Has the pandemic made you adventurous with food out of necessity?
No, I always liked trying new foods. When I was growing up in Russia, the menu was relatively simple. In winter, there is typically a soup, followed by very traditional starch- protein-vegetable plate. In summer, instead of the soup, that same plate is accompanied by a salad.
Soups typically included borscht, which I hate, so please don’t ask for the recipe, harcho, because we are close to Caucuses Mountains, or lapsha, chicken noodle soup, or pelmeni, a Russian version of a wonton. In summer, sometimes there is green borscht or okroshka, the cold soups.
The entrée plate was usually rice or mashed potatoes – baked potatoes were unheard of in our regional cooking. The only time we had something similar was when we went camping and buried potatoes in coals of a campfire. The meat was usually fish lightly coated in flour and pan fried or chicken, typically baked or sautéed in a pan. I didn’t have fried chicken until I came to US. If it wasn’t chicken, then it was Russian hamburgers, which you can find in recipes section. A Russian version of schnitzel. Sometimes the meat would be abandoned in favor of vareniki, a kind of a oversized ravioli stuffed with cottage cheese or cherries. Sometimes we had pilaf or chebureki, an even larger meat-stuffed ravioli which was fried in a pan. Lots of green onion and herbs with everything. We grew spinach, dill, parsley, garlic, onion, etc.
The salad was a super simple affair: cut up some tomatoes into largish chunks, add cucumbers, bell peppers, and green onion, a pinch of salt, a pinch of sugar, and a splash of sunflower oil. In winter fresh vegetables were not available, so we switched to preserves: pickles, pickled tomatoes, pickled eggplant.
A great emphasis was placed on flour goods: blini, vareniki, pelmeni, bread, cake, torts, eclairs, etc. I learned baking before I learned cooking.
So with the menu was very middle of the road in terms of flavor profiles. Coming to US was like facing an explosion of foods. I distinctly remember the first time I tried sushi. I was encouraged to cook for an International Student Day by the college – when you are an international student, you get encouraged to do a lot of things – and the guy at the table across from me was Japanese and made sushi rolls. I was floored. So yummy.
When Gordon and I started living together – in sin, as his family put it, hehe – I realized he liked Japanese cuisine. He spent over a year in Japan as a high school exchange student. I couldn’t cook authentic Japanese food, but I found a book on Chinese cuisine in the library. Seriously, that was the only thing they had from the entire Asian region. So I tried my hand at Chinese cuisine. My first “Chinese” dish was Hunan beef and he really liked it. I still remember exactly what he said when he tried it. 🙂
Eventually I found a Japanese cookbook as well and became reasonably proficient with Americanized versions of Chinese and Japanese dishes. When he was in the military, I picked up some Korean-inspired recipes from Korean-born military wives. I already had staple Southern food down. My chicken fingers, which I don’t cook anymore because we need to lose weight, are to die for. Iced water – does wonders. Kid 1 liked Italian. Kid 2 likes steak in all forms. Everyone loves TexMex. Honestly, we’re in Texas. If we couldn’t make decent tacos and queso, we’d get kicked out.
So our menu is very varied. It might be my bastardized version of bulgogi one day, spaghetti the next, followed by roasted chicken mixed into salad, followed by pork tenderloin, then chicken fajitas, then take out of kimchi kimbap for me and a hamburger for Gordon. Who knows.
Favourite weird food/ national delicacy you’ve always wanted to try?
I am not sure. A good question. Umm… I don’t know. Pass!
Things you would never eat?
Oy. Anything with cooked slimy onion. Makes me gag. If we are talking about specific dishes, I would never try balut. Sorry, I just can’t. Just no.
List of foods or restaurants you can’t wait to go to after the pandemic is over?
Any quiet restaurant where Gordon and I can have a nice date. Gruene Door would be good. But honestly, any place where we can just quietly relax.
How do you choose food scenes for your books? Is it always something you’ve had or do you imagine food sometimes (Orro scenes)?
We try to match the food to the mood of the scene. It involves a lot of Googling. So much googling. And now I am hungry, but I have to work.
had to Google balut. Yup – I’m with you on that.
Carmela Stotts says
+1 with !!!!
Yeah. No. Did not need to see that picture, either.
I wish I had seen this comment before googling…
for anyone wondering, its a fertilized developing egg embryo that’s boiled and eaten. Like, the step between egg and live chicken basically. Don’t google unless you want to see pictures of boiled half developed chickies…
Thank you so much, Sleepy!! I was just about to google….
Gaëlle from France says
Beuaaaaarrk !! I really don’t feel good right now…
+1…..wish I had read comments first. Uggghhh
+1 Definitely! ????
googled it as well, thats a hard pass
And now I’m hungry too. Lunchtime! Leftover Mexican. 😀
The harcho sounds really good.
And a no to onions in any form except chopped to invisibility here. I picked them all out of the camarones a la Mexicana last night.
I used to hate onions growing up. Now I like raw onions and I only like sautéed onions on steak. It’s not so much the taste – having sautéed on a sandwich – as the fact that I generally don’t bite strong enough to cut the onion neatly, so I end up pulling out the whole onion and then the onion flips all around and splashes my clothes with whatever sauce/mayo was on the sandwich. So it’s not taste — it’s clothing preservation. (It’s much easier to bite through a raw onion.)
I’m with you, if the onions do not “disappear” during the cooking of the food then it’s no good!
I use garlic instead when possible ????
Garlic was my best friend until around age 55. It takes a whole lot of other herbs to make up for that loss.
Food processors are the best invention ever – for soups it chops them up so tiny. So you add the flavor without the texture ????
My old roommate used to eat onions like an apple ????
I want to say my dad used to do that, too, but I think it was raw potatoes with salt sprinkled on top.
My daughter once made an onion pie from a recipe she found online. My husband and other child loved it. Even for my child, I couldn’t bring myself to try that. She pretty much knew that going in, though.
I find that my husband has been the one trying new recipes now that we’re working from home. He’s taken to baking bread too! I am very happy about this!
My menu choices would be almost as varied as yours, though I like onions just about any way they come. (Native Texan here)
I grew up on barbecue, Southern cooking and Mexican food. (Enchiladas in the school cafeteria were actually pretty tasty – and we had them almost every week.) I had to wait until I came to Houston for college to find deli food and Asian cooking. YUM! Real German food was a popular deal, too. I’ve expanded my “menu” to almost everything since.
My weird “don’t care for” foods are ones that almost everyone else loves – coffee and mint as a sweet. I never learned to like coffee – my mother’s was terrible and the coffee at college was just as bad. (My friends that liked coffee told me that, anyway.) Peppermints and similar sweets just never “took” with me and I never felt the need to learn to like them. And why would I ruin good chocolate with mint?
