but do you watch any YouTube cooking shows?
When I was in Germany on a college choir tour in 1995, a friend* and I were walking around a small town on the Rhine. The name of the town escapes me now, but I do recall needing my German skills a lot there. Anyway, we were looking for a place to have a late lunch/early dinner, so we found this tiny Italian restaurant. The food blew my mind. I had never had ravioli so delicious before! I wish I could remember where this was. It was a great experience!
*He was one of two guys I knew in college who said if I was a woman I’d be good for them. Of course they knew I was gay, but if they were struggling with their sexuality I got no sign of it. Oh well. C’est la vie and all that.
Major Major Major Major
Quite the opposite! A proper bahn mi baguette is part rice flour and has a distinct texture. Sandwiches made with French baguettes get chewy and bogged down.
My grade school friend’s house pretty much anytime I’d go over there (which was a lot I’m no dummy, heh) 3 generations of Italians would cook up the best food I ever ate: for Xmas, pizzelles and entirely-handmade raviolis; for New Year’s Eve surf and turf (broiled filet mignon and stuffed lobster tail) but pretty much every meal was fantastic no matter the occasion.
@dexwood: Lovely. Lovely.
@phdesmond: Thanks be it did!
We may need to do an MC with all poems.
In 1976 I was fifteen. I moved with my Dad from the Bay Area to Kuwait.
En route, we stopped in Paris (also NYC for the Bicentennial fireworks).
At some fine dining place, I ordered steak tartar, knowing the first term but not the second.
Stepmom rose up and said not a good idea. But Pops insisted the order stand — it was a free choice.
When served, I was aghast. I forget how it played out. I know I ate some of it, but not much.
How’s that for memorable and cultural?
You didn’t specify the food had to be sublime.
ETA: My dad is now 92, sharp as a tack, not someone capable of such cruelty now.
@Leto: Thank you.
Great story that rings so true.
My primary goal when I visit anyplace that I’m staying for more than two nights?
Become a regular.
You know, someone recorded your experience. Very memorable!
sorry Leto. It’s been a brutal couple of years for restaurants, and it won’t be getting any better for a while. When we moved back to Vancouver, our situation was really brutal for a while, then just tough for a while, then Covid started, so we took to a dozen or so Restaurants for take out, eating in parks to avoid our room, and the ones we liked, once things got better for us, we really try to help keep them open, even though we arn’t going to eat inside anytime soon.
Asagi Sushi for example. Tiny front, but after being asked just once by T, he added brown rice to the menu and put the teriyaki sauce on the side so the chicken stays crispy ( in take out),
She get’s her assortment of sashimi and sushi with brown rice, I get my chicken teriyaki with brown rice, crispy chicken like it’s sit down, and extra bean sprouts and vegetables, ( because apparently, I don’t look like I am getting enough vitamins ; )).
@Jim Appleton: A good friend and I went to a fancy steak house in Chicago. I got something simple like a rib eye. He wanted to be adventurous and got Beef Wellington.
He wasn’t happy when he took a bite and realized what it was. It being extremely, extremely rare didn’t help.
Memorable story though!
@Sure Lurkalot: I will admit to having openly wept over a lunch of cuttlefish at the Santa Caterina market in Barcelona.
@Jim Appleton: I love steak tartare.
Also tuna tartare.
@Almost Retired: I started serious cooking in 1975 when I broke my back and spent 9 months in a full body cast. A couple of friends commissioned me to plan a huge birthday gig and I came up with a central Illinois version of a clam bake except with chickens and turkeys (wrapped in wine soaked cheesecloth ) corn and spuds. We dug a pit, lined it with rocks, burned a fire overnight, swept away the coals, put potato sacks soaked overnight and lowered the whole deal on a frame made of an iron bed with chains, covered it with plywood and a trap and let it rip for 10 hours. The potatoes were the best, they just popped open and we fluffy as could be. Yes, I have pictures!
@phdesmond: I’m glad you fessed up to writing it. I was quite frustrated trying to match the words to Cole Porter’s “You the Top” or “Anything Goes”.
