I was not raised to eat in fast food restaurants. They weren’t that available when I was young and whenever we traveled we made friends with people in the general area and ate in the establishments of the locals; fresh mountain trout in the Smoky Mountains, seafood at Mama’s Cafe at Myrtle Beach, or Joe’s Shrimp shack near the now destroyed Pavilion. So when I travel, I stick to that philosophy.
I will try anything! And if I like it, I will bring the memory home with me, along with a keen desire to recreate it. If I can find a good cookbook in the area, I often bring it home as well.
This has led to some interesting meals, each conjuring a sense memory in me that surpasses the taste buds. Often, I am instantly transported to a tea house in New Zealand, a cafe in France, a sidewalk gelaterie in Rome, or restaurant in Venice, Italy.
It is as if I am compelled to discover the method to making Cornish Pasties, coconut gelato, the perfect Mexican margarita. And I will not give up until I have accomplished it. My souvenirs from places are usually cookbooks; no surprise there.
We often talk about meals we have had, salivating over the memory. I spent the entire summer last year trying to recreate smoked chicken like the one had in Chincoteague, Virginia. I have devised the perfect method for roasting chicken along with potatoes, Parisian style. My cream cheese tarts, topped with fresh fruit and mint leaves, instantly transports me to New Zealand, yet I found something similar in Italy. I have managed to recreate Jacky Chenut’s Peche Kir, from the Hotel des Canotiers in Essoyes, France, but the other wonderful dishes seem too advanced for me. Perhaps I could manage the lamb chops wrapped in thinly sliced eggplant, but then again, maybe I should go back there and take a few more notes. From Troyes I am taking the pairing of figs with cheese, may even try stuffing them with a tangy cheese.
Ooh la la, I am making myself hungry. Probably you are also getting hunger pangs from thinking about it. Go someplace different and try something new. Bring that memory home with you and think about ways to make it your own. Over the spring and summer I am going to share more recipes with you, and you can travel along with me. Pack a fork and let’s go!
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If God had intended us to follow recipes,
He wouldn’t have given us grandmothers.
Alas, I eat to live, not eat to live. My taste buds are timid and I admire your zest for the new.
The most memorable thing that I ate on my travels and which I long to recreate was the chicken served in a German beer hall in Munich for Octoberfest (which, as I recall, was not actually in October). They were cooked on those rotisserie things and the seasoning was divine and the skin crackly. If I ever dig my slides out and convert them to digital, I’ll post a picture.