Monday, December 29, 2008

Eating All Over the Place

One of the many benefits of living in an information age in a moderately cosmopolitan city is the opportunity to eat something other than roast turkey for fancy meals. Over the past several days, we've served 3 meals of note - Christmas Eve, Christmas, and a dinner party on Saturday evening. It struck me how varied our food options are.

Christmas Eve is always tamales at our house, and we wound up purchasing them from the groceria place on Southwest Boulevard a couple doors west of La Fonda. I love those tamales, sold by the dozen, and we accompanied them with Rick Bayless' easy-and-quick-to-make fried beans and rice pudding. It wasn't wildly authentic and it wasn't all homemade, but it was a fantastic meal that tasted a whole lot more Mexican than you ought to expect in a house of pasty white Irish Poles.

The multinational flair continued on Christmas Day, when Sam fired up the stove and roasted ten pounds of Korean pork butt, served with kim chee, some kind of freaky soy paste I got at the Asian Supermarket just north of City Market, and home-made pickled peppers. The recipe has a name, but I've forgotten it, but I won't forget the crispy/tender texture of the pork wrapped in lettuce leaves with accompaniments. I've never been to Korea, but slow-cooked pork is always Seoul food for me (I am filled with remorse for that one). We finished it off with home-made key-lime pie - geographically inappropriate but a gastronomically perfect citrus ending to a meal that was all umami and spice.

Saturday we were hosting guests whose taste I don't know well, so a little restraint was demanded. I went with the Tandoori Chicken recipe adapted for those of us without tandoori ovens, featured in the most recent Cook's Illustrated. (Cook's Illustrated has a subscription-based online recipe database, but this recipe looks very similar.) The recipe was spectacular - spicy/flavorful more than spicy/hot, and just slightly charred but still moist and tender. I accompanied it with Indian Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes - golden with turmeric and cumin, and just spicy enough to be flavorful. Dessert was chai-spiced almond cookies - I'm glad I held off on a little of the cardamom, and the cookies were crumbly perfection.

Friends, I grew up in a pretty meat-and-potatoes household, and I've never been to Korea, Mexico, India, or even Key West. I count myself fortunate to be alive in an age where ingredients and good recipes make it possible to taste cuisines from all over the world. I love a good pot roast and making pierogies is a foodie connection to my own recently-lost ancestry, but, armed with a few good cookbooks, the internet and a few ethnic markets, I can take my kitchen around the world, and still drink the water.

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Anonymous Nuke said...

Viva la difference! Sounds like you guys did pretty well for yourselves. I do have a question tho, was the kim chee home made or purchased?

12/29/2008 10:59 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

The kim chee was purchased from the Asian supermarket. I never even thought of making my own!

12/30/2008 6:49 AM  

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