@Leto: My ex-girlfriend was from Brescia and I spent a lot of time there and north, around Lago di Garda. I miss exploring around there (you show up at a winery and it’s a farmer and they invite you in the house, show you the wine and grappa and it’s cheap and amazing and if you go back 50/50 they feed you).
@Leto: Damn you.
Just when I finally got YouTube to stop recommending RA.
@Jay: we’re still doing take out, but we’re in a new area and still learning/exploring. We’ve discovered some really nice places which we def revisit. Once spring hits we’ll be able to explore a bit more.
@debbie: Did you see downstairs that I like your train of thought?
@BGinCHI: we were about 30 mins from where they filmed the opening scene from Bond’s Quantum of Solace. It was an amazing ride on my motorcycle. You recall from the other thread how we found that little out of the way vineyard with such amazing wine; shit like that was just so… common, there. What’s around this corner? Oh, another amazing place serving X? Ok! We also miss the agriturismo’s there. Grew their own food (veg/meat), owned the vineyards outside, multi-star chefs serving multi-course meals, and you could buy a couple of bottles of the house wine to take with you? Ugh.
@Jim Appleton: Gotcha! :)
In 83 I went to the New Orleans School of Cooking and took a short course in Gumbo, Jambalaya and pecans pralines. I followed they instruction to spread the joy of cajun cooking and have been lighting it up ever since. I once cooked three 20 gallon pots of jambalaya and fed 800 vets and their families at a Memorial Day gathering!
Wordle? It was likely a fluke. I was so surprised, I almost dropped my iPad.
The best plate of kalamari I ever had was on what Italians would call the lungomare in front of Diocletian’s palace in Split. At the time (1985) it was Titova obala in Jugoslavija, now it’s Obala hrvatskog narodnog preporoda in Croatia.
The best plate of frutti di mare I ever had was in Kotor, Crna Gora (Montenegro) in 2013. Slurped up the visible seafood to reach the spaghetti below & discovered a whole second layer of the sea’s fruits.
The best breakfasts I ever had were Scandinavian buffets. Starting at the Københavns Hovedbanegård on my first trip to Europe in 1980. I staggered off the overnight train from Berlin’s Zoobahnhof and my dear friend Marinus, who was living there, threw his arms wide open and laughed, I see it but I don’t believe it! He made good on his promise to buy me breakfast if I made it, but when I returned to the table with a first course of three varieties of herring, he turned up his nose. Aw c’mon, I said, you’re a Dutchman, isn’t herring food of the gods? – Yes, he replied, but not for breakfast! – OK, I continued, avert your face, because I’m going to enjoy this! (Long vanished into the dustbin of the past, alas…)
And I remember the hotel buffets in Oslo in 2000. Five courses, fish to cold cuts to scrambled eggs and sausage to fruit and pastry. Stoking up toward the close of breakfast, one could actually eat cheaply for the day: Pick a budget restaurant out of the tour guide, show up 10 minutes before the lunch specials expired, pig out, and have a snack come evening.
Same year, same country, in Tromsø above the Arctic Circle, at an Irish (!?!???!) festival, a fellow shoved a plate of thumbsize pieces of what looked like flank steak under my nose & said, Try it. It was hval – whale. So I tried it. (The whale being already dead.) It tasted like flank steak would if you soaked it in cod liver oil for a week. Hard pass! (Sample Norwegian bumper stickers: FRY WILLY, and HVAL – IT’S HVAT’S FOR DINNER…) (Somewhere in my memorabilia is a thin pamphlet of hval recipes printed by the government – purely as a curiosity of course.)
Palermo, 1985, cute trattoria on the Piazza Giulio Cesare introduced me to arancini. Kept coming back for them long as I was in town. Meat, sauce, peas for filling. (I subsequently discovered that just about every entree in Sicily contains peas. La Trinacria is a beautiful island within 5 km of the sea – further inland. it’s sulfur mines and pea farms.)