I catch a lot of crap because foods I don’t care for are also super common American foods. Donuts. Coffee. Tea. Chocolate flavored dairy or chocolate bars (weirdly, I don’t really care for chocolate, cake, or donuts, but if I’m going to have a donut I want a chocolate cake donut). That weird horrific green bean casserole that people make for Thanksgiving, with the crunchy onions on top.
But I just say, “more for everyone else” and move on with my life, lol.
Living here in Texas, funerals demand many, many casseroles made by friends. After my dad died and the extended family had left, there were still casseroles left and my mom cleaned up her refrigerator and froze lots of things. But after a few days, she kept smelling an awful smell. She emptied out all the trashcans, checking for stinky grandbaby diapers and such. Nope. Smell persisted. After about a week (two weeks after the funeral), she tracked it down. She had been using her microwave to heat the frozen leftovers, so she had not opened her oven. Yep, there was the source of the horrible smell. There was a green bean casserole with onion rings that had somehow been overlooked and left in the oven.
When she recounted this story at the next family gathering, we all asked in horror, “What did it look like?” My mom reflected for a moment and then said, “Pretty much the same as always, although it had eaten through the aluminum foil pan it was in.”
None of us have eaten green bean casserole since then.
That made me lol, for real.
Patricia Schlorke says
I’m with you on the coffee and mint as a sweet. I use to eat peppermints when I was a teen. I don’t any more. I had a peppermint that had too much peppermint oil in it and made me sick.
Coffee…I never took to it. I don’t mind smelling coffee beans, but to drink it? No, no, and no. Cold brewed tea is my go to drink.
Now, orange in chocolate…that’s yummy. 😀
I have (with some very specific exceptions) a rule that I will try any food or drink once. In fact, I will try it twice, if there’s enough time passing in between, because I am very aware of how tastes change over time (that said, Vegemite still doesn’t taste like something you should be keeping in your kitchen). Once I’ve tried it, if I don’t like it, I can then confidently say, “you know, I’ve tried it and I just don’t care for it” (or if it’s Vegemite, “that’s not really a food, what is wrong with you people!?” lol. Seriously, that stuff is rank.).
I have zero comprehension of people who won’t try anything. And I don’t mean “I don’t like strawberries so I won’t try strawberry jam” or even, “I don’t like beans so I won’t eat chili that has beans in it” or “I don’t like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or grapes, so I’m assuming I won’t like blackberries either.” I mean, “I don’t like Japanese cuisine because raw fish sounds gross.” Ummmm let me provide you with a list of non-raw and very delicious Japanese food items? “No, it’s still gross because raw fish.” There’s no fish in this noodle dish, it’s literally the Japanese version of chicken noodle soup. “But raw fish!”
I would MURDER for a decent queso recipe. What you got?
Eh. You need the right cheese. This is decent. This is if you want to do too much work although don’t use American cheese. But the easiest thing is HEB queso melt, plus a handful or two of your favorite cheese, for me Queso Fresco and a handful of whatever else I have lying around, melt, add milk to consistency, can of diced jalapenos, a cup of pico de gallo, let cook to blend the flavors, and add whatever delicious meat you have handy, if you want. We keep ours vegetarian.
Susie Q. says
I live in Ft. Worth and won a queso contest with this. People who love traditional queso and people who don’t like queso will both eat this. 16 oz. Kroger Queso Blanco with Jalepenos (1/2 pkg) or substitute white Velveeta and add green chilis or jalapeño to taste, 8 oz. Sour cream and 8 oz ranch dressing. Melt together. I use a chafing dish or slow cooker to keep it warm.
Mary Beth says
My father is a tyrant when it comes to food. He didn’t allow anything that wasn’t meat and taters. He’d suffer spaghetti and pizza, but he refused any other cuisine, and wouldn’t take us to any restaurant he didn’t like.
My mother, on the other hand, loved Chinese and Mexican foods, so when we had a mother/daughter day, that’s where we went to eat.
My husband took me to a Japanese place for our first date, and I fell in love right there. Hubby’s parents ate a wide variety of international foods, and his father taught his children how to use chopsticks before they could use a fork. (He willed his sushi knives to me when he passed.) With my husband I learned to make roti and curries, roll sushi, and stir fry. We made kimchi, and pickled veggies I never knew could be pickled. We went for Dim Sum, and Pho, and soon we’re going to have a date night for hot pot.
Hubby even managed to grill a tuna steak and got my father to eat it. We saved up and took filet mignon to our parents for Christmas, and it shocked me to know my father had never tasted it before.
Mary Beth says
Oh, yeah, this all was years before the current mess.
Our favorite Saigon place is open again. We’re on a list to go have hot pot for two soon. So happy!
Maria Schneider says
How interesting–I was an exchange student to Japan also, Nagano prefecture. I learned to make sushi and a few other dishes (Udon!) It’s difficult to get the ingredients here in rural New Mexico but I still make sushi as often as I can.
I love food. Just about all cuisines. I cannot make very good Chinese dishes, but I keep trying. Given the region I live in and my background, I do some mean Mexican food.
I lived in Alaska one summer and was surprised at the really good selection of Japanese ingredients at the tiny little grocery store. Because sure, it’s west coast, but it’s Alaska (and the town I was in didn’t have a lot of diversity). But it turned out, the trick was that the grocery store was tiny enough that they carried Japanese ingredients because a couple of local residents mentioned to the store owner that they enjoyed cooking Japanese food; the grocery store would literally make purchasing decisions because individual community members liked certain foods or brands.
Maria Schneider says
I did try that here. I even tried it in Austin when I used to live there. No dice. In Austin, they would agree to order something for me, but I’d have to buy the whole box/shipment. Both times they failed to get the items in anyway. Here, the items aren’t even on their lists so they can’t order them. We get by. My brother brings me things from the big city (Las Cruces) and sometimes we go to Albuquerque.
So glad I’d eaten before reading this. Your food scenes always makes me hungry
Maria R. says
Ooo! Food, always a winner for me. Agree on Balut (bah-loot) mind you, I’ve also had issues ingesting any internal portions of any animal. Before I became plant based, I went from disliking curries to adoring them, especially lamb, yum, yum.
Wish I could find someone to bake bougatsa, the phyllo with semolina custard version. Can’t bake worth a dang so must source all that bad yet good stuff.
I’ll pop back to check recipe links & see if I can convert to plant based ????
Thank you for this post. Stay safe.
+1 on curries. Live din a lot of places and I am glad this one snuck in. Picked curries up in the UK. I’m an about to warm up a madras coconut curry for lunch. Mine has chicken, carrot, onion (I like but I’ve seen the hate today), sweet peppers, and spinach.
