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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Foods I don't like.... so far #4Whole anchovies

Anchovies add a terrific taste to many food items.  Where would Caesar dressing be with out that anchovy tang? Where would Worcestershire sauce be without anchovies?  I bet many people did not even know there were anchovies in it.  I read labels for fun....seriously, I read all food labels. They are hidden gems or curses depending on how many are added.  They are little fish with minuscule bones that are supposed to be healthy for you.  I'm all into health and eating well, but I just can't eat a whole anchovy.. I can pretty much eat any food stuff I don't like with a hint of lemon, but I just can't get around to the anchovy-lemon bit.

My first memorable experience with a whole anchovy was when we traveled as a family to Europe. My parents, brothers, and I are all ready and willing to eat whatever the locals eat when we are travelling.  We had eaten wonderful Kale soup from Portugal, delicious onion soup at Montmartre in Paris, the best seafood and oranges of my life in Spain, and now we were in England.   We had tried all of the items we'd not heard of on the menu to expand our palates.  We still do it to this day with awe and wonder in our eyes to experience what the locals call "comfort foods". They are indeed comforting. I now have quite a collection of international cookbooks so that I can experience home cooking from other countries at home.

Anyway, it was lunch time and we were looking for some where to eat.  There are so many restaurants and bistros that have outdoor seating. That is my favorite way to dine. Al Fresco!! Although it was probably 45 years ago, I can still visualize that cheese pizza.  I just wanted something familiar after all of the unfamiliar foods we had enjoyed over our two week jaunt through Europe.  Here it comes, the individual size pizza of my very own.  That was quite a novelty back then, though they are quite the norm now.  Wow! My own little cheese pizza on a plate. I liked my pizza loaded with everything then as I do now, but I just wanted a simple, not so filling lunch. Here is my cheese pizza with what? A sardine? I liked sardines, so I wasn't thinking too much of it.  I took one bite of the pizza and the entire pizza was permeated with fishy salt.  It pretty much ruined the pizza for me. Ever since that day, I will get a pizza with everything in the world on it: broccoli, pepperoncini, artichokes, meats, seafood, chicken, potatoes, squash, mushrooms, olives of every color and sort, but by gosh there had better NOT be an anchovy on it!!

Those little bony fish can show up in the most unsuspecting places.  If I use anchovy, I will purchase the paste. Just a little can add flavor, a lot can ruin a dish for me.  Read your labels, have fun! Discover the joys of "finding anchovy" (kind of like finding the little boy in a red striped shirt when my sons were little).  This photo is from a jar of peanut butter with added omega-3 for health conscious parents.  Anchovy and Sardine oil kind of makes me think it wouldn't go well with strawberry jam.  I didn't try it!  If you try it, let me know how it tastes. Until then, I'll be reading all of my labels on the hunt for that little pesky fish.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Foods I don't like..... so far #3 Blue Cheese

It's really all about cheese isn't it?  Just ask any person in France.

Let me start by saying that Swiss cheese is one of my favorite cheeses.  Gruyere, Emmental, anything that closely resembles Swiss is always a "go to" cheese.  A plate of melted raclette (a type of cheese that has it's own named melting devise), boiled potatoes, and tiny pickles with a huge slice of crusty French bread is a lovely winter meal. The laughing cow cheese, with it's triangular shape wedges has a special spot in a refrigerator drawer.  Such a quick thing to throw in the lunch box.  I also like the little Gouda cheeses with the red wax. Something about unwrapping it makes it like a little cheese gift during the day.

Though I try not to eat processed foods (just don't put a bowl of M&M candies near me), I do find that the lovely square American cheese,  that comes individually wrapped,  has graced more than one grilled cheese sandwich or hamburger in my lifetime as well as the lives of my children.  My youngest even wanted to be a "grill cheese cooker" as his chosen profession.  Ok, he was only five or six years old, but mama was teaching him how to cook.  There is just something child-like about cutting that sandwich in half and trying to see how far you can pull it apart before the cheese melts.  The melt-y cheese clothesline of hot lunches. As an adult, I use different kinds of cheese for my grilled cheese, but I would absolutely eat one made with the individually wrapped cheese.

Greek cheese!  According to many of my American friends, Greek cheeses are strong in flavor.  I like the strong scent and crumbly texture of many of the cheeses of Greece.  It's a link to my past. We had feta and tomatoes with our eggs for breakfast when I was a little girl. Chunks of feta, olives, and bread could keep us at the table snacking and talking before our huge family Sunday dinner.  I'm so glad it is so popular now as I love it on pizza!

Italian cheese is pretty much known everywhere. Freshly grated cheese is so good on pasta.  Fresh mozzarella cheese is so different than the ones in the stores.  I purchase it by rounds or slices and dress it with basil and olive oil.

I enjoy most any kind of cheese except the ones with any kind of visible mold that is a delicacy to many. When I was in France, I heard a girl yell at her sister that she had taken all of the blue of the cheese!  Some things one never forgets.  While in France, I tried to find the perfect Camembert and Brie.  I was trying so many that I would just save the round cover from the cheese box so I would not have duplicates.  Of course my favorite was the kind with the most percentage of fat.  The petite suisse French cheese was one that captured my heart as a breakfast cheese. Creamy, tart, and ready to be eaten with a spoon was a joy to have for breakfast.  I could go on and on about French cheeses, and I have tried so many.  I have tried so many of the blues and the "greens" and just have never developed a liking for them.

I have found that going to many parties and "pot luck" dinners, that I must be in the minority. I cannot count the times I have put food on my plate, or being served a salad and thinking, "please let this be feta, please let this be feta" (when the crumbles are so tiny, they lose the "blue"). When my niece was about 2 or 3, we were at a restaurant. Being that Greeks eat salad with just about every meal, she wanted a salad. When they asked her what kind of salad dressing she wanted, that sweet little voice said: "Blue cheese please".

Included in the cheeses that I do not like are the "no-fat", "low-fat", or "veggie cheeses". In my opinion, those are not truly cheeses, but a way to trick the mind into thinking that it is.  It didn't work for me.

So if you are ever at my house and you are served a hearty ziti dish with the aroma of cinnamon and crumbled cheese on top, remember that it will be Greek feta cheese and not blue that adorns the dish.

This is a photo of my summer "Chicken Parmesan". Instead of tomato sauce, I just used fresh garden tomatoes.  It was delicious.




Labels

Ingredients I must have in my kitchen (It's a long list, but I try and have these items on hand)

  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Cheese
  • Cumin
  • Curry
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fresh Bread
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Fresh Parsley
  • Greek Oregano
  • Kalamata Olives
  • Lemon ( At least 3 or 4 ALWAYS)
  • Peppers (Wax, Jalapeno, banana)
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Regular Olive Oil
  • Rice
  • Salad Ingredients
  • Sea Salt
  • Spanish Olives
  • White Balsamic Vinegar

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