In 2002 there was an Indian restaurant around the corner from Piccadilly Circus that claimed there were no less than 36 mutually-distinguishable cuisines on the Subcontinent, and changed its menu monthly to feature a different 3 (plus vegetarian options). I wish I could recall the name…
That trip I found Lee Ho Fook’s! When I walked in for lunch there was a distinctly lycanthropic diner digging into – not “a big bowl of beef chow mein” but a bento box. Close enough for Yank tourism. Ah-oooo!
Barcelona, 1994: Significant-(soon-to-be)-Ex & I found a little blue-tiled place in El Raval that served a stunning 5-course paella for next to nothing. The third time we came in the staff greeted us like family. For years I tried to find the yellow-rind melon they served as dessert.
I could go on, but it’s past my suppertime and I’m hungry…
@delk: You should go and give us a full report.
@raven: when I was stationed in SC for the second time, the unit I was assigned to had a motorpool attached. One Friday those guys decided to do a crawfish boil luncheon. They had planned it a few days before, but Friday was the day. They had 5 of those 20 gallon deep fry cooker pots set up with crawfish, potatoes, corn, and some other stuff, and man was it so good. We setup folding plastic tables, put plastic over them all, set up a few trash cans, and it was just a free-for-all. Dumped out the pots on each table and about 50 of us stood around eating for a good two hours. Yeah, that was basically the end of the day as nothing else would be accomplished.
Also those pics right above are interesting; are you cooking potatoes?
I’ve been looking for chorizo and chicken recipes with cannellini beans.
If anybody has any thoughts please chip in!
@debbie: oh yeah, any kind of ceviche too.
Miss E and I had lovely takeout S. American charcoal fired rotisserie chicken today with enormous hand cut fries, I was inspired to whip up a batch of aioli for dipping…yum!
@Major Major Major Major:
we made both. Rice, and Hard Red Winter Wheat. Got taken out to an “expensive”, “exotic” Vietnamese ( Hmong) restaurant by a Milwaukee Subsidiary Exec on per diem, because he was trying to impress me.
they used a hot dog bun.
Pierre was a pain as an owner, his wife was nice, but he was a hell of a baker. We had 20 different kinds of flour in pallet loads, sheeter tables, nitrogen flash freezing cabinets you could stuff a dozen bodies into, a dozen automated ovens that you could roll a cart with 480 croissants into it, the oven would pick up the cart and rotate it as they baked.
When they divorced, Pierre went back to Paris, his wife kept the Granville Island storefront, a Corp took over, and I quit 6 months in. They had started making bun’s for Micky D’s.
@Leto: Exactly. Goddamn I miss it.
My favorite thing (OK, one of my favorite things) was eating at the agriturismo where our friends were friends with the owners, so we stayed late and ate & drank and ate & drank and it was a patio with fields and vineyards in 3 directions, so when I had to pee I just wandered into the darkness and did so. Pissing under the Italian sky with friends in the light not far away is a thing I’ll remember forever.
@Leto: The spuds were on top of the chicken, turkeys and corn. It’s interesting that they did mudbugs in South Carolina although there were some crawfish farms there and we got some from there. Here’s one of those gigs.
@Uncle Cosmo: OK, that’s some damn good eating.
@raven: That is awesome (especially the photographic evidence). I think on that day you may have invented what could have been the next great food craze (Midwestern pit cuisine) and changed the trajectory of dining trends in the rural heartland. But you evidently didn’t capitalize on this. And now they are left with Flintstones-sized tenderloins and deep fried State Fair twinkies as the region’s signature contributions to the global food scene. What might have been….
A giant thanks to all for your terrific posts in this thread.
The stories and experiences here are second to none.
@raven: that’s pretty much exactly what we looked like! I think we were able to get the crawfish because one of the vehicle maintenance guys was basically a cajun, so he had the hookups.
