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Finding good renditions of foreign or ethnic cuisines outside their home regions


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Host's note: this discussion was split from the Sabich: the Iraqi-Israeli topic.

 

On 9/21/2020 at 9:04 AM, Eatmywords said:


It brings a chuckle when I read you live¬†in Milan and there's no good pita or¬†bread substitute.¬†ūüėł

ūüėāūüėā¬†In reality, I guess that's not totally fair. There is a delicious (albeit very greasy) Greek on the Navigli that I go to that looks nothing like the Greek food I'm used to but admittedly it has¬†decent¬†pita! But it's all the way across town, like 45 minutes away. And not even sure they would sell it to me.¬† I have a bakery nearby that sells "pane arabo," which are puffy rolls. Look like the above pucce. I don't usually like them because they are doughy and raw tasting.¬†

Perhaps for something similar, there are also a few Lebanese restaurants, but the last one I went to had wrap-style breads. 

 

Someone told me to try one of the Arab butchers but alas, there isn't one of those near me either. 

 

Milan has a lot of international offerings in comparison to other Italian cities. We have some good Chinese (though nothing like American Chinese). And the Milanese are obsessed with sushi. Ramen is getting better here too.  But the things I really love aren't done well. For example, no Jewish rye (my favorite bread), or Jewish deli for that matter, no good gyros, no good Korean (a fave around here), no good Mexican (though getting better) and no good Vietnamese. My son adores Pho (my next cooking project will be to tackle making it at home!) We've found "OK" Pho, but nothing like the kind I am used to. It's OK, sometimes these places will still satisfy if you have a craving and we have other incredibly delicious things to eat. :)

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24 minutes ago, ambra said:

ūüėāūüėā¬†In reality, I guess that's not totally fair. There is a delicious (albeit very greasy) Greek on the Navigli that I go to that looks nothing like the Greek food I'm used to but admittedly it has¬†decent¬†pita! But it's all the way across town, like 45 minutes away. And not even sure they would sell it to me.¬† I have a bakery nearby that sells "pane arabo," which are puffy rolls. Look like the above pucce. I don't usually like them because they are doughy and raw tasting.¬†

There are also a few Lebanese restaurants, but that last one had wrap style breads. 

 

Someone told me to try one of the Arab butchers but alas, there isn't one of those near me either. 

 

Milan has a lot of international offerings in comparison to other Italian cities. We have some good Chinese (though nothing like American Chinese). And the Milanese are obsessed with sushi. Ramen is getting better here too.  But the things I really love aren't done well. For example, no Jewish rye (my favorite bread), or Jewish deli for that matter, no good gyros, no good Korean (a fave around here), no good Mexican (though getting better) and no good Vietnamese. My son adores Pho (my next cooking project will be to tackle making it at home!) We've found "OK" Pho, but nothing like the kind I am used to. It's OK, sometimes these places will still satisfy if you have a craving and we have other incredibly delicious things to eat. :)

I hear you.  We are spoiled here w our 'ethnic' options.  Milan sounds like Paris where we noticed an onslaught of chinese/thai/vietnamese/cafe takeouts specializing in cold pret a manger.  What we tried was pretty bad but the french seemed to be going nuts for it.  They were always busy.  

 

@weinoo what do you think?  You were there just before covid like us?

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That wasn't chicken

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1 hour ago, Eatmywords said:

 

I hear you.  We are spoiled here w our 'ethnic' options.  Milan sounds like Paris where we noticed an onslaught of chinese/thai/vietnamese/cafe takeouts specializing in cold pret a manger.  What we tried was pretty bad but the french seemed to be going nuts for it.  They were always busy.  

 

@weinoo what do you think?  You were there just before covid like us?

 

Indeed - it appears they go nuts for anything not French - silly in my opinion. Hamburgers are the big thing, in my opinion; noticed them practically everywhere. One day we were having a quick lunch at a local (to our airbnb) cafe, and there was a dad with his son there. The kid had like 2 hot dogs and a big pile of frites, and dumped about half a bottle of ketchup all over everything. We were cracking up and dad just looked at us and shrugged his shoulders.

 

I think Vietnamese was always kind of around in Paris, with some of it allegedly excellent, though we've never eaten it while there. One would think with the ingredient quality available, other "ethnic" cuisines ought be great, if a cook has some idea what she or he is doing.  I believe one of our meals at Fulgarances was when a Thai chef was in residence, and it was quite good, though I wouldn't call it Thai food.

 

And @ambra - back to pita - I see you make it and I'm sure @shain can tell you that it's a fairly easy bread to make at home! And maybe even provide us all with instructions!  As for rye bread, believe me, even here in NYC, it's not like it's that easy to find great rye; certainly not as easy as it was when I was a kid and there were real Jewish bakeries everywhere. And...don't get me started on bagels!

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9 minutes ago, weinoo said:

 

As for rye bread, believe me, even here in NYC, it's not like it's that easy to find great rye; certainly not as easy as it was when I was a kid and there were real Jewish bakeries everywhere. And...don't get me started on bagels!

