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Chewsday

Spanakopita

A Greek recipe.

Reblogged from: A Life Moment

Spinach Filo Pastry – Spanakopita / Byrek

Spanakopita/Byrek is one of my favourite recipes ever, in fact I consider it as a special treat as it is healthy, delicious and nice to look at. You can use spanakopita as a starter and even make a really good impression if you cook it to a party with your friends or  family. I believe that what makes it special is the fact that it really enhances the flavour of the vegetables taking away the earthy and bland taste.

All you need is:…

Now if you want to know what you need and how to do it you’ll have to visit A Life Moment.

This recipe is flexible, you can substitute different greens, spinach, chard, etc and you can change the ricotta cheese for feta.


Chewsday

Mocotó

During the weekend I had mocotó. The bar along the road makes it every Saturday. It is a typical Brazilian dish.

The plate was so full, I slopped it as I carried it to the table – image AV

I eat it with liberal dashes of Brazilian pimenta (chillies steeped in olive oil).

But what is mocotó?

Cows’ feet.

Bleached cows' feet in the butchers

Bleached cows’ feet in the butchers  image AV

When you buy it they cut it up into 2″ pieces ready for the pot.

What you need:

  • 1 kg  mocotó (cut to size)
  • 2 sausages chopped
  • parsley and spring onions as you like
  • 2 medium onions roughly chopped
  • 1 tomato chopped
  • 1/2 green capsicum chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cubes of bacon stock
  • 1 lemon
  • tomato extract
  • pepper (chillies in olive oil)

What you do:

Rub each piece of mocotó with cut lemon

One onion, stock, bay leaves and mocotó in a pressure cooker and cover with water at least three fingers above the bones. Once boiling, leave for 50 minutes. After this time the muscle should be free of the bone. If not, cook further.

Put the liquid in a blender and pulse.

Fry off the chopped sausage, rest of the onion and capsicum in a pot (not pan). Next put the rest of the ingredients in the same pot and add the contents of the blender. heat and serve.

Addition to this you can also add bucho (stomach). I like this.

You can also add other vegetables, potato, carrot, greens.


Andouille de Guemene

The French delicacy made of 25 layers of pig intestines

Guemene-sur-Scorff in north-west France may not be well known internationally, but a popular French delicacy was born in the town. The andouille de Guemene is a pork sausage made from pigs’ intestines and stomachs.

A local andouillerie, Rivalan Quidu, advertises its presence on the outskirts of Guemene-sur-Scorff in Brittany, France, with a sculpture in the corner of its vast car park.

You won’t need to take a great leap of imagination to visualise what a representation, in fibreglass, of two giant andouilles might be mistaken for, but the locals take their home-grown delicacy very seriously indeed.

A steady stream of customers – from passing tourists to lorry drivers on their regular beat – pull in to buy a chunk.

The andouille de Guemene is a relatively new phenomenon – the recipe having been created only in 1930 by Joseph Quidu, the son of a local farmer – but Gallic gourmands with a fascination for all elements of the gastrointestinal tract of a pig have embraced it as a classic.

As I push open the shop door I’m enveloped by the aromas of fat and smoke. I suspect just breathing the air could send my cholesterol levels into double figures.

The narrow shop is fitted out to resemble a Breton kitchen, complete with pine fixtures. Andouilles hang from every part of the ceiling like crinkly brown stalactites. At one end is a typically huge Breton fireplace – it too is festooned with andouilles, being smoked over a wood fire.

The stones are caked in glistening, sooty fat. Behind the counter is Benoit, husband of Joseph’s grand-daughter Francoise, who together with their children are carrying the tradition of the andouille de Guemene into its third and fourth generations.

Out at the back, away from the public gaze – and possibly out of respect for the squeamish – is the kitchen where the andouilles are created in a modern style true to Joseph’s original recipe.

Inspired, I like to imagine, by the act of pulling on more than one pair of socks to counter the cold and damp Breton winters, Joseph pulled one length of chaudin – or pig intestine – over another, and then another. Around 20 or 25 in all.

The salted intestines of three pigs, weighing in at 3kg, go into each andouille, which are then smoked over oak wood and dried, sometimes for months on end before being cooked slowly in stock. Cut through, the innards resemble pinky-grey tree rings carrying a distinctly smoky taste and aroma.

Source: BBCNews Read and see more


Chewsday

Brazilian Food

I found this this morning, and thought, great, a typical Brazilian dish.

Reblogged from EatRio

Baião de Dois

There, does that look okay? It’s yummy.

Oh, you want the recipe…

Click on the link above for the full story and recipe.