@BGinCHI: exactly! So at Ghedi, the head of Italian security also owned a restaurant over in Verona. He opened it while we were there, so ofc he invited most of us. I know most of the other security forces people would go, but we def went quite a bit. We also did a number of going away dinners and such there. Always great food. His little brother worked for him making pizzas, but then eventually opened his own pizza place after we left.
And another little niche thing, in our town a few months before we left (Montichiarri) there was an American BBQ joint that opened up. This Italian guy had spent about 4 years in the US south learning how to make bbq. Then he came back and opened a place! It was pretty good, though having a combo Italian/bbq place was a little different. Honestly it was a good little different.
try Alton Brown-ing them at home. Stab them deeply with a fork all over, rub them with olive oil and a bit of salt, bake on 450f, ideally in a convection oven or better yet, the upper shelf of a charcoal grill. Make sure they are Russets or of the varietal.
When we had the property south of Kamloops in the hills, we quickly learned how much terroir effects anything grown and eaten. We were on land that was mostly a residual ancient volcanic mudslide. In all my life, I have never grown vedge ( or bought), so tasty and sweet.
@Uncle Cosmo: Ummm, arancini. There’s a decent Italian deli in the food court at my Big U clinic that has them. My favorite is stuffed with spinach and feta, though they have the meat and peas ones too. Let me see if that water’s boiling …
@BGinCHI: Thank you! Profusely!
Adds a great new dimension to some familiar nym owners.
@Leto: I love you and Avalune’s good stories both. I spent 7 weeks in a very small town in Italy for a class in 1995. None of us had much money so we would day trip on trains for the weekend, eat in tiny places. I loved it; I such find memories of the Italians and the food.
almost every water in North America has crayfish. Here for example, on a basic fishing licence, I can run 6 traps, keep 48 a day over 4 inches, (tail to claw), most are 8-10 inches in the traps. We used to do a “feed” about once a month, but sadly, I haven’t been fishing in the past 2 1/2 years. I used to go 3 or 4 times a week, set crayfish traps from time to time while hunting bows, bulls, cutties and brookies.
I am hoping to get out at last, this year.
@Uncle Cosmo: @prostratedragon: arancini is amazing. If you’d like to make your own, here you go. (It’s not that hard!)
Also Uncle, those are good stories :)
@StringOnAStick: Thanks :)
@Jay: I’m sure SC has crayfish, but it’s honestly not something I ate growing up, nor really remember seeing it in the stores. I’m also not a seafood person so…
Mai Naem mobile
@Uncle Cosmo: i think you’re talking about a canary melon. I am just not a melon person butI am pretty sure I’ve seen them at those bigger Asian/Middle Eastern grocery stores.
My food memory is very not gourmet. In the UK we used to get chips from a fish and chips place(we’re veg so no fish) wrapped in old newspaper and put a bunch of malt vinegar on it.
Extended afternoon naptime, so late to the thread, and still too sleep fuzzy to cogitate on dredging up anything personally germane.
Clever way to explore foreign cuisines and recipes.
Would wager granny’s recipe used lard.
J R in WV
What a wonderful story — you really took advantage of your duty abroad!!
@J R in WV: when you only have two years, gotta make every day count!
When I used to commute to Milwaukee, I tried an “Indian” food restaurant.
I ordered the chicken curry, potato samosa’s and roti,
The waiter asked if I wanted the curry mild, medium or hot. I replied “kitchen” or “family”. The waiter walked away and got the owner, who tried to explain to me the heat levels. I said that I was from Vancouver, BC so I wanted what they served, spice wise, what they cooked for themselves. And that they had a bunch of chandigarth items on the menu.
He then started rolling out a bunch of names of Punjabi’s who had moved to Vancouver, asking if I knew them.
Turns out, I knew Peter Diwalli, a nephew on his mothers side, who’s family has done very well for themselves here. Went to his wedding.
After that, I was almost “family”.
When he heard that next time, I would be flying in at 2am, he insisted that I come by, because “good food is hard to get at 2am”, and that’s when they would have closed down and everybody would be having “kitchen supper”. Had many kitchen suppers.
