Viva Le Difference' - I always wanted to be a gastronomer Blog at - 225500

I always wanted to be a gastronomer

Viva le difference' 
Mar. 3, 2011 10:13 am 
Updated: Mar. 7, 2011 7:49 am
I probably spelled the title wrong or perhaps it's just a matter of staggeringly bad punctuation but I'm about as French as a Taco, so there ya go. I live in a really small town, a resort community that basically folds up into itself and hibernates every winter. One of the many downsides is that we get the majority of our groceries out of a single supermarket. Now I'm pretty good friends with the guy who owns the supermarket and he does a really good job of making sure that we've a good standard variety of fresh fruit and vegetables. That said, he does run up against the limitations of a very small market so it's not often that we seen new or unusual fruits and vegetables. It was only a couple of years ago that I discovered they actually,( the ubiquitous they!) sold stuff like lemongrass in a large supermarket 60 minutes south of us. I know that's not likely new for most of you but for me, sheesh, too long in the small town.

At any rate, as I've grown as a cook, it's become something of a rare but much looked forward to thing to visit grocery stores when I'm in places I don't often get to. Whilst in Puerto Vallarta, our party, absent any idea of how to spend the meager hours available to us, somewhat quizically followed me to the non touristy side of town to visit a supermarket. It was an eye opener. The aisles of dry goods were very similar to what we have, Campells, Chef Boyardee, Kellogs blah blah, you know the drill. The meat and dairy were odd. A very small section where the meat was uncovered, warm, fly blown. The eggs were in a bowl, warm. Then the fruit section, a double row of amazing fruits, fresh and seductive. Then a triple row of nothing but peppers. I was gobsmacked, I had no idea that so many types of peppers even existed. That trip was 20 years ago. It was on this visit that I discovered the joy of discovery in a grocery store and since then if I have the time when I'm afield, I'll spend hours in a supermarket trolling for new flavours, spices, vegetables etc..

Which leads me to my most recent discovery. Now this wasn't in some exotic locale 3000 miles away, it was in the town 25 miles west of us, about 10 times larger and they boast three large supermarkets. At the Save On, I came across something I'd never seen before. It's a root vegetable from mexico called Jicama. Its sweet, crunchy like a radish, large as a potatoe, tastes somewhat of fresh peas and summer. So far I've used it in stir fries and salad. I even set out some thinly sliced chips in a mixture of lemon and honey that was well recieved after some initial slitty eyed suspicion.

