Photo by cattoo/Flickr (Creative Commons)
Should it matter if Cajun food is prepared by a chef from Iran, sushi by a chef from Mexico?
In a land where your sushi chef might be from Mexico, they guy who makes your pizza might be from El Salvador, and the owner of your favorite Cajun joint might be from Iran, how relevant is "authenticity" to a restaurant if the food is good? And what constitutes authenticity, anyway?
Elahe Izadi of WAMU's DCentric blog in Washington, D.C. poses these questions in an interesting post today, talking to the chefs and patrons of eateries operated by people whose ethnicity is different from that of the cuisine served.
Among those she interviews is Bardia Ferdowski, an Iranian immigrant who moved to Louisiana, working in Cajun restaurants and eventually opening his own Cajun kitchen in D.C. She also talks to Jose De Velasquez, an immigrant from El Salvador whose pizzeria, the Italian-sounding Moroni & Brothers, also serves Salvadoran and Mexican food. From the piece:
Photo by Sifu Renka/Flickr (Creative Commons)
In Los Angeles, the aroma that wafts from backyard barbecues on the Fourth of July varies slightly depending on the neighborhood one finds oneself in.
In large swaths of the city, from the Eastside to South L.A. to the southeastern suburbs, the smell of cumin and garlic from Mexican carne asada beckons. Drive north toward Glendale and you'll catch a whiff of the distinctive smell of grilled lamb from Armenian kebab. Head east into Downey and you'll find more garlic in the air, rising from the Cuban mojo smothered on pork chops.
Smelling one's way through neighborhoods is one thing, but eating the offerings is better. If you haven't been invited to one of these backyard feasts, the solution is simple - make one yourself.
A few recipes:
There are few better backyard meals than tacos made with a good carne asada, grilled flank or skirt steak that has been marinated in a blend of spices that includes chiles, garlic, cumin, lime and orange juice. This comprehensive recipe lists not only the marinate and prep details for this grilled Mexican staple, but the necessary fixings to accompany it.
Photo by Manogamo/Flickr (Creative Commons)
Last week, Multi-American delved once more into that culinary landscape where some diners fear to tread, the territory of the unsung ethnic delicacy.
These are the dishes that don't necessarily sound good, look good or or even smell good, but are worth trying because they are unexpectedly delicious.
Our first series in March covered a range of foods, from drinks like the Vietnamese avocado milkshake to main dishes like arroz con calamares en su tinta, a particularly unattractive squid dish served in several Latin American countries.
The series last week focused on meat dishes, cooked, raw and canned. True to form, none sound like anything one would rush out to try, but don't be put off. For any carnivores who might have missed these treats, here they are in a convenient list. Dig in.
Photo by klyphord/Flickr (Creative Commons)
Spam musubi to go, October 2006. Photo by klyphord/Flickr (Creative Commons)
One of a series of posts last week that explored unsung ethnic delicacies highlighted Spam musubi, a popular snack made with Spam and sushi rice that is popular in Hawaii.
The series focused on those dishes or items that may not look or sound good, but are in fact delicious. I knew that Spam musubi was well-loved on the islands, and at least by one person in Washington, D.C., that being our Hawaii-raised president. But judging by the flood of comments that came in to KPCC's Facebook page, there is a great deal of Spam musubi love out there.
"This is one of my favorite foods!" Joanne Kakuda wrote.
"Hot dogs are worse than spam so I don't understand the prejudice against it," Tracy Munar-Ramos wrote. "Spam rocks!"
Okay, not entirely sure about that. Vanessa Lee put it in perspective:
Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC
We're on the second-to-last day of a week of posts celebrating unsung ethnic delicacies, this time those raw, cooked or canned meat dishes that don't look or sound great, but taste delicious.
But what sounds like a painful bovine affliction is in fact a tasty stew of beef oxtail in a mildly spicy tomato sauce. It's popular throughout the Caribbean, found in Cuban, Puerto Rican and Dominican cooking. As with other oxtail preparations around the globe, it's a dish born of necessity, the product of creative cooks who couldn't afford to waste a scrap of meat and made it taste good.
All that said, "tail on fire" is not the most appetizing thing to look at. The name is bad enough. There is the anatomical location of the tail to consider, not ideal. Then there are the knobby, irregularly shaped bones, which you must dig into to find the meat in the nooks and crannies.