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markemorse

eGfoodblog: markemorse

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Just caught up. Wow. Terrific blog. I so want to go to Amsterdam one of these days. I'm digging how your interests in music and food overlap, as those two interests also overlap in my life. In fact, one of the many reasons why I'd like to visit Amsterdam one of these days is the fact that one of my musician friends performs there on a semi-regular basis. Thanks for making the idea of such a visit even more tempting. :smile:

Thanks mizducky, actually there's a final bit to explain about the music situation: I haven't answered the question about "why Amsterdam" yet...stay, um, eh...tuned, so to speak.

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Mark, this is a wonderful blog to come home from vacation to; so very informative! :biggrin:

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The Turkish are possibly the highest-profile group of immigrants (from a positive perspective) in the Netherlands today (IMHO). In terms of sheer numbers, according to the figures here on my desk, the Turkish are currently the second-largest group of immigrants in the Netherlands, just behind the Indonesians. But, again, Indonesian immigration has been happening for so long and so quietly that it's almost completely ignored at this point: you almost never see "Indonesians" in the news. In fact, they're not even officially considered "foreigners" anymore (as far as I understand).

+++

Turkish (and Moroccan, for that matter) immigrants began coming to the Netherlands in the 60s as part of an agreement between their respective governments designed to resolve a labor shortage here in Holland. They were considered "guest workers", and the idea was that, after the labor shortage was over, they would just return home. When the oil crisis in the 70s dramatically cut the demand for guest workers...

You can probably guess that this did not quite work out as planned. Many of the resident immigrants never left, and Turkish immigration continued over the next 30 years as successful immigrants brought their families over to be with them, legally or illegally. As always, it's a complex story.

Culinarily speaking, Turkish cuisine is well behind the Indische kitchen as a powerful influence on Dutch tastes. But it's growing...albeit in a much less broad and integrated manner than Indische flavors. If you ask a Dutch person to name a Turkish food, I will wager, with no data to back me up whatsoever, that 90% of them would say shoarma.

gallery_28661_4926_16701.jpg

There are literally hundreds of shoarma or döner kebab joints in Amsterdam. Hopefully you've all tried shoarma, if you haven't, the Amsterdam version is shaved lamb served in a pita with lettuce (you can almost see the pita in this picture). It's always served with at least two optional sauces: a garlic-yoghurt sauce, and a tomato-chile-onion relish that they call sambal.

Huh?


Edited by markemorse (log)

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I imagine that the use of the term sambal for this sauce is strictly for convenience's sake. The other option would be to call it by its real name, skhug, and then explain to every single customer who walked in the door exactly wtf skhug was (other than an excellent Scrabble word). And I bet what they'd end up saying anyway was, "it's basically sambal", because everyone here knows what sambal is.

+++

The second most popular piece of Turkish eating here in Amsterdam is another sambal and yogurt sauce recipient. In the Netherlands, this oven-blistered bundle of taste-explosive goodness is almost always referred to as a "Turkish pizza":

gallery_28661_4926_7610.jpg

But the more common name for it outside of the Netherlands is lahmacun.

gallery_28661_4926_6623.jpg

This one came from the guys next to the currently-being-renovated post office. 2 euro 50, and I swear you've never spent that amount of money more wisely. The above was our afternoon snack.

+++


Edited by markemorse (log)

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I lied! Rijsttafel pics:

The menu:

gallery_28661_4926_13813.jpg

nasi kuning (yellow saffron rice with coconut milk and fried onions):

Are you sure it's saffron? Isn't it turmeric?

Hi May, that's what I would've thought, but the menu says (you can almost read it up there at the tippy-top) "gele saffraanrijst". I didn't see the rice 'til I got home so I couldn't ask my helpful server at that point. But yes, turmeric would make much more sense...

Cheaper too! :laugh:

As Chufi said, "everyone knows sate and bami." This is a fantastic and unique thing for a European country to be able to say, IMHO.

maybe comparable to curry in England? just thinking out loud...

Kinda...but in my mind, Indian food has quite a high profile globally (you can find Indian food almost anywhere in America, and I've eaten it in several non-UK European countries), whereas Indonesian food is generally tough to find outside of Southeast Asia and the Netherlands. When I lived in Atlanta there was one Indonesian restaurant (in a city of 5 million people). And 50 Indian restaurants (not statistically accurate...therese or someone from Atlanta, help me out here :raz: ).

Probably because there's an Indian diaspora, a Chinese diaspora, but I don't think there's an Indonesian diaspora.


