10.31.2007

Making My Way Around the World

I've missed writing here, but a more intense school workload and, I will admit, a somewhat procrastinating mood has me backed up with loads to do. I keep thinking of things I want to share with you, but just can't seem to get myself to sit down at my laptop long enough. But quickly...

Last week I began my second-to-the-last class in culinary school: International Cuisine. How do you learn about all the world's cuisine in three weeks? You dive in to one country a day! And, remember that product ID test I had back in August where myself and each of my classmates had to memorize 80 different products? International Cuisine has upped the ante and in one week and two days we'll be tested on over 200 products from around the world. But it's all good so far and I just wish this class was extended to six weeks as opposed to three. Throughout the week we cooked our way through the Middle East, India, and Japan. I am familiar with Middle Eastern cuisine and enjoyed making familiar dishes such as hummus, baba ghanouj, lamb kabobs, fattoush, tzatziki, and Moroccan mint tea. India was an amazing journey through a new world of spices and Indian products like dal, garam masala, asafoetida, anardana, ajwain, black cumin, black cardamom, cassia (which is true cinnamon), fenugreek seeds and more. I was surprised, however, that although the dishes we created were good, for all the work that went into to toasted and grinding spices that would get incorporated into them the food wasn't that flavorful. I found myself adding my favorite seasoning--salt!--to many of the dishes. It's on my list to go out and explore some more Indian cuisine around town to see if that is truly the norm. Japan was fun. We rolled our own sushi and boy were they a sea of colorful spiral circles and squares full of fun goodies. We also made tempura shrimp and vegetables. So good and honestly so easy to make! This week we've already visited China and are now in a tour throughout Thailand. We'll finish up the week in Spain and Italy. The textbook we're reading for this course is very cool. It's titled The New American Chef: Cooking with the Best of Flavors and Techniques from Around the World. I highly recommend it for any cook interested in international cuisine. Each country has it's own chapter and the body of them are filled with a bit of history, culture, and tradition with the country's cuisine. The authors, Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, also interviewed well-respected chefs for each specialized cuisine on their thoughts, experiences, and tips for each part of the world. And, of course, lots of recipes are included as well.

An exciting adventure I must announce is that I ate sushi for the first time last week! And this wasn't in class. Planned weeks prior, I contacted my good friend David who is an avid sushi goer. I informed him I was ready to get out there and give it a try. So on Tuesday we met at Masu on SW 13th and Burnside downtown. The entryway is a little tough to find as it's currently surrounded by construction, but that shouldn't keep anyone from making their way into the glass door and up a flight of black stairs into the red- and orange-lit dining area. This is my kind of venue. At 9:30pm it's a dark and trendy spot that plays host to late-night sushi, sashimi, and sake lovers of the city. David ordered a slew of items to try from the restaurants incredibly extensive list of options from specialty rolls, to sashimi, maki rolls, and nigiri, and, of course, some warm sake. It was all delicious. They all had so much flavor, but none fishy, which in my book is a good thing, and means the product they serve is exceptionally fresh. Light tuna and crab pieces mixed with soy sauce and wasabi were to die for. And it's so light and healthy. It's nice to have a late-night bite without having to plan the next day's workout before you pay your bill. Sushi, sashimi, raw fish. Seemingly frightening weeks ago. Now I get it. Let's have more.

I'll update with more adventures soon I promise...and pictures to boot!

Cheers,
~JF

2 comments:

Keith said...

I went there a few months ago. I was really excited because they had live Uni (sea urchin) which I'd never had before. As it turns out I'm not that big of a fan of Uni, but I was glad for the experience.

Sheila Saltmarsh said...

School will be done before you know it! It sounds like you've really had some great experiences.

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