Drink, Sweat, Eat

I’m sure you’re heard of the movie “Eat, Pray, Love”, yes?  I hope beyond hope that you know it was a book first. Right?!

I know there are those among you who don’t read books, or who haven’t read that particular book (don’t worry, this is not a whole post dedicated to the virtues of the book… but indulge me – I will spend a few paragraphs on it).   It is not a story about Julia Roberts and her gastronomic adventures around the world.

Photo: Foodnetwork.com

It’s a story of an actual woman who went through the same thing that millions of women the world over go through. Significant , life changing relationship ended (in her case, in divorce). Heartache.  Rebound relationship (with a younger man, I might add, meow).  Life-changing decision, growth, exploration, food, extra lbs, renewal, acceptance, yadda yadda (Yes, I “yadda yadda-ed” the good part).

It was a book that really meant a great deal to me, and I took away a large life lesson, but that’s a bit more personal than this girl gets in writing.

The second best thing from that book? Oh, as if,  like you don’t know.

The. Food.

I will admit.  I have seriously considered taking my own trip to eat my way through Italy . Not all aspects of Italian food appeal to me.   But at its most simplistic?  Pasta, basil, fresh cheese (mozzerella, parmesan, asiago), olive oil, and, hello? Tomatoes? Yes. Yes, please.  (Italian men? Not so much.)

Oh, I am aware there’s more to Italian food than pasta and pizza.  I just tend to gravitate toward the abundance of fish, vegetables, herbs (pasta), cheese, wine (pasta), and, oh, prosciutto. Oh mio Dio.

Cooking my way through the various cuisines of Italy is appealing.  My favorite “Italian” dish , as you well know , is a good Caprese, followed closely by angel hair pasta tossed with fresh basil, fresh grape tomatoes, and a healthy sprinkling of freshly grated asiago or peccorino-romano.

So, while I have made the obvious Italian dishes (chicken piccata, meatballs, sauce, eggplant parmesan, pizza)… maybe I should branch out…

Or, I could simply drink my way through the wine producing regions of Italy.  Oh, I like that idea. Ding! 

photo: thecarltonrestaurant.com

The book’s second section (“Pray” for those not paying attention) takes the heroine to India.

 My thoughts on a personal relationship with India? Uh, no. 

Now, now. Don’t over react.  You must understand, the majority of my Indian food experiences have resulted in pain.   My sophopmore-year roommate left Indian food in our fridge (and under her bed, and in the living room, and bathroom) for god-knows-how-long, and hey bhagwaan, it stank. And, it didn’t really taste so great. 

I’m a touch afraid of curry, I’m a little afraid of trying to cook it (Indian food), I’ll freely admit it.  I have had one fantastic Indian food experience, and it was at a restaurant in…

 

Nottingham.

Really, truly amazing.  The food didn’t hurt going in, and well, the evening ended well too.  It was lovely. I remember a rose-water perfumed custard…and another perfectly perfumed with cardamom (which I love) that I would absolutely be game to recreate.

Something similar to this (from www.indianfoodsite.com):

Kheer:

½ cup rice

5 cups milk

8 tbsp sugar

4 cardamoms

raisins, nuts to decorate

 

  • Rinse the rice under water and place into the pan.

  • Add the half of the milk and stir. Cover and cook for 15-20 min until soft. Mash the the mixture for few minutes.

  • Then add sugar and remaining milk. Simmer gently for about 10 minutes or until the rice is quite thick in consistency. If the kheer is to thick, add a little extra milk or water.

  • Add cardamom and raisins. Remove from the heat and pour into serving dishes.

  • Decorate with nuts. Kheer can be served hot or cold.

  I’m sure that the cuisine in India itself can be just as good. Hell, it’s bound to be better, who am I kidding – but truth be told, I’d rather go to, and eat in, Bali.

photo: balitourpackages.info

I will admit.  When I think of Bali I do not immediately think of food. (Bali is the “love” part of the book.)

I think of overwater huts.  The humidity (see my posts “In Heat” and “Some Like it Hot”).  Mosquito netting, and all of the things that can be done behind the net, in the hut.

photo: e-hawaii.com

(Ok. Jason Momoa is Hawaiian. Whatever. I’m down with the South Pacific boys. He can come to my hut anytime.)

Recently I was reminded of how much I love (some) Indonesian food.  My family used to make Nasi and Bami Goreng, Krupuk and Satay on a regular basis. I missed it, so I thought I’d try to recreate it – but I tried it without a real recipe.

Nasi Goreng is simply fried rice.   My family’s way (and perhaps the tradtional Indonesian way) is a unique blend of  spices, pastes, vegetables, pork, and of course, rice.  I attempted to recreate the dish by purchasing a jar of the sambaal paste my family often used to season the dish.

I grilled a pork loin, cubed it up, added it to some stir fried veggies , added in the rice, and the sambaal .  My last experience with sambaal made me cry. So, I skimped.  Not a wise decision. 

The end result isn’t really worth mentioning.  It was uninspiring, bland, boring. What I wanted was some real, hot Nasi Goreng Love.

Lesson learned?  Heat is good. Heat is very good.That’s not  news, but it was refreshing to have the reminder (albeit not in a way I would have preferred…).  Stay tuned for a hotter attempt (#recipeadventure). 

Oh, the other lesson I learned?  I don’t actually like Krupuk. Not really (don’t tell my family).

My culinary travels through Italy, India, Indonesia wouldn’t necessarily involve self-discovery or enlightenment, but you can bet your ass they’d involve wine, tomatoes, humidity and someone else’s Nasi Goreng.  I’m sure, if it gets too hot, I can find someone to cool my fire. 

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