Those who know me best understand that food is a core part of my existence. I am always thinking about my next meal. I read food/cooking/travel magazines cover to cover, virtually transporting myself from my couch to whichever part of the world is being covered. I have a collection of over 200 cookbooks from around the world! These cookbooks are not just objects of adornment, but ones that have bent pages and food stains from regularly trying out new dishes. One of my greatest joys in life is eating a new dish somewhere in the world and trying to recreate it through memory and taste in my own kitchen.
While I could dedicate post after post to each dish sampled, I want to list here six dishes I would have never known about without our travels. Foods that I have now formed a life long bond with.
- Imam Bayildi: The Turkish dish of eggplant, garlic, onions and tomatoes which was so divine and had so much olive oil that it made a frugal Imam faint. My first exposure to this dish was in a small Turkish restaurant in Saarbrucken, Germany and was the commencement of a love affair with Turkish cuisine.
- Tempura: The most delicate tempura I tasted was in Tokyo, where I was presented with a single, large, basil leaf fried in batter that formed an intricate lattice. I was afraid to break this work of art with my chop sticks. There have been countless oily, soggy tempuras since then, but none to match the flawless, melt-in-your-mouth taste of the one in Tokyo.
- Baklava: Istanbul, Cairo, Athens all have introduced me to their own special brands of baklava. From pistachios to walnuts to sweetened condensed milk, the varied stuffings have all been a gift to the palate.
- Gelato: Till my first trip to Milan, I had never really had authentic gelato, and once I had my first scoop (actually multiple scoops) at Rivareno, there was no settling for insipid, uninspiring ice cream!
- Roti Canai: For an Indian, rotis are everyday homely food. But in Penang, as I savored the flaky, multilayered roti, calories did not matter. Every morsel was an indulgence.
- Injera Bread and Vegetables: We sampled this Ethiopian delicacy not in Africa, but at Meskerem, that temple of Ethiopian cooking in Adams Morgan in Washington DC. Was it the similarity to Indian cuisine? Was it the communal eating? Or was it the delicious injera with the veggies and berbere sauce that made for a divine experience?
We would love to hear about your favorite foods! Being vegetarians, we are particularly curious about the ones we can sample as well:)