Filed under: in the kitchen
I always enjoy slideshows like this as a way of encouraging myself to be more adventurous in the grocery store. There’s a picture to help me identify the item, there’s a blurb about why I should be eating it, and most importantly, suggestions on how to eat it.
I’ve realized as I’ve started to haunt amateur food blogs that I didn’t get lucky the area of food exposure as a child. The best food blogs so far have been either ones by children of multi-cultural marriages or ones by people who spent their formative years in other countries. The range of ingredients they are comfortable with inspires awe in me. I like the food I grew up with, and I more than appreciate its role in my home region and all the history associated with it. But a history of eating only what is grown regionally, in the garden, or in the chicken coop, with basic imported fruits like oranges and bananas representing the upper limit of exoticism, means I have had limited exposure to many things. The multitude of greens in a Chinese market bedazzle me (how in the world to begin to identify them, much less prep or cook them?), and the array of strange fruit-looking things in a Mexican market has me skirting around displays warily.
I’ve learned I don’t have much of a taste for exotic fruits. My palate prefers things I knew as a youngster, specifically strawberries, blueberries, and pears. I’ve picked up on the joys of pomegranate and lychee, but avoid kiwi, starfruit, mango, papaya, jackfruit, mangosteen, and a host of other fruits that never made it with any regularity to the local Piggly Wiggly pre-1997 (which, for the rest of the metropolitan world, was probably more like 1977).
Greens, I’m much more open to. I suppose if you naturally adore collard greens in vinegar, that’s to be expected. But I don’t always know where to start. I need to find an photo illustrated book of greens that I can take to the market with me.
I’m also interested in grains and lentils, but the recipes I’ve downloaded on my own have been hit-or-miss. I’m getting to where I really like dal, but mostly mixed with other things, like in a sausage and potato stew, rather than its traditional preparation.
I constantly feel like I should invest in a vegetarian cookbook – which is silly because I already have some. I suppose I just don’t have the right one yet, the one that sticks. I have a really nice Mayo Clinic cookbook, but sometimes too many of the exotic-to-me ingredients are crowded into one recipe. I enjoy my experiments more if I incorporate a little at a time. Bulgur and apricots and pistachios = too much unusual flavor at once, and a dish that doesn’t get eaten.
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