Edited by miladyinsanity (log)

May

Totally More-ish: The New and Improved Foodblog

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This is getting more interesting all the time! I too was wondering, along with Sharon, about couscous, which I believe to be a national dish in France these days.

When my husband sees those shoarma and lahmacun pictures he's going to be agitating to visit Amsterdam post haste.

But wait, since you're talking of time running out, you've never explained wtf you're actually doing there!

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This is getting more interesting all the time!  I too was wondering, along with Sharon, about couscous, which I believe to be a national dish in France these days.

When my husband sees those shoarma and lahmacun pictures he's going to be agitating to visit Amsterdam post haste.

But wait, since you're talking of time running out, you've never explained wtf you're actually doing there!

Couscous is not really tremendously popular here. Certainly nothing like shoarma and lahmacun. Though there is some overlap between the two, I'll go out on a limb and say that Moroccan food is much less popular amongst the general population than Turkish food is: Albert Heijn offers lamb pre-cut and spiced for shoarma; pre-cooked, microwaveable shoarma; shoarmaspice for your spice rack, shoarma sauces, etc. There's not really a comparable Moroccan foodstuff that's infiltrated the largest grocery chains....kefta or merguez are probably the closest contenders.

And I promise not to close this blog without doing a full reveal on the "why/how Amsterdam" story. :wink:


Edited by markemorse (log)

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I, too, am just catching up reading this fabulous blog! :wub: Great food, fascinating background & stories, and I can't remember the last time I've laughed out loud so many times in one sitting. :laugh: (I wish I could write with your easy grace. . .)

Just a note about "old cocoyam" (taro) and "new cocoyam" (malanga or yautia) from the middle of the Pacific. They're closely related and I don't really know the botanical differences. We grow many types of taro here. . . dryland taro, wetland taro. . . Some are better for making poi, some for eating like a potato. There's Chinese taro, and tiny Japanese taro (ko-imo). They have different colors, ranging from purple to yellowish cream, and somewhat different flavors and density.

What they all have in common is that you can't eat them raw, because of the high oxalic acid content, and some people find them irritating to handle so must wear rubber gloves when they peel or grate them. The leaves are cooked and eaten as a spinach-like vegetable.


SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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Considerably less common than shoarma/döner kebab and lahmacun joints in Amsterdam, but still absolutely plentiful, are full-service Turkish grillrooms that offer a wider range of Turkish dishes. Tonight we got take-out from the ingeniously-named Döner Palace, an inexpensive grillroom on the Rozengracht.

Döner Palace was not my first or second choice for dinner, more like my seventh. But all of my normal Turkish filling stations had this helpful sign in their window:

gallery_28661_4926_11118.jpg

This one adorned the window of Patisserie Mercan (also on the Rozengracht), home of perfect böreks and unbeatable lahmacun. Bum-mer.

+++

But I'd peeked into Döner Palace a couple of times before and thought it always looked at least OK. And it's cheap, so a mistake wouldn't be costly. So I picked up a couple of things. Sigara Boregi, filo-wrapped feta and dill rolls:

gallery_28661_4926_12167.jpg

Imam bayildi (eggplant stuffed with onions, tomato, and pepper):

gallery_28661_4926_12364.jpg

and...a daily special that I didn't catch the name of, which my "mealworms and sawdust" camera setting made look almost exactly like the imam bayildi:

gallery_28661_4926_17660.jpg

which I tried to compensate for by rotating the dish 90 degrees. Problem solved! In reality this was a rather spicy lamb köfte with potatoes and long green peppers. Tasty.

In fact, it was all really tasty, and surprisingly spicy. Plus, they threw in some free sütlaç (rice pudding): all in all, a lucky strike.


Edited by markemorse (log)

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OK, I had give you that background so that the rest of my day's eating would have some context. I got up early, too early, ran to the Turkish guys, got some mint and some pistachio baklava, and then I made a chickpea salad to bring to the birthday picnic:

gallery_28661_4926_21377.jpg

that was scrumptious, and not too bad-looking either if I do say so my own self:

gallery_28661_4926_23095.jpg

Meanwhile, I fortified myself with the baklava:

gallery_28661_4926_696.jpg

Then I very luckily checked my email and found out that the picnic was in fact not in the Westerpark as I'd thought, but in the Vondelpark. Oops! So I took off like the proverbial bat out o' hell and zoomed down there.

gallery_28661_4926_5834.jpg


Edited by markemorse (log)

