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Posts posted by MissAmy

  1. Wow. I didn't mean to stir such controversy in the other thread. :huh: I sincerely apologize if anyone was offended or if they saw me as being culturally insinsitive in some way.

    I simply remember my experiences in China. This was a long time ago, though, in the early ninties, and I know that things have changed a lot there. However, whenever one of my Chinese friends would ask to try cheese that we had brought back with us from a shopping trip to Hong Kong, they invariably didn't like it. In fact, I can't think of a single instance when they did like it. Remember as well, these were Chinese who had been born and raised, had never been outside of China, and did not have much exposure to non-Chinese food.

  2. This thread is quite timely for me. I'll be graduating from culinary school in April, and would like to plan a multi-course tasting menu to honor all the people who have encouraged and helped me along the way. I have a couple of questions for you all:

    1) How do you manage to get all the food out in a timely manner and still spend time with your guests? I want to give them a nice meal and a good time, but I feel that involves spending time with them as well. Wouldn't it be a bit awkward if I invited all these people over and stayed holed up in the kitchen the entire time?

    2) Any advice with budgeting such a meal? Do you buy things in stages that can be kept (ie. confits, stocks, etc) or do you just make one mega-trip to the store and get every single thing in one go? How far in advance to you plan your menu, and how rigidly to you stick to it once the prep as begun?

    3) Would it be gouche to hire a culinary friend to act as sous chef and said friend's neice to act as dishwasher/waiter/bus girl without actually inviting them to the party?

    4) Is it ok to serve some courses like amuse and other apps family style on one large serving platter, or would that be declasse?

    Thanks for this thread.

  3. What about a Godiva Chocolate Martini?

    1 1/2 shots Godiva® chocolate liqueur

    1 1/2 shots creme de cacao

    1/2 shot vodka

    2 1/2 shots half-and-half

    Mix in shaker with ice and serve in chilled martini glass.

    You could garnish with chocolate straws and fresh strawberries.

  4. How about things that the Chinese DON'T eat? While living in China, some Chinese friends of our family really wanted to give pizza a whirl - this was before the days of Pizza Hut and the like infiltrating the Chinese market. Guess what? It turns out that cheese is (or was) completely repulsive to the Chinese palate. We were told that it tasted like, and I quote, "rotten water buffalo milk." Luckily, my mother had a cheeseless pizza waiting in the wings, as it was anticipated this would be a problem.

    As for the food in China being "weird," after about two months I was completely used to jellyfish (I love the texture!), duck tongues, tripe, all sorts of things I would never have considered previously. However, I never quite got past the fried scorpions, which I luckily only encountered once.

  5. Hispanic groceries are the best for queso fresco, good chorizo, and mangos. And you generally can't beat the prices! As a starving student, I can pick up a small pack of chorizo, some queso fresco, an onion, and some torillas, and have two or three quite nice meals for under $10. (And then I can go and blow all the money I saved at Uchi, but that's neither here nor there.)

  6. What a cool trip! Thank you so much for posting these pictures.

    I have a question about the Tamal. Was that stuffed with anything (like the pork tamales that we so dearly love in Texas) or was it just plain masa?

    Thanks again for posting this.

  7. I know someone who works in the Schools here as a lunch cooridinator. When I asked her why they serve so much processed crap, rather than good healthy food, she replied that the processed crap is cheaper and their budgets are so low it's all they can afford. Which begs two questions: 1) Why is processed junk cheaper than natural, non-processed real food - it doesn't make any sense when you think about it, and 2) this is the same school system that spent $5million on a new football stadium in the rich area of town, they couldn't spent even a little bit of that money on healthy food for the kids?? It's insane.

    I don't have children, but if I did, I would try my best to send them to school with a packed lunch every day. The thought of these kids eating massive amounts of trans fats, sodium, MSG, and preservatives that are present in processed foods makes my skin crawl.

    In a way, I think the card "system mentioned in the original post is kind of a good idea - at least parents have some sort of control while the kids are at school, but it is fixing a symptom, rather than going after the larger problem.

  8. My husband is under the impression that he's allergic/sensitive to cumin, that it makes him constipated. I've pointed out that he's never had cumin all by itself so it'd be difficult to know whether cumin was indeed the culprit, but he remains unswayed. So, okay: I'm highly skeptical, but I'm not about to trick him to prove a point--besides, what if he's right? Why would I deliberately risk the possibility of him feeling physically uncomfortable? There is, after all, the whole trust issue. So I either omit cumin, or prepare a separate cumin-y batch for myself.

