Friday, April 25, 2008


There are a few cuisine cultures that completely elude me when I'm cooking. I'm yet to successfully make anything from the South American cultures, unless you count tacos and burritos (and frankly I don't): I crave pupusas, tamales and quesadillas, but whenever I try to make them I end up with...well...I'm not sure what you'd call them. Mostly like thick fritters with a few beans scattered through, but without the reassuring cohesiveness of the standard fritter. Thick, dry, crumbly and with a few beans sprinkled enticingly in the middle, each with its own fuzzy jacket of crumbly fritter. And my quesadillas are best not mentioned.

And then there's just about every single Japanese recipe ever invented. I've got a beautiful Japanese cook book: one of those ones I read just for pleasure, with a glass of sherry, wistfully reflecting on the intricacy of skill that resulted in such a perfect balance of sushi ingredients. Why do mine always seem to have way too much rice? Or way too much nori, such that you cannot bite through the damn thing, but have to engulf it whole and chew with your mouth waaay open for a time. Nothing so chic and foodie as drooling uncontrollably because the massive cud of sushi you have won't permit you to close your lips.

It's hard, but I've come to accept these limitations: and by 'accept', I mean, of course, 'ignore until I'm ready to try again'. There's probably quite a predictable cycle of cuisine sampling, if I could be bothered to graph it. Indian cuisine has been a long, hard road, but the dhals and naans that M produces now are heavenly. (He has a new kofta recipe to try this weekend. I'm so excited.) But it never seems to matter: it's the anticipation. This time I know what we did wrong. This time we'll add extra cumin/M&Ms/garlic/water. It's a dead cert this time!

But Turkish cuisine? It seems so accessible, so close; and yet, not quite there. My tzatziki is first-rate, but there's not really any challenge there. My hummus leaves something to be desired, but I can't pinpoint what. It's nice enough, but it's not fantastic. And we've had some fairly disastrous run-ins with haloumi kebabs (oy). But today the spirit has moved me: M has some Turkish bread rising, I've got some eggplants roasting in the oven for baba ganoush, and there will probably be a few yaprak dolma before the weekend is out -- there's vine leaves in the fridge.

Meanwhile, M is watching an eBay auction closely: a teensy weensy deep fryer, perfect for those of us who only want to fry the occasional zucchini flower or crumbed brie wedge. He keeps checking to see if anyone else has bid yet. I hope not, because it would be an awesome addition to the kitchen. I keep imagining all the things we could make with it, although they tend to centre around things like fried zucchini flowers, zucchini puffs, felafels, crisply fried filo sticks, etc. etc.

Stay tuned. Next: photos of the feast, hopefully.

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