I also love schnitzel and spaetzle.
I won’t eat Kegogi (for those wondering, it’s a Korean dish and the protein is dog.)
I’m one of the people who haven’t been able to work from home, so I’m helping the local economy by picking up drive-thru or pick-up almost every night.
Of course, I’d be doing that without the pandemic, but now my excuse isn’t that I’m lazy or don’t want to cook for one, it’s that I’m helping the economy.
Lynn Thompson says
Bwah ha ha, Tink. My youngest sister says the same thing. This is same sibling that will not eat vegetables either. ????. But thank you for supporting the economy.
Some people can grow up with a very traditional foods and then change when they move away while others keep the old traditions. I grew up in the south and ate “good Southern cooking”. This included fried meat, boiled vegetables, and a salad made of iceberg lettuce and miracle whip. Barbecue chicken or ribs or steak were served at least once a week. Casseroles or a mainstay for meals.
I was in college before I had Chinese food or Mexican food and I loved them. From there I went to Japanese and Korean dishes. There are so many different flavors and textures in the world to experience. When things are more settled, I can’t wait to go to one of our local sushi restaurants and watch my dishes being made. I’m looking forward to eating things that have just come from the kitchen instead of from the kitchen to my car to my house.
Judy Schultheis says
I will give the overly sweet a pass – I have always found jams and jellies to be far too sweet, and I remember this from my small-child days – so you have some basis for judging how sweet is too sweet for me.
Otherwise, I have always been willing to try anything once. If I don’t like it, I’m an adult now, I don’t have to eat anything I don’t want to. I don’t eat much beef – my father’s idea of a properly done steak was old shoe leather – otherwise, I’m an unrepentant omnivore.
I do like your approach to food.
L Baker says
Nope. No Balut. I googled it and that’s a picture I can never under.
… my husband’s Polish grandmother used to make pelmeni… I am Polish/Italian… grew up with pierogis and ravioli, and wanted to make them for him since a happy childhood memory. When I googled it, learned pelmeni were Russian! My husband didn’t believe it because his grandmother was so proud of her heritage (the family had fled ahead of the Soviet invasion, leaving a lot behind)… but what can you do? Must have been some regional mixing. When we bought them in a European market (in Massachusetts) the bag was in Russian.
We started out making things in shut down like cookie recipes found on YouTube and I made empanadas for the Argentine polo instructors at the barn we belong to… various dishes, now I’m doing weight watchers. Because things got a little outta hand. It’s going well!
It could be that she was either ethnic Russian in Poland, but didn’t think of herself that way, or she or a family member learned the recipe from someone who was ethnic Russian.
Also if her ancestors moved to Poland from Russia because they disagreed with someone in power, they might not have wanted to say they were Russian.
Cheryl M says
Mmmm, good food…I prefer Sonoran Mexican myself. I will usually try anything at least once, if not twice, but not with raw onions. Sigh. I like them, they so do not like me.
Debra Henn says
Speaking of food, I grew up next door to Russian neighbors. The wife made this bread loaf thing with some sort of meat stuffing inside and it was my favorite thing she made! Can you tell me what it was called so I can try and find a recipe? And as always, thank you for the many hours of enjoyment I’ve gotten from you and Gordon’s books❣️
Good decision on the balut. I’m from the Philippines and it’s a popular dish here to pair with beer but I’ve only tried it once and will never ever ever again. Don’t let people try and trick you into trying it again coz it’s an “acquired taste” NOPE.
My Polish mom awould make those individual meatloafs, only she’d use breadcrumbs instead of rice, and include parsley, onions, garlic, and a crushed bouillon cube. There was a hint of nutmeg in them too. Coated them in breadcrumbs. They looked exactly like your pic. She called them schnitz-le. The meat/rice mixture was in stuffed cabbage and stuffed peppers. Now I’m hungry. 😛
Anything is game given family cuisine was midwest from dads side and Panamanian and Chinese from mom. As an adult i tend to operate on the I’ll try it as long as its not trying to eat me first….though am not a fan of eyeballs….
Susie Q. says
Just finished Anne Bishop’s Lake Silence which opens with heroine finding her tenant who is a crow shifter about to microwave an eyeball filched from a dead human. This is apparently a big shifter delicacy from any meat source, including us. Her other books are funny and scary which I like. 2 human women defeat a villain with a broomstick and a tea kettle.
Ooooo. I am dying to know the recipes for your chicken fingers and your TexMex favorites.
What can I say…… I am a French person that has had the incredible luck to have traveled quite a bit around the world (I worked on yachts belonging to Billionaires for 15 years….), so Cuisine wise I was pretty spoilt!
I always went to a local restaurant when I could in the various countries we visited.
I’ll always remember the argentinian steak with Malbec red wine in Buenos Aires…… (happy sigh….) and the lovely eggplant dish from turkey called Baba Ganush….. (I can eat full bowls of the stuff with no remorse).
But my French buds cannot take spicy too well. Most of us Frenchies have a pretty low tolerance to it. We very rarely use chili in our cooking….
My favorite dish is actually quite simple: oven roasted Lamb shank with 2 cloves of garlic for flavour with buttered green beans and potatoes roasted in duck fat.
And yes, for those who wonder, I do LOVE eating snails cooked in their shells with a heavy parsley-garlic butter and pan fried frog legs….
Moderator R says
Baba ganoush is my absolute favourite! Have you ever tried it on buttered crusty bread with fresh sliced tomatoes with a pinch of fleur de sel? Heaven!
Balut. I remember having to eat the whole thing as quickly as possible (while being timed) as part of an obstacle course. I was quite horrified since I usually just sip the soup in it, and not eat the duck. My classmate said that hers had a feather on it!
I also had to google that and a hard pass for me as well.
I will try about anything once (I’m adding Balut to the never try though) and lots of things twice (tastes change). I always bring things to work and “make” people try them, in a friendly way. ???? I’ve had some really, super duper picky people in my life and I just can’t understand it. There’s so much good food out there! I have, slowly, gotten a lady at work to open up to more things. It’s only taken about 18 years, but I’m working on her!
I love going to the Asian grocery store (unfortunately not often as it’s not anywhere near me) and getting random things to try. ????
Susie Q. says
I have literally killer food allergies, and ended up being hauled off in an ambulance due to a co-worker not believing me and lying about the ingredients thinking that I was just too picky, not allergic. Please be careful and respectful towards others. I did not forgive her nor did most of my co-workers.
Courtney Kral says
Sounds like our house! I think global influenced food is amazing, and mmm, this post made me hungry too.
Also, as a sort of random aside, I so appreciate these blog posts you do. They’re almost always a bright spot in the day, and it’s so nice to feel like we’re just sitting having coffee and a nice talk. ❤️
I also Googled balut. I couldn’t finish reading the description. No way.
