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Eat like a nomad and try some global grub

11/15/12 | By Paul Suplee, CEC PCIII

Wanderlust rocks my very foundation as I awaken. Did I dream about the British Isles? Was I thinking of Provence as I nodded off? Am I really itching to travel to the Germany or the Pacific Rim again?

No, it is the after-effect of teaching global cuisine, a fascinating subject that confuses the issue of ethnicity in food and then attempts to explain the amalgamation of various cultures into one, synergistic body of work.

In studying the foods of the world, one cannot help but note the vast and numerous paths of migration, amalgamation and destruction left in the wake of exploration, trade, conquest and discovery.

The Nomads, Vandals, Alans, Moors, British, Portuguese, Dutch, Spanish, Asians, Goths and Normans were all known to explore mightily in the name of trade or conquest. And with them came the foods and cooking techniques of their homeland. As the groups moved from land to land, the culinary treasures of untold worlds were combined into a one-pot meal.

In many cases, the nomadic sprawl entailed oppressive occupation and the usurpation of native populations and there is little that anyone can do to fix that. We are talking about events took place hundreds if not thousands of years ago.

Some countries, such as Thailand and Japan, never succumbed to colonial powers. Interestingly, and with great foresight, Japan shut its doors to outsiders after the Portuguese brought them Tempura. Maybe they envisioned themselves getting a tad too chubby with all of that fried food. As a result, modern Japan boasts 97 percent ethnic Japanese among its citizenry.

The commonality of food language is another intriguing notion in studying global grub. Most think of curries and chutneys in regards to Indian food, and it then becomes easy to draw the line to Britain, as India was a colony, with their love of curries, chutneys and even fish sauce, aka Worcestershire (fermented anchovy goo).

Recently, I had the pleasure of dining with a Welshman and an English woman at the monthly meeting of our local Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association. Throughout our dinner conversation, we were reminded of the great trading empire that was Britain, the refinement of dining in the British Isles as opposed to the perceived mild barbarism of American table etiquette.

We discussed the misconception of puddings, namely Yorkshire, a buttery popover accompaniment to the ubiquitous rib roast that was and is our traditional Christmas dinner. How could it be pudding? After all, the consistency is hardly akin to ours.

And then the conversation managed to turn to braised meatballs and a raisin-sponge cake pudding. As you can imagine, the topic of etymology was lively and the difference in culture and wordplay was brought to light through scintillating discourse.

And this is exactly why I implore my students to travel; to learn other cultures and appreciate them. By doing so, you will not only be singing that bothersome Disney song about a small world, but you will also grow in terms of your self-knowledge and worldview. Methinks it’s time to pack my bags once again.

Yorkshire Pudding

1 1/2 cup AP flour

1 1/2 cup whole milk

1 tsp. salt

6 eggs

1/2-1 cup pan drippings from the rib roast

Step 1: Combine all ingredients except the drippings

Step 2: Leaving the drippings in the roasting pan, put back in oven and make very hot but not smoking

Step 3: Pour the batter into the pan evenly and bake until golden and risen

Step 4: Remove and serve with the roast and fresh gravy

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