    But a couple of weeks ago I had a severe hankering for black bean soup. He doesn't really like beans to begin with and since I had made 2 or 3 other items for him, it didn't occur to me to mention that the soup was thoroughly cumin-laced. --Until I went to the kitchen and found him eating it. I quickly decided to keep mum because if he really had a problem, the damage was done (and we're talking constipation here, not anaphylactic shock), and if he didn't actually have a problem, I didn't want the cumin anxiety kicking in.

    He loved the soup and had quite a bit over the next few days with no ill effects, and I still haven't decided whether to mention the secret ingredient. I certainly didn't set out to trick him and I'm thrilled that nothing untoward happened after he ate it (as I happen to love the stuff), but....I don't know. It's a bit of a conundrum.

    That's very odd, because I once knew the girl who claimed the same "allergy" to cumin. This is the only time before or since I've heard anyone else experience the same thing. With this particular girl, I think it was a passive agressive way of making our group of friends eat where she wanted to eat, rather than the places we would have chosen. She was a remarkably picky eater, hated anthing that wasn't your basic, bland American fare, and her cumin "allergy" was a convienent way of us not being able to go eat Indian, Vietnamese, Chinese, or pretty much any other ethnic cuisine when we were all together. Yet, she'd lap up Spanish rice in Mexican restaurants like it was going out of style. Mexican rice almost always is made with cumin. I pointed it out to her, and she had some explination that the rice isn't made with enough cumin to matter. Whatever.

    I think sometimes people get these ideas in their heads about allergies, whether they've been tested for them or not. It might be kind of funny to casually ask your husband if he suffered any ill effects from the soup. And if not, just let him know what was in it.

  9. I had a Freebird's Burrito. For those who don't know, Freebird's is an immensely popular student hang-out with an outpost in College Station as well. You choose what kind of tortilla you want, what kind of cheese and beans, then go down the line with your own personal burrito-builder and pick what you want. It's fun, tasty, and cheap!

    I had a spinach tortilla filled with black beans, rice, cheddar cheese, marinated steak, guacamole, salsa, lettuce, and cilantro. I'm stuffed!

  10. Eh. I would try a bite, because I'll try a bite of anything if it's offered to me. I would never choose to order it, though, or make it. It's like, a heart attack on a plate. And Krispy Kreme? Ew. Couldn't they at least have picked a higher quality, more substantial donut? I can't even begin to think how messy and sloppy and greasy this would be to eat. It's making me feel like I've put on ten pounds just thinking about it.

  11. My mom and I were shopping in Hong Kong after we'd been in China for several months. We were at the point of desperation for a good burger or any American style food at all, for that matter, and on our first day out, headed straight to Dan Ryan's, an American bar/grill type place for lunch. (I always wonder if it's still there.)

    Anyway, we sat, it wasn't terribly busy, and we noticed a man around my mother's age sit alone at a table not far away. Shortly after ordering, he came to our table, was very polite, and asked if we would join him. We agreed, and shared a lovely lunch. He was American, travelling Asia on business and lonely for his family back in the states. He insisted on buying our lunch, and we saw him for dinner a few nights later. I think he had a bit of a crush on my mom, which did not entirely please my step-father. ;) I hope he made it back to his family ok.

    Another time, I was eating alone in an udon shop in Japan. I was maybe fifteen or sixteen, but young and a little... unexperienced for my age. An American guy walked in, and as other Americans are wont to do in strange lands, we made eye contact. He asked to join me and being the naive child that I was, I said ok. We chatted for a bit, he asked what I was doing by myself in a large Japanese city, I explained I went to boarding school there, and asked what he was doing. He explained that he was in Japan studying Japanese Manga and Animation.

    And then it got weird. He pulled out of his satchel several Japanese comic books, and said that he wanted to show them to me. That they were amazing works of art or something. So, he opens one, and I realize they weren't innocent Japanese comic books. They were porn. This crazy old guy (to me at the time, he couldn't have been over thrityfive) was trying to show me porn! And it wasn't "normal" porn. They were really disturbing, grotesque, twisted porn comic books.

    I started sort of flipping out. I realized I'd told him where I went to school, that I was along way from the dorm, and that I was ALONE. Suddenly, he went from being a nice, normal guy to being Jack the Ripper in my head. And I had to get out. I think I mumbled something incoherant, threw some yen on the table for my lunch, and made my escape. I didn't even look behind me as I ran to the train station to hop the next express and be wisked away back to the safety of school. What a freak. -shudder-

  12. Growing up, my family travelled a lot, and my sister and I frequently ate in restaurants that had no kids menu. Or, if they did have one, we didn't want to eat anything off it! We would just either order whatever we wanted and save the leftovers for later, or we'd ask them to make a pasta or something in a smaller portion. I don't remember it ever being a problem, even in some of the better New York restaurants.