I can’t count the number of times I ‘ve tried to cook something based on your writing. Your descriptions are automatic appetite enhancers. One example, I now routinely wrap hotcakes around my bacon. ????
Oh, me too! I grew up in maple syrup country, and it never occurred to me to put the bacon *inside* the pancake and eat it that way! But it’s so yummy. I’m a convert now 😉
Maria Z says
Bigos. Polish Hunter’s Stew, I would kill for a good recipe.
So glad I live in the Greater Houston Metro area. There are so many international foods. Sticking to take out or cooking in for now.
Terrie Cunningham says
Looked up Balut and my first thought was Aliens. No, not ever
The dish I detest is rotted cabbage. There are two forms of rotted cabbage with which I’m familiar Sauerkraut and Kimchi. They are made basically the same sliced or cutup cabbage placed in layers with salt, weighted down and sealed, in large porcelain vat until it is rotten enough. The Koreans put chili in theirs. My late wife, a born Schwabishe Madel and my native Korean Daughter-in-law, detested the U.S. vinegarized version. The two women, when the got together, would pig out on each others version of that rotten stuff.
I was raised on the Lebanese version of Mediterranean cooking. My favorites were kibeh nayeh (raw meat loaf), kousa (stuffed squash) and warek enab (stuffed grape leaves). I like TexMex (El Chuco style) foods except for greasy menudo and chiles relleno, there are non greasy versions of both.
Moderator R says
Sauerkraut and Kimchi are fermented cabbage, not rotten ????.
Patricia Schlorke says
It smells rotten after it’s fermented. My dad’s parents use to make their own sauerkraut (they were from Germany). I can’t smell it without running out of the room. 😀
Moderator R says
It would still be great if we didn’t insult other people’s cultural food, no matter what it smells like to us ????.
Patricia Schlorke says
Mmm, my children also say, “Dad, it’s fermented!” To me when I watch them uncover the large jar that’s sometimes buried in the ground, that stuff is smells and tastes exactly like I say. My relatives taste buds start dripping while I’m trying to sneak away.
Of course it’s not a much different process, except for the smell, than curing olives.
Here in the Baltimore area (Maryland USA), warm sauerkraut is one of the dishes that is always on the Thanksgiving table. My husband was in his mid-20s before he went to Thanksgiving at my parents’ house and realized that not all houses stank of sauerkraut on Thanksgiving.
Yikes. I like sauerkraut, but NOT at Thanksgiving, thankyouverymuch. The house is supposed to smell like turkey and sage IMO. Please!
If you were near the Caucus mountains, have you had Georgian food? I was there on vacation two years ago and the food was amazing! I loaded up on spices to bring home and I’ve made a few dishes.
I’ve also made pelmeni and vareniki with my Russian/German friend. They were so good. We made a dessert version with a blackberry in each and a side of condensed milk for dipping.
Patricia Schlorke says
I almost threw up my lunch after reading the definition of balut. I agree with everyone else…hard pass on that one. It reminded me of the one time when I cracked a chicken egg when I was a teen and found a dead chick inside. Almost put me off chicken eggs.
My godfather, who is no longer here on this earth, introduced me to Japanese food when I visited him in California. We went to this hole-in-the wall place in LA and sat at the counter to watch the chef cook. My godfather had me try octopus soup and soft shelled crab. A friend of my godfather’s was with us, and they both thought I wouldn’t like the soup. When I tried it, I told them it tasted like chicken soup, and I liked it. Surprised both of them. I also liked the soft shelled crab. I also had a California roll. Ate that like it was going out of style with wasabi paste. My stomach almost rebelled at the amount of wasabi I was eating. That was the first time I smelled sake. Yes, smelled. I wasn’t 21, so my godfather wouldn’t let me take a drink of it. It was served in the traditional way, warm, and in a flask.
Also, I really, really like Greek food. My parents had a Greek neighbor when living in Chicago, and got my mom to like it. I just can’t eat the raw tomatoes since I’m allergic to them.
I cook different varieties of food. Most times it’s some form of Italian, steak, or baked chicken (since it’s fast and easy). When it’s really cold, I make my version of New England clam chowder.
Greek food is fabulous. I spent two weeks there when I was 24. Gained seven pounds. Now we have a Greek restaurant in our weekly takeout rotation (we want our locally owned places to be here after the pandemic is over). Normally I don’t like lemon in food, because most people overdo it. But the Greek place makes these roasted potato wedges with lemon that are crazy good. Also their salmon with lemon sauce, same. We might need to get that this weekend, now that I’m thinking about it.
The Balut comment made me laugh. When my husband first started really traveling for work he learned how to politely say no to a lot of dishes especially Balut ????. Traveling actually helped him be more adventurous to different dishes.
One thing COVID has done is forced me to be a better meal planner. I live in the suburbs close to many different markets, so I never worried about running out and getting something for dinner. Now I try to only go to one store a week, doesn’t always work but I try ????. Which reminds me I need to go plan and make a list.
Lol balut. I’m a very bad filipina because I won’t eat balut either. I would like to learn how to make good queso though. Thank you for the great post to start our week off ????
I just saw the posts of people googling balut. ???? hum, it’s mostly the thought of crunching through the birdies I can’t get over but a lot of people enjoy the taste ????
About 60 years ago at the park in front of the U.S. Embassy in Manilla is where I actually saw those eggs for the first time. I had heard of 100 year old duck eggs, but I never saw a picture of them. There was a line of people at an “ice cream” cart. I wanted some ice cream. I got in line and observed what the vendor was offering. It looked like a discolored small scoop of ice cream. Then the smell hit me and the people were slurping the stuff, They were discarding something in the trash can. I got out of the line and noticed the stuff was discarded egg shells.
Lynn Thompson says
Thank you, Ilona Andrews, for the post.
Personally I am highly allergic to onions. Runs thru my paternal lineage. So recipes are always modified because I hate Epipen and ERs.
However thanks for sharing the queso recipe. I will make for next BIL family gathering I have to take Mother to. Of course nephews will say not Spicy hot enough …. but that’s their problem. Yes I am the one at the Mexican restaurant ordering plain cheese quesadilla while rest of table orders skillets and platters of food. ????
+1!! I, too, am violently allergic to onions prepared in any way or raw, and try to avoid the need for the EPI Pen and ER. And yes, shallots are onion. I have had to explain that to many a waiter. Since I live in Texas, it is often difficult to order at many restaurants as well. It is a challenge. But usually the company and the atmosphere make up for the food challenge.