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The picnic was low-key and pleasant...totally not a food geek crowd, but people kept saying, "so you made the chickpeas...what did you do?"... :cool:

gallery_28661_4926_21630.jpg

gallery_28661_4926_13126.jpg

gallery_28661_4926_19173.jpg


Edited by markemorse (log)

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And then, it was off to the Amsterdam Pride canal parade, in my sky blue Lincoln Continental:

gallery_28661_4926_8373.jpg

Well, no, I don't know whose this was, but it was certainly a shock to see it. Also shocking was the number of revelers:

gallery_28661_4926_20147.jpg

gallery_28661_4926_2870.jpg

...and the lengths they went to to get a good view:

gallery_28661_4926_16059.jpg

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and then of course, the floaters themselves...both female:

gallery_28661_4926_11827.jpg

and male:

gallery_28661_4926_15800.jpg

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gallery_28661_4926_26121.jpg

and more....I've been to a few of these, and this seemed like a good one. It felt very much like a mini-Queen's Day on the length of the Prinsengracht today...tons and tons of happy inebriants, along with the quietly curious. But gorgeous weather had everyone smiling (and drinking).

There were 80 or so floats this year, it's hard to really give you a feel for the scope...these pictures were all taken in the span of 10 minutes and the parade went on for hours. Big fun. I didn't get to sample any street food....but I did see a lot of sausage. :wink:


Edited by markemorse (log)

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Big fun. I didn't get to sample any street food....but I did see a lot of sausage.  :wink:

Gosh. I wonder what you edited.

Mark, can we be at Winding Down time already? :sad:

You're a wonderful writer and this really is a great blog. I know you've promised to say more, so please don't consider this like the music they play during Oscar speeches.

You've given me lots to think about and when not so thoroughly tired, I might pipe up about bara, American vegetarian burgers and the intercultural nexus of urad dahl and Beluga Lentils. But it's time to wash the last of the dishes and take out the garbage, so I'll just say thank you for now.


"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Imam bayildi (eggplant stuffed with onions, tomato, and pepper):

gallery_28661_4926_12364.jpg

Random food trivia: one of my cookbooks tells me that the name of the dish "imam bayildi" translates as "The Imam Fainted," and that he fainted, according to legend, when he learned how much (expensive) olive oil went into preparing this dish--as you've probably experienced, eggplant can exhibit a spongelike capacity for sucking up a ton of oil. :smile:

Amsterdam's Pride celebration looks like one helluva lotta fun.

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Big fun. I didn't get to sample any street food....but I did see a lot of sausage.  :wink:

Gosh. I wonder what you edited.

Yeah, there were a couple of earlier revisions that didn't make it past the censors.

Thanks for the props. Looking forward to your lentil exposé. :smile:

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Since I pulled a Pulp Fiction with yesterday's chronology, I missed my Low Blood Sugar Emergency bite:

gallery_28661_4926_5428.jpg

A zucchini-feta pancake from an old haunt near the Overtoom called Gaffaf. Or at least it used to be called that, it seems to be having an identity crisis these days: the window logo still says Gaffaf, but there's another name above.

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Imam bayildi (eggplant stuffed with onions, tomato, and pepper):

gallery_28661_4926_12364.jpg

Random food trivia: one of my cookbooks tells me that the name of the dish "imam bayildi" translates as "The Imam Fainted," and that he fainted, according to legend, when he learned how much (expensive) olive oil went into preparing this dish--as you've probably experienced, eggplant can exhibit a spongelike capacity for sucking up a ton of oil. :smile:

Thanks mizducky, that's the story I know as well...I think I first read it in Claudia Roden's The New Book of Middle Eastern Food, which is one of my favorite cookbooks to cook out of...

In fact, the chickpea salad recipe I used yesterday is vaguely based on something in that book that I can't locate at the moment...here's what I did yesterday (this recipe makes a lot of chickpeas):

+++

moroccan chickpea salad.

1 kg cooked chickpeas

1 or 2 large sweet onions, chopped (I like a lot of onion in this)

5 canned roma tomatoes, smashed

6 or more scallions, chopped fine

1 cup or more fresh mint leaves, chopped

1 cup or more fresh coriander leaves

1/2 cup raisins, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes and drained

2 tbsp quince paste, melted

juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1 cup or so extra-virgin olive oil

3 tbsp ras el hanout

salt

Combine and stir well. Serves 10-12 healthy portions.

+++

Now, while you can find "shoarmaspice" at Albert Heijn, ras el hanout isn't quite that high-profile yet. But just like there are the ubiquitous tokos and warungs that serve as grocers/takeout counters for the Indische cookers and eaters, there are the Turkish and Moroccan equivalent, almost always called "markets". So, our local one is Bario Market, the one I bought this ras el hanout from is called Osteriz Market I think, etc.

gallery_28661_4926_14937.jpg

gallery_28661_4926_13295.jpg

It has much in common with shoarmaspice: healthy doses of cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and turmeric; but ras el hanout is typically a more complicated spice blend that can contain some crazily esoteric ingredients as well: ash berries, chufa, Grains of Paradise, orris root, Monk's pepper, cubebs, dried rosebud, and the potentially toxic belladonna (according to Wikipedia). I'm trying to fit a Stevie Nicks reference in here somehow but it's just not happening.


Edited by markemorse (log)

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Before the day gets away, What Are We Doing Here, Part 2.

+++

When we left the US in 2000, our first destination was Siena, Italy. We'd vacationed to Italy a bit in the 90s and, though we'd done some reconnaissance on some other European locations, Italy was the clear favorite. We ended up in Siena to learn Italian for 6 months, and then we'd figure out where to settle down, probably Bologna.

We were in class 5 days a week, 4 hours a day, it reminded me completely of high school again (maybe 'cos everyone else in our class was 18?), actually, but our Italian came along OK. But, a bunch of things happened...we met a wonderful Dutch girl in our Italian class named Birre. When it was everyone's turn to introduce themselves on the first day, she was the only person in a classroom of 20 who said that she loved the city she lived in (Amsterdam). This raised our eyebrows. We became fast friends with Birre (she was the oldest 18-year-old of all time) and decided to visit the object of her affections over the Christmas/New Year's break...and we loved it, too.

Other things were happening simultaneously: it was on this winter holiday that Mara contracted GBS, and that shut her down for the next couple months. We also decided that Italian bureaucracy was going to seriously impede our attempt to get legal. So we went back to the US for the spring/summer to regroup. Mara's parents had bought our house from us, so we moved back in with them...the house was big enough, it was actually a nice little setup, we get along with them very well.

The more we talked about Plan B, the more often Amsterdam came up. I'd been a fan of the Dutch free jazz scene for a few years (largely thanks to writer Kevin Whitehead, whose excellent book New Dutch Swing is available for 52 cents from Amazon). There was a treaty between the US and the Netherlands that made it possible for us to legally immigrate if we opened our own business. Time passed, I went on tour, my grandmother died, we talked some more, and then it was settled. We'd move to Amsterdam and open up an extremely specialized record shop. Which we'd never done, nor did we have any idea how to do this. Cool!


Edited by markemorse (log)

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Opening your first-ever retail specialty shop in a country where you do not speak the language, with your life partner and best friend as your business partner (even though you've never worked together before), and where you know no one at all is (choose one):

A) ambitious!

B) stupid.

C) initially very lonely.

D) financially risky

E) potentially fatal to your love life

F) totally ridiculous.

G) a really expensive and inefficient way to meet many of the most creative and interesting people in town, a small subset of whom you will end up becoming very good friends with for a long time, in the process changing your life and your understanding of the world completely and irrevocably.

Pencils down!

+++

During the Banana in the Tailpipe Years, as we like to call them, you know....sitting inside a beautiful but empty record shop on a gorgeously crisp and sunny summer day...sitting inside an impeccably-researched but empty record shop on a frigidly cold winter day, waiting for the landlord's lackey to come by and pretend to fix the heating...eventually the tide turned. A handful of local recordlabels approached us about being their new international distributor. We knew nothing about how this worked, but we said yes, and after we realized that we could learn how to do this, we realized that we didn't need The Money Pit anymore. So we closed it in 2004, and now we do international distribution and mailorder from home. And we have almost completely recovered from the BITTP years. Yay us!


Edited by markemorse (log)

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Oh my goodness. I just got back from about two weeks of nonstop travel and performing with no time to breathe, much less read, and found your wonderful blog. Thank you so much, this is a pleasure and the pictures are wonderful! I've only been to Amsterdam once and only overnight, now am dying to go again and spend more time.

...and yes, stopping to think it through before you throw your entire life up in the air just to see where it lands is totally counterproductive. :raz:

K


Basil endive parmesan shrimp live

Lobster hamster worchester muenster

Caviar radicchio snow pea scampi

Roquefort meat squirt blue beef red alert

Pork hocs side flank cantaloupe sheep shanks

Provolone flatbread goat's head soup

Gruyere cheese angelhair please

And a vichyssoise and a cabbage and a crawfish claws.

--"Johnny Saucep'n," by Moxy Früvous

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I have to admit this is one of my favorite pics.... that little guy (gal?) just comfortably hanging out in the nude... aren't childhood summers the best? :biggrin:


Jamie Lee

Beauty fades, Dumb lasts forever. - Judge Judy

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I, too, am loving this blog and don't want to see it end.

A few questions/comments:

how is Mara doing?

why Siena?

I went on tour

Tell us about that.....performer or tech?

Mark, bergerka, Jamie, etc al:

I LOVE when someone takes the time to flesh out their profile. When intriguing comments are made, the first thing I do is look to see if there is something in the profile that will let me understand and not have to ask. Thank you, thank you.

And pictures are the best !

Kathy

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[...] in my mind, Indian food has quite a high profile globally (you can find Indian food almost anywhere in America, and I've eaten it in several non-UK European countries), whereas Indonesian food is generally tough to find outside of Southeast Asia and the Netherlands. When I lived in Atlanta there was one Indonesian restaurant (in a city of 5 million people). And 50 Indian restaurants (not statistically accurate...therese or someone from Atlanta, help me out here  :raz: ).

The one Indonesian meal I can recall eating here in Philadelphia was at the home of a retired Drexel math professor and his Indonesian lover. East and Southeast Asian cuisines in general are decently represented on the local restaurant roster -- lots of Vietnamese, plenty of Korean, even (at least) one each representing Laos (Cafe de Laos), Burma (Rangoon) and Malaysia (a chain at that -- Penang), but no Indonesian.

However, I was in the big Vietnamese supermarket on Washington Avenue yesterday, and it had several varieties of chili sauces from ABC, one of the big Indonesian brands. I didn't see any of the other Indonesian sauces (including ketjap), nor did I check their spice aisle.

Culinarily speaking, Turkish cuisine is well behind the Indische kitchen as a powerful influence on Dutch tastes. But it's growing...albeit in a much less broad and integrated manner than Indische flavors. If you ask a Dutch person to name a Turkish food, I will wager, with no data to back me up whatsoever, that 90% of them would say shoarma.

gallery_28661_4926_16701.jpg

There are literally hundreds of shoarma or döner kebab joints in Amsterdam. Hopefully you've all tried shoarma, if you haven't, the Amsterdam version is shaved lamb served in a pita with lettuce (you can almost see the pita in this picture). It's always served with at least two optional sauces: a garlic-yoghurt sauce, and a tomato-chile-onion relish that they call sambal.

Huh?

Shwarma can now be found in many US cities with Middle Eastern populations, including this one. Even more common, though, is its Greek identical twin, gyros. (Though a Greek friend of mine tells me that what most US eateries call gyros is not what you get in Greece. I think that may be because many places use big pre-formed cylinders of ground lamb and beef, not the stacks of slices that I understand are used in the lands of shwarma/gyros' origin.)

Haven't encountered it with sambal yet, though. Yogurt and tatziki sauces are the only ones I've yet seen.

Gyros is one of my favorite international street foods.

Has the Mexican version of this dish -- tacos al pastor -- made it to Europe yet?

The second most popular piece of Turkish eating here in Amsterdam is another sambal and yogurt sauce recipient. In the Netherlands, this oven-blistered bundle of taste-explosive goodness is almost always referred to as a "Turkish pizza":

gallery_28661_4926_7610.jpg

But the more common name for it outside of the Netherlands is lahmacun.

gallery_28661_4926_6623.jpg

This one came from the guys next to the currently-being-renovated post office. 2 euro 50, and I swear you've never spent that amount of money more wisely. The above was our afternoon snack.

I've associated this dish with Armenians ever since I first encountered it in Watertown, Mass., home to one of the largest concentrations of Armenian-Americans in the US. (There, they spelled it "lahmejune.")

It's a very convenient, versatile, and tasty snack -- there are many different ways to top it. I can get it frozen at a Middle Eastern grocery near the Italian Market, in a pocket of South Philly where many Lebanese live (there's a Maronite Christian church one block up from the store).

I for one would love to go to sleep and wake up, Rip Van Winkle-style, some 75 years from now and see how the various ethnic cuisines have recombined and fused. You've already shared with us a Dutch dish invented in the days when it ran Indonesia; care to speculate on where Dutch cooking might go in the wake of the other cultures that now add spice to the country?