  13. I don't like pinto beans or raw tomatoes. And I have never liked them. I LOVE things made with tomatoes, but just to eat a tomato raw? EW! I can't tolerate that squish factor. I haven't liked either one of those things since I was a little kid, but that STILL doesn't stop people in my family from hounding me about it and I'm almost thirty!! It's incredibly annoying. I just don't like them, ok! Lay off!

    When people try to belittle or force foods on others who don't like them, I find it incredibly rude and annoying. On the other hand, I also find people who won't even try certain things and make up fake "allergies" incredibly rude and annoying as well, so I think it's important to find a balance.

    I have a friend who I have been close to for a long time. She is genuinely allergic to tomatoes. If she eats them, or anything made with them, the inside of her mouth breaks out in these huge, painful, open sores. And that still doesn't stop her friends and housemates from trying to "sneak" them into her food. They think it's all in her head, and the physical reaction is all psychological. Rude, rude, rudeness. I've also noticed that with another housemate, who is allergic to peanuts - a far more "socially acceptable" allergy than tomatoes - great lengths are taken to keep peanuts out of the house and away from him. Why is one allergy more important than the other (well, except perhaps for the death part)? But why should his allergy be respected and treated with care and hers treated as if it's a psychological condition? I don't understand people sometimes.

  14. I would have to go with places I've never been. I've lived in China and Japan, and while the food in both places is absolutely fantastic, I've done that. Thailand and Vietnam are magnificent as well. Oh the food in Thailand! Such heaven!

    That said, I've only been to France once, very briefly while visiting friends in Germany, and I've never been to Italy. Since graduating culinary school, I've decided that I'm going to save money to spend a few weeks just eating my way through France and Italy. I can't imagine how fabulous it would be, to just eat your way through both of those countries!

  15. As a kid who was frequently brought to bars by my father, the only real problem I have with it is that bars are freaking BORING for a young child. A bowl full of marachino cherries only goes so far in terms of entertainment value. I don't think it contributes to the moral corruption of the child - I am not an alcoholic, nor do I think it particularly contributes to disenjoyment of the other patrons as long as the child is made to behave as I was. I do, however, remember being stullifyingly bored while my father got more and more toasted, and with every drink he took, knowing that we would be there for at least another hour. I would never bring a child of mine to a bar unless it were for a quick, mid afternoon in-and-out kind of drink.

    Restaurants were never a problem. I was taught from an extremely young age how to behave in them, and actually enjoyed them. (Food was a passion for me starting really young.)

  16. I find this VERY disturbing. I also realize that this is to stop states from placing warning lables based on pseudo-science.

    HOWEVER. This is a very slippery slope to doing away with lables all together, which were so hard to get done in the first place! Without getting overly political, why does it seem as if things are moving backward rather than forward?? (Oh lord it's so hard for me to refrain from going into a big ol' political rant. Must. Control. Self.)

  17. My family is from Texas. For me, childhood dessert memories revolve around:

    Pecan Pie (at the VERY top of the list)

    Pound Cake (very close second)

    Fried Pies

    Fresh Apple Cake

    Pineapple Pie

    Chess Pie

    Most all of them are simple, yet delicious.

    ETA: We were never very into the store-bought convience desserts. Both my mother and grandmother were masters in the kitchen, and that sort of stuff really wasn't allowed in the house. However, I do remember with much fondness those orange-flavored push pops I was allowed on rare occasions to buy from the ice cream truck.

  18. Driving up and down Interstate 35, from Austin to Arlington - where my mother lives - I find more local places on those signs than other areas of the country. Mainly for the Kolache stops just north of Waco, but I like the idea that they are there. I would much rather patronize a local establishment over a chain one. Although, I will admit to a weakness for Dairy Queen soft serve. :hmmm:

  19. Faves:

    -Bacon frying

    -Anything bread-like baking

    -Hamburgers over charcoal

    -The way wine smells as it reduces

    -Wild mushrooms in a hot pan, just as the start to give off their water, with a pinch of garlic

    -The way my grandmother's buscuit dough used to smell right before it got rolled out

    -Raw beef. I am very odd. I love the smell of fresh raw beef.

    -The way my father's property smells when he's smoking a brisket.

    Icky Icky Ew:

    -Any sort of shellfish stock simmering - GAG!

    -Raw chicken

    -Any sort of organ meat cooking - for years I wouldn't touch the stuff, then I realized it was just the smell that revolted me, the taste was pretty good.

    -The smell of certain types of bleu cheese makes me want to hurl.

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