Hahaha I love that you mentioned balut! I’m Filipino and I always get asked if I eat balut on a regular basis. “Oh you’re going home for a vacation, are you going to have some balut when you’re there?” It’s easy to get in the Philippines but it’s not like it’s a common favorite. I think I’ve only ever tried it a couple of times when I was a kid, because of dares.
Tasha A. says
omg i looked up Balut since i had never heard of it. OMG!!! nope!! no!!
Yeah, I made the mistake of looking up balut, too, as I sat here reading and eating. I wonder if the anti-abortionists will make the sale of it illegal one day. Seriously, that was my second thought, after my first thought that I wonder who decided that would be good to eat. I have always wondered who looked at a snail and thought, “Wow! That looks good to eat!”
I have so many food allergies that I don’t experiment. When I read your books and the people are eating, I often wonder how they can eat that stuff. I gloss over a lot the meal descriptions. But you use humor with it all so well that I do enjoy it. “My pork chop was delicious.” from Nevada. Alessandro biting into the “little pepper”. Just two that cracked me up.
Just googled Balut. I had heard of it, but google thought I needed a photo.*hurl*
“List of foods or restaurants you can’t wait to go to after the pandemic is over?”
This just makes me think of Black’s Barbecue in New Braunfels. We went there quite a bit over the two years we lived in San Marcos. I loved that place, and the random black forest cake that I loved until I bit into the unexpected cherry. (I was a finicky eater at the time.) I haven’t been there in, oh dear, decades.
Oh, the internet tells me there’s a location in San Marcos now. I still dream about the original location in New Braunfels, though.
Would never eat living squirming anything. No sushi, or bugs (knowingly!????) or snails, or dogs, or human….???? Etc…
Moderator R says
Me reading through comments:
“No to Balut”
“Don’t google Balut”
“I wouldn’t eat human”…wait, what ?????!
???? We are all hopefully sharing that choice.
Lol this is a good summary.
Reading/skimming through a Ilona Andrews comment section is like coming back to my (group) what’s app chat after a few hrs break and finding 300 messages. We have gotten into the habit of asking for a summary when we can’t keep up.
Normally points for the shortest and funniest.
On funnies alone that would make me go back up and check, that last line wins ????????
Insect eating brings up a question. Larger animals with exoskeletons shrimp, lobster and crab are popular foods. Smaller animals with exoskeletons such as ants, grasshoppers and crickets are sold in some specialty stores to be eaten. They are both good sources of protein.
Is it because you can take bites out of the larger ones without eating the shells?
No Balut, not even going to look it up.
I grew up in Queens NYC. We have every food imaginable.
I had French, Chinese, Greek, Irish, Polish , Italian friends growing up.
Tried lots of food varieties. Hate most of them.
Hate olives, curry, sushi, anything spicy. The most exotic thing I like is mushrooms and truffles. Still won’t eat frogs legs or oysters, clams.
My mother was Irish and hated cooking. Paprika was the most exotic spice she used.
Didn’t have tuna fish or Chinese food till high school. Fell in love with fish sticks and fried rice.
All my friends have tried to educate my palette. It’s a losing battle.
And never learned to bake.
I do like Spanish paella. And I love most soups. Except clam chowder.
I love cooking simple things , and I make a good chicken soup and pot roast. I like food shopping and going to Union Square in the spring and getting fresh from the farm fruits and veggies. Summer tomatoes and lettuce are the best. Fuzzy peaches and just picked strawberries.
I’ve always been fascinated with food from different places. If I travel, I want what the locals are having!
Except balut. I had to look that one up. Hard pass. Next dish please!
I always grin when you write about borscht. I love that soup????.
And i can only tolerate onions, that are very well cooked and ,,slimy”, raw makes me gag and cry????.
Okay, unpopular opinion, but balut can be good when you pick right. It depends on how developed the egg is. I personally prefer the 16 or lower number of days, you only get the yolk and hardened egg white mostly. 😀 it tastes like chicken soup with a cooked egg inside with bigger yolk.
Am guessing you only saw pics with the developed chick, definitely do not go there if you did not grow up with it and like it.
I respect the no balut thing though if it is not something you want to try. 😀
A friend ate balut in front of me like 15 years ago and still to this day my stomach churns at the thought of it.
And now I’m hungry again (even though I just ate)…
Also, I just saw balut on Chopped! I’m with you- no thanks.
Kazu marzu and balot are a no no for me
I tried your Edge burgers recently. They were delicious, but they fell apart even after being refrigerated. I got the oil nice and hot, not sure what I did wrong. I’m planning on trying again because they were definitely tasty.
Moderator R says
The egg is the binding in that recipe. Maybe you had an egg that was a bit on the smaller side? It needs to be mixed in quite a lot as well.
Good luck for your next batch ????!
I’ll take a hard pass on balut and any kind of insect (just no).
Do you favor savory or sweet?
I read “flour goods” as “flour gods” at first. I do love carbs. Gluten does odds things to my mom’s health, though, so we’re pretty light on gluten treats in this house and probably all healthier for the lack.
I’m a food sniffer so things like stinky tofu or hakarl (fermented shark saving another to google unwelcome surprise) are generally not appealing to me. The other is texture. Squeaky squishy foods like some eggplants or overdone asparagus are not for me. Squeaky is fine with some snap. I can generally eat natto (fermented beans) if presented with it which oddly falls into the smell and unusual texture but isn’t squeaky. Some natto has a stronger aroma than others.
Texture is a big thing for me too. Anything overly mushy, think mashed potatoes, bananas etc I can’t eat. The flavour has nothing to do with it, I’ll happily eat potato in any other form or banana in a smoothie or dried banana chips.
My mother is a good baker but not much of a cook otherwise. I’ve since discovered steak is delicious if prepared right and you don’t overcook it and that spaghetti isn’t just cheese cubes, pasta and tomato sauce. Doesn’t stop the nostalgia for the latter though.
Favourite cuisines are Japanese, Thai and Chinese, nothing too spicy though.Also enjoy well made pastas and pizzas. My own cooking skills are rather lacking so left to my own devices I make simple salads, stir fries and various dishes that use bread, or the regional equivalent, to hold it together.
I remember when Kate Daniels fixed Low Country Boil for Julie and Red. I’ve always wondered if this is a dish you prepare.
I had to google Balut! I feel sick… definitely with you on this one. Hard, hard pass from me!
OK, i’m going to date myself here, I grew up in Pennsylvania, i used to watch the Partridge Family, and they’d “go to the taco shop” i had no idea at all what a taco was. My parents used to go out for Chinese food as a treat about once a year. I did not eat either mexican or chinese food until i was stationed in Texas with the Air Force. I love them both now, but we did not have many/any restaurants in Pennsylvania for chinese or mexican that weren’t a great distance away. We also didn’t have fast food restaurants like there are now. Of course i was very surprised when my husband informed me that minute rice wasn’t rice and you don’t make mashed potatoes that start with flakes…. who knew?? I’ve made mashed potatoes with actual potatoes since and i love my rice cooker
lol those eggs were on fear factor a few times never seen so much gagging
Japanese food is literally my love language. And, oh, KIMCHI. I love it.