大家一定要試一下以下的波蘭美食 – a must try Polish food

大家一定要試一下以下的波蘭美食 – a must try Polish food.

via 大家一定要試一下以下的波蘭美食 – a must try Polish food.

This is off a Hong Kong blog, but the story is great, and the food looks great too. A good look at Polish food.

 

AV


Cambodian Rat Meat

A growing export market

Rice field rats are considered a delicacy in Cambodia

A unique harvest is under way in the rice fields of Cambodia where tens of thousands of wild rats are being trapped alive each day to feed a growing export market for the meat of rural rodents.

Popularly considered a disease-carrying nuisance in many societies, the rice field rats, Rattus argentiventer, of this small South-East Asian nation are considered a healthy delicacy due to their free-range lifestyle and largely organic diet.

Rat-catching season reaches its height after the rice harvest in June and July when rats have little to eat in this part of rural Kompong Cham province, some 60km from the capital Phnom Penh.

That lack of food coincides with seasonal rains that force the rodents onto higher ground, and into the 120 rat traps local farmer Chhoeun Chhim, 37, said he set each evening.

“Wild rats are very different. They eat different food,” said Mr Chhim, explaining with a gourmand’s intensity the difference between rice-field rats and their urban cousins, which he considers vermin unfit for the cooking pot.

Common rats “are dirty and they have a lot of scabies on their skin,” Mr Chhim said. “That’s why we don’t catch them.”

Somewhat proudly he listed off the superior eating habits of the rats he had caught the night before: rice stalks, the vegetable crops of unlucky local farmers, and the roots of wild plants.

‘Tastes like pork’

On a good night, he can catch up to 25kg of rats.

“After the harvest season the rats don’t have much food to eat, so it is a good time to catch them,” he said, unloading his motorcycle of several large, steel cages filled with rats at the home of the local rat trader.

Though rat meat tastes “a bit like pork,” Mr Chhim said it was not really his preferred meal.

“We sell the rats for money and buy fish instead,” said Chin Chon, 36, another rat catcher as he dropped off several more packed cages to be weighed, graded and repacked for export.

Source: BBCNews Read and see more


It’s not an alien… It’s lunch

Preparing a scary horseshoe crab lunch


Margaritas Three Ways – A Cinco De Mayo Special

Whilst not necessarily celebrated the same way in Mexico and other Latin American countries, Cinco De Mayo is a festival celebrating all of the finer things Mexican culture has to offer the world.

Whether it’s Chocolate, Spicy Food or even a certain infamous Mexican spirit (or 2) Cinco De Mayo is a celebration and a time for getting together with friends and family…

So what are the 3 margaritas I have in store for you? Well let’s start with a classic recipe and tweak it a little…

Mi Casa Tequila:

Mi Casa Tequila is an extremely high quality 100% Agave Tequila, obviously from Mexico, and is unfortunately not readily available on the UK Market it can be found readily across the USA so if you plan on heading out there any time soon, be sure to pick a bottle up!

It’s an estate-craft tequila from a family run business and has wone numerous awards for their utterly fantastic tequila(s). You can find their page here, but be sure to check out their signature margarita before you do:

Mi Casa Margarita

Recipe:

2 measures Mi Casa Reposado

1 measure St. Germain

¾ measure Fresh Lime Juice

Image

Reposado Tequila always adds a slight depth to the drink, making it even more awesome!

Recipes and more Margaritas on this link.

Reblogged from: Margaritas Three Ways – A Cinco De Mayo Special.


Bolivia

Between 1996 and 2000 I had a love affair with Bolivia, as well as several love affairs in Bolivia.

I have traveled over much of the country, not liking La Paz nor Cochabamba, but I adored Uyuni, Potosí and Sucre. I lived twice in Santa Cruz de la Sierra which is half way to Brazil. I rode the tren de la muerte (death train) more than 30 times between Santa Cruz and Puerto Quijarro.

But food…

I found this old photo while sorting some old recovered files.

scan0003

Patty’s cabaña

It’s a terrible photo (quality) but throughout my South American meanderings the negatives went with me, through deserts, in jungles and over the Andes several times. You can’t expect negatives to come through that abuse in top condition.

But, the food….

Ah yes, in the front you can see displayed several of the local delicacies. I cant remember them all now, but there were rice cakes, tamales and, my favourite, sonso; the ones standing up on a stick. Sonso is boiled yuca (mandioca root), mashed then lumps of cheese added, formed on to a stick and grilled over leña (firewood) to melt the cheese and get a crispy finish.

I used to help Patty (one of the aforementioned love affairs) make them on the weekend.

