Deep Thoughts: The World Through a Traveler’s Eyes

Today, how about a little something different? 

While the main gist of what I do on these virtual pages is cook (mostly) delicious foods, what I cook and the choices on what I cook are influenced by the other part of that gist- travel. The world’s cuisine has so much to offer, and I’ve tried, and hope I succeeded, in making it pretty clear that you don’t need to see the world to eat it. 

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in actually seeing it. Quite the opposite. The world is all of our oyster and waiting and ready to be explored. I realize that travel isn’t everyone’s priority- to each his own-but at this point in my life, it surely is mine.  I know that life changes and people change and maybe someday, the thought of getting on a long haul flight for an eighteen day vacation will seem like more trouble than its worth. However, until that’s the case, I’ll be siphoning all my disposable income into my travel savings account where it seems to disappear at a faster rate that it grows.

So rather than a recipe today, some Deep Thoughts.  Don’t worry, this blog will still be 99.99% good eats, and I won’t bore you with all the deep thoughts that stream through my brain, but once in a while, the other 0.01%, they may relate to the aforementioned gists, and then, I believe, are worth sharing. Or, I just need to get the words out, and this is my vehicle for that. 

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Recipe Remix: Pecan Paçoca

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If you’ve been keeping up with things on my end of the interwebs, you may have noticed that my virtual dotted red line around the globe has become….squiggly. I’ve been unfocused and somewhat subconsciously resistant to moving on to South America’s food, which is so dumb because from what I’ve tasted I absolutely love South American food. I mean, my favorite restaurant in all of Chicago is Carnivale, which serves Latin cuisine!

Again, dumb.

However, there’s got to be some sort of dormant reason for the resistance and rather than fight it and forcing myself to cook dishes that I’m just not feeling, I’m going to delay a little bit longer and take this week to focus on Easter. Plus, I have some feelers out there for some family recipes for Bolivia, and maybe Peru and Venezuela, so I might as well give those some time to make their way towards my kitchen.

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Blank Slates: Arepas

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You guys-breakfast!

I cannot get inspired. On the weekends I got my pancakes and the like (Pancake Sunday! My favorite), but when it comes to weekday meals- I don’t know. I LOVE oatmeal so much, but I need something where I won’t be hungry 2.75 hours later and digging through my desk for snacks. Wait…I don’t have snacks in my desk for this very reason. As such, around 11 am, I become the Hangry Buddha.

What’s a girl to do?

Arepas!

When I began talks with my friends about starting to cook South American food, so many people told me that I had to make arepas. While they’re not exclusively a breakfast food at all, I figured I’d make them because I do what I’m told.  Well…

I was underwhelmed. I’m sorry for all you arepa lovers out there. I wanted to like them, and I thought I would. I mean, they’re little grit-like-corn cakes, each a blank canvas for me to flavor as I choose with toppings (like in Colombia) or filling (like in Venezuela).

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On that note, there’s sort of a war of wills between Colombia and Venezuela about who makes the better arepas, and even though Venezuela is credited with sharing them with the masses, both countries have their ways. In my opinion, one is not better or worse, but each accessorized very differently, making them unique enough that it’s almost like comparing apples and oranges. In Colombia, the cakes tend to be smaller, and topped simply with butter and cheese, while in Venezuela, they’re used more like slices of bread, often filled with sandwich fillings, both sweet and savory.

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The ULTIMATE Chicken Sandwich: German Style, with Beer Braised Onions

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Three weeks ago when I set my Eat the World Showcase menu, it was still decidedly winter, and when reflecting on what to make for my England/ Germany fusion, some contrivance of bangers and mash sounded good.  Then, about a week ago spring made itself known with one 70 degree day. With that day, there was a collective hurrah! heard ‘round Chicago. Shorts came out, tights were packed up and coats were shipped off to the cleaners, surely not to be worn again for another six months.

That day, the lone 70 degree day, gave us all hope that warmer weather was now upon us, and with that, I chucked my idea of bangers and mash and thought- grill it. Grill it all.

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Eat the World Showcase: Morocco, with Butternut Bastilla

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I want to go to there.

Anywhere

Wanderlust. The disease is real.

I know I need to stop being a spoiled brat about it, especially since I did just get back from vacation, and it’s not like I don’t have places to go planned for the short term (Denver for Memorial Day, L.A. for my birthday). However my need to travel to somewhere exotic won’t be fulfilled until the fall when Lettuce, Tomato and I go to Iceland/Germany/England/France/wherever we decide to go, and the fact that all of my friends are headed to Africa/England/France/Czech Republic before then does not help. At all.

