We’ve been back almost two weeks, and I’m still reeling from my American experience. So much so I can’t seem to clear my head enough to write about it. So I’ve decided to write about food instead.
Anyone who remembers my Kitchen Bitch blog of old will know I love to cook, but (not so) recent happenings created the perfect environment to throw me off. I fell in love with someone who doesn’t eat meat or fish, or quite a few other things that made up my active culinary repertoire, and struggled to find much common ground between his taste and mine; I left my perfect* kitchen and moved into a house that doesn’t really have one (it’s a carpeted room with a few kitchen staples at one end); and I went freelance as a writer, so have bugger all money. The result was I stopped cooking much at all. And then America happened.
My meat-free husband and I found tons of common foodie ground. In Pittsburgh, we had Japanese okonomiyaki (a kind of filled, savoury pancake that is truly delicious) at Teppanyaki Kyoto; unbelievably good Peruvian burritos at Chicken Latino; labneh, amongst many other very palate delighting things, at Legume; the best egg sandwiches you can imagine at Pear and the Pickle; the best pizza imaginable at Driftwood Oven; wonderful filled crepes at Crepes Parisienne; fantastic meze at B52; not to mention the gorgeous things the children cooked for us in their cosy, fully functioning kitchen**.
And that’s just Pittsburgh. In New York we had brilliant bagels; marvellous Mexican (oh my goodness, tostadas!); gorgeous Gujarati… In West Chester and environs we ate in a splendid array of diners, including one attached to a brewery, and the delightful Jaco’s Juice & Taco bar, where we were introduced to the Thursday breakfast club (and I was given a book recommendation I really must follow up soonest).
Anyway, all this to say I’ve returned with my cook’s mojo, as if it had run away to a more interesting place but decided to give me a second chance. I’m ready to experiment with flesh-free dishes, inspired by the raft of choices I found at every turn, and by the way the kids (Bob and Reg) approach cooking and eating (with unhesitating joy). And by Samin Nosrat whose book, and the tv series based on it, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat everyone I met raved about. I read parts of it in quiet moments on Bob’s couch, and now have my own copy:
And a new mini oven (again inspired by the children who made such good use of theirs)
in which to bake; roast; grill; toast reheat; and, interestingly, slow-cook.
Last night I made a slightly rubbish pizza
tomorrow I’ll make a sourdough starter so next time it will be less rubbish.
We have Dave’s nephew, also called Dave, coming to stay tonight, I’m planning a Mexican feast. I bought masa harina to make corn tortillas (and a variety of fillings), and hope to make horchata (a divine Mexican rice drink) to go with it. Not sure about pudding, not sure at all how any of it will turn out. But I’m going to just treat it all as an experiment, if everything goes horribly wrong there’s always the chippy.
*To me: it was small but I built it myself and had it organised exactly the way I needed it.
**I know I’ve missed loads of places – Geppetto Cafe (with its wonderful ceiling, and French toast to die for)!