Tuesday, January 03, 2006

What's new?

My son, the little man, loves both bananas and ketchup. What luck to find that the Philippines produces a ketchup made of bananas! You're looking at it right there, Jufran banana sauce, a product I for some reason have never noticed before at the Asian Mart. I also never noticed the black pepper sauce, which makes me feel a little dumb about being so enthusiastic about the chicken in black pepper sauce at Happy Seven in Toronto. There are lots of things one might not notice in an enormous, confusing multi-ethnic market and one of my resolutions for the days ahead is to notice more of them. For instance, today I also noticed Pocky, the Japanese biscuits dipped in chocolate or strawberry or green tea cream that I've read about on The Girl Who Ate Everything. Evidently they have appeared in my visual field many a time, as they're right next to the register, but today was the first time I picked up a box and put it in my cart. It is now clear to me that one cannot help but eat all the Pocky on the desk in front of one while while typing at a computer. One eats many, many Pocky this way. Perhaps even too many.

I was watching the Food Network yesterday afternoon because I was feeling too sick to do much else. I have a cold and a cough that has had me off-and-on out-of-commission for a couple of days. I didn't feel like reading or watching something I would really have had to pay attention to, so I tried some Molto Mario and some Everyday Italian, then some Simply Ming on PBS. I realized how little of this programming I watch these days. I used to get ideas for what to cook from the chefs on TV, but this function has been completely replaced by food blogs. Hence my Jufran and my Pocky and many other things I have been eating in the past few months. I also realized that Giada de Laurentiis has become more voluptuous than I remembered her, which explains some of the questionable Google traffic I keep getting, and that the commercials are still just as annoyingly frequent. Down with the Food Network!

I also spent much of today and yesterday sucking on Halls Mentho-Lyptus drops to soothe my throat and this has made almost all food taste kind of dull if not just bad. The Pocky tastes good but the chap chae noodles and potstickers I made for dinner were just kind of blah on my palate and the pasta with Italian sausage I had for lunch seemed uninspired. I think the food was fine. My bloody numb tongue was the problem. To that add the fact that I still don't have the cable to connect the camera to the computer, so taking pictures is basically useless, and I'm not much use to you, dear reader. I promise to cook something good and show it to you in a day or two or three but for now here are some belated forward-looking hey-it's-2006 thoughts. These are some things I want to eat in the next 362 days (in addition to Jufran fried rice and green tea Pocky).

-Organs. I have never tried most of the standard variety meats such as kidneys and sweetbreads. Beyond tongue and liver I'm basically clueless.

-Duck. I've never roasted a whole one of these or cooked the breasts on their own as the upscale restaurants do. The new public market always has fresh duck and I feel like I should be buying it to keep the supply going. Can one person make this kind of a difference? You never know.

-Lamb. I'm especially eager to roast a whole leg for a crowd but as of now I don't really have a crowd that would be interested in this kind of thing. Is that pathetic? I wish I could make it for you, my virtual dinner guests around the world. I'm also eager to experiment with ground lamb in middle eastern and south Asian ways.

-Braised veal dishes like osso buco. Never even tried it.

-Korean food. The bulgogi I made a few weeks ago was great but it's hard to know whether I'm on the right track with this stuff. There is but one Korean restaurant in Milwaukee and the usual sources can't tell me if it's really good or not. I might be missing something but it seems from my rather casual searching that Koreans have missed the food blogging bandwagon. For instance, there are no Korean blogs listed in Chef's Blogs directory. Koreans, where are you?

-Pickled vegetables. This is a continuation of Korean food, since east Asia seems to be a kind of pickled vegetable paradise. But the Jewish food of Eastern Europe has also produced its share of these.

Well that's enough for now. If I think of more I'll let you know. I'm now going to go numb my tongue in front of the tube. Allez Cuisine!


Blogger Kalyn Denny said...

Sorry to hear you are sick. It sucks. I was sick all day on Christmas, throwing up and the whole works.

11:28 PM  
Blogger femme feral said...

a friend of mine had a dad who went to Japan for bizness, and he often brought home the pocky. that stuff is tasty.

that everyday italian lady annoys me. but I used to have a cruch on alton brown.

11:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm....I can think of some virtual dinner guests who happen to live near you and would be glad to help you get rid of that lamb...;-)

The Korean restaurant in Milwaukee is pretty good. I can't say whether it's authentic or not, but the food is good in its own right. I make a passable chapchae and I often will do a Korean-style marinade for pork or beef (again, it's probably not authentic, but it's good -- soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, brown sugar, sambal oeleck (sp?).

Hope you feel better soon.

7:47 AM  
Blogger Pyewacket said...

