Sunday, September 17, 2006

My five things to eat before you die

Cameron just posted his recommendation of five things to eat before you die. He tagged me and said it was my turn to write about my recommendations.

But I'm so fickle. A phrase an old boss of mine used once about some clients we didn't really respect comes to mind when I think about my food preferences. He said they were like crows excited about the last shinny thing they saw.

Maybe I can name five categories of food to eat before you die?

Salty and Fried
Right now, I'm quite happy with the fried potatoes, onions and pepper topped with parmesan cheese Cam and I had a couple of hours ago. Cameron mentioned squash for some reason around that time and the homemade fried squash I've eaten in the past came to mind. Any fried mushrooms... As a child, we'd sometimes go to Mike's Fine Foods in Scammon, Kansas. Mike was so large he literally sat on two bar stools at the bar but I loved his fried ravioli. Garlic fries (I think I remember garlic cheese fries) from Jake's and those we had at the Giants Game. In Chicago's Greektown we had flaming fried cheese complete with an "O-Pa!" from the server.

Spicy and Exotic
This past week, I've been cooking with these tiny hot peppers. One of the women I work with at the school is Indian. She let me tag along on a trip she made to a Milan Imports, an Indian grocery store in Berkeley. She kept putting things in my basket and assuring me she would give me a recipe for using the ingredients.

The fried potatoes were made to quell a craving I was having for these awesome eggplants she taught me how to make. They were stuffed with cilantro, salt and these tiny hot peppers, and then sauteed in oil. Yum. We had it with Sombar, a vegetable stew made with tomatoes, onion and squash with Indian seasoning. These have been my favorites of late.

Dinner at the Ethiopian restaurant at Clark & Addison in Chicago where we sat on the floor and didn't have utensils but used that spongy bread to sop up the food is up there too.

Maybe BBQ isn't exotic but since I worked for America's Pork Producers for two years, I'd better not forget to mention BBQ pork. The dry rub ribs I had to the World Pork Expo and another time in Kansas City were excellent but my favorite was the BBQ Pork Sundae my friend, Brooke made on the Today Show. Thanks for the recipe and picture Carma, courtesy of

This week gets to be "All About Me" in one of the classrooms where I work (ala student of the week). On the bulletin board where I am featured, I had to list a food I like to eat. For that, I chose pineapple curry shrimp. I hate to burn us out on it but it is yummy. (Els sent a recipe for mango shrimp I'm excited to try too.) So favorite foods of late? If so, the list would definitely include fish tacos from Joe's Taco Lounge.

Dinner at Sushi Ran in Sausalito, the scallop dumpling at Kaze on Roscoe in Chicago. The softshell crabs we made in the tiny apartment in Lincoln Park. Barbecued oysters at Sam's in Tiburon. The fish stew from Whole Foods. It is better than the one I made from scratch.

Chocolate/Nearly All Desserts
Got to keep those eyes brown. Favorite foods in general, usually the most chocolate dessert on any menu. Although the tiramisu we had at Milano's over Labor Day weekend was extraordinary. Thanks, Deanette for introducing me to this delicacy. Do you remember having it at the Cafe Phoenix in Grinnell, Iowa?

I did burn Cam out on homemade chocolate chip pecan pie made with the pecans my grandmother gave us which were grown on the trees my grandfather grafted in their yard.

From childhood? I loved making those Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies (still do). I also used to dump random sweet toppings into a bowl (whipped cream topped with powdered Quick and sprinkles) and when my little brother would ask what I was eating, I'd say, medicine. Growing up, when my friend Sherry and I would walk around town talking for hours, we loved to stop at the Tropical Snow (shaved ice stand). I would always get half Passion Fruit and half Guava. We didn't drink but were sure these drinks made us drunk. We'd get so giggly and silly. And what about cherry limeades or vanilla dr. pepper's from Sonic?

Friends of my parents owned Turner's Dairy Bell in Columbus, Kansas. Greg Turner used to let my brother and I come into the kitchen and make our own pizza. We loved running the dough through the roller and tossing it a few times. Then at some point, it was personal pan pizzas from Pizza Hut. We used to earn certificates for free ones through their Book It promotion. It worked; my brother and I would read. And my mom would take us out to eat. Sometime, I discovered Calzones...

Then, I was burnt out on pizza for awhile after working at Godfather's Pizza in Newton my senior year of high school. In college it was Great Plains. Papa Johns in Des Moines. Ranalli's then Carreno's in Chicago. We just tried Stefano's in Mill Valley last Friday and thought it was good not to die for but Cam said they are entirely solar-powered which is cool and though it wasn't to die for it was tasty. And what about lasagna? Can I put it under this category? Spinach lasagna.

Fruits & Veggies
Today, on the way home from Muir Woods, I stopped at a fruit stand and picked up a couple of more avocados, tomatoes and red onion to make guacamole. We've been eating homemade guac nearly every week too. Oh, and berries of all kinds, I love them.

Eating Out
Favorite food experience of all time (because isn't so much of it about the experience?) I never made it to Spiaggia in Chicago. If I had, I imagine it would be on my list. I can't believe it isn't on Cam's list since it was one of the places I've heard him talk most about.

When we lived in Lincoln Park, I loved walking to John's Place on Webster. Their house salad with cherries, walnuts and gorgonzola and a glass of raspberry lemonade while sitting on the table outside or having brunch, juevos rancheros or banana nut pancakes. Brunch in Chicago, so many good memories, Toast, Orange, that place Eric and Sarah took us on Mother's Day when they announced their engagement. Kitsch'n, the place on Roscoe we started going near the end. I enjoyed gumbo and red beans and rice while celebrating Cam's birthday at Heaven on Seven and at Schuba's on Fat Tuesday before Melissa's show. And sizzling rice soup from the local Asian restaurant. And who can forget Treats? Or the salad bar or bbq, blue cheese chicken sliders at R.J. Grunts? And Flat Top Grill where you pick your own ingredients and they stir fry it for you?

I know there are many, many more memorable food experiences and foods in general I'd like to recommend. Apparently, I can't name just five. I've decided it is impossible and instead have taken stroll down my memory food lane. Thanks for joining me. And since I'm big on letting people make their own choices, I'll just say, pick five from this list that sound good and enjoy at your leisure.

And since this all started with the Traveler's Lunchbox's Tag Event, you are it. What things do you think people should eat before they die?


marymaddux6272 said...

So we just had dinner and I'm chugging a glass of milk and said, I can't believe I didn't even mention milk. I have Carnation Instant Breakfast first thing nearly every morning.

And what about salmon? I know I listed seafood as a category but I LOVE salmon. My mom used to make salmon cakes when I was young. To this day, I'm happy anytime I can have salmon. Grilled with Old Bay is my favorite.

And that Turkish restaurant on Roscoe we went with Jim and Liz...

I'm sure the list of honorable mentions will continue to grow.

Carma said...

And thanks for the nod to Pork!! I think that BBQ Sundae is an interesting example of Americana.
Your list got me hungry

1. Homemade Fresh-From-the-Oven Cinnamon rolls. The smell alone is enough to make me smile. And Brian said the last batch that I made were almost as good as his Granny's. High compliment indeed.

2. Homemade Chicken and Noodles over mashed potatoes. Yes, carb heaven but good comfort food when not feeling well. And mashed potatoes are always a very good thing.

3. Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. (Skip the nuts)

Not quite what you were talking about. I need to look and see what would be my list.
Though considering my mother and father constantly enforced the "At least try a bite" while I was growing up, I think I have tried quite a bit. (Even Rocky Mountain Oysters...not a favorite)