Posts Tagged ‘food media


Helsinki fine dining: Havis

On the first night of the conference, we had a very good dinner at Havis, a high-end Finnish cuisine restaurant on the waterfront. It started with skagen, an open-face sandwich that in this case included shrimp, a dill-cream sauce, and lavaret roe. The main was a white fish (I’m not sure we were able to get a good translation as to what kind) in a creamy false morel sauce. Both delicious. Wine was chosen by the eminences of J-P’s department, who’ve made extensive (academic) study of the subject and so have my trust, and dessert was creme brulee with (possibly) lingonberry sauce. Conversation included the antiseptic and other merits of various spices–I plan to report back here later. A good night.

One hitch in the meal: a fellow diner fished something very un-morel-like out of his sauce. As he was wondering what it was, I, with my tact as ever one step behind my mouth, gave a positive id. “That’s a spider.”

And it was. It was very small, and probably well cooked. When we told the waiter, his response was terrifically deadpan. “You’re joking.” Examining plate: “That’s disgusting.” And he brought another.

We enjoyed the food regardless, making jokes about the delicacy of baked giant spider eyes. The topic of Extreme Cuisine came up, as well as the time I watched a woman inadvertently make tarantula tamales in Guatemala.

We actually had an even better meal in Helsinki (story for another post), but nothing else as dramatic. Unless you count the clerk at the second kebab shop we visited warning us away from sitting outside to eat. “Oh, it sounds good. But there are birds attacking people and stealing their food.”


My grandmother and the Food Network

Since she was released from hospitalization for a heart attack and a hernia, my grandmother has been under doctor’s orders to stay away from stress and physical effort—including cooking. Less time in front of the stove means more time in front of the TV, and she and my sister have been bonding over the Food Network.

It turns out, though, that English-language cooking shows pose some challenges for her. “Sometimes I don’t understand the ingredients they’re talking about. What’s the word he’s using for that pasta? I can see it’s noodles, but I don’t know what he’s calling them.”

They were rigatoni, and I explained to her that different shapes of pasta have different names. I left aside the issue of different uses, figuring she’d pick that up with enough watching. But I did notice that the Food Network had already taught her “pasta,” which she hadn’t known a few years ago, when her vocabulary there was limited to “noodles” and “fideos.”

She’s also having a hard time deciding what this “basil” thing is, sometimes deciding that it’s “bay leaf,” instead. But cilantro is a cinch–she was inspired enough by its television celebrity to ask me to buy her a few plants and pot them for her on her porch. And, prohibitions on cooking aside, she had a pot full of lovely poached chicken soup, with garlic, celery, potato, and cilantro, ready when I first arrived.

Another Food Network addition to her English vocabulary is “scallion,” as part of what they’re apparently calling GGS, or ginger-garlic-scallion: the Asian mirepoix. Garlic she got, no problem. Ginger, ok. (It’s familiar as a medicine, if not as a spice.) But, “What’s that last thing, mi’ja?” “Son cebollinas, Momo.” And maybe it’s time to see the eye doctor as well as the cardiologist…

In other news, this is the first Stuff White People Like entry that I’ve enjoyed in a long time.

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