They had been invited to Peter’s wedding, but they couldn’t afford either the time or money. Peter gave me a CD of the wedding and a photo album to give them, and a year later, when the Cranberry Spray contract came through, flew the whole family up to Vancouver for a holiday.
It was a bit both weird and wonderful to one day, in my cubicle, have chauchi get past the desk one day to bring me green curry and roti for lunch. I didn’t even know they were in town.
We build so much around food and shared food.
I’m in NOLA right now for my first in person work conference since 2020. So far I’ve only gotten amazing gumbo but I still have a few days to eat my way through the city.
there are hundreds of thousands of fisherpeople here, it’s tough for an old coot to not misgender, I am finally getting it right when meeting new dogs),
but I can count on two hands and one foot the number of people who catch crayfish, other than wading kids surprised by the “bug” in the water.
Sadly, there have been more than a few times in my life when “free food”, was “whats for dinner”. Indian cucumber, moron grouse, limpets, the low tide special.
When both my brother and I were dirt poor at the same time, he ate ramen, I ate what I could hunt and gather. One Thanksgiving, we had rabbit stew, (sling shot, park, released former pets).
One of my “standard” jokes is about duck hunting. Thousands on a gun, ammo, camo, blind, trained dog,
when you can just go down to the park with a bag of stale bread and a hammer,…..
Only peripherally food related but can’t be the only one with a name once seen, Toppie Smellie, forever after nestled in the brainpan.
If you like cooking Cajun at home, click here and thank me later.
good luck, pace yourself.
@BGinCHI: I’ve spent most of my adult lie living and working overseas, mainly in “developing countries”. One of the first things I always do is to head for the nearest open air market or farmer’s market so I can see what’s being offered and engage the sellers. You don’t usually need to know the local language or this to be a fun and fruitful exercise (though I happen to know several).
Then comes the cooking and eating when possible (depends upon the circumstances).
Mountain View, California. There was a place on El Camino Real that served fast Indian food. One of the items was called a lamb frankie, and it was something like a paratha bread, with egg cooked on top, and then a bunch of lamb in curry gravy, rolled up like a burrito. I’m guessing this is street food back in India, but I’ve never found such a thing since moving to Seattle.
Mike in NC
Noticed the other day that our Publix sells frozen geese. Never tasted it. Must taste like chicken, huh?
@Mike in NC:
nope. Geese taste way “wilder”, ( think dark meat) and have much more fat. Think duck.
J R in WV
My wife and I were pure WV born and bred, but married I was stationed in Key West. Back then (1970-72) there were no cruise ships, it was part tourist and mostly fishing and shrimp boats. about 1/3 Cubanos. There were several great restaurants, French, American, Cuban, wonderful seafood. We learned a lot about seafood.
Then my ship was relocated to a ship yard in Pascagoula MS ( a monument to jim crow at the time! ) but good food. All you could eat catfish, real Mexican, and only a couple of hours east of New Orleans, where I had been before and introduced Wife to NOLA cooking.
My next food adventure was on our first big vacation trip, a flight to Seattle, train down the coast to San Francisco, then east across two mountain ranges and the desert of Nevada to Denver. On the flight west I read an article about a Latin America fishing boat blown away by a big storm. The crew who ate raw fish survived, those who did not, did not. So I determined to try sushi in Seattle, knowing that it was a seafood center. Wow, sold forever.
Then Toyota opened a big engine and transmission plant near here… instantly there were authentic sushi places right here in WV… imagine that!! Now even Kroger’s has a sushi bar… not the best, not terrible either. Loved Italy for the food, also Spain for tapas and dinners, France for country dinners, ate our last meal in Paris at a Michelin place across the Seine from the Eiffel tower. Seafood speacialty place! Flew home the next day on Air France.
That’s my foody story.
food offerings adapt to labour. Here, despite having a long history of ethnic Indians and Pakistani’s here, it’s only recently that there is a clientele for ethnic, fast, inexpensive, high energy fast food.