As for the Gay Pride celebration: What mizducky said. Though I don't think I'd stand in the windowsill the way some of those spectators did.


Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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I, too, am loving this blog and don't want to see it end.

A few questions/comments:

how is Mara doing?

why Siena?

I went on tour

Tell us about that.....performer or tech?

Just back from Kwakoe, sunburned, drunk, burping habanero burps, but I'll see what I can do here....

+++

Thanks a bunch, Kathy, seriously....

1) Mara had a rough night last night, codeine messing with her tummy, but today seems to be a little better. Thanks for asking!

2) Siena was one of the few places (Perugia and Urbino being the others IIRC) where there was a Universita per Stranieri (university for foreigners) where we could take an comprehensive immigrant-targeted Italian course.

3) And this tour was as a performer...kind of a doomed project due to cataclysmic personal conflicts between the two core members of the band, but even as things were coming apart, they/we somehow scored a month-long "residency" at the Knitting Factory in NY, two sets every Friday night in June (great!) for almost no money (boo). An unforgettable experience nonetheless, because we were based in Athens, GA at the time, and so the big question was: how to arrange a tour that would land us in Manhattan every Friday night. Logistics, ahoy!


Edited by markemorse (log)

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When I lived in Atlanta there was one Indonesian restaurant (in a city of 5 million people). And 50 Indian restaurants (not statistically accurate...therese or someone from Atlanta, help me out here  :raz: ).

And that one Indonesian place has gone under (you're thinking of the one on Cheshire Bridge, on the side of the street opposite Hong Kong Harbor?). Several Malaysian places (including our branch of Penang). Way more than 50 Indian restaurants (I ate a lunch of chat yesterday after a hard morning's shopping at Target), and bajillions of Vietnamese and Korean as well as every possible flavor of Latin American. Thai pretty common, as are various permutations of Middle Eastern.

Overall a good reflection of the immigrant mix.


Can you pee in the ocean?

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    • By Panaderia Canadiense
      Wow, this is my third foodblog for the eGullet….  Welcome!   I'll be with you from Palm Sunday through Holy Sunday to give you all a taste of the veritable food festival that is Easter in Ecuador.  As usual, I intend to eat on the streets, visit a plethora of small shops and vendors, and talk about (and eat copious amounts of ) the specialty dishes of the holiday.
       
      A bit of background on me and where I am.  I'm Elizabeth; I'm 33 years old and since the last foodblog I've ceased to be a Canadian expat in Ecuador, and become a full-fledged Ecuadorian citizen.  I run a catering bakery out of Ambato, and I deliver to clients on the entire mainland.  I've got a large customer base in nearby Baños de Agua Santa, a hot-springs town about an hour downslope of me to the east; I'll be visiting it on Wednesday with close to 100 kg of baked goods for delivery.  Ambato, the capital of Tungurahua province, is located almost exactly in the geographic centre of Ecuador.  It's at an average elevation of 2,850 meters above sea level (slightly higher than Quito, the capital) - but this is measured in the downtown central park, which is significantly lower than most of the rest of the city, which extends up the sides of the river valley and onto the high plain above.  We've got what amounts to eternal late springtime weather, with two well-marked rainy seasons.  Ambato has about 300,000 people in its metro area; it's the fourth largest city in the country.  But maybe the most important thing about Ambato, especially to foodies, is that it's a transport hub for the country.  Anything travelling just about anywhere has to pass through Ambato on the way; it gives us the largest, best-stocked food market in South America.  I have simply staggering variety at my fingertips.
       

       
      This view, which was a teaser for the blog, was taken from my rooftop terrazzo.  It is a fraction of the panorama of the river valley that I see every morning, and since Easter is traditionally somewhat miserable weather-wise, the clouds stick to the hilltops.  The barrio you can see in the middle distance is Ficoa, one of the most luxury districts in the city.  Ambato is notable amongst Ecuadorian cities for having small fruit farms (300-500 m2) still operating within city limits and even within its most established barrios - it's from this that the Ambato gets one of its two sobriquets: The City of Fruits and Flowers.  The tendency for even the poorest barrios to take tremendous pride in their greenspaces gives the other: The Garden City.  My barrio, Miraflores Alto, is a working-class mixture of professors and labourers, and my neighbours keep a mixture of chickens, turkeys, and ducks in their yards; someone down the hill has a cow that I frequently hear but have never seen.  Consequently, if the season is right I can buy duck eggs from my neighbours (and if the season is wrong, entire Muscovy ducks for roasting.)
       