The Cabañas are an area near Santa Cruz de la Sierra, about 8kms, by the Rio Piray. They were classed as turistic (tourism), but domestic. A place for the Cruzeños to play in the weekend.

Where there is water, there are kids

Where there is water, there are kids

The river itself was a wide expanse of sand with river channels and deep pools where sand had been removed. The river wasn’t deep, you could walk across it.

There were 4WD motorikes, horses and many other activities.

But the FOOD!

Ah, yes. Here’s a better photo of the sonsos…

This photo not mine

This photo not mine, found on flickr

 


Meanwhile… in Papua New Guinea

PNG-BBQ

They really know how to BBQ!


THIS is a BBQ

salt-lick-bbq-pit

Argentinians know how to do it! Parillada, the best BBQ.


This dish is called Odori-Don

Reposted from – DNamto.

odoti_don

Just come to know about this dish, thought to share with you all

This is a dish called Odori-Don. It has a dead squid on top that “dances” when Soy Sauce is poured on it, activating it’s neurons.

 

via This dish is called Odori-Don.


Gourmet Bolivia – an Oxymoron?

Gustu, Bolivia: the surprise restaurant venture by Noma’s Claus Meyer

Nobody predicted the co-founder of one of the world’s best restaurants would pick Bolivia as the location for his next venture. Ed Stocker visits the newly opened Gustu in La Paz

Gustu’s inauguration night in La Paz, Bolivia. Photograph: Stephan Gamillscheg

Gourmet Bolivia. Now there’s an oxymoron. While its neighbours, in particular Brazil, Argentina and Peru, have established themselves on the world’s food scene, Bolivia has yet to make its mark. Few of us can name any classic Bolivian dishes, fewer still any Bolivian chefs.

So the news that Claus Meyer, co-founder of Copenhagen’s Noma, a three-time winner of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants (and the current number two), was opening an upscale restaurant in the capital La Paz was greeted with some astonishment. But Meyer – who, alongside Noma co-owner and chef René Redzepi, is famed for his trailblazing ultra local, seasonal cuisine – was drawn to the country not by its existing cuisine, but by the potential of its raw ingredients.

“Why Bolivia? If you have access to a large diversity of products, unknown to foodies, then you have a strong chance of coming up with something that could have global interest. Bolivia may have the most interesting and unexplored biodiversity in the world,” he says over the phone from the Danish capital. “If we succeed, this will mean more to the Bolivian nation than Noma and new Nordic cuisine has meant to anyone.”

Tender beets and papalisa with hibiscus. Photograph: Ed Stocker

It seems like quite a leap into the unknown for a man who, by his own admission, had never travelled in the country before. He says he was swayed into picking Bolivia by the work done there by Danish NGO Ibis, which has become a partner in the Gustu project. He hopes the benefits will be three-way: for him as restauranteur seeking new inspiration, for customers looking for something new, and for the country, South America’s poorest.

Following in the footsteps of Brazilian chef Alex Atala, who is credited with redefining Latin American food with his use of exotic Amazon ingredients at his restaurant DOM in Sao Paulo, and Peruvian Gastón Acurio, whose international chain of high-end restaurants has put his country’s cuisine on the food map, Meyer wants to offer diners a chance to explore local Bolivian flavours they have never even heard of, let alone tried.

Gustu, which opened in April, is located in the zona sur, the southern part of town where its wealthiest residents live, some of 1,110m below the wheeze-inducing heights of El Alto, La Paz’s satellite town in the north, 4,100m above sea-level.

The restaurant’s interior feels every inch the international diner: minimalist décor, grey walls, large windows with impressive views of the Andes and low-wattage exposed light bulbs. Like the food, everything is sourced from within the country, overseen by local designer Joyce Martín. There are flashes of local colour, too, in the Andean-inspired striped cushions dotted around the space.

Sampling the Gustu tasting menu is certainly a lesson in the biodiversity that Meyer rates so highly. Tender beets come with papalisa, a yellow potato dotted with shocks of pink and flavoured with hibiscus, a plate bursting with colour and flavour. A perfectly cooked egg yolk comes in a “nest” of palm heart strips and alpaca charque, Bolivia’s jerky equivalent. Pink llama loin is served with fermented carrots, coa oil (a herb that tastes like a combination of rosemary, Swiss mint and eucalyptus) and little green and yellow wakataya herb flowers, giving the dish a unique sweet-fragrant kick.

