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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Real Food

Also, prominent among the things that annoy me is the weird belief that you can only find real Mexican food in Mexico, real Indian food in India, etc.

When I make borscht in Southern Illinois, it is as real as the borscht somebody is making in Kiev right now. If I had my heart set on using the same canned tomatoes or tomato paste that the person in Kiev is using, I could easily do that. (I don’t because I don’t see any great difference).) I’ve cooked tons of very authentic Soviet dishes here in the US. You taste them and it’s like you are in the USSR in 1986. There’s no need to time travel to taste this food. 

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11 thoughts on “Real Food

  1. They don’t mean authentic restaurants? We don’t have an authentic Mexican restaurant here, much less a Soviet one.

    Yet certain Peruvians claim they can’t get the ingredients for ceviche. This is true, I suppose, if you want to be an absolute purist. Nonetheless mine tastes as though it were straight outta Lima, and theirs doesn’t. If you insist on using tilapia and cayenne pepper, it won’t — it is vile — they could try harder.

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  2. Stringer Bell on said:

    Oh god, that pisses me off so much. As if everyone in a country makes everything the same way. I even challenge the idea of ‘authentic’ for this very reason. And people who care so much about the idea of authentic only do it to dominate other people in social situations.

    ‘You like this dish? Tst tsk, you do know that real chinese/indian/thai people would never make it like that, don’t you?’

    Or, taking it further if you’re ‘ethnic’: ‘….my grandmother would never make it like that.’

    lol, as if every grandmother was a great cook.I know people who can’t cook to save their lives and they’ll be grandmothers some day too!

    The idea that cuisine (or culture) is this static monolithic thing is incomprehensible to me.

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    • Exactly. I am yet to meet two Ukrainians whose borscht would be the same. Even my mother and I have different borschts. Hers is more orange and mine is more red and it’s sweeter. So what? Both recipes are very real.

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  3. Stringer Bell on said:

    Greatest twitter account.

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    • Borscht? You not only like but prepare a Russian dish? I am shocked, shocked, I tell ya.

      There have been rumors from anonymous insiders that Congress is now investigating whether and if so how President Trump’s mother got a recipe for borscht. Did Putin give it to her, and if so why? Was it partial payment for having President Trump as his obedient puppy? Inquiring minds want to know. Former DNC operative Seth Rich may have wondered, but died mysteriously before he was able to resolve the matter. Now it’s up to Congress.

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  4. I both agree and disagree. Being a Ukrainian borschtmeister, any borscht you make will be “real” and subsituting some local ingredients won’t change that. Similarly, a German could live in Kharkiv for a time and learn to make real borscht.

    But if you have a Korean in Seoul who decides to start a “European” restaurant and makes “borscht” with half of the ingredients changed (and some pickled shrimp and sesame oil added) I’d have a hard time calling that “real”. It might be interesting to try but I’d be more inclined to think of it as a new borscht inspired dish.

    Also very subtle things with ingredients can make all the difference, I remember trying to make breaded pork chops in the states and the result… wasn’t good. The bread crumbs just didn’t work (because the bread they’re made from is different because the flour is different…). When I make American foods in Poland it’s the same problem – small differences in the ingredients cumulatively add up to very large differences in the final product.

    One of the most “authentic” mexican restaurants I’ve been to in the states didn’t have any of the standard US Mexican dishes but it tasted so much like a open front (or market) comedor that I felt like it was in dimensional gateway… I have no earthly idea how they did it.

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    • Oh, of course, there are very ridiculous cases like a super expensive Russian restaurant in Montreal whose Moroccan chef clearly had never seen a Russian dish. Or a Uzbek restaurant in London with a French chef. People say it was a ridiculous dining experience. Uzbek food is hearty, and this fellow was serving tiny, dainty little platters, all sauced up like the French do.

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