@Mike in NC
Counterintuitive as it may seem, goose pulls off the trick of being simultaneously dry and greasy.
I was a meat and potatoes guy growing up in Oregon. After enlisting in the Navy in `70, I was sent to language school (Korean) in Crystal City in Arlington, VA. The instructor took the class (all eight of us) to her place and prepared, what she said, was a typical Korean meal. Of all the dishes, the Kimchi hit my palate the best.
@phdesmond: Very amusing.
I have tried to grow the dratted aubergine,
But it seems they need a warmer climate, e’en.
not a kimchi fan after my brief time with the Moonies.
An example committed to memory from a class in linguistics many moons ago of the vagaries of English used the grammatically valid phrase “an eggplant plant plant plant.”
i’m glad you liked it, and added a couplet!
For me, the quintessentially Malaysian eating experience is the neighbourhood “mamak shop”, the eatery run by south Indian Muslims (usually Tamils, but the one in my area was run by a Malabari family and their biryani rice dishes were to die for).
i was masquerading as Cole Porter. :-)
@NotMax: If you’re going to cook goose, cook it like beef. What I got taught a long time ago and has always worked for me is to cook breasts like steaks and cook appendages like briskets. Unless you know they’re grain or good-veg fed, cook them skinless and scrape the fat where you can.
There were two Peruvian restaurants not too far from our house in SoCal, one was a fancy joint near the beach in Huntington Beach, the other a nearly empty slightly run-down joint with a little dance floor and stage in Anaheim, and they both served fabulous food.
Alas, they are both gone now and I haven’t found one in the Seattle area.
We had a different sort of cultural food experience in Venice. I was having trouble getting enough protein in meals, (diabetes II), none was available at breakfast, and I realized I was eating too many carbs at other times (gelato!) because I’m an idiot and pasta is wonderful, the food was great otherwise. After that there was enough protein on every menu in every city, especially Florence. Oh my lord, Florence! And then there was the butcher shop that where we had supper in Ostuni, the White City: https://flic.kr/p/pCUwVE
Our last evening in Venice we were at loose ands and went to a Chinese restaurant that we had passed every day and giggled about the menu translations. There was enough meat in the standard dishes we see here in the US, and it was very good. The place was packed and there was only one other couple who were not Chinese dining there, a young black couple from the US. We talked to them briefly and they said they were having a wonderful time.
This is a photo of the menu:
@J R in WV:
It seems we were in Key West at the same time. After dropping out of language school, I was sent to OT school in Key West in July of `71 for 3 months. Spent many Sundays (broke) at the EM Club drinking free bloody marys…..
What, no cubes?
Works on wild duck, too.
Plucking a mallard for roasting whole is difficult and tedious, but almost all the meat is in the breast, and it’s very dark.
Split the skin, cut out the half-breasts with a sharp knife.
Slice thin, season a bit, sear on a smoking hot skillet, turn once, don’t overcook.
@phdesmond: My couplet doesn’t quite scan, it’s not the same number of feet as yours, (IIRC feet is the relevant term, but maybe not), and the e’en was only added because it affords no reason, only rhyme.
Years ago a friend took me to a Cuban Chinese place in lower Manhattan. Loved it. Later I found a similar place in East Hollywood on Vermont.
google pulls up over 22 Peruvian food restaurants in the Seattle/Salish Sea area.
Completely off-topic, but I couldn’t wait to announce it:
I walked in at a vaccination centre this morning (a few hours ago) and got my booster dose: AstraZeneca. I got there as soon as they opened, and was their first catch of the day. The people were totally professional and very helpful. I cannot praise them enough.
@Amir Khalid: WOO-HOO! And good. We need and welcome your voice around here.
is it okay if we don’t reference your new guitars, and just instead just with calling you the catch of the day, for the next few weeks?
Six of one, half dozen of the other. Both involve scales.
@NotMax: Applause. This is one of your best puns.
@Jay: We’re not in Seattle, about a half hour away. I know, I’ve googled the ones nearest us and checked their menus, and was not impressed. going to the Salish Sea area is way too far for just one dinner.