 

Memories!  After church on Sunday we'd head over to the Jewish bakery, inhale deeply with goofy grins and pick up a loaf for the week. My favorite take to school lunch -smooshed avocado on rye. The  kids making fun had no idea what they were missing. Turned brown but tasted comforting and good. That playground could be tough. Alas they departed after Watts '65 as we did.

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16 hours ago, weinoo said:

As for rye bread, believe me, even here in NYC, it's not like it's that easy to find great rye; certainly not as easy as it was when I was a kid and there were real Jewish bakeries everywhere. And...don't get me started on bagels!

Yea, my baking abilities leave much to be desired. I have even tried to do the rye at home and it always tastes wrong. This is if and when I can find caraway seeds. I usually stock up at the Mercato Orientale in Genoa. The spice guy there always has them. And actually, I went just before lockdown so I have a bunch now. 

I promise you your bagels are better than anything I can get in Milan¬†.¬†ūüėāūüėā¬†I'm not great at bagels either, but I do bialys pretty well. I want to try to make onion boards and those onion rolls I used to get at Zabar's.¬†

 

Hamburgers are all the rage in Milan and the rest of Italy. At one point, they were disgusting, wildly overmixed, often with pork added for flavor (no idea why people thought it was needed). Now it is pretty easy to find a really delicious burger! My favorite comes from a place that specializes in lobster rolls!

 

Sorry to be hijacking the sabich thread!

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18 hours ago, weinoo said:

I think Vietnamese was always kind of around in Paris, with some of it allegedly excellent, though we've never eaten it while there. One would think with the ingredient quality available, other "ethnic" cuisines ought be great, if a cook has some idea what she or he is doing. 

 

 

Supposedly Ho Chi Minh spent time working in one of Escoffier's kitchens when he was a young man and living in Paris. I haven't actually researched that, so it may be apocryphal. Whether any of his countrymen were serving their own food during that era, as opposed to simply being line grunts, is a whole other question.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 9/22/2020 at 7:09 AM, chromedome said:

 

Supposedly Ho Chi Minh spent time working in one of Escoffier's kitchens when he was a young man and living in Paris. I haven't actually researched that, so it may be apocryphal. Whether any of his countrymen were serving their own food during that era, as opposed to simply being line grunts, is a whole other question.

 

He also claimed to have worked at the Parker House in Boston (of dinner roll fame) though I think it's only documented in one of his letters.

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On 9/22/2020 at 7:09 PM, chromedome said:

Supposedly Ho Chi Minh spent time working in one of Escoffier's kitchens when he was a young man and living in Paris. I haven't actually researched that

 

Perhaps you are confusing it with this in London.

 

1659439027_Blue_plaque_Ho_Chi_Minh_Haymarket_London.thumb.jpg.09b2f17fe89c7f72a46ca392a362f3a9.jpg

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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Many years ago, we ate at a mediocre Thai place in Reims... it was Sunday and the only place open!  It was serviceable, but definitely nothing memorable.

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I can't comment on the quality of the restaurant, but in Paris about fifteen years ago, I nearly fell down laughing when we passed what was apparently the trendy Tex-Mex (or Mexican-American?) restaurant at the time: Indiana Cafe.

 

The press in Indianapolis has apparently picked up on it and note that "The restaurant is a chain with 21 locations, which is arguably the most Indiana thing about Indiana Café."

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I've eaten excellent Vietnamese in Paris, which is not surprising given the historic connection.

But also had a wonderful Indian meal in Canet de Plage in southern France near the Spanish border. That was unexpected.

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To this day, the best Indian food I have ever eaten was in Tokyo.

 

Here in south-central America, we have a plethora of Mexican restaurants, most of which are actually Tex-Mex, but one of the meccas for Mexican food in Arkansas is in my former home of Hot Springs. My boss there, who'd grown up in West Texas, had found a little taqueria attached to a grocery store where we'd often eat. We'd generally be the only two gringos in the place, and both of us were semi-fluent in Spanish, so we enjoyed listening in to other diners. We also had a classical Mexican restaurant, whose cuisine I'm told is typical of central Mexico, owned and run by a woman who trained at CIA. 

 

But perhaps my favorite was the Ecuadorean restaurant. Outstanding dishes with lightly sauteed and pickled veggies surrounding meat, beans and rice. And the best guacamole I ever ate in my life. Cool patio tucked into a nook in the mountain. Great salsa with black beans and corn. No cuy, though. Lord, but I miss that place.

 

Hot Springs is also home to an outstanding German restaurant, where I first learned about rouladen, and where the red cabbage is second to none. Two or three pretty excellent Italian places, and one of the best burgers on the planet, at the Ohio Club, which bills itself as the "oldest bar in Arkansas."

