INTERNATIONAL CULINARY CORNER



THINGS DON'T CHANGE


THE WORLD IS A SIMPLE PLACE
The two things that are common but define nations, ethnic diversity and difference are food and music.  We all eat.  And we all have a love somewhat of music.   Yet to some the habits and customs of either the food or the music might not be so appealing.

In Greece, they mix ground beef or lamb with rice and herbs and wrap it in a blanket of grape leaves and tastefully drape it with a sauce made from lemons.  In Israel they mix ground beef with rice, herbs and spices, wrap it in a blanket of grape or cabbage leaves and cook it in a sauce made with a tomato base. Similar dishes are found in central Europe and the middle east.

In almost every other country that has beef and rice the story is similar including corn meal, beef and rice or chicken and rice served in a taco shell or soft burrito.   The answer is simple, the Greeks in volcanic soil grow a lot of lemons, the Israelis are big on hydroponic farming, actually world leaders with Tomatoes, the Mexicans know corn meal.

Same foods,  different condiments, bases or spices.  Common to all those countries is peppers which are grown world wide in varying strengths and potencies from mild to death threats.

When you seek recipes on the web there are ten thousand variants of the same thing.  Here are recipes that I may of culled stock ideas from and modified from the web closest to how I cook.  I rarely use a cookbook, most chefs on TV never show you the stock recipes they cook from, adding a pinch here and a new flavor there.  And rarely show you the ten to twelve people backstage that make them look so good.

I rarely write things down. I am what they call taste motivated and you would not like some of the concoctions I have made since I thought they were terrible too.  Simple lousy taste on occasion, I missed, blundered and fortunately our condo has a garbage chute for simple, and fast removal of the evidence.  

Many processes came from my Mom, memory and family, since I am older now, a lot older than some of these TV chefs and I chuckle a bit since most of these common recipes have been around, some dating back centuries, some slightly different based on country of origin. 

THE COOK-OFF ANSWER AND FUN
We are also a tourist town during the whole year and a Winter Wonderland for the snow birds or as we say the Southern Home of our Northern neighbors who are running from harsh winters, isolation, cars that don’t start, snowplows and other things.  Can’t blame them.  

When they get here most do a lot of eating out, creating traffic jams, a few car accidents, (the right turn from the left lane is a killer) and crowded restaurants.  Nevertheless its good for local economy and business, especially body shops, you just have to pick the right times to go out and wear your seatbelt and a helmet. Hertz rent A Car (in bankruptcy) might consider and could make a killing renting Abrams Tanks or Bradley Vehicles.


THE COOKING CLUB
And gathering with friends for a community cook together is not a new thing but I’m promoting, THE FOOD CLUB.  We have four couples I put together, they like food, we draw and themes are picked and we bring the dish or cook together at each others homes on a rotating basis with some great stuff on weekends with friends for fun.  In other words you cook for the group every fourth month. It’s your task. The next three months the other cook for you and the entire evening is spent in friendship, recipes, cooking and enjoyment.

Since It is on a rotating basis, the theme and the location changes each time.  The four course meal is Appetizers, Soup, Entree and Desert.  You feed the other couples, the course changes each week,  you cook once, and get three meals back… and that is your assignment for the next cook-off at the next host-house.   You can make up themes and have a drawing… create your own rules, as to budget limits, pepper heat,  and ethnic considerations.


One time I got my Mom involved and she taught me her fabulous recipe and technique for the Jewish version of stuffed cabbage in tomato sauce similar to the classic Greek version using grape leaves and lemon sauce called  Dolmathakia.

Thanks Mom — Tricks only a real cook would know like raisins and shredded carrot cooked in with the tomato sauce for a sweetness no one figured out, it was a hit and not a drop left on the plates or the oversize batch I made… and I printed the recipe as handouts… It was a hit…


We had done this before and the parties were fabulous, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention two things.  First make sure your couples are compatible.  And keep it simple.  The quality of the dishes will improve with every party and people love new things.  Second, diversify, with the web even ethnic dishes are found quite easily and constructed.  

Themes rotate and may also may also be on the basis of a draw.  Labeled Poker Chips,  One time Tex-Mex Burritoville, Americana Traditional, Chinese - Japanese Night, Ocean Seafood (Fish Night), Middle east, India, Micronesian, Ethnic call, House Specialty, and once done, removed from the other chips. You can start over later.

I will tell you now, with a good crew, the food will just absolutely skyrocket week after week as the players look to improve on their diversity and skills, great competition and you get three meals back for each one you do.   


THE DEAN AND DUCHESS OF FRENCH COOKING

Have fun in the kitchen, just like the Dean and Duchess of French cooking, Julia Childs and Jacque Pepin used to say. "Bon Appetite”!  French cooking would not be as popular if it wasn’t for these two people.  But there is a small problem...

Between her (Julia’s) scratchy voice, Jacque’s blurred French accent attempting English, and my hearing ruined by yours of headphones and airplane engines… I couldn’t understand either of them. 

I called it “ Cooking by pictures".  I couldn’t understand a word and my ears pained and strained to understand what he was saying.  Thats why his daughter who speaks perfect Engleeeesh…was on his newest series of shows.

On the reruns on the Food Network, I turn on music instead and hit the TV mute button because even on the reruns I still can't understand a word he says, some things are timeless and I like good music. I just look at the pictures and get the drift.

VOILA!  Brilliant…they made a book,  several books.  One in particular, They have a fantastic book out available on Amazon and thats an easy read and a way into American French Cooking.  The product number is B00009WO95 and it's called Julia-Jacques-Cooking-At-Home.  In English, you can read it, you do not need an interpreter nor muffled earphones.

I Wish You Well

like I said, have fun in the kitchen, just like the Dean and Duchess of French cooking, Julia Childs and Jacque Pepin used to say. "Bon Appetite”!  French cooking would not be as popular if it wasn’t for these two people.


Recipe's Are Just Guides

Feel free to alter, change, modify, correct, substitute, and let your taste buds lead the way.... These recipes are endless and passed down through the generations, once in a while a burnt hair smolders in my kitchen reminding me of the real chefs a long time ago who scratch cooked things and wrote them down...on cave walls, the beginning of the recipe.

After my Mom passed on I realized when I cleared out her belongings for charity, I never found a cookbook, no notes, it was all in her head, passed down from her mother. 


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UPDATED   JULY 2020