Therefore, culinary travels through my kitchen will have to suffice, so working my way through the World Showcase brings me to Morocco, the land of a thousand spices for a non-dessert. Yes, I do remember how to cook and eat real food. It’s a Festivus miracle!

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day! : Irish Cream Chocolate Layer Cake

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Dessert again. I really am sorry a little bit.  All of the world’s food is not dessert (though, should it be?).

What can I say, sugar is on my mind.  It kind of started at Christmas, and then continued through Valentine’s Day, and then Cadbury mini eggs happened, and I went on vacation and ate more sugar than real food, and then I came home and can’t seem to stop eating sugar and then I make things like this cake and it’s so sweet but so good and next week I’m going on a sugar detox.

This is my brain on sugar.

Before I do the aforementioned detox, a tribute to chocolate and Ireland and sugar and alcohol.

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Pi What? Irish Apple Tart

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Today is Pi day. The math nerd in me rejoices (on today as well as on Mole Day. Scientists, you get me), but the baker in me is underwhelmed. I don’t really like pie, so I don’t see a reason to celebrate it in my house. When is cake day?

Cake > Pie.

You can read more of my thoughts on the subject here, specifically in regards to fruit pie.

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Anyway, not only is it Pi Day, but today Chicago also celebrates St. Patrick’s Day. If you didn’t know, Chicagoans take this very seriously and it’s a day that is as crazy as marathon day when it seem that everything civilized in society shuts down and everyone is out in the streets. The difference is, these fools are all drunk.

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Explosive Edibles: Drive-in Movie Popcorn

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So…the original plan was to make a bright and colorful red, white and bleu salad to represent the USA on my Eat the World Showcase Tour. Instead, I decided to make this cookie candy popcorn sweet thing. I mean, who needs salads?

Side note: Grape and I just started using My Fitness Pal to lose a couple winter LBS. This girl needs salads.

Anyway, the salad’s coming back later (maybe 4th of July) but for now, let’s talk about this delightful snack a bit.

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Eat the World Showcase: Italy, with Spring Shrimp Risotto

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Buongiorno!

I was at the gym today and happened on the treadmill just as the movie Under the Tuscan Sun started. For as being as rom-com crazy as I have a tendency to be, this one never really spoke to me, and I’ve only seen it once, I think. Not sure why (not having recently broken up or anything), but this time I really just found the movie so delightful and it made the hour at the gym fly by, and left me hoping for its presence on Netflix so that I can finish watching it tonight.

In any case, it was sort of fortuitous timing since today’s dish is a flashback to Italy!  I did give Italy its due three week shake over a year ago when I cooked it, but given my lackluster feelings on pasta and Italian food in general (don’t hate), it’s not a country to which my kitchen often returns. Mom feels the same way, and I think both of us were surprised by how drawn we were to the Italian restaurants at Epcot. Likewise, in the gut-busting lunch provided to us for Food Blog Forum, the risotto di mare from The Flying Fish Café at Disney’s Boardwalk was the one dish for which I made room for seconds and is the inspiration for today’s Spring Shrimp Risotto.

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Eat the World Showcase: Canada and France, with Maple Crème Brûlée

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I recently discovered Bridget Jones’ Diary on Netflix and I immediately felt compelled to watch it despite the fact that I own it, and it has been sitting idly in my drawer for probably years. It was a fan favorite back in my college days, and my friend and I watched it to the point that it became that movie- the one we recited word for word, quoting it in normal-speak, and we often sent each other BJD related trinkets. In fact, I still have a card on my refrigerator emblazoned with a man in a reindeer jumper that Treacle sent me so long ago. Be still my heart. In any case, I found that all these years later, I can still quote the movie word for word and the same parts make me laugh, cry, cringe and sympathize with the unlikely hero. We share a few unfortunate traits- verbal diarrhea being one-and let’s just say I’m really glad there was no fireman’s pole on the Today Show. Anyway, it gives me good thoughts of my Mr. Darcy, still out there waiting for me.

That was random (#deepthoughts) and not really related to food (don’t worry, no plans to make blue string soup anytime soon), but do you know what else gives me good thoughts? Custard!

Have I talked about custard lately? I don’t think so. My love for custard runs deep, and I’ve often waxed poetic about how custard > ice cream > fro yo. While frozen custard does make my heart smile, baked, on the other end of the spectrum, does the job just the same.

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