Wednesday, November 02, 2005

MEMORY LANE

One food memory from my childhood, that still impacts my cooking philosophy, was the time my father became a chicken discriminator. My mother could be complacent with her cooking at times (sorry Mom) and had a thing for cooking chicken constantly. I vividly remember one evening where, after a week of chicken every night, my mother plated up BBQ chicken for four. My father went a little ballistic and moaned about 'God damn chicken everyday, always chicken' (there were a few other choice words said but just in case any kiddies read these I will leave it to your imagination). He then banned my mother from cooking chicken for a long while.

At the time it made me wonder why she had to cook the same thing all the time. No doubt the reasons were financial but surely there were ways to mix it up a bit. Although the memory stayed with me, I never really thought about the impact that one episode has had on me until a few years ago.

Which leads me to my first kitchen adventure which I have given the cheesy working title- Around The World In 80 Plates. I have drawn up a list of the top 80 dishes and ingredients that I have wanted to work with but for one reason or another never have. The first 10 items to conquer:

1. DUCK - One of my favorite dishes to order at a restaurant but has never made an appearance in my kitchen. (SORTED! Please see In the Doghouse for details.)

2. QUINCE - If apples and pears made babies- it would look like this. Quince has been around since the Romans and is popular in Asia and the Mediterranean. In its raw form it has an astringent, tart flavour and tastes better when cooked. The most common version of this fruit is a membrillo, a firmish pelly eaten with Spanish Manchego cheese but goes well with other cheese too. (SORTED! Please see Get 51 on a Triple Word Score for details.)

3. RICOTTA - A key ingredient in Italian savoury and sweet dishes, this fresh cheese is a tad grainy with a slightly sweet taste.

4. SOUFFLE - Light and airy, savoury or sweet, this is definitely a dish for special occassions and even then it seems like one hell of an effort to make. However, it seems like a good laugh whatever the result. Watch this space...

5. JERUSALEM ARTICHOKES - Not an actual artichoke but a tuber related to the sunflower. Sometimes called Sunchokes in the US, it can be eaten cooked or raw.

6. TUNA - Tuna is a member of the Mackerel family and can be found in canned and fresh forms. For this project, I am interested in cooking fresh tuna. (SORTED! Please see Tuna Steak Showdown for details)

7. BISCOTTI - Crunchy and twice baked Italian biscuits that can be dunked in coffee or dessert wine. It is first baked as a loaf and then sliced and baked again. (SORTED! Please see This One Goes Out To Jeri for details)

8. CHESTNUTS - Available fresh in the Autumn and Winter (bought from street vendors, they are a tasty treat to warm up), these nuts can also be found canned in sweetened and unsweetened forms. I usually buy them fresh and roast them but have never used them in a dish with other ingredients.

9. FRESH PASTA - There are plenty of places where you can get great fresh pasta but maybe I will have greater appreciation for my local pasta man if I give it a go myself.

10. WILD RICE - There is no particular reason why this is on my list other than I like to eat it and I have some in the cupboard that I have never made. (SORTED! Please see Wild Wild Rice for details)

5 comments:

Mom said...

The whole chicken thing was not a matter of economics, rather than likes and conviniences. I like chicken and its easy to cook. Your father likes to complain about food and tell me "I dont feel the love" in the food. Give me a break, I'll show him some love!

Anonymous said...

I have made biscotti on numerous accasions an its easy and much better than store-bought. The first time baker will take a bit longer the first time but after that it's a breeze. I think everyone should try home-made biscotti.

barbaranickerson said...

Xochitl.....I just read your blog and I love it. You may be London's version of Martha without chains. Truly, your writing is superb and totally entertaining. (I am really fussy about writing skills) I can't wait to tune in again.
Barbara (Remember Paris)
PS Your mom sent me your site. Thanks

Your favorite Uncle said...

The reason your mother made chicken so often is that when she got married she was not the living example of a gourmet cook and chicken was hard to get wrong which could have invited the "constructive" critique of your father. Up to that time her major cooking accomplishment was oatmeal. Of course her cooking skills were not entirely her fault since our mother was no Julia Childs herself.

Pookie said...

Xochitl.....
Love your site your mom sent it to me, very well written. Ask your mom about biscotti, hers is absoulty to die for.Maybe she make me some.

Mary