As Bolivia is a landlocked country, seafood doesn’t make an appearance, but Lake Titicaca trout does. A standout pudding is the chankaka – sugar cane honey – meringue with sorbet made from tumbo, a green-skinned fruit that looks like passion fruit and grows just outside the restaurant. This is the sort of menu that needs footnotes.

The five, seven or 15-course menu arrives beautifully presented on rough-cut slate plates and in ceramic bowls, with attention to detail as obsessive as at Noma. There is also an alcohol-pairing option which, like the cuisine, is full of surprises. For one, Bolivian wine is really rather good, even if some of the bottle labels are shockers. Their whites span everything from riesling to torrontés, their reds go from malbec to merlot. And then there are the cocktails, all made from singani, the national grape-based spirit, and often infused or macerated in-house. The singani with orange is particularly good, with the chankaka (unrefined sugar cane) giving it a dark sultry colour.

Gustu’s two head chefs are from Venezuela and Denmark respectively and they haven’t been afraid to include ideas and ingredients – still locally sourced – that are rarely eaten by Bolivians, including cauliflower and rabbit. Meyer defends the use of foreign chefs, citing the number of non-Danish cooks working at Noma, including its Macedonian head chef. “It doesn’t necessarily take a Bolivian chef to release the true potential of Bolivian cuisine,” he said. “It takes someone with a very humble attitude towards everything, able to see, smell, eat and learn.”

Read more

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Cuy – What’s a Cuy?

Cuy and chips

Cuy and chips

In my opinion, cuy looks like road kill served on a plate with chips.

This is not only my opinion, I heard an Australian tourist say, when presented with one of Peru’s national delicacies… “Looks like it was run over by a freakin’ truck!” (He was an Australian, he did not actually say ‘freakin”)

So what is cuy?

Cuy is a guinea pig.

Peru is famous for two dishes, cerviche and roast or fried cuy. The former I love, the latter I have never tried, and won’t.

Cuy is not only confined to Peru, but much of the Altiplano.

Could I bring myself to eat a guinea pig?

Eating roasted or fried guinea pig is an ancient tradition in parts of South America, and still common today. But in other parts of the world the rodents are cherished as cuddly, fluffy pals for children. How do you make the mental leap from cute pet to delicious meal?

As a committed carnivore I’m not in the habit of attaching personalities to the meat on my plate.

But this was a guinea pig, with four legs, a face and endearingly prominent front teeth. I used to have one as a pet.

My husband Jeremy and I were in a restaurant in southern Ecuador, where guinea pigs are regularly served up with potatoes and corn, and have been for thousands of years. Peru, Bolivia and parts of Colombia also do so.

We’d seen them being cultivated in a small rural home in Colombia, and impaled on thick rods before being roasted en masse in an Ecuadorian market. Eating traditional foods is a large part of the travel experience, so there was no way we would pass through the region without sampling this dish.

The roasted guinea pig – called cuy in South America – was brought to our table whole before being chopped into five pieces – four leg portions and the head.

I considered Jet, the tufty black guinea pig who was my first pet. He was forever getting lost and his antics were the subject of a story written by eight-year-old me, which won a local writing competition.

That he died in the care of friends while we were on holiday – overwhelmed by the car fumes in their garage – was one of those dramatic childhood turning points that I never really got over. Could I move on?

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How to make perfect salt and pepper squid

This fried, spicy dish is a staple favourite at most Chinese restaurants. But how should you do the batter? And is it better to deep or shallow fry?

The perfect salt and pepper squid. Photograph: Felicity Cloake

I still remember the thrill of my very first Chinese meal, in a restaurant in exotic St Albans back in the late eighties. There were banana fritters and hilarious chopstick lessons, pancakes you could eat with your hands and carrots carved to look like flowers; in short, it was an eight-year-old’s dream meal ticket.

My tastes have changed slightly since then – I’m likely to be the one pushing for the pock-marked Mother Chen’s bean curd, or the chilli tripe (while secretly hoping someone else will insist on the crispy duck), but one thing I’m unable to resist, if it’s on the menu, is salt and pepper squid. And it usually is, because whatever part of China they’re from, restaurateurs are canny operators, and Cantonese spicy, salty fried food is always a winner.

The problem is, Chinese meals are all about sharing, and even people who claim to be scared of tentacles usually end up polishing off more of the portion than I’m strictly comfortable with. Time to make squid the main attraction at home, away from prying chopsticks.

The cephalopod itself

British squid is easy to come by in fishmongers – recipes vary as to the preparation method, with chef Ching-He Huang and Mitch Tonks recommending they are cut into rings, and most others suggesting triangles. I find these larger pieces hold the batter better, as does scoring one side in a diamond pattern, as suggested by Bill Granger and Rick Stein. (This is also supposed to stop them curling up quite so much during cooking, although it doesn’t make a huge amount of difference when deep frying.) Baby squid are preferable if you like to crunch the tentacles as well (many people are squeamish; I think they’re the best bit).

