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myMEGusta

Named for things that please me (“me gusta” in Spanish) and rhymes with balabusta (Yiddish for “good homemaker”).

Archive for the month “March, 2016”

What’s Easter Without Eggs?

Now, THIS is an Easter Egg!

Now, THIS is an Easter Egg!

As regular myMEGusta readers know, this refers to big chocolate ovoids, uni sushi and caviar, not the things that come from chickens which do not please her at all.

But, they’re still an interesting subject, so long as myMEGusta doesn’t have to face a sunny side up thing staring at her.

There are classic egg dishes that even egg haters will love.

Chawan Mushi

Chawan Mushi

Think of the wonderful Japanese dish, chawan mushi. This silky smooth, steamed custard comes in a little cup, scented with mirin (a slightly sweet, low alcohol sake), dashi (Japanese fish stock) and little garnishes, like ginko nuts, mushrooms and tiny shrimp and/or fish. It tastes of Japan, not of eggs.

Coconut Cream Pie

Coconut Cream Pie

Sweetened custards can also be delish. Coconut custard pie is a real standout, tasting of coconut strands inside the creamy custard, with a totally different taste and texture provided by crisped coconut on the top.

Souffles would not exist if not for eggs. Properly made, they don’t taste of egg at all, rather of cheese or broccoli or chocolate or Grand Marnier, whatever. Savory souffles stand on their own, but dessert souffles often come accompanied by a sauce (perhaps a vanilla scented crème anglaise) or fresh berries plunked in the middle.

Cheese Souffle

Cheese Souffle

Incidentally, there is no reason to be intimidated by the idea of making a soufflé at home. You need two things: straight sided bowl (or cups) to cook it in (so it has some support as it fluffs up) well lubricated (and floured or sugared) so it won’t stick on the way up, and a good recipe that you follow to the letter (not that difficult, just not a place to experiment).

Frozen Souffle

Frozen Souffle

Frozen “souffles” have nothing to do with eggs. They are simply still frozen ice creams that are placed in cups with paper collars attached, stirred occasionally so that ice crystals don’t form. When it freezes solid, you remove the collar and it appears to have risen.

Back to the subject of poultry eggs, you’ll find a really interesting type in London’s Smithfield market: tiny seagull eggs. They wholesale for 3 pounds 80, and recently retailed on line for 6 pounds 50. That is $9.17 per egg. Collected by people who are specially licensed to gather them on ledges in Devon, in the southwest of England, most of them end up in gentlemen’s clubs, soft boiled with celery salt. No, myMEGusta cannot comment on what they taste like.

Seagull Eggs

Seagull Eggs

Another interesting travel take on eggs was in Hong Kong in the 1980s, on Egg Street, an alleyway devoted exclusively to sellers of eggs in all shapes and sizes, including embryos of various ages. MyMEGusta didn’t taste this either. Alas, time marches on, and Egg Street was razed for the construction of the wonderful escalator system which now rises up to Mid-Levels. Nearby Snake Street met the same demise.

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Parilla! Rodizio! More beef!

Parilla in the Pampas

Parilla in the Pampas

Many people in the United States think of Latin America, or even South America, as being a homogenous land and culture. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Think of the vast distances. Bogota and Santiago are 4000 miles apart, 1000 miles more than between Montreal and Mexico City, and we certainly don’t lump these two climates and cultures together.

Neighboring countries in South America also have their pronounced nuances. Uruguayan tango is distinct from Argentinean (It’s largely in the kicking, don’t ask myMEGusta to explain), and Brazilian samba differs from them as much as a Viennese waltz.

Parilla at the Narbona Winery in Punte del Este

Parilla at the Narbona Winery in Punte del Este

Of course, this also applies to foods. Take barbecue for example, looking at, and tasting, the difference between Brazilian and Argentine/Uruguayan barbecues.  (Yes, they share that as well as the tango.)

Argentine and Uruguayan barbecue is a lot like you’ll find in Spain, no surprise given that these Spanish speaking countries have so many other similarities. There, meats and sausages are grilled over open fire on grills called parillas.

Parilla in the Pampas

Parilla in the Pampas

Menu options are by cut, and the meat portion is cooked to order. Two of myMEGusta’s favorites are vacio (flank steak, often available in a half portion) and short ribs. The way to get to taste a selection is to go with a group, everyone ordering something different, which they will cut into portions in the kitchen or at the table.

Parilla at Narbona Winery in Punte del Este

Parilla at Narbona Winery in Punte del Este

Recent tastings included parilla barbecues at the Narbona Winery near Punte del Este, Uruguay, and at a polo horse breeding farm near Buenos Aires, Argentina, the home of many more wonderful parilla dinners.

The Brazilian rodizio, or churrascaria, on the other hand, uses skewered meats and either horizontal or vertical grills. The skewers are then paraded through the dining room so that individual pieces are sliced off. They then head back to the grill to keep warm and, depending on the cut, cook some more. The name of the game is to taste as many different cuts and flavors as you can, taking an ounce of this and an ounce of that.

Rodizio

Rodizio

Skewers On the Grill

Skewers On the Grill

Lunch at the original Fogo de Chao restaurant in Rio was delicious; they have branches in the United States, and other places like Plataforma in New York City feature the same type of menu: skewers and a giant salad bar with everything you can imagine. Servers roam the room armed with many, many kinds of meat and sausage (and usually some plank grilled salmon). Everyone gets a disk, red on one side and green on the other. If the green faces up, every roving skewer will be offered to you; if on red, they walk on by.

Here, the green side is facing up!

Disks

Disks

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