       
      Today, I'll be doing my largest fresh-food shopping at the Mercado Mayorista, the largest market of its kind in South America - this place covers nearly 30 square blocks, and it exists to both buy and sell produce from across the country.  Sundays and Mondays it also opens up to a huge, raucous farmer's market where smaller quantities are available for purchase.  Sunday is the day of the freshest food and the largest number of vendors.  And I'm going to cross more than half the city to get there - I've moved since the last blog, and my new house, on the slopes of the river valley is further away than the old one on the high plain.  I promise to take many pictures of this - particularly close to the High Holy days, the Mayorista is alive with vendors and there will be special sections cordoned off for sales of bacalao, truly enormous squashes, and if it follows the previous years' trends, a festival of Hornado (about which more later).  Apart from mangoes, which are just finishing up their season, it is harvest time across the country, and the Mayorista will be well stocked with all manner of fruits and vegetables.
       

       
      To start us off, I'll demystify one of my teasers a bit.
       

       
      The Minion head that peeks out of my cupboard every day belongs to my jar of ChocoListo, the Ecuadorian equivalent of chocolate Ovaltine.  Since I gave up coffee for Lent, it's my go-to morning beverage.  ChocoListo normally comes in the plain white jar with orange lid that you see in front of the Minion; that's now my hot chocolate jar because I just couldn't resist when the company came out with the specialty jars.  I firmly believe that one is never too old to have whimsical things!
       

    • By therese
      Good morning, y’all, and welcome to the party chez Therese.
      As per the teaser, this week’s foodblog does indeed come to you from Atlanta, where I live with my two children (hereafter known as Girl and Boy) and husband (hereafter known as The Man). Girl is 11, Boy is 14, and The Man is old enough to know better.
      Atlanta’s huge: the total metro population is about 4 million, and there are no physical boundaries to growth like rivers or mountain ranges, so people just keep moving (and commuting) farther and farther out of town. Atlantans can be divided into ITP (inside the perimeter) and OTP (outside the perimeter), the perimeter referring to the interstate freeway that encircles the downtown area and surrounding neighborhoods, separating it from outlying suburbs. The politically minded may note that these areas could be designated red and blue. I’ll let you figure out which is which.
      We’re about as ITP as it gets, with home, work, school, and restaurants all in walking distance. The neighborhood’s called Druid Hills, the setting for the play/movie “Driving Miss Daisy”. The houses date from the 1920s, and because Atlanta has so little in the way of “old” buildings the neighborhood’s on the National Register as a Historic District. Charming, sure, buts lots of the houses need some updating, and ours (purchased in 1996) was no exception. So we remodeled last year, including an addition with a new kitchen, and this week’s blog will look at the finished product.
      So, some encouragement for those of you presently involved in kitchen renovation, some ideas for those who are considering it.
      But never mind all that for the moment: What’s for breakfast?


      Dutch babies, that’s what. And even better, these Dutch babies are produced by my children, the aforementioned Girl and Boy. The first picture is right from the oven, the second is after the somewhat messy job of sifting powdered sugar on top. They are delicious (the Dutch babies, I mean, not the children) and a great weekend treat.

      The Man drinks coffee in the morning whereas I prefer tea. He's not up yet, having played poker last night. I'm hoping he makes it out of bed in time for dinner.

      I also eat fruit whereas he prefers, well, anything but fruit. This is not such a bad thing, as it means that I don’t have to share the fruit. Pomegranates are a pain to eat, but not so bad if you’re reading the newspaper at the same time. This one’s from California, but you can also grow them here if you’ve got enough sunshine (which I don’t).
    • By Shelby
      Good morning, everyone and happy Monday!  
       
      It's me again....that girl from Kansas. 
       
       
      This is VERY spur-of-the-moment.  I was sitting here yesterday thinking of all of the canning etc. that I needed to do this week and I thought, well, why not ask you guys if you want to spend the week with me while I do it?  I got the ok from Smithy so away we go!
       
      This will not be nearly as organized as my first blog was.  But, really, when does a sequel ever measure up to the first?     
       
      Most of you know all about me--if you missed my first blog you can read it here.
       
      Nothing much has changed around here.  Same furry babies, same house, same husband  .
       
      Right now we have field corn planted all around the house.  In the outer fields we have soybeans that were planted after the wheat was harvested.  Sorry for the blur....it was so humid the camera kept fogging up.
       

       
      I just came in from the garden.
       