The batter

Not everyone is keen on a bit of batter: Rick Stein stir-fries his squid naked, but, pleasant as it is, it’s missing the crunchy element that makes salt and pepper squid such pure joy to eat. The other recipes I try are more traditional. Sydney chef Ying Tam makes a batter from self-raising flour, vegetable oil and water, which wins the crunch competition, while Huang’s egg and potato flour coating in her book China Modern is the lightest, and gives the best coverage. Of the also-rans, Bill Granger uses cornflour and soda water, which makes it crunchy, but relatively heavy, and Tonks’s milk and cornflour coating, from his book Fish Easy, disappears into the fryer, never to be seen again. Potato flour and egg seems to be the wise choice here – almost tempura light, it comes closest to the real thing.

The seasoning

Batter’s only a convenient vehicle for spice, however – and, for a dish with such a self-explanatory name, there’s a remarkable diversity of opinion here. Huang and Granger are the only ones who really adhere to the description, although she uses white pepper and he goes for black. Stein and Tonks are faithful in a slightly fancier way, using a mixture of black and tingly, numbing Sichuan peppercorns, dry roasted until fragrant, which I love – the combination gives the batter a more assertive, complex peppery flavour. Tonks also chucks in some dried Sichuan chillies, but I decide to reserve this heat for the topping (of which more below). I like his idea of reserving some of the seasoning mixture to sprinkle over the cooked squid just before serving, however, so the dish packs a little extra punch. Tam, meanwhile, goes completely off piste with a homemade “five-spice mix” of ground ginger, celery powder, salt, five-spice and chicken stock powder, which, according to my culinarily sophisticated boyfriend “makes it taste like Pot Noodle”. Whether or not that’s true (of course, I wouldn’t know), it certainly overwhelms the flavour of the poor squid.

The garnish

Actually, for salt and pepper squid, this is more than a mere garnish: the little crunchy morsels of fried chilli and onion that can be chased around the plate with chopsticks long after the last tentacle has been devoured are crucial, and nice as it is to have a spritz of lime juice and a sprig of coriander for freshness, I think Tonks is missing a trick by leaving them out. Sprinkling them on fresh, as Huang does, is also unsatisfactory – they should be cooked briefly, just to slightly caramelise them. That said, I find it well-nigh impossible, not to mention hazardous, to fish tiny pieces of chilli out of a pan of sizzling oil, as Tam suggests, so I’m going to cook them in a separate pan, and combine the two just before serving. He adds garlic, which I really like, but it has a tendency to burn, so keep it in slices, rather than chopping it finely. His final spritz of rice wine adds a pleasant zing to the dish, cutting through the fat, but I prefer the fresher flavour of the lime used by Tonks and Grainger, especially at this time of year, when you might even fancy yourself sitting outside on the waterfront in Stanley, Shanghai or Sydney as you dine in the garden.

The cooking

Sadly, this is a dish whose deliciousness largely relies on deep frying. OK, Stein shallow fries his, but then, as we’ve discussed, that isn’t quite the real deal. You can be all authentic, and do it in a wok, as most recipes suggest, but a deep pan will do just as well – or, of course, be like a real Chinese restaurant and use a deep-fat fryer. Serve with a salad, to slightly mitigate the guilt.

Perfect salt and pepper squid

Serves 2

350g small squid, cleaned

1/2tsp black peppercorns

1/2tsp Sichuan peppercorns

1tsp sea salt flakes

5tbsp potato flour

1 egg, beaten

Groundnut or vegetable oil, to fry

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced

2 spring onions, sliced

1 garlic clove, sliced

Fresh coriander and lime wedges, to serve

Separate the bodies of the squid from the tentacles, and cut them into triangles. Score the inside with a diamond pattern, making sure not to cut right the way through the flesh. Add to the tentacles, pat dry and set aside.

Heat a dry frying pan and add both varieties of peppercorn. Toast for a minute or so until fragrant, then tip into a pestle and mortar, along with the salt, and crush to a powder. Mix two-thirds of this with the potato flour in a shallow bowl and set the rest aside. Put the beaten egg into a second bowl.

Half fill a large pan or wok with oil, or use a deep fat fryer, and heat it to 180C, or until a small piece of bread browns in 15 seconds.