Thusly I'm a foody browser. Am I alone in this proclivity? I suspect not, let's hear your tales of savory Witloof and sweet Kohlrabi.
Mar. 3, 2011 11:48 am
I love jicama, but am pretty alone in that around my crowd... except for nephew's girlfriend. I discovered sunchokes which are great pureed...(also called jerusalem artichokes).. Happy Trolling!!
Amber Colvin 
Mar. 3, 2011 12:17 pm
Jicama is very good, especially with lime and salt
Mar. 3, 2011 12:49 pm
I love jicama in salads.
Mar. 3, 2011 3:06 pm
We eat Chayote squash, which is very good and something different. I also like to use all kinds of different peppers. I roast poblanos for my empanadas, and simmer habaneros in roasted tomatoes for table sauce. Plantains are sliced and fried(Guy Fieri style)with fresh garlic and chili flakes. Really good. We eat Jicama often too. Happy Eating!!
Mar. 3, 2011 6:21 pm
I thought I was the only guy that liked checking out local grocers wherever I may be.
Mar. 4, 2011 5:14 am
After being stationed overseas where they limit you to one bar of cream cheese per purchace I thought I was in heaven once states-side! DH had to drag me out of our local grocery store!
Mar. 4, 2011 6:06 am
I discovered Jicama a few years back when my office was located in an area that was predominantly populated with central & south americans. I love it's crunch and the way it plays well with citrus
Mar. 4, 2011 6:42 am
I laughed the first time I seen a store selling rhubarb, dill. It grows like weeds on my yard and they sell it like gold in the store. Dragon's Den has recently invested in a Saskatoon Berry farmer, so soon we should see some juices on the shelf-I wonder if Oprah will endorse S'toon berries like she did with pomengranite-that stuff hit the roof after "she" said it was good for us. Go figure I bought poms for my kids for years at a reasonable price every fall. Oprah says they are good for us and suddenly the price went through the roof.
Mar. 4, 2011 7:41 am
LOL, Redneck, aint that the way. I can't believe the Dragons would invest in Saskatoon berries, yuck. The guy must have come up with some way to remove that cloying date taste. Hmmm, just thinkin, it's been many many years since I ate a Saskatoon berry, perhaps I should wait for the Snapple verion before I wise off!
Mar. 4, 2011 10:40 am
I came across some kohlrabi plants at Lowes a couple years ago and planted them in with the winter flowers which in Florida are pansies, violas, dianthis, swiss chard, etc. They are delicious mixed in with mashed potatoes as my german friend recommended. They are a bit unusual looking as well. Also, chayote is a nice crunchy veggy that I have used in many different ways since my neighbor grew them by the bushels. I even stuffed them, etc. I, too, love to peruse the different foods in different locales and wander into the different ethnic stores around here. I'm guilty of being of food browser, omg!
Mar. 4, 2011 10:50 am
Toni and Lace, this Chayote is a squash? Indigenous to where? Lace you make it sound yummy. I'll try the kohlrabi in my mash, see what happens. I already load up my mash with onions, turnip and garlic, one more won't hurt it!
Mar. 4, 2011 1:51 pm
Cool thing about this site, you get to "meet" cooks who can share foods you'd might not have known about. Like Mike Harvey's pickled pumpkins or Mother Ann's Blackberry Brandy cranberry sauce and SO many & much more. Those two I've just been thinking of since I'm planning on making my own blackberry flavored brandy and I've 2 pumpkins left from last year that need to be made into pickles and cheesecake!
Mar. 5, 2011 11:36 am
So glad to hear someone mention turnips. Dad used to pull 'em out of the ground, brush the dirt off on his overalls, and slice of a chunks with his pocket knife for us to eat raw right in the garden. (I know it doesn't sound sanitary, but those turnips tasted like heaven.) I'm gonna try grocery browsing as a new hobby; around here Wally World is the main option for food shopping.
Mar. 5, 2011 3:33 pm
Raedwulf, I think Chayote is considered summer squash. I've only seen it on menu's in Mexico when on vacation. I make mine with roasted pureed tomatoes and roasted chiles. We cook with lots of Tomatillos, too.
Mar. 5, 2011 4:04 pm
I love to browse a new grocery store in a new area! My hubby could never understand that but he humored me anyway!!
Mar. 7, 2011 7:49 am
Thanks Tony Jo.
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Okanagan, British Columbia, Canada

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Jul. 2007

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Baking, Grilling & BBQ, Frying, Stir Frying, Slow Cooking, Asian, Mexican, Indian, Italian, Southern, Nouvelle, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Low Carb, Healthy, Dessert, Gourmet

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About Me
Let's see, in keeping it to a subject, at age 22 I had a filet doused in Bernaise sauce aboard a train. That was it, I was hooked on fine food. Living in a small town necessitates learning to cook well to maintain that stellar menu.
My favorite things to cook
Oh man, only a thousand characters? My favorite things to cook are items that make YOU happy. I'll try anything and thus far it would be far easier to list those things I don't like than those I do. So far, I hate Cilantro and I'm allergic to green chiles. It's a short list.
My favorite family cooking traditions
My Christmas dinner. Usually in December, sometimes early January. I've a waiting list of people who wish to be invited. Alas, I've only a service for 10. We're talking silver, Noritake, crystal stemware, crisp linens, fine wines paired appropriately and a menu that's usually derived from a theme.
My cooking triumphs
Every smile, every gasp of delight, every accolade, such sweet victory!
My cooking tragedies
A Cioppino recipe I found here. I served it as part of one of those Christmas dinners and the cod was a poor choice. It was terrible, ghastly fishy taste. I've since learned a thing or two about freshness in fish. Prior to that, hmm perhaps when I was 10, I made a spice cake that called for whole cloves....hey, that's what it said on the outside of the bottle, whole cloves....
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