Friday, March 31, 2023

Discovering The World of Flavors Part Two

 This part is about more exotic foods that have been discovered, but also more concern for weight, health, the environment and justice.  A lot of odds and ends in random order.

 As I age and read about  nutrition I have become more interested in veganism.  The benefits include guilt free regarding cruelty to animals.  More than that you cut down on cholesterol and chemicals.  It also has environmental benefits which means also economic benefits as we try to feed a hungry growing planet.  

 One documentary film that is hard to dismiss is "The Game Changers" (2019) which you can learn a bit more about at   Suggested by friend Bob Stone. Balancing that is natural reality that is our history:

 What animals we choose to eat is subject to social concerns.  Cows and chickens are normal. Pigs are forbidden to Jews and Muslims.  Sheep and lambs are too cuddly for some.   In Tarpon Springs, Florida I decided to try frog legs which tasted fine, but I read their eyes remind people of themselves and so that was the only time.  The idea of horse meat is repulsive to many of us and I worked for a horse publication. Veal is very tasty, but raised cruelly with cows packed tightly.

Talking to a Muslim friend he pointed that Halal meat is healthier as blood is drained from the body.  Also effectively argues that it is less cruel (but some think it is crueler).

A friend from Sharon's work had an emu farm which offer meat with less cholesterol.  It tasted ok, but somehow never caught on.  Goat cheese was discovered and I was told it was healthier.  As it became more popular trending, but there are a lot of surplus male goats, but little Canadian interest except for Caribbeans.

A restaurant was giving out samples and my curiosity gave in to temptation and I found kangaroo tasty.  On another occasion perhaps trying to show my sophistication had more kangaroo meat that had been barbequed.  I was told that kangaroo is low on cholesterol.  The problem is it is difficult to shake the idea of a playful toy.

Calamari was an exotic food I acquired a taste for until I learned that the octopus is a unique sentient being.  Check: The idea of eating Ox tongue was repulsive, but was persuaded to try at a Korean restaurant and realized they are tasty.   This has been my plan for several years--it partially relieves my conscience and cuts down on meat/fat consumption.

What happens if we all do become vegans?

Weight is a social and health issue.   A battle I am familiar with.  One of the most successful diets I have had  was the F Plan, with the F standing for fibre.  Chopsticks have one good advantage in that they slow me down.  Other strategies have involved mindfulness. 

We ate Mexican at the suggestion of a brother in law, first in London, (Ontario) then Etobicoke.  Our children loved it.  A few years later Hamilton developed a nearby Mexican restaurant.  Awhile later we learned their menu was gluten free and that turned out to be a key factor for one visitor.  We were surprised that another nearby restaurant had a Muslim chef which meant their menu was also halal which turned out to a positive for a sister of mine.

The Burlington Library declared, "Beauty of Humanity Movement"  their Burlington Reads selection.  A big feature was a Vietnamese Soup called pho which I sampled and have continued to do so.  Other Vietnamese items I have taken a fancy to include sandwiches with cilantro and spring rolls.   From a newspaper review we drove to Toronto to checkout chocolate covered bananas which indicated a French colonial influence

Perhaps the best value in a snack is a red bean sesame ball.  Cheaper than a chocolate bar with a mix of sweet red bean and a bread sort of wrapping and sesame seeds.  Have bought at Chinese or Vietnamese bakeries.

Thai restaurants offer my favorite foods.  They have a lot of spices and combinations of other Asian foods.  One combination was lychees in a curry.  They were the first for me to offer peanut sauce.

New Zealand is noted for meat pies and we did indeed agree they did have better than at home.  A flavor available fresh for only a short growing season was feijoa, which I absorbed in a sorbet, wine  and with hokey pokey,cereal  Driving around the North Island we were struck by the large numbers of sheep eating on mountain sides.  We ate more than usual of lamb items .  Back home it was admitted that lamb fed on grass tastes better than Canadian lamb fed on feed.  My Grandmother Coakwell introduced me and Sharon to lamb with mint as she knew my parents didn't eat it.  We attended a Maori show that included an underground cooking hangi.  Still another treat was at an underground parking lot at major shopping mall where I had a Malaysian item.  On other occasions we had visited Japanese, Turkish, Mongolian restaurants.  On another occasion at a Chinese restaurant I was able to try chicken feet that two friends had been discussing and I could appreciate their interest.  At another Chinese restaurant we ordered a few hours ahead of time and got a Beijing Duck which was more elaborate than anticipated.

The French cuisine is supposed to be top of the food tower.  I love croissants, crepes, onion soup, chicken cordon bleu, escargot and Vichyssoise.   I would like to explore more, but they have the reputation of being expensive and complicated.

One of my jobs took me to health food shows.  There is an emphasis on organic foods which I usually prefer.  New things I discovered included hummus, tahini and tofu. I learned a recipe for tuna curry that was supposed to be healthy for its omega oil.  One of the few things I am allowed to cook for others.