Meanwhile, dip the squid pieces in the egg, then in seasoned flour until well coated. Fry – in batches if necessary – until pale golden, stirring once to make sure they don’t stick to the bottom.

As they’re cooking, heat a further tablespoon of oil in a frying pan over a high heat. Use a slotted spoon to lift the cooked squid on to kitchen towel and tip the chilli, spring onion and garlic into the frying pan. Fry very briefly until it all starts to caramelise, then add the squid to the pan and toss together.

Tip on to a serving plate, sprinkle with a little more seasoning and serve with a little coriander and some wedges of lime.

Is salt and pepper squid your favourite Chinese takeaway treat, or would you make a case for prawn toast, wontons, or some more exotic fare? And, while we’re talking squid, what else do you like to do with them and their tentacled relatives, the cuttlefish and the octopus?

000theGuardianLogo

 


Would you eat this?

A small hagfish complete with slime

A small hagfish complete with slime

Hagfish or Myxine glutinosa, they are fish, not eels.

Koreans and Korean markets and restaurants in New York City have been buying, selling, cooking, and eating hagfish for the last 30 years.

Hagfish are usually not eaten owing to their repugnant looks, as well as their viscosity and unpleasant habits. However, a particular species, the inshore hagfish, found in the Northwest Pacific, is valued as food in the Korean Peninsula.

Kkomjangeo bokkeum, a Korean stir fry hagfish - image:

Kkomjangeo bokkeum, a Korean stir fry hagfish – image: snakebaby

On the BBQ, Kkom-Jang-Eo-Gu-I – image: Look at Korea

 


Kyrgyzstan

I found this rather interesting photo while browsing.

Image: Neatorama

Image: Neatorama

A dish from Kyrgyzstan, sheep entrails dressed as a snake.

I have tried looking, but I can find nothing further, neither the name of the dish, nor the ingredients (if any), nor the prearation.

If anyone can shed some light, please leave a comment.


Food in Ecuador:

…a lesson in diversity

Ecuador is snapping at Peru’s heels as a foodie destination, with a more varied natural larder, and young chefs happy to mix things up at a new wave of restaurants

Square deal … the balcony of Casa Gangotena in the heart of Quito. Photograph: Ben Quinn

Andrés Dávila ducks into a covered market in Quito’s Unesco-protected colonial centre. Aisles are laden with baskets of colourful fruit, sacks of spices and tables piled high with legs of beef.

He buys a selection of herbs from a smiling matriarch who sells greenery ranging from leaves for tempering altitude sickness to the gherkin-shaped San Pedro cactus, used in the Andes to brew a hallucinogenic soup. We’re getting supplies for dinner at Casa Gangotena, a restored historic mansion on cobbled Plaza de San Francisco. Casa Gangotena runs culinary tours of the San Roque neighbourhood, a place tourists have been scared to visit in the past, but where guests now join Dávila to stock up on ingredients each morning.

Andrés Dávila shopping in Quito’s San Roque market. Photograph: Ben Quinn

While the food that evening isn’t mind-warping, it certainly challenges the senses. We’re presented with four mini-tortillas topped with salmon and accompanied by variations on aji, Ecuador‘s indispensable hot sauce. There’s pepa de sambo (with pumpkin seeds and coriander) and another made from tomate de arbol (tomatillo). The spiciest is a Pacific coast aji made from three kinds of chilli pepper and christened pocos amigos (few friends).

Aside from being delicious, the variations of aji are a reason why the hitherto ignored culinary tradition of Ecuador – based on produce sourced from every corner of one of the world’s most diverse collections of biospheres – may soon emulate the global success of other Latin American cuisines, not least neighbouring Peru, with its ceviche-led food revolution.

A two-hour drive north of Quito is Hacienda Zuleta, a 17th-century farmstead 3,050m above sea level that was once home to Galo Plaza Lasso, president of Ecuador 1948-52.

Hacienda Zuleta, north of Quito. Photograph: Ben Quinn

It’s renowned for its food, and the quintessential Ecuadorian locro, (creamy potato soup) is as comforting as the rest of the hacienda, where log fires crackle in antique-filled rooms. More comforting still is a chicken and rice casserole, the recipe infused with South America‘s revolutionary past.

“It was the invention of my great-grandmother’s cook, Cotito,” says Fernando Polanco Plaza, the former president’s grandson. “My great-grandfather was a general involved in liberal struggles. No one knew who would come for dinner or who would be in jail, so this dish emerged from leftover rice, which would be mixed at night with meat and veg and sauces.”

Fernando tells me Ecuador should be punching above its weight: “For me, the stars of Latin American food are Mexico, Peru and then Ecuador, with its mega diverse ecosystems. Our food has been a secret for too long.”

