Exploring International Foods in “All Over the Map”

I just finished Laura Fraser’s “All Over the Map,” a followup to “An Italian Affair.” Like its predecessor, it is based on Fraser’s real life from 2005-2011. As she approaches age forty and beyond, her life is not looking like she had imagined as a younger woman. Finding a lasting love relationship is hard. But she has lots of friends from all over, and editors calling about the next assignment relating to women’s issues in the places all over the world and her relationship with herself.

Here are some of the foods and drinks mentioned in its pages:

Niçoise Pizza (also called pissaladière): Niçoise means “of Nice, France.” This French city was under a Italian rule for much of its past, though, and it shows in their cuisine. Its dishes are light, full of farm-fresh ingredients, with simple herb and olive oil bases. Niçoise pizza typically features oil-marinated tuna, green beans, olive oil, chopped tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and onion. The olive oil used matters a lot: extra virgin olive oil is used for salads and cold preparations, regular olive oil is used for cooking. For the Nicoise, farm to table is not a fad–it never went out of style to begin with.

Bandol wine: A wine made from Mourvèdre, Grenache & Cinsaut grapes. Mourvedres are grown on the Southern coast of France, not far from Cassis.

Feuilleté: Puff pastry or phyllo dough. Imagine a baked rectangle of phyllo dough stuffed with cheese and fresh vegetables, then baked, or baked, then topped with fresh berries and whipped cream.

Totano: Squid in Italian, specifically in Tuscany and surrounding areas. The totano is also called the European Flying squid, because this species is known for leaping from the water. In the States, calamari is usually the “catch-all” term for fried rings of squid, but higher-end Italian eateries would distinguish the type of squid. For instance, in Italy’s Aoelian Islands, Fraser was enjoying a whole totano stuffed with breadcrumbs baked in olive oil.

Criollo: Creole in Spanish. Food-wise, it means the overlap of Spanish background with the native foods of each island and colony they established, incorporating the traditions of indigenous peoples and Africans along the way. In the book, Fraser enjoys Peruvian criollo,which blends Spanish, AfricanAndeanAsian and indigenous traditions.

Picantería: Restaurants in Arequipa, Peru, noted for serving local cuisine. Arequipa is located in the South central portion of Peru, about 16 hours southwest of Lima. Ricotto Relleno (peppers stuffed with beef, raisins, olives, peanuts and spice, topped with cheese that bubbles over the pepper when baked.), adobo (pork chop soup with a rocotto pepper base), Chupe de Camarones (shrimp chowder), ocopa, and for the vegetarians, Soltado de Queso (diced vegetables, starch and legumes sprinkled with vinegar). According to Expat Chronicles, finding veggie cuisine is not an easy thing in Peru. Another fun fact, you can order combo platters of several things and one combo is called “Americanos.”

Tiradito: Raw filets of white fish sliced deli thin, seasoned with salt and pepper. Then lime juice and aji pepper paste, pepper flakes, grated garlic, grated ginger, or celery are added. As you may have guessed, this dish was created by Japanese immigrants on the coast of Peru. What’s interesting is that though the fish is untouched by heat, the acids in the lemon juice and other ingredients cook the fish in their own way;the same phenomenon happens in another dish, cebiche (ceviche).

Aji de Gallina: Shredded chicken spiced with a sauce made of evaporated milk, boiled potatoes, garlic, onion, and aji peppers typically served over rice, or stuffed into a folded pastry (empanada) and baked.

Causas: Layers of yellow potatoes stuffed with fish or avocado.

Lucuma: An upside-down teardrop-shaped fruit grown on trees in the valleys of Peru and Chile. It’s skin is dark green, its pulp is a saffron yellow and dry, not juicy, and it has a single pit instead of multiple seeds. It tastes maple and sweet potato. The fruit’s pulp can be dried and ground to make flour. Raw it can be used to make pulp cocktails or smoothies, or used in sauces. Like the sweet potato, the lucuma is packed with fiber and nutrients.

Pisco sours: Pisco is unaged brandy. In a sour, it is combined with lemon juice, egg white, simple syrup, and several dashes of bitters. The egg white foams and rises to the top. Egg white substitute can be used, but it will not be the same.

Chiles en nogada: A roasted poblano chile stuffed with fruits, spices and nuts, dipped in batter then fried. Once plated, it is drizzled in a milky white ground walnut sauce  containing ground walnuts, goat cheese, milk, and sherry. As a finishing touch, the pepper covered in sauce is sprinkled with parsley and pomegranate seeds.

SOURCES:

Nicholai Gallo

Peru Delights 

Expat-Chronicles.com

Delia Online

Cocktails.About.com

The Mija Chronicles

LauraFraser.com

 

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Exploring Persian Food in “Together Tea”

I recently finished the novel “Together Tea” by Marjan Khamali. There were lots of delicious food terms I wanted to know more about.

These are some of the food terms in the book which may not be familiar to the American food palate. From what I am reading, if you like Greek and Indian, you will like Persian dishes, too. There are lots of delicious options that have plenty going on if you prefer meatless meals:

Balal: means “corn”. Specifically, it means grilled corn sold on the streets of Iran. It is seared in flame to release natural sugars, then immersed in salted water.

Barbari bread:  A yeast flatbread sprinkled in wheat bran and nigella seeds. Thinner than lavash, sold in long flattened sheets. I enjoyed the demos I watched on Youtube.

Dolmah: In Turkish, it means a vegetable stuffed with a mixture. For Persians, its grape leaves stuffed with rice and spices, then rolled with the ends tucked in.

Esfand: African rue seed, a plant successfully grown in the Southwest United States. Esfand seeds are burned to ward off the evil eye.

Fesejoon: A sweet and sour chicken, ground pomegranate, and walnut stew cooked slowly so all the flavors meld beautifully. Served with rice.

Ghormeh Sabzi Koresh: A green herb stew with spinach, spring onions, kidney beans, and cubed lamb or beef. Herbs include turmeric, parsley, coriander, garlic, and fenugreek.

Khoresh: It means stew. the fig&quince blog indicates this stew is more refined. So I think they’re saying its like elegant Spanish, Portuguese or Brazilian dishes served over rice. Not Dinty Moore, Anglo-Saxon meat n taters you find in a can and are eaten out of a bowl stews.

Kotelet: Spices, mashed potato, and ground beef formed into a ball, then a flattened almond shape, then breaded and pan-fried. Spices include turmeric, salt, pepper, and a blend called advieh: a teaspoon of cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground rose petals,cardamom, cumin

Lavash (lah-vahshh): A whole grain yeast bread flavored with honey and brown sugar. Served with kabobs.

Noon vayi: Noon is bread like Indian naan.

Olivieh: A cold dish with a creamy base. TurmericSaffron’s uses a sour cream and mayo base, but probably greek yogurt would work as well. This salad contains shredded carrots, potatoes, frozen peas, olives, boiled eggs, chopped dill pickle, chicken breast cubed, lemon juice and olive oil. During blazing hot southern summers, this sounds like a great idea for lunch or a work buffet contribution. I would suggest it for a cookout, but only if its kept on a fresh bed of ice the whole time.

Sangak:  Baked on small hot stones, it has a rippled, moon-like texture once baked, its shape has an arrow point at one end and rectangular at the other. It is put in the oven with a paddle.

Sabzi: Means “herbs”

Taftoon: Super-thin bread baked into oval sheets with rows of holes.

Tahdeeg: Means “bottom of the pot”, referring to crisy rice grains or sometimes vegetables that crisped while cooking. Usually served to guests since it is so delicious.

If you’d like to learn more about Persian cuisine, check out these blogs for recipes and videos: