Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Home is where...my stomach is!

You know, I've been really good. Since I've gotten pregnant, I haven't had real cravings; eaten badly or anything like that. I have stayed healthy and gained very little weight.

But while the countdown has begun before my delivery and chapter deadlines are rolling in faster and faster, I find myself thinking of home a lot. And when I think of home, I dream of food. Since moving to the UK, I can't say I've had trouble finding good dishes and restaurants for fine dining. However, there are numerous occasions when I wish I could have some foods that I miss--foods that give me comfort.

To make it stranger, two friends recently asked me what foods I miss most. But these people know me. And if you know me, then you know how important food is to me.

So, pardon me while I briefly lament the loss of these products. And if anyone out there has any idea how I can get my hands on such products here in the UK, please contact me.

As it turns out, I miss foods from all the different places I've lived in the US.

Growing up in Miami: I miss Cuban baked goods.
I don't know why I was dreaming about it, because I haven't had a slice since I was 12 or so...but I really miss Cuban birthday cakes. Extraordinarily light, fluffy, sweet, cake layers with a kind of gooey, fruity filling and iced in a sticky, airy, ultra-white, glossy frosting.

I also miss buying cans and cans of coconut water with tiny chunks of coconut meat. This is one of my worst cravings for comfort. It's the drink you eat and drink. If you're from the Caribbean, most likely, this is comfort for you as well. I couldn't imagine never touching coconut water again. That's too painful of a thought.

Of course, I miss many dishes...particularly Haitian dishes that you can't get just anywhere. For example, Haitians love our black rice "diri ak djon djon" made with water steeped from a special black, dried mushroom (djon djon) that does NOT grow anywhere else in the world. It's unique. It's Haitian.
But there are all the other Caribbean fruits and delicacies that I miss too. No point in going into all of that. I'll depress myself further.

As for some typical American foods, Pillsbury crescent rolls! If the UK ever discovered these delicate, buttery rolls, it would become the new crack

From the Mid-Atlantic area:
fresh Polish keilbasa sausages! I got hooked on that because of my exboyfriend's Polish mom. Served with some horseradish and sauerkraut--lovely dish.

From the South:
Soul food mac-and-cheese! Damn, that stuff is truly crack. Buttery, cheesy, just the right about of saltiness. I believe it does take a year off your life for every 3 portions you consume. I believe the only thing worse for you is Krispy Kreme donuts.
Sooner or later, the American FDA (Food and Drug Administration) will admit that they have always known that crack cocaine was one of the major ingredients. KK donuts are extremely dangerous for people--worse than smoking, I say. One should not even look at KK baked goods directly. Like the sun, it could cause permanent damage.
God forbid the Brits discover Krispy Kreme donuts. The country would just blow up in weight and die within 10 years. They couldn't handle something as delicious and deadly as KK donuts.

However, my true comfort food is grits.
My husband does not get it how coarsely ground corn is loved, much less tolerated, by our palates. But this man doesn't care for polenta either so, what am I to do?

(Now, my husband comes from the culture where men would pour oat-based porridge into the drawer of a dresser and let it harden. Then they would cut a slice and take it with them as their "snackbar" in the fields while tending sheep or whatever mess they were doing out in the middle of nowhere! Do you people see what I'm dealing with up here in Scotland???!)

To be realistic, anyone who didn't grow up in the southern states doesn't seem to get the love of grits either, and I understand that. For me, like many Southerners, grits is best enjoyed with cheese and garlic!

Something else that I miss from time to time, which surprises me, is Carolina mustard bbq sauce. Now, for those of you who don't know...not all bbq sauces are created equal. And most regions in the US have their preferences dry rub; wet rub; tomato based; mustard based; vinegar based; sweet; acidity; spicy; hot...and so on.
I am no different. It surprises me to crave the mustard variety because I did not grow up on mustard bbq sauce. Floridians usually prefer dark red/brown sticky, sweet tomato based bbq sauce. Which I still do--don't get me wrong. But living in South Carolina for two years did introduce me to their preferred bbq flavors and hell, I guess I grew an affinity for it.

The last place I lived before moving to Scotland was Austin, Texas. It takes quite a lot of effort to not eat Tex-Mex and Mexican cuisines. It's everywhere...and let me tell you, when you find a good restaurant--it's hard to not hit that spot every week.
For me, it was El Chile restaurant--near my old neighborhood. Their drinks (my favorite was prickly pear margarita)and food were quite tasty but, what always drew me back like an embarassed addict was their salsa that they served for free. I can't really identify all the ingredients and I never asked (stupid me). But I know several types of roasted chili peppers were involved. That, I think, was the key...roasted chilis. The salsa is never red but dark brown with flecks of burned chili flecks.
I'm telling you...that is the sh*t!

But enough about that. Next, I want to learn what is comfort food here in the UK and other places.
If any Brits are reading this, please send me some examples of your comfort foods! I'm dying to learn!