Nothing whatsoever to do with the universally beloved Amir, just linking it for the grin factor.
I have had a few food adventures. Here’s one from when I went to Europe soon after graduating college:
The tour was with Contiki, which specialized in inexpensive bus tours, catering mostly to young people. They kept costs down by having us stay most nights in tent villages, and most days we ate camp food.
Had my first very memorable encounter with Vegemite: it looked like apple butter, which I like very much, so I spread it thickly on my breakfast roll and took a bite. Needless to say, Vegemite doesn’t taste even the tiniest bit like apple butter. I think I just sat there in shock, my mouth trying to figure out what ghastly substance had just invaded it. There may have been a quantity of involuntary drooling happening. My fellow travelers (more than half were Ozzies) and the guides (one Ozzie, one Kiwi) nearly keeled over laughing.
Eventually I swallowed that horrific mouthful. And, by golly, I kept at it, tried Vegemite on bread every single day it was offered… and by the end of the trip actually had a taste for the stuff. Which, alas, I did not maintain when I returned home. My SO at the time wasn’t keen on having fermented brewer’s yeast for breakfast, and my insisting it was a taste that could be acquired moved him not one jot.
Reverse tool order
Not an exact fit with this topic, but something I find interestingly cross-cultural a bit. Worldwide, (far as I know) insiders anywhere in winemaking & viticulture are generally welcome to really see what others are doing. I’ve seen work firsthand in Bordeaux and Finger Lakes + Long Island New York, Okanagan British Columbia, Eastern Washington State, Oregon, Sierra Foothills. And I don’t get out that much. My wife, the expert, has done all that and more, including harvests in Australia & New Zealand. The point is, being welcomed everywhere and reciprocally welcoming.
Working in Sonoma County & California North Coast, we have hosted visitors from Italy, France, Australia, New Zealand, & several US states. Plus, a couple interns from France & Crimea working here.
I think a big part of why this is okay is that it’s not possible to duplicate the exact results others get in their wines. And, all benefit when any do better at making wine.
The most intensive & in-depth visit was to Bordeaux in 1987 for the purpose of my wife + her boss upping their winery’s game in reds (Cab Sauv & Bordeaux style blends). So, a direct competitor at the high end of the US market welcomed to delve into what even bigger names were doing. (I was just the chauffeur on that trip.)
The most memorable stop in Bordeaux was Pichon Comtesse (formally Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de LaLande). One visual: touring the underground cellars storing a few hundred to a few dozen bottles for vintages going back decades; neatly piled, dusty, individually unlabeled. Madame de Lancquesaing (had to look it up), the owner, was pleasant and formal and the absolute boss. Her husband, a retired French Army general, snapped to and was functionally her orderly.
I was a little embarrassed when I mouthed off that I liked their wines the most of the premier cru wineries we visited. Remember, I was just the hubby chauffeur. I swear I wasn’t angling for anything, just slightly tipsy. (Hard for me to taste + spit out stuff that good, like you’re supposed to.) Anyway, embarrassed & hopefully not visabily too elated when given a bottle of 1975 to take home personally. It too turned out as good as I said.
Oh, just remembered we took along two cases of our Cab Sauv to exchange for our visits, then there were bottles mostly for our boss to take back.
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Vegemite is indeed memorable. Sorry fans, I found one (thin!) serving sufficient but not necessary. More for you ever since!
This is one of the best discussions on food I have read. Thank you BG and everyone.
J R in WV
Ate at a Peruvian place in DC, while there for big meet at EPA HQ many years ago. Long trek over to Diplomatic area around DuPont Circle, Metro, walking hard to keep up with local EPA staff guiding us over there. Was GREAT food. Had to wait for a table, place was huge yellow brick two story place, jammed full of hungry people. Actually served dishes from other South American cuisines, but mostly Peruvian.
Wishing, hoping a great Peruvian cook opens a place near us, no luck so far!
@Reverse tool order: Wow. Great story.