This is such a fun post, Ilona.
A super-easy Japanese dish I always have stock for is Osaka-style okonomiyaki, which I tried because I was obsessed with Ranma 1/2 and wanted to find out what Ukyo was cook-fighting with. Pretty simple, but oh-so delicious. They should have all the ingredients at the supermarket.
It’s so good, even made my roomie, who never strayed from American-Italian-Tex-Mex-diet, liked it!
Mary Peed says
So… Russian baking. When I was in Russia I couldn’t get enough of the black bread. I loved the complexity of flavor and the texture and really just everything about it. I’ve been trying (off and on) for nearly 30 years to replicate it… I’ve asked Russian friends, none of whom bake it seems…
Do you have a recipe for Russian Black Bread? I’d seriously appreciate it. (I dream about it sometimes, with sweet butter.)
Had to look up balut, must agree – ugh, just no.
Lived in Norway for a year as a kid. My takeaway? When in doubt, eat the dish with fish/seafood in it and leave LOTS of room for the deserts! Two Norweigan exports that generally are found in even the smallest towns are smoked salmon and pickled herring. If you haven’t tasted both of those foods yet… track them down!
Logan M Teague says
Oh yeah, balut (just learned the name, but knew about the dish) is the great example of bizarre foreign food. I have heard some weird stories (try reading Gary Paulsen’s book Guts), but I think the weirdest was a guy from our church was traveling in the Asian Region [edited – Ilona] (can’t recall which country), walked into a store, and saw a tub full of live scorpions. Another guy walked in, gave the owner a coin, reached in the tub, pulled out a scorpion, and ate it like a shrimp-one bite, throw away the tail after. I can’t imagine that, still not sure it’s true.
When I saw kimchi kimbap I got a little tear in my eye. Comfort food all the way.
There’s a Scandinavian fish dish to avoid – lutefisk. It starts with a dry salted codfish, a bucket, and lye. It is dreadful. Put it on the list with the balut.
and smalahove (sheepshead) as well both are traditional Norwegian dishes.
Tell Kid 2 to pan fry her steak in butter. She might like it. Keeps it most.
I grew up in a very rural place, right by the sea but where seafood was disdained by everyone, because no one knew how to cook it properly – think dry salted cod and the like. But my dad liked shrimps and mussels and scallops, and kept cooking it. At school, we were the weirdoes with Coquilles St-Jacques cooked in crabs’ heads, whose lunches “smelled” according to the other kids eating baloney sandwiches. I learned quickly that to be disdainful was a waste of opportunity, and that there was a lot of fun in trying everything. And to keep on trying. If I’d stopped at one or two taste, today I wouldn’t eat cantaloup, papaya of jackfruit (Mmmm, jackfruit. It’s such an addictive taste).
We’re a pretty cosmopolitan household cooking wise. My husband is Cambodian, and we love Italian, Korean, Japanese, Greek and Mexican food… I make a tzaziki sauce I have to stop myself from eating by the spoon, it’s so good. I also love Arabic and Indian food too, but I’m less knowledgable about it (I say “Arabic”, and “Indian”, bcs I don’t even know about regional differences), I haven’t managed yet to reproduce the good stuff we’ve had in restaurants (except for naan bread; that I’ve got down pat). The kids adore making sushis & spring rolls, rolling gnocchis & pizza dough and all and any dumpling, be it gyozas, pierogies or nom pao.
My mother in law makes the bestest duck soup ever, with a paste made of galanga, lemongrass, tamarind and a sort of cured fish she gets from Cambodia she uses to flavor the duck before she makes the broth. On the side, she crisps the skin, making duck chips while collecting the duck grease (which we next use to flavor our styr-fry). I’ve made the soup with her and written the recipe and everything, but I can’t make it a good as hers. She also makes rolls of stuffed glutinous rice wrapped in banana leaves (soooo yummy! Especillay chopped up then grilled in the pan ’til the rice gets crusty) and pickled daikon I want to say, except apparently it’s not pickled, it’s laid to dry in the sun. However it’s made, it’s delish and we put it in our omelettes and sushis and our homemade ramen (…I’ve got to learn how to do this daikon thing too…)
Aaaaaaaah, so many good recipes to make, so little time. I’ve got too many hobbies! (>_<) When I've a free day, I'm always thorn between reading, cooking or quilting… I'm in a quilting phase right now, so cooking sometimes get the short cut. My husband was working last week end so I used the opportunity to make something he hates : Kraft Diner with chopped hot-dog sausages, a childhood classic… the kids couldn't get enough, I'm corrupting them, haha! (I think you can only like Kraft Diner if you ate it as a kid. Trying it for the first time as an adult seems to be a no-go from what I've seen.)
Hate, hate, hate a thousand times hate chickpeas. I am now 70 and was brought up a vegetarian love my steak. Used to swallow chickpeas one at time until I couldn’t stand even doing that and went hungry. Love onions raw or fried. Love garlic. I can understand your aversion to onions even though I love them.
I grew up in an immigrant Chinese family, both my parents were raised during the war and went hungry a lot as kids. So they raised us to eat everything that was put in front of us, no whining, no making faces, just be grateful there is food on the table. It made us more adventurous as eaters but also sometimes turned mealtimes into a chore (“must finish all these leftovers before they go bad!) instead of a pleasure.
Some funny consequences: until I left home, I never saw tea in a bag, nor had I seen mashed potatoes made from anything but flakes (my mom was an amazing cook but American food kind of stymied her) or eaten any cheese except Kraft Singles.
When I took my family to China about 8 years ago (Caucasian husband and two small kids), we had a rule: every day we learn a new Chinese word, try a new food, and write in our journals. I did well at the words and journals, but I had a hard time finding a new food, because I had eaten just about everything. Until we got to the hotpot restaurant where my dad ordered…congealed duck blood. I swear, it came in cubes just like Jello. Only blood. Duck blood. Yeah, I tried it but really, never again.
Maria OToole says
And now we know where Kate really gets her dislike of borscht!
Ellen D. says
Ordinarily I’ll try anything once. I come from a family of hunters always game handy in the freezer. Squirrel, rabbit, venison, alligator, snaping turtle, rattlesnake. Dating my husband introduced me to escargot, sea cucumber, shark. But I will definitely pass on the balut.