Banana ketchup is great. Helen Witty has a recipe for it in her book Fancy Pantry, and I made it one year. Admittedly, I had the stuff on the shelves for years, because I'm not a big user of ketchup, so a multiple-jar batch of specialty ketchup was a little silly. But the flavor was fantastic: a little sweet, fruity, dark and spicy. It was made with bananas, rum, vinegar, sweet and hot spices, and brown sugar - how could it be bad?

8:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FF --- I have a crush on Alton Brown, too! Hmmm. . ..


11:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear you are feeling poorly- the colds this season seem to be unusual nasty. Hope you are seeing some hot toddy action.

Your banana ketchup was calling my name even before I saw pyewacket's Helen Witty comment. HW is a favorite of mine- I'm off to consult Fancy Pantry. I wonder if the 2 versions are at all similar. Might have to have a banana ketchup tasting trial.

I hope you have more luck than I do finding sweetbreads. I can't even get them to special order them for me. I love them- they were a specialty of my mother's..haven't had them for years.

1:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MZN, hope you whup that cold in short order. Prolly some kind of cosmic justice for leaving that "Cheers" post up so long without posting anything ahead of it ;)

This blog shows a pic with the two types of Jufran brand sauce:

One (the "Banana Sauce", which I think is the one you found, and which is the only one I've found) is hot, the other is not.

I say go for the duck, even the generic grocery store birds with the orange sauce packets frozen alongside are mighty fine, the trick - as with even more interesting goose - is figuring out how to make the fat render during cooking, and duck does take to orange in a special way.

My take on leg of lamb is to fastidiously remove all visible "fel" (membrane) and fat, even at the risk of mangling the cut end of the leg a bit, as a service to those who are squeamish about "gamy" taste. To those who enjoy lamb, as I do, that leg of lamb is a first-rate treat encountered perhaps once a year.

5:49 PM  
Blogger mzn said...

Anon., I often think of buying supermarket duck but I never considered doing anything with the orange sauce aside from tossing it in the trash. Perhaps I shall reconsider.

Jufran sauce/banana ketchup: I put some in today's fried rice and I could detect no hint of banana. It was ok; not very much like the dish I had at the dim sum place in Toronto. Next time perhaps part ketchup and part soy. Making my own the Witty way gives me a reason not to throw old bananas in the trash, which is nice. In the summertime we freeze them for smoothies but in the winter they most often are jettisoned.

Thanks for all the good wishes about my health. I'm doing beter, though the cough is still with me. Cough cough.

8:54 PM  
Blogger zoe p. said...

throwing away your bananas? i'm a sucker for classic 70s "health foods" . . . what about banana breads?

12:11 PM  
Blogger mzn said...

I have never thought of banana bread (and other similar things like zucchini bread) as health food because it's basically cake.

I'd love to know what other 70s health foods you have in mind.

I actually don't like bananas very much but I'm trying to lose my distaste.

I also don't bake very often.

And actually, very few bananas get thrown away around here. But sometimes it happens. I'll try to be better in the future.

12:18 PM  
Blogger zoe p. said...

"health foods"

anybody's mother's spinach lasagne, meatless moussaka from the moosewood cookbook, wheat germ (on or in anything, but esp plain yogurt), green salad with vinegrette and (tada!) very ripe bananas (if you make a sort of standard savory green salad with onions and spinach and what have you and add bananas they taste sort of like a very exotic avocado - you might not like this if you don't like bananas, but your friends might and i hated it when i was little but i love this now), avocados in general (but not in guacamole), lentil bulgar salad, anything with lentils, anything with bulgar, carrot cake with walnuts, this odd amazing thing for camping: natural peanut butter mixed with powdered milk mixed with honey, alfalfa sprouts, which i used to eat from the box before while we were shopping, whole wheat pizza, many "middle eastern" foods like baba ganoush (sp) or hummus (but not falafel) or pita, homemade granola and these semi-sweet chocolate and oatmeal bars my mother made . . .

they are called "health foods" in quotes cuz they aren't necessarily low in fat or calories or carbs or whatever the current definition of healthy is, but these things form in my mind a genre of foods that were considered wholesome and healthy by my parents and my friends' parents and the multi-talented woman who wrote the "Forget-About-Meat-Cookbook" (generic, dated and (paradoxically), classic, the blurb about the author I found hilarious even when i was little ) and Mollie Katzen and so on . . .

thank you for inviting me on that very fun trip down gustatory-memory lane.

2:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello! :) nice to know that you have heard about the banana ketchup. I was browsing thru the internet hoping to find literatures about banana ketchup and i cam across your blog site... and its interesting to know that very few people know about the banana ketchup of the philippines...

by the way, you can call me BEADS iam from the Philippines :)

2:35 AM  
Blogger mzn said...

BEADS, thanks for reading. Americans (myself included) know very little about Filipino cooking.

6:32 AM  

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