 

Memphis, for a river town, has a surprising dearth of ethnic food, though it's been getting better of late. There's decent Cuban, Mexican, Middle Eastern, North African. Always been good Italian there, courtesy of a long heritage of Italians in the Mississippi River Delta. There was a good German place for a long time, but she retired, and the only German restaurant I know of now is, well, not so great. But there's a million fine places to get barbecue, which forgives a multitude of sins, I guess. 

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When I was heading to Scotland a bunch of years ago when I had time to research food before traveling - I asked what food I should be watching for - Indian was the answer. And they were so right!

 

 

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On 10/5/2020 at 9:20 AM, Kerry Beal said:

When I was heading to Scotland a bunch of years ago when I had time to research food before traveling - I asked what food I should be watching for - Indian was the answer. And they were so right!

 

 

 

Have to say some of the worst Indian food I've eaten has been in Scotland. England is much better, especially in the midlands. And I'm Scottish!

Absolutely the worst Indian food I've eaten was in -------- India!

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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9 hours ago, liuzhou said:

 

Have to say some of the worst Indian food I've eaten has been in Scotland. England is much better, especially in the midlands. And I'm Scottish!

Absolutely the worst Indian food I've eaten was in -------- India!

Actually I'm beginning to wonder if the best I had was in Birmingham maybe. 

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The best Indian¬†(of the¬†ubiquitous Punjabi¬†variety) I've sampled was in London, followed closely by Christchurch, NZ.¬† The worst was in Bangkok.¬† The best up-scale/fusionish place was¬†here in NYC.¬† A place called, Devi, which many¬†considered ground breaking and the start of new genre.¬†¬†¬†¬†I'm not sure this thread has any clear direction but I like it all the same¬†¬†ūü§™¬† ¬†¬†

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That wasn't chicken

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  • 1 month later...

Host's note: the following discussion was split from China Food Myths.

 

11 hours ago, AlaMoi said:

Italy also has long lunches . . .

Not really anymore. Only shops close during the day (though many chains and malls stay open straight through).

 

Offices allow for an hour to an hour and half for lunch.

 

Anyway as for this thread,¬†¬†I¬†prefer American Chinese over Italian Chinese! ūüėĄ¬†If you know where to go, you can find good food, but most restaurants have the exact same menu.¬†:(

 

 

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58 minutes ago, ambra said:

Not really anymore. Only shops close during the day (though many chains and malls stay open straight through).

 

Offices allow for an hour to an hour and half for lunch.

 

Anyway as for this thread,¬†¬†I¬†prefer American Chinese over Italian Chinese! ūüėĄ¬†If you know where to go, you can find good food, but most restaurants have the exact same menu.¬†:(

 

 

 

I'll never forget this meal, in Rome, at a Chinese restaurant.

 

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7 hours ago, liuzhou said:

When I was a child I was encouraged to eat the particularly nasty bits on the plate by being told that the starving Chinese would lap them up.

 

At my house it was, "Thousands of children in Europe are starving!"  

 

Back when I worked in the semiconductor industry, we had many engineers of Asian descent.  The head engineer's family owned a local Chinese restaurant and we often went there for company lunches.  The Caucasian engineers tended to sit together and one day we noticed that we were the only ones using chopsticks while the rest were all using forks.

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48 minutes ago, mgaretz said:

 

At my house it was, "Thousands of children in Europe are starving!"  

 

 

 It was "starving Armenians" when I was a kid.  I think mom liked the sort-of alliteration. (there must be a word for first syllable rhyming)

 

With our kids, we left the world out of it and just said "you're gonna finish that, right?"

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4 hours ago, weinoo said:

 

I'll never forget this meal, in Rome, at a Chinese restaurant.

 

Santa Maria dei Monti Offerta Hot and Sour Soup

You did better than me.  I was in Florence a long time ago and after several days of regional chow we got a craving for Chinese.  We found an empty place (shoulda known better) near the hotel and it was bad.  Everything was drowned in oil and oil that was not hot enough to separate from the ingredients.  There was also a strange aftertaste which I learned was olive oil.  Che cazzo?

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That wasn't chicken

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I grew up eating Chinese, probably once a week. We had several places to chose from, walking distance on the upper West Side. My big revelation: when I was about eight or ten I went to Mexico with my dad. He had a craving for Chinese and I remember him making a bee-line for a particular place in Mexico City. I couldn't believe that the Chinese waiters were speaking Spanish. I assumed they all must have been fluent in three languages until I finally got that oh, wow, they lived in Mexico, not New York! I'm sure my dad ordered my faves for me. No way can I guarantee my memory on this but I think this Chinese restaurant specialized in chicken soup of some kind.

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3 hours ago, gfweb said:

 It was "starving Armenians" when I was a kid.  I think mom liked the sort-of alliteration. (there must be a word for first syllable rhyming)

 

With our kids, we left the world out of it and just said "you're gonna finish that, right?"

In my household also, it was the starving Armenians.

 

For our small wedding lunch, in Ottawa, in 1960, before the explosion of the Beatles and the entire world, we had Chinese food, at an Italian restaurant, La Paloma, run by Lebanese people.  

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