Archive by Author

Let’s go Somewhere new…

16 Sep

Often times I’ll contemplate with friends on where we should head out to lunch. Pizza? Burgers? Our usual Thai place? I protest these choices always. Originally from Chicago, I’ve always wanted to take advantage of my city’s vast food cultures and try everything. My friends on the other hand are much less appreciative of their options and tend to shy away from anything too adventurous. My most relevant to class example would be when we ventured out to an authentic comfort food-style Japanese hole in the wall. “No Sushi” a sign loudly exclaims from the store front window. My friends are disappointed–they love getting grocery store bought sushi. We all sit down and I’m immediately drawn to the simple, yet tasty sounding dishes. I order Oyakodon (a bowl of rice with egg and chicken on top). Granted, this may not sound like a strange or adventurous dish, but it’s definitely authentic and I wanted a taste of authentic home Japan, not fine dining. My friends order chicken teriyaki, a dish they’ve certainly had before. We all enjoy our meals and head out.

Kanagaki Robun dismisses the Western-o-phile as a cultural elitist whose tastes have been altered by powerful Western influences. Cwiertka’s writing on Western Food and Imperial Japan in the Meiji era supports Robun’s exaggerated prose , but qualifies it by saying, “the introduction of Western food into the lives of Japanese elite meant much more than simply a change of menu” (p.20). While the Meiji era foodie was not appreciated until much later, I hope my constant prodding to get my friends to try new foods eventually opens them up to foreign experiences that they can appreciate and enjoy.

No Wine, No Problem

6 Sep

I’ve grown up with the Food Network being an easy fall back when in need of entertaining television during those mundane, non-prime time hours. Sadly most of my favorite shows involve recipes too creative and varied for me to follow through with, but I count exposure as always a good thing. This exposure goes hand in hand with my experience cooking with my dad who loves to come up with new recipes and ideas for cooking to shake things up now and again. However, for college he taught me his staple dishes and suggested using garlic powder instead of fresh garlic cloves, dried herb oregano instead of fresh oregano, etc. to make things easier for a sophomore with their own kitchen for the first time.

There was one key ingredient that proved hard to substitute for an underage student: wine. Even a half decent wine is great for cooking and is a trusty staple in my dad’s repertoire for making tasty sauces.  So early this week when I wanted to make his delicious meatball recipe I was stuck without any wine to use. Still I was not discouraged from making my meatballs and decided to follow through with it, wine or no wine. Thinking back to my dad’s resourcefulness and my long time obsession with the Food Network I worked up the courage and headed over to Superior grocery store. Realizing the need for a sauce, I purchased beef stock and vegetable soup in an attempt to create a base flavor. I also decided I should use as many fresh ingredients as possible instead of taking the easy route of garlic powder etc. After preparing and cooking the meatballs I added the beef stock and and some soup to the pan to let simmer. Still not satisfied  with the consistency of the sauce I added a bit of flour to thicken the liquid. Once my roommates wandered into the kitchen lured by the smells of my efforts I knew I had a chance at a getting by without my dad’s trusty wine. The meal itself proved my thoughts correct and now wine is no problem.