In another of those ecosystems – high cloud forest on the other side of Quito – is Mashpi ecolodge, a glass-walled cocoon amid a 1,000-hectare conservation project. Here, the lunchtime starter is three types of forest manioc, with shrimp. Chef David Barriga brings in encebollado, a coastal fish and onion stew that Ecuadorians swear by as a hangover cure. A manioc pancake forms a bed for the next dish – four prawns and a tender chunk of steak. It comes with a tangerine sorbet and side sauce of “snake fruit”, named for its scaly skin.

Barriga is also keen to promote Ecuador’s food. “We have all the raw materials Peru has, and more.”

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Haggis

Bafflingly, for many people Scottish cuisine remains something of an oxymoron, little more than a cholesterol-laden punchline. – The Guardian

I have never eaten haggis, although I have heard a lot about it, and should I ever be close to one, I would try it.

Haggis - Image: diewhiskybotschaft.de

Haggis – Image: diewhiskybotschaft.de

The idea of haggis is intriguing. I like most offal foods, with the exception of tripe, so I see no reason for not liking haggis.

Haggis is a spicy, meatloaf-like minced sheep offal served with ”neeps and tatties,” or turnips and potatoes – the perfect Scottish comfort food. Image: Foodie International

Traditionally,  Haggis is a savoury pudding containing sheep’s pluck (heart, liver and lungs); minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach and simmered for approximately three hours.”Wikipedia

But there are many many things you can do to haggis.

Haggis Sausage Rolls – Image: Dinner Diary (with recipe)

Haggis & Oatcake Canapé – Image: Yahoo Lifestyle and recipe

If you look around the net, you can find haggis balls, deep fried haggis balls, vegetarian haggis, haggis puffs, haggis crepes, haggis toasted sandwiches, haggis and chips.

Then there’s the fast food and international influences… haggis pizza, haggisburger, haggis pakora, haggis nachos, haggis burritos, haggis and onion bhajis… You can stuff chicken with it, you can get it in a can or in sachets.

The list is endless. Haggis has to be amongst the most versatile foods.

And… you can feed the scraps to the cat.

Then there’s haggis for dessert chocolates.

Haggis Chocolates – Image: SodaHead

Scotland-based chocolate maker, Nadia Ellingham, just invented a horrifying new desert: Haggis-flavored Chocolate. It’s chocolate with a hint of sheep’s liver, heart, lungs, oatmeal, onions and spices boiled in the animal’s own stomach. It’s amazing no one thought of this before.

In Ellingham’s defense, she has stated that she avoided including any haggis ingredients that would clash with the taste of the chocolate. But still, when the clashing ingredient in haggis IS haggis, it’s hard to understand what she left in.

There is much humour about the haggis…

haggisFrom:  Improbable Research – How to Raise Haggis

The Haggis – An Endangered Scottish Species

The Wild Haggis

The Haggis Hunting Season

As winter approaches, a crime against Scottish wildlife looms. From 30th November (St. Andrews Day) to 25th January (Robert Burns birthday), a small, defenceless furry creature is chased and killed to provide the Scots with their traditional feast.

Read more on: HubPages

 


Black Pudding in Korea…

Korean food is not so much underrated outside the country as not rated at all. Barbecue and kimchi are the only foods that have caused even a slight blip on the radar.

Inside Korea, however, food is a universal obsession. In Seoul, each popular dish has its own “town” – a street filled with restaurants all serving their versions of that particular food.

Blood sausage stuffed with noodles (sundae)

Seoul Soondae Soondae Photograph: Alamy

The dish Sundae is a dish best eaten with your eyes closed. Pig intestine casings stuffed with a mixture of vegetables, cellophane noodles and pig’s blood don’t make for a visually pleasing meal, but they’re rich, flavourful and surprisingly addictive. Sundae is student food, and a trip to Sundae Town (a bustling building packed with vendors, rather than a street) is where you’ll see them being enjoyed – chopsticks moving rapidly between plate and mouth, and a cheap bottle of soju (rice wine) close to hand.

Read more, see other dishes

NB: The spelling sundae, soondae appears more correct.


Would you Eat it?

Salmon Temaki

Seaweed

The Japanese do.

Look at this temaki wrapped in Nori seaweed.

Seaweed is not commonly thought of as edible, but as you can see, it is.

Check out this article, it may surprise some of you.