Michael was in Korea and was able to impress us at a local Korean restaurant ordering food in the Korean language.  They let you cook yourself at your table.  Noted for beef dishes.  My latest taste discovery has come from watching Korean tv series.   I started to notice dating couples and wealthy business men often ordered Tteokbokki to impress one another.  The real capper was a spoiled brat in a hospital with parents anxious to placate asked him what he wanted and he replied Tteokbokki and it has proved to be a new favorite.  I didn't catch on to kimchi.

For awhile I lived and worked in Waterloo country and became fascinated by the Mennonites.  Someone recommended the Stonecrock Restaurant in St. Jacob's  and one special treat was shoofly pie (so named because flies were attracted to its sweetness.  Our one year old daughter, Heather  loved it.   One location i visited frequently was Wellesley that was the headquarters for an apple butter factory.  I approached a local grocery store that was embarrassed they didn't have any on their shelves, but a manager sent me to the factory.  They showed me a new product called pumpkin butter which was really apple butter which was enhanced by pumpkin.  That became a regular visit, until I no longer had an excuse to  visit the town and was unable to find it anywhere.  A few years later, my son, Michael on a visit from New Zealand for  a computer conference in Philadelphia.  I had learned that some of my Mennonite ancestors had lived in Pennsylvania and sure enough in a downtown market I was able to find both pumpkin butter and shoofly pie.

As I got older I found caffeine stopped me drinking coffee and soon after much soda pop.  I understood chocolate also included caffeine, but fortunately it not elicit uncomfortable reactions that other caffeine sources did.  I read that carobs had no caffeine while tasting pretty close to chocolate.  Over time I learned that carobs are more nutritious in comparison. Even more, carobs help keep one more regular.

At first awareness Sushi seemed both unhealthy and not tasty.  However I developed a taste for it.  I read that Steve Jobs who liked to pretend he was a vegan really liked sushi with eels.  I investigated and that became a favorite.  Eels fascinated me when visiting Western Park in Auckland where I noticed people feeding them.

Ethiopian food had some appeal with some unique spices. and vegetable combinations. Ingera bread was served with most options and I think was intended as a wrap around, but I cut it up and mixed in and loved it.  It is supposed to be a grain that is especially healthy  A local restaurant that served it went out of business as I have been writing this.

Quebec City looked for advice, but finally concluded no wrong moves.  We once stayed at a bed and breakfast on Ile d'Orleans with fabulous breakfast each day.  We learned that much of the food for the Quebec restaurants is grown on Ile d'Orleans.

Visiting our daughter Heather in Nova Scotia we learned to like Donaires and later found a shop in Burlington.  Rappie  pie is an Acadian dish that my sister in law, Jean llkes.  Surprisingly Heather does not care for seafood, but we got out for a restaurant in Dartmouth famed for seafood.

My sister Rebecca married a Moroccan.  I was offered Coucous which tasted pretty good as a communal meal.  It is often eaten by hand.  An artichoke was on my plate and it was a great mystery to me, but my niece Leila couldn't help laughing as she had me eat it by peeling the layers.

Kelly Bowers a co-worker re-introduced me to pomegranates and this second time I appreciated them more than the first.  Frozen pomegranates are eaten a couple of times each week.

In Cuba Raphael, our breakfast cook convinced me to try jalapenos in an omelette.  For one outdoor dinner we had barbecued fish that was delicious.  Each day we had something different.



In Victoria we were entranced by idea of gelato, but felt it was a luxury.  But it seemed we tried small portions almost daily and eventually got addicted.  I also remember ordering a Baba ganoush at a chain fast food outlet and felt there was something I could not identify that made it special--literally years later I figured it was eggplant.  We went to a number of cafe in Victoria and while others had coffee which gives me a nervous reaction I chose tea and was actually quite annoyed with a flavor that seemed to be my only choice--rooiboos.  Later back at home I developed a craving for it and was able to find it at the Farmer's Market through a tea and soap merchant that we befriended.  Our favorite restaurant anywhere is Paggliacci.  The service is personal and excellent.   On particular nights the rearrange tables for entertainment.  Lineups are usual, but they often bring out wine for those waiting.    

I had tried baklava at the CNE and loved the sweetness.   My wife's step father had a daughter in law with  a Greek connection and found Greek local restaurants.  We enjoyed the food including moussaka and a Cypriot version at a different restaurant.

My encounter with Persian food was almost by accident.  I was supposed to sell coupons and a Persian restaurant got no response, so I felt obligated to check it out.  My wife and I quite enjoyed it.  My daughter ordered some Persian food including some delicate pastries and it was delicious.  Planning to have more.

Feel free to tell me your taste adventures.  If you haven't already read part one you can check it out here;

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