June 28, 2012


Foods Around My House

We are so lucky in these times to have access to ingredients from all over the world. This thought comes to me as I make Indian Salmon with Grilled Potatoes, a dish of Indian spices in yogurt as a marinade for chicken or salmon which also coats potatoes and vegetables for grilling. I have all the spices here in the kitchen. 

For the photo above, I took some things off the shelves and out of the fridge. All of them are from another country or contain ingredients not found in the U.S. I know it isn't the usual array of stuff most people have in their cupboards, but I'm a foodie type (hate that term, actually) so that's what I have around here. 

When Madhur Jaffrey wrote her cookbook An Invitation to Indian Cooking, in 1973, many of the ingredients called for were next to impossible to find in America. Unless one lived in a big city, you were pretty much out of luck. She gave substitutions where she could, but it wouldn't have been the same at all. Same goes for Julia Child, Marcella Hazan and many other cookbook authors pre-1980 or so. 

We can't now imagine being unable to find mangoes, arugula, wild mushrooms, rice noodles, tamari, specialty cheeses, lemongrass any number of herbs and spices and on and on. In some small communities it's still not easy, but there's always the internet! Pick a cuisine and you can find recipes on the net, get the odd ingredients and get cooking, if you're so inclined. Even finding produce out of season (which I don't recommend) is possible with modern shipping methods. 

I'd hate not being able to make some of my favorites like Indian yogurt rice, risotto with porcini, spanakopita, sukiyaki ... well, just tons of foods I love. We're lucky to have all the variety from which to choose, even if we don't need to. So, what's your favorite "exotic" dish to eat or cook? 
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