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Why seaweed is the natural choice

The granting of England’s first licence to sell seaweed is most welcome. This delicious substance is highly nutritious

‘Laverbread, arguably Wales’s greatest delicacy, is a superb savoury foil to bacon and buttered toast.’ Photograph: Alamy

A man named Rory MacPhee has just been granted England’s first licence to gather and sell “sea vegetables”, which include seaweed. It may come as a shock to some of the hundreds of amateur foragers living and working on the British coast that if they sell the seaweed they harvest, they’re breaking the law. Time was when many people living in these islands ate seaweed every day.

Seaweed, in fact, is one of the most useful natural substances on the planet. It’s existed for over one billion years, and all land plants evolved from it. At least 145 of its roughly 10,000 different species are eaten around the world. It’s full of carbohydrates, proteins, minerals and vitamins, and it’s often rich in iodine. Dulse, which MacPhee plans to harvest in particular, contains every trace element that human beings need.

In eastern China, seaweed is a major vegetable – though the “seaweed” you buy in your local takeaway is likely to be deep-fried cabbage. In Ireland they mash seaweed into porridge; in Hawaii they harvest and rinse it and eat it with fish. Iceland teems with free-growing ingredients: edible seaweeds were one of the few things that people could eat there in previous bleaker centuries. Laverbread is arguably Wales’s greatest delicacy, a superb savoury foil to bacon and buttered toast made with the seaweed laver.

Though Indonesia produces more, Japan is probably the world’s most important consumer of seaweed. They eat at least 21 species there. Nori is the flaky, crackly stuff that sticks to your tongue when you bite a sushi roll. Its annual trade is worth more than $1bn, making it the most valuable aquaculture in Japan, worth more than fish and seafood.

Another Japanese seaweed, kombu, is difficult for humans to digest, but it has nonetheless proved to be one of the most transformative ingredients of all time. In the early 20th century a Japanese chemist found that kombu was an especially rich source of monosodium glutamate – in fact, when you dry kombu, it forms little white crystals of monosodium glutamate (MSG) on its surface. MSG, of course, is now manufactured by the tonne and used across the global food industry. People say vaguely but correctly that it makes foods “taste more of themselves”: it enhances the inherent savouriness of a dish, rather than seasoning it with a bitter, salty, sweet or sour note. The Japanese word for this flavour, umami, translates roughly as “delicious”. It’s worth noting that, contrary to its reputation, MSG is one of the safest and best-studied additives used in food. Those who claim that the MSG in Chinese takeaways makes them feel sick are more likely suffering the effects of a surfeit of cheap grease.

Processing certain red seaweeds gets you carrageenan, aka E407 – another of the most important additives in all industry. They stick it in toothpaste, shampoo, aerosol foams, shoe polish and pharmaceuticals. It winds up in ice creams, beer, pet food, soy milk and diet fizzy drinks. Carrageenan is a stabiliser and thickener. It’s the only substance known to attack the cold virus directly. But while people have used it for centuries to thicken sauces, not least in Ireland and Scotland, it’s probably not a good idea to eat too much of those processed foods that contain a lot of it. It certainly causes inflammation in rats, and studies on mice and guinea pigs have suggested a link between carrageenan and colon cancer.

Nonetheless, old-fashioned seaweeds are nutritious and delicious, and it’s rather a shame that we abandoned them in this country. If MacPhee manages to get more Britons eating the stuff, he should be applauded.

 


Roast Grass Cutters

I kid you not.

A delicacy in Ghana.

This West African delicacy is like cross between a beaver and a rat – quite expensive and much loved. Click on the image for credit.

Illegal rat meat ‘sold to public’ in Ridley Road Market

Rats and “shocking” quantities of illegal and “potentially unsafe” meat have been sold to the public in east London, a BBC London undercover investigation has found.

Secret filming in one of the capital’s busiest food markets has revealed butchers and food stores prepared to sell large quantities of meat that break food safety laws.

West African and environmental health officer sources told the BBC the Ridley Road Market, in Dalston, was a known hotbed of illicit meat activity.

Read more

 


Criadillas

Here’s something to make you cringe.

Bulls Balls

No, that’s not a typo.

In Spanish, criadillas, doesn’t sound quite so gutsy, but rolls off the tongue easier than the English.

Can you imagine that they are edible?

Tacos are a good vehicle for the first timer.

Criadillas a la Mexicana

They look okay, you want the recipe and step by step instructions as well as a good write with a bit of a giggle…

Then visit La Cocina de Leslie

“The texture was like biting into a hot dog and the flavor of the Criadillas, sauteed with Salsa Mexicanawas like a spicy sausage.”


Yuck!!!

This can is full of these…

Giant Water Bug

Go figure….

Even in curry!