Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cilantro and Bean Sprouts On The Side

I'm a picky eater but it's a different picky than my leg dangling days at the table where I waited for a pardon. I was thinking about Cathy Erway's book, The Art of Eating In, again. Erway cooked tripe several times:

Offal has traditionally been reserved for the poor; hence, it is cheap, but people have been finding ways to make it more palatable across the world, in some cases turning them into delicacies, such as head cheese (made from simmering a pig's head and coagulating the pieces into a sliceable block) foie gras (the fattened liver of goose), fried sweetbreads (the thymus gland) or braised chicken feet, another one of my dim sum favorites...(221)
My folks love chitlins. I, however, have never wrapped my lips around them. The folks moan and tell me what I am missing but I tell them they may have my share for the rest of my life and I mean that sincerely.

In thinking about food that poor folks eat, I remember how my grandmother used to make sugar syrup; a bit redundant, no? My grandmother would add water to sugar and heat the concoction until it resembled syrup which would then be poured over biscuits or pancakes.

I once took a short trip to the store with my aunt and grandmother. My grandmother wanted to go but she was also hungry and didn't want to leave her hog head cheese behind. She had also added vinegar to the cheese. Oh my God, that was such a small car, the foulest smelling concoction and the longest trip ever.

What's the most exotic thing you've eaten? I haven't been much of an adventurous eater so I would have to say goat and once I heard another goat bleating nearby, that was the end of my adventure...

I had another work-related luncheon today. If it had not been someone that I have known for so long, I would not have gone. We went to Lemon Grass, a Vietnamese restaurant which had no nutritional information available. I decided to go with Chicken Egg Noodle Soup (Mi Ga):

Egg noodle soup with shredded chicken breast and vegetables.
I was given cilantro and beans sprouts on the side. This was, hands down, the best soup that I've had in ages. I took comfort in the fact that I haven't seen any overweight Vietnamese in the area. The portion was huge and my colleagues kept teasing me that it looked like I hadn't touched the soup. I shared some and then took the rest home.


  1. I think exotic is in the eye of the beholder! But I haven't had much extreme food. I guess the weirdest was alligator. It was OK until I heard what it was, and it did put me off a bit. Same with a rabbit stew I had once, all I could think of was bunny rabbits. I've had goat a few times, it's common in Mexican and Indian cuisine (at least around here). And of course a variety of raw fish in sushi (btw, I think caviar/roe is disgusting). Shellfish I know grosses some people out, but I sure love a raw oyster. One thing I will NOT eat is bugs. I know a lot of people around the world eat them, and it's a good source of protein, yadda yadda, but NO WAY. In general I'm not crazy about organ meats, although I've had some pate that is to die for.

    Isn't it funny that the grossest foods are meat? I can't think of a single vegetable or fruit that's nasty! (except okra)

  2. Gingersnapper,

    All I want to know is if the alligator tasted like chicken...

    I've never had caviar and don't plan on it.

    I had deer once and couldn't shake the Bambi image and, yeah, I don't think that I'll be eating any bugs anytime soon.

    I second that emotion about the grossest foods which includes okra; I'll throw in Brussels sprouts to (not) sweeten the pot.

  3. The most exotic thing I've tried was venison. And that's only because my "friend" didn't tell me what it was. I've never had it again. I too am picky and not very adventuous with my food!

  4. Totally forgot about venison. I've also had buffalo. And I think I had rattlesnake once. It was some kind of snake, anyway. I will NOT eat "prairie oysters." That's just a stupid thing people do to gross each other out.

    The alligator didn't taste like chicken, but I can't really characterize it. It did have a fairly strong flavor, but that was 25 years ago and I can't quite picture it now. Also it was cooked in a Cajun style so it was pretty well spiced up.

    I guess I am adventurous after all, because I will try anything (except bugs).

    I adore Brussels sprouts! But I never cared for them until I learned to cook them right.

  5. @Diane,

    That's how I happened to eat deer -- someone handed me meat but didn't reveal that it was Bambi...I've never had it again either.


    You are adventurous. Hmmmm, I didn't know that there was a wrong way to cook Brussels sprouts but I am going to completely take your word for it. ;)