So the one thing I do miss about traveling some where new is trying a dish made in a country/region in that place. One thing that I’ve learnt over the years is that ingredients made locally can taste very different to the versions made in different countries. So learning that rather then saying I don’t like a while style of food, I’ve learnt to say I’ve not found a dish yet that I like in x/y/z style.
I never realised that the same food could be so different, not realising that sometimes due to different climates requiring different ingredients combinations to keep it stable.
Like chocolate in the USA (which I’m sorry isn’t for me) and chocolate in the UK which I love- but most Europeans might not class as proper chocolate as we use a different coco butter to coco fat ratio (I think).
Or because we don’t get the ingredients as easily so there might be substitutes.
Then there are the adaptions-
westernised or easternised version – f a dish, which is thought of as authentic and then shocks people when they visit the country of origin/inspiration and find out that its completely different.
I love baba ganoush too, I would like to try it in a place where its the part of the everyday food to see if it tastes different and figure out why.
So looking forward to being able to travel (even to different areas of the UK) and try local dishes and learning how to cook them properly.
During lockdown I’ve been experimenting with trying to nail a srilankan leak curry my mum used to make (I have no idea of leaks are even a grown in Sri Lanka, or if my mum substitutesd then in for another veg when she moved here).
I just about got it, but have kept experimenting with the ingredients to much to replicate the same flavour each time.
Then I found out that Glamorgan Sausages was a proper thing- and not just a frozen section food that Tescos used to have in their vegi section (and then discontinued boo). So I tried to make it with the leaks and cheese and ingredients I had at home. But as I didn’t want to fry it I ended up making an odd leak and cheese pie!
So if I want those authentic local flavours I need to be taught (in person is best for me) rather then relying on you tube or recipes as I go off book too much to get it authentic myself ????
Mary-Anne Goss says
Will not touch coffee in any shape or form, love my onions, and also love the other one that most people seem to hate, Vegemite. Have a fairly cast iron stomach, going to pass on that balun however.
We recently had the best Korean food while in San Antonio. It was in the restaurant section of Korean Market, on 6210 Fairdale Drive. I had soondubu chiggae and my husband had the hot pot bibimbap. Seriously, it was as good as anything we had while living in Korea. We were the only migooks there, always a good sign.
My four adult kiddos went and had a mini-kid-reunion, where they covered the table in dishes. All were excellent, or so I am told:)
Anyway, since you enjoy Korean and are looking for a date place where you aren’t likely to be recognized, it might be in an option if you are in SA. Bonus as the Korean tea selection was decent. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any teas from Jeju, which are my favorite, but I also didn’t get to spend the time I wanted to spend in that aisle.
O my god, you know what balut is! As a half-Filipino, that makes me so happy!
But I’ll let you into a secret. Balut is something us “born elsewhere” Filipinos like to make our Western family eat because culture/hertigage/respect me but we daren’t touch it ourselves ????????
*heritage Ugh, blooming non-auto-correct
Hi! Can someone help me, please? I’m looking for a book that Ilona recommended. The trama was about a woman, who was a killer and disguises heeself as a submissive type of girl to kill the ex husband of his best friend, who was killed recently. So, basically, she is looking for revenge in a very unorthodox way. I can’t, for my life, remember the name of rhat book. Help is needed here, please ????
Moderator R says
Here it is, Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone https://ilona-andrews.com/2018/jane-doe-by-victoria-helen-stone/ . Fascinating book, happy reading ????!
I am good on the onions, but get the same reaction to any kind of boiled breakfast grains. I can eat rice but that is it, no porridge, grits, tapioca. If I try to choke it down it comes right back up. Can’t even watch my husband eat it *shudders*. Everything else is fair game though! We cook Chinese, Mexican, East Indian, Japanese, Greek, Italian, Southern US, German, Canadian, British… Foods I won’t try – haggis, blood pudding, yeah I have to add the boiled chicken fetuses to that list as well! My mom over cooked everything, so most of my cooking I learned after leaving home (I did learn not to be too much of a picky eater though). I love to bake as well. Covid has lead me to stop buying crappy bakery goods from the grocery store and going back to homemade, including making my own apple pie filling!
I tried Peruvian food last year. My new granddaughter is from Peru. It was wonderful. I could have ate and ate. Her family made a wide variety of food. Her father made a drink for before dinner. We had a wine from Peru with our meal. Excellent.
+1 on Peruvian cuisine. 8 years ago we took a motorcycle trip through South America and cuisine was great in the Andes.
We also had a few interesting dishes along the way : Cuy in Peru (Google it), Armadillo in Norther Amazon, Marinated tripe in Argentina.
I also learned to eat lamb and/or mutton in Bolivia where there wasn’t much of any other kind of meat.
I think all in all it made us more conscientious food consumers.
(The way agri-business has disconnected the Western society from food is truly toxic for our health and the environment. ) We’re trying to buy more locally now, growing our own vegetables in the summer (at 53.5461° N no less) and trying to adhere to nose-to-tail eating as much as we can (I would still not eat kidneys, though)
What shocks me living so close to Washington DC is that lack of diverse food neighborhoods. A good German, or Polish deli would be highly appreciated. But you have to drive to Baltimore or Philadelphia to get authentic cultural food like that.
I was also amazed when I first moved here and with many of my co-workers from other parts of the country they were absolutely not adventurous in their food choices. Sushi, Mexican, Chinese, a big NO. A sub sandwich or hamburger, YES.
I’m originally from Germany living in Ireland now since a couple of years. I don’t eat anything that has been growing/ living in water since I was a child. That’s just a simple “trauma” story. My mother used to work in Fish Store with live fish in a Basin when I was about 3 years old. It was in the eastern part of Berlin back than. So when I was been picked up from Kindergarten my Grandmother brought me to the Shop to my Mother and I had to wait until she finished her work day. I used the Time to play with some of the Fish in the front of the shop. yep, they were pretty much alive and I loved playing with them. I guess I just loved when they sucked at my little Fingers. As my Mother was ready to leave , of course I asked her if we can take one of them home as a pet. I’ll never forget her answer: “Yes, my dear. It will be our dinner today!”. Since that moment I severely detest everything that had been living in water. Every Fish and Sea fruit and whatever there might be.
But I honestly do love meat, the most vegetables and German Potato Dumplings. I could eat these Potato Dumplings just with tons of Gravy every day. Or steamed yeast dumplings with berry fruit sauce.
Anyway, I also won’t every try frogs, snails, dogs, bahlut and yes – no human for me too. Instead I tried pancakes with bacon as described in the Hidden Legacy Series. And of course, there can’t ever be a day in my Live that goes without cheese. If it is Esrom (Scandinavian cheese I think), Limburger (bavarian), Harzer (German), french camembert (my favorite is the one covered in breadcrumbs and baken) or cheddar.