      I snapped a few pictures....for more (and prettier) pictures you can look in the gardening thread.  I always start out saying that I will not let a weed grow in there.  By August I'm like..."Oh what's a few weeds" lol.
       
       
       
      Here's a total list of what I planted this year:
       
      7 cucumbers
      8 basil
      23 okra
      4 rows assorted lettuce
      20 peppers-thai, jalapeño, bell, banana
      4 rows peas
      5 cilantro
      1 tarragon
      2 dill
      many many red and white onions
      7 eggplant
      3 rows spinach
      57 tomatoes
      5 cherry tomatoes
      7 rows silver queen sweet corn
      11 squash
      4 watermelon
      2 cantaloupe
      6 pumpkin
       
      I killed the cantaloupes...and I tried damn hard to kill the squash lol.....sigh...squash bugs came early this year and we sprayed with some kind of stuff.  WOW the plants did not like it, but they've come back and are producing.
       


      I just love okra flowers

      Found some more smut   
       

       
       
       
       
       
       
    • By Pille
      Tere õhtust (that’s „Good evening“ in Estonian)!
      I’m very, very, very excited to be doing my first ever eGullet foodblog. Foodblogging as such is not new to me – I’ve been blogging over at Nami-nami since June 2005, and am enjoying it enormously. But this eGullet blog is very different in format, and I hope I can ’deliver’. There have been so many exciting and great food blogs over the years that I've admired, so the standard is intimidatingly high! Also, as I’m the first one ever blogging from Estonia, I feel there’s a certain added responsibility to ’represent’ my tiny country
      A few words about me: my name is Pille, I’m 33, work in academia and live with my boyfriend Kristjan in a house in Viimsi, a suburb just outside Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. I was born and schooled in Tallinn until I was 18. Since then I've spent a year in Denmark as an exchange student, four years studing in Tartu (a university town 180 km south), two years working in Tallinn and seven years studying and working in Edinburgh, the bonnie & cosmopolitan capital of Scotland. All this has influenced my food repertoire to a certain degree, I'm sure. I moved back home to Estonia exactly 11 months and 1 day ago, to live with Kristjan, and I haven't regretted that decision once Edinburgh is an amazing place to live, and I've been back to Scotland twice since returning, but I have come to realise that Tallinn is even nicer than Edinburgh
      I won’t be officially starting my foodblog until tomorrow (it’s midnight here and I’m off to bed), but I thought I’ll re-post the teaser photos for those of you who missed them in the 'Upcoming Attractions' section. There were two of them. One was a photo of Tallinn skyline as seen from the sea (well, from across the bay in this case):

      This is known as kilukarbivaade or sprat can skyline A canned fish product, sprats (small Baltic herrings in a spicy marinade) used to have a label depicting this picturesque skyline. I looked in vain for it in the supermarket the other day, but sadly couldn’t find one - must have been replaced with a sleek & modern label. So you must trust my word on this sprat can skyline view
      The second photo depicted a loaf of our delicious rye bread, rukkileib. As Snowangel already said, it’s naturally leavened sour 100% rye bread, and I’ll be showing you step-by-step instructions for making it later during the week.

      It was fun seeing your replies to Snowangel’s teaser photos. All of you got the continent straight away, and I was pleased to say that most of you got the region right, too (that's Northern Europe then). Peter Green’s guess Moscow was furthest away – the capital of Russia is 865 km south-east from here (unfortunately I've never had a chance to visit that town, but at least I've been to St Petersburgh couple of times). Copenhagen is a wee bit closer with 836 km, Stockholm much closer with 386 km. Dave Hatfield (whose rural French foodblog earlier this year I followed with great interest, and whose rustic apricot tart was a huge hit in our household) was much closer with Helsinki, which is just 82 km across the sea to the north. The ships you can see on the photo are all commuting between Helsinki and Tallinn (there’s an overnight ferry connection to Stockholm, too). Rona Y & Tracey guessed the right answer
      Dave – that house isn’t a sauna, but a granary (now used to 'store' various guests) - good guess, however! Sauna was across the courtyard, and looks pretty much the same, just with a chimney The picture is taken in July on Kassari in Hiiumaa/Dagö, one of the islands on the west coast. Saunas in Estonia are as essential part of our life – and lifestyle – as they are in Finland. Throwing a sauna party would guarantee a good turnout of friends any time
      Finally, a map of Northern Europe, so you’d know exactly where I’m located:

      Head ööd! [Good night!]
      I'm off to bed now, but will be back soon. And of course, if there are any questions, however specific or general, then 'll do my best trying to answer them!
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