Tropical Bliss

The notion of eating locally and seasonally isn’t for everyone. Take Stephen Colbert , urging us (albeit with tongue fused solidly to inner cheek), to “thirst locally, drink globally.”

Warning: The wonderland of the recipe I’m about to give you lies just a degree or two from that kind of global eating territory. If it weren’t for fossil fuels and petroleum products, I must admit, I would not have been able to experience the majesty of this frozen delight. So for one moment, I’ve got to appreciate the planes, trains, and plastic bag-happy Bestways of the world.*

Without further chatter, let me give you this recipe. I urge you to try it, and dare you to resist seconds. Even poured over the head of a male model, I doubt it could get any better. Continue reading

The provenance of the loaf



Bread is so basic that most people don’t think about it or where it came from. But if you consider it, bread is a really odd invention, right up there with coffee and sausage. Can you imagine a primitive dude deciding it would be a good idea to harvest hard, bitter beans, burn them to a crisp, grind them into a nasty brown meal, combine it with hot water, and drink it?? Considering that process, stuffing pig intestine with chopped up meat and random things from other body parts is not such a random idea after all.

But back to bread. What did the first proto-baker say to convince people that this bread thing was a good idea? I imagine it went something like this: Continue reading

And the prize goes to…

This week has been a fun one for food, so I think a few awards are in order.

1) Funnest Food Day for Kids, of course, goes to the inimitable Halloween. There is just no other time when you can go right up to strangers–in their own homes, no less–and instead of getting shooed away or kidnapped, be given sweet treats.

2) Most Mess Made with a Simple Cake Mix goes to me. I baked Halloween cupcakes for my office, topped with Milano halves to look like gravestones, and managed to make an astonishingly prodigious mess. This was a one-bowl operation, a simple mix-and-bake process, so it was already noteworthy when I managed to get chocolate batter smudged on the counter, the stove, and my elbow. Then I discovered a big blotch of it on my shirt, under my apron.

People actually pay me to cook, and I’m able to prepare several dishes from scratch in a single cooking session. Yet somehow I ended up with the simplest recipe possible all over myself and my kitchen. I have to give myself a hand.

Moving on…

3) Biggest and Tastiest Bowl of Soup goes to the curry laksa at Cafe Asia on I St. I think the restaurant keeps sturdy plastic to go containers in stock just for leftover noodle soup. The one I ordered is a sea of coconut milk broth with just the right amount of kick to make you sit up and notice but not keep you from eating. The veggie version (which I think still contains some fish sauce in the broth) is filled with thinly-sliced carrots and napa cabbage and your choice of noodles, then topped with fried tofu. The veggies are put in there raw and cook just a tad in the hot soup, staying crunchy up until the last bite. And I made another whole meal out of the leftovers from my sturdy plastic container. At $9 a pop, you have no excuse to not try one of these two-meal bowls of yumminess.

A word of warning about Cafe Asia, though: Don’t go to the one in Arlington. That will bring you only heartache and boring udon. Even omnivore friends, who had a much larger selection, haven’t been thrilled with the food.

Please congratulate our new winners! Tune in next Friday, when the tradition of prizes at the week’s end may or may not continue!

Sipping into love

Okay, Coffee. Let’s stop pretending. You know it’s love, and so do I. Enough of this insane game of hide-and-seek. I can’t sneak off to the cafeteria in the middle of the day anymore, or slip into a secluded café on the way home from work.

Instead of hurried, embarrassed mornings, let’s take it slow. We can get a little French press together. You can relax and brew, then peruse the latest New Yorker with me before I hop on my bike. Sometimes I’ll even give you a lift. My car’s nothing fancy, but it does have a seat made just for you.

And Coffee, when the time comes to add a little fun, I know you’ll be a great partner. I can use raw sugar and soy milk if I want, without having to beg for it or pay extra. And if I have leftover heavy cream now and then, that will serve well as… you know, a special treat. You’d like a special treat now and then, wouldn’t you?

I admit that this is as much for me as it is for you. Why go out and spend tons of cash when I can have my love at home? And I’ll know I’ve gotten someone with a good upbringing—growing up sitting in the shade, those pristine beans of yours never picking up chemical enhancements or odd, sticky coatings.

And I’ll respect myself more once I admit to this love, Coffee. I’ll stay away from others I’ve reached out to in times of desperation—nasty riff-raff I picked up at gas stations, suitors with names like Starbucks and Godiva who are sweet but cold,  machine-enhanced frothy things flaunting their richness. No, I’ll know that you came directly from the healthfood store to me. Our lives will be simple and warm, gentle and loving.

Coffee, you’ve ground me down and I’m giving in. So shall we get brewing?

The refrigerator test

I just realized this: anyone who wants to date me, or even be good friends with me, must pass the refrigerator test. This is actually a two-way litmus test. If you look in my fridge and feel at home or at least intrigued, you will enjoy hanging out with me and vice versa. If what you see weirds you out or you make a face–and especially if you feel compelled to make fun of me–then we just don’t have a future.

So what might you see when you look in my Frigidaire? Continue reading

We aim for epazote, not ESPN

Now, I have accepted that hitting a small, stitched ball with a long stick is an enviable skill. I also honestly find it impressive that people can zoom around on ice skates and manipulate a little disk with what looks like a bent spatula. I even grasp that it can be fun to watch one large man with padded shoulders and knees knock over another large man in similar dress of different colors.

But competitive eating?? What’s up with that?

How have we come to value sticking an entire hot dog down one’s throat without choking?

This is probably the first, last and only time you will see me write about sports. I am writing about it because this has to do with food—something I believe should be appreciated slowly and gently—and because I really am baffled.

When this happens, I always try my darndest to argue the other side. So here goes: I suppose we all love a hero, and we found that hero in Takeru Kobayashi–even if he earned that status by eating processed meat faster than anyone else. He also devoured matzo balls at a superlative pace at one point, so I should give a little shout out to him for his chutzpah. But just one shout. That’s it! My reticence prevails.

Now it appears that Kobayashi is having some issues. Can’t say I feel too bad for the guy. But I guess everyone wants to succeed at the thing they’ve set their mind to.

We shall see what happens next week at the annual contest.

So that’s my bit on sports. Tune in again soon for discussion of something more palatable… or maybe not quite palatable (yet) like epazote.  I really want to get into that stuff, but my first taste of it left me looking like I’d just watched the entire 12 minutes of a certain Nathan’s-sponsored stunt. We shall see, my friends.

Looks like the real thing and tastes even better

In these violent and trying times, it’s good to know there are completely ridiculous things like this around.

At the beginning go of the video, you’re probably thinking, This is a device that makes your ice cream look like a bowl of spaghetti. That’s pretty wacko. But see how your opinion changes when you discover it comes with attachments to make lasagna-style ice cream and even sweet and creamy asparagus spears? NOW who’s wacko? That would be you, for rashly thinking so little of the Spaghetti Ice Cream Maker.