Food … the variety of life
I am fascinated by different cultures and their relationship with food. In Iceland for example, one of their delicacies is rotten shark meat called Hákarl. We’re not just talking 2 days past the expiry date here… we’re talking about burying the shark for 6-12 weeks, then letting it dry for another couple of months until it forms a brown crust. Note folks this is not an Hors d’oeuvre for the faint-hearted. Famed international food lover Anthony Bourdain described it as the single worst tasting thing he has ever eaten (and he’s eaten everything). The locals usually wash Hákarl down with a glass of cognac. Who could blame them?
East Indian versus West Indian Cuisine
I was fortunate to grow up in the West Indies where food labeled ‘exotic’ in the US was part of our everyday diet. I took it for granted back then. West Indians are people from the Caribbean and East Indians are people from Pakistan, Asia, etc. So naturally their cooking style is different due to what is available on their continent. The thing we have in common is that we season everything. Seasonings consist of curry, turmeric, different spices, shadow benny, thyme that sort of thing.
In the Family Portrait series I wanted to give the characters an international flavor, so I made the matriarch of the family Brazilian. Since food is a part of the characters bonding ritual as a family, naturally mama Banovic opened up her kid’s palette to international cuisine at an early age. In Bastard’s Brew, eldest son Kevin uses what his mama taught him in the kitchen to get the girl.
“See, brother, that’s how you impress a woman. You cook them something exotic. The farther the continent, the more impressed she’ll be.” – Kevin
Kevin proceeds to make chicken korma over basmati to impress his love interest. Korma has the flavor of ground coriander, cumin and spices. It can be made with yogurt as a base sauce incorporated with the juice from the meat.
A nice dessert to go with this meal would have been gulab jamun. To Kevin’s dismay he points out to his brother that he couldn’t find gulab jamun at Gelson’s. Gulab Jamun is a sweet, amazingly delicious dessert. You can find the recipe here. I can still taste it to this day.
In Bastard’s Brew I sent the Banovic parents to Europe giving the kids more opportunity for mischief and mayhem, and they delivered. Kevin is left in charge of his siblings and his frenemies are surprised that he can cook. The first introduction we have of Kevin’s culinary skills, he is making cassava dumpling stew. My mom made this for my birthday last year and all I can say is BEST BIRTHDAY PRESENT EVER! I loved it so much I did a post on it.Check it out here: http://www.plaintalkbm.com/cassava-dumpling-stew/