Adventurous

I decided to become more adventurous in food and only order new things on the mebu because I’m one of those sad sacks who always orders the exact same thing.

So I ordered something called “kung pao pork.” I don’t eat pork and I don’t eat Chinese, so this was very new.

The dish turned out to be extremely salty. No flavor but just very aggressive salt. Is it supposed to be this way? Is Chinese food very salty? I have nothing to measure the dish against. Of course, I’m not talking about authentic Chinese food but what Americans call Chinese food.

I’m glad I experimented but I’ll never eat this again. I’m planning to try Thai because that’s one cuisine that my brain doesn’t even visually process as food. It looks as eatable as glass. Then I’m going to a barbecue joint. I’ve never had what Americans call barbecue.

20 thoughts on “Adventurous

  1. American Chinese food is very salty, I prefer to make my own at home. I add more vegetables and only a bit of sauce, I add more spice because I have a taste for spicy food. Thai food is delicious if you like spicy food and peanuts, I really like the curries

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  2. If you like things like chili peppers, coconut, peanuts and citrusy and/or tart flavors you’ll love Thai food (once you get over whatever it is that puts you off visually).
    I once had a squid dish that (like ceviche) used citric acid rather than heat to cook it.
    Fresh Thai basil (very different flavor from Italian) is wonderful, one the worlds great herbs (IMO).

    Vietnamese food tends to be a bit more salty but also has some great stuff (and oddly lots of coleslaw type raw salads without mayo of course).

    Appreciating either (or both) might requires coming to peace with fish sauce (which can be… startling the first time around).

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    1. I like peanuts but the things I tried in Thai restaurants were too acidic. I had this thing called coconut chicken soup, and all I could taste was lemon. Nothing against lemon but I can’t drink a whole bowl of lemon juice.

      And they have those worm-like noodles that I can’t look at. They look slimy.

      I’ll try again, though. Life is short, got to be adventurous.

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  3. Barbecue is one of the good things in life. Bonus points if you can get it with collards.

    American Chinese-food is not very good. It is pretty much all variants on too-sweet or too-salty. If you can find a place that serves actual Chinese food, that is a worthwhile adventure.

    Thai food is often aggressively spicy. I like it anyway, but learn from my experience: find out what bird chiles look like, and DON’T EAT THEM. They’re garnishes. Eating one is like being maced, and will make you regret being born for like, 24 hours.

    I second Cliff, though: Viet food is fantastic. Shredded green papaya salad is great. Banh Mi pork-and-pickles sandwiches are great. The various types of spring rolls are all great. Pho is great. Boiled quail eggs dipped in pepper and sugar are great. Definitely try the coffee. Stay away from the duck eggs.

    I should add a peanut warning, just in case: Viet and Thai foods love peanuts. They use ground peanuts as a garnish, and a really nice peanut sauce as a dip. If you’re allergic, you need to ask before you order.

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    1. One thing to point out for Clarissa: Thai bird chiles are not chiltepins, pequin chiles, or tepin chiles, which are also called bird chiles in some places.

      Thai bird chiles are substantially hotter.

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      1. I didn’t see the bird chile one evening, while eating basil fried rice. I ate it. I had snot running down my face right there at the table, couldn’t talk, was in excruciating pain all through the mouth, nose, and throat, and still kind of hoarse an hour later. And then the cussed thing made its way through my digestive tract. Felt it all the way down, too.

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      1. “sticky, yucky sauce all over it? Or is it optional?”

        It shouldn’t be too much like a sauce, more like a glaze…

        There’s also a style of barbecue that’s just the smoked meat served dry (maybe with a rub) and you add the sauce at the table (or use it as a dip…)

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  4. “I’m planning to try Thai because that’s one cuisine that my brain doesn’t even visually process as food …”

    Try massaman curry chicken, it’s a kind of stew made with coconut milk and red curry paste full of potatoes, carrots, and onions mostly.

    If you’re OK with that, then try the Penang curry chicken, which is not a stew.

    Lemon, you say, in the tom kha soup?

    That’s usually supposed to be lime juice as well as kaffir lime pieces.

    So … BBQ? Beef brisket plate with potato salad, cole slaw, and beans, that’s how to start.

    You’ll get one of several kinds of beans depending on where you go, which makes that a bit more interesting. Should you discover you don’t like the soupy ranch beans, squirt some BBQ sauce into them and pretend they’re “Boston” baked beans.

    The potato salad and cole slaw also have regional variations.

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  5. “And they have those worm-like noodles that I can’t look at. They look slimy.”

    Are you thinking rice vermicelli which are white or cellophane noodles (also called bean noodles, glass noodles or soy noodles) which are kind of transparent? Neither is my favorite (rice vermicelli is better) but neither is slimy (for me the latter are essentially tasteless and I assume it’s just meant to add starch to the dish and/or absorb other flavors).

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