I guess, now I need to go and get some food. Or cheese. Cheese is something that fits always.
Funny story, I have a friend who bought balut eggs, left em on top of her fridge and forgot about them, then one day they hatched into chicks!
And that’s how she became a self-isolation-period bird mom LOL.
The first time I saw balut was in college when the boyfriend of one of my roommates was eating it. ???? it was weird and gelatinous looking too.????????
I had chicks and chickens for pets growing up, so it was especially horrifying.
About the queso, google nacho cheese recipe serious eats.
It’s super easy and adaptable. It’s just grated cheese, a tablespoon of flour, and evaporated milk.
We use it for nachos and macaroni and cheese.
I tend not to be adventurous with food. But a number of years ago, I was enfolded into a social circle that included a few Lebanese people. Both the man and the woman are good cooks, but the man is especially good. The first dinner party I attended, I had manners on and took a little of this, a little of that. Nowadays, I shovel it down and they have to roll me out the door (with my bag of leftovers!). My very favorite is kibbeh (a sort of spiced meat & pinenut mixture that’s enfolded into a “crust” made of bulgur wheat, shaped into a small football, and then fried) with hummus and tabbouleh (a salad consisting of very finely minced parsley, mint, green onion, tomato, with olive oil, lemon juice, and a little S&P). I think I could eat that every day of my life. (I prefer the fried kibbeh, but I’ve eaten the raw kibbeh version as well.)
My son had International Heritage Day in fourth grade. Since most American kids’ families are from somewhere at some point, everyone had an origin story to share. Parents were invited to a buffet luncheon. We all brought food from the motherlands. I took brie, grapes, and baguette slices for my son, because his dad (I thought) was part French, but I later learned he is part French-Canadian. (Whoops.) The most delicious food I tried at the buffet was pelmani. There is a Russian community in Baltimore and they know where to buy frozen pelmani. I’m so happy you mentioned it in your post, I had forgotten the name and now I can try to find the grocery store to buy it.
I have a friend who cooks wonderful Iranian food. I love to eat anything she makes. She has introduced me to so many wonderful dishes.
Richard Cartwright says
Ilona, my late wife went to Moscow in 1978 as part of a college choir group. For American college students the food was generally horrendous, but the ice cream and chocolate was great. The thing that was probably the biggest culture shock was they were served liver and onions. For breakfast. Is that a Russian thing or what?
We’re Italian so we grew up with the food. However, when I say “Italian”, I mean northern Italian. I’m feeling better that everyone is starting to learn that “Italian” is not just one type of food: spaghetti with ,meat balls or pizza.
And living in Toronto, we are lucky that we have tons and tons of different food restaurants (which I am looking forward to once everyone had their vaccine and stuff starts opening up).
We started eating more different foods in University and it just exploded from there.
But I think that anyone like us, growing up non-English/ non-American has the best background for all kinds of food. We started out different and then just kept it up.
Anna Stanford says
Well, balut is an acquired taste for non-Filipinos, and even for some natives, so I can understand. My husband tried it twice and still didn’t like it. (I love it, and once joined a balut-eating contest in a local Filipino-American festival. I ate 6 in 3 minutes, but came nowhere near the winner.)
Your menus sound like what I grew up with – my mom cooked just about everything so we had a variety of international foods, though she did not cook much Japanese – that was reserved for eating out. But her borscht was a family favorite.
I want to learn how to bake. But I hardly have any references from my childhood for it. Indians don’t bake. So everything else on a burner is easy for me. I do the ‘ a pinch of this’ and ‘throw some of that in’ cooking pretty well, cause I saw my mum do that as a child. But baking seems soooo specific to me. I end up mostly wasting ingredients…
Ahhhh Gruene Door! I lived in New Braunfels and that was a favorite date night spot. I miss Texas. ????
I love these posts! Growing up, my grandmother had emigrated from Lebanon, so holiday meals were the whole Lebanese feast, stuffed kibbi, grape leaf rolls, stuffed squash, baba ghanosh, some kind of rice with noodles in it, and flat bread. There was also turkey, dressing and french fries for one of my cousins who wouldn’t eat anything but french fries and ketchup.????
When I got married, I asked my new husband if there was anything he didn’t eat. He said “garlic”, so I said “You’ll starve. Anything else?” He said “nope”. But he grew up on a farm in east Texas, and meant beans, peas, tomatoes, boiled or fried squash, fried okra, and any kind of beef, pork or chicken. The first time he went to my Lebanese family holiday, he was in shock! Now he’s actually more adventurous than I am, and has eaten fish eyeballs on a business trip when we lived in Singapore.
That is really interesting about Gordon being an exchange student to Japan. I was one in high school too. We may have actually been there around the same time. I spent a year in Takayama and someday hope to take the family for a vacation there. My oldest daughter was an exchange student too. She went to Czech and loved it. Once she finishes her bachelors degree she is planning to go back to live and work there.
Chicken fingers recipe please please please! ????
I hate sweet tea (I’m a heathen like that) but my sweet tea fried chicken is amazing: you marinate the chicken in a buttermilk-sweet tea bath for two days, coat it in flour and pepper, and fry it in a cast iron skillet.
…now I’m hungry too.
I have to say that I am seriously ….? I can’t express it. With all the wonderful food descriptions that you have given, especially in the “InnKeeper” series, I assumed that you were a gourmet chef in your not-writing times. Now I don’t know whether to impressed that you took normal (like me) cooking to such glorious, glowing imagery with mere words, or maybe I am disappointed that I can”t imagine you practicing gourmet magic before giving us delicious descriptions of your kitchen successes that make us drool as we read. Not really. We all know that you two are gifted in the word smithing.
Amy Clouser says
Yeah, balut is not an acquired taste! It’s also not good to eat it with your younger Filipino cousins nearby as they will scream saying it’s moving just as you eat it.
I had a Ukrainian friend years ago, and I was surprised the amount of cross over with Persian dishes. The posted picture looks looks like Kotlet, a Persian dish. My grandmother lived near the Russian border of Iran so there’s that too.
My kitchen is very international. I made borsht (sorry) last week, I made an Indian curry recently, and I am making Thai fish cakes this week (with shrimp though), and I make Persian food (I am Persian) and Italian (my husband is Italian, and just about any other nationality that catches my attention.
If there is one dish I will not try it is Hákarl which is an Icelandic fermented shark dish.
Katherine Nobles says
My Russian teachers at DLI taught us to make piroshki, stuffed with sausage or with mushrooms, as well as both green and beet borsch. One teacher, who had lived through starving times, talked about making soup with anything green that came up in the spring, but she was particularly fond of fresh dill.