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Every autumn, when the temperature and humidity is just right, my mother and I wait for the perfect moment to go mushroom hunting in the neighboring forests. With our eyes peeled to the forest floor we pick only those we know to be edible.
Gathering only enough for our dinner we hurry home while the mushrooms are still at their freshest. Prepared in a simple manner, we use our old cast iron pan, a dab of butter, a splash of cream, pepper and salt and some herbs like parsley and rosemary. Nothing more. We want to savor the taste that every unique mushroom has to offer. With our plates warmed and ready they end their journey with glass of chilled white wine.
For my Global Cuisine design challenge entry, I want to feature the Filipino culture of communal sharing at the table, with what is now happily called a "Boodle Fight" coined from the military style of eating as one. Laden with fresh banana leaves and foods varying from vegetable side dishes to seasonal fruits, grilled meats, a melange of seafoods, of course, our staple, white rice and in many occasions, a roasted suckling pig aka lechon, the bountiful table showcases how Filipinos love feasting with family and friends indoors and at best by the beach on a hot summer's day. We eat with our hands, please!
I went to India for a month and a bit a few years ago.... and I wrote a research paper about how food can be a springboard for relationship building, despite language and cultural difference. A shared meal is a way to build a third identity between two individuals. I met a lot of people and cooked a lot of food and ate the most flavourful flavours. One of my favourite memories (outside of the spice markets OMG) was coming across the brilliance of the tiffin lunch delivery and return system in Mumbai: not only a wonderful word, but an ingenious vessel for transporting delicious dal; rice; fresh veg; rich curries; squeaky, toothsome palak paneer; boldly spicy channa masala.....pakora.....ah, the list goes on. And beautiful ghee-glazed flatbread....never forget the flatbread. These little silvery buckets sway and jingle, strung off the back of a well-loved bicycle, dodging and weaving through heavy tuk tuk traffic. Dabbawallas ride their bikes with smooth urgency to successfully deliver hot lunches from homes and restaurants to people at work :) Magic. Magic. Magic.
Rita is my good friend's mom. She's Armenian, but she grew up in Iran. Every time I visit her, she cooks the most amazing food like this Indian Red Lentil Dal. On one visit, I begged her to teach me how to make this dish. She was delighted I had asked - but she didn't actually have a recipe to give me. She makes everything from memory and seasons according to taste. Rita showed me how to cook this red lentil dal while I took furious notes. I later worked out the quantities and perfected my own take on her recipe. This Armenian-Persian-Indian dish is one of my family's favorites. Serve with saffron basmati rice (with tadig if you can manage) and a generous dollop of plain yogurt.
Now that I live away from Spain, what I miss most is the fruit and vegetables, specially some varieties you can only find there.
We are very lucky to have amazing heirloom vegetables and fruit. They make great ingredients in the Mediterranean diet, they are tasty and unique, especially when collected at the peak of they ripeness.
There are many other veggies and fruits I left out, for instance, borage is very popular where I was brought up, Aragon.
When I read the description of the contest, and I thought about home flavors, it came to my mind the sweetness of juicy peaches, fresh salads with roasted piquillos, a cold melon left in a stream to get cold for dessert after a picnic… I did some research on Spanish fruits and vegetables, and surprisingly, I could find much information or any map on the subject!
Seriously. Best shawarma imho is from a tiny little spot on Main Street in Vancouver, BC called Mitra Canteen. The friendly dude always greets you with a "Hey guys!" and whips up the yummiest shawarma with homemade hummous and extra hot sauce (if that's your thing), and those yummy crispy burny crunchy chickeny bits that can't be beat. We haven't found any other spots locally that compare, this guy knows his shawarma!
I started making Kimchi 6 years ago. Over this time I've tried dozens of recipes and slowly created what makes, in my household, the best kimchi. Frankesteined from at least 50 kimchi recipes, and using pear in substitute of sugar, this recipe has just the right amount of spice and is packed with flavor! We use it in everything and always have a batch in our fridge!
I remember making these with my kids for various members of our family as inexpensive Christmas gifts. As the jar is filled with pre-measured dry ingredients for cookies, all the recipient has to do is add the wet ingredients and bake.
Other versions could include muffins in a jar or hot chocolate in a jar. You can use any spare jar and make it look pretty with extra ribbon, tags and ornaments.
This is the kind of recipe that uses what's left in the pantry at the end of the week to create a tasty dish. Most Italian kitchens have all these ingredients always at hand: olive oil, olives, garlic, capers, anchovies and tomatoes... There are many theories on the origins of the name of the dish, but as I remember, it's just a frugal way to make do with what is available! Global Cuisine
On a recent sugar-craving marathon, I recalled my breakfast and holiday memories in Vietnam of this fellow heart-warming dish - sweet sticky rice assorted in the vivid red of gac fruit, bathed in the tang of full-cream coconut milk, and marinated in granulated white sugar. Eat this alone, or as a combo with some pork cake, mung bean paste, or coconut shreds, all work!