Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Recipe for White-Girl Food

I've had a lot of people ask me why I continue to explore Indian cooking. I suppose they assume that after the initial fun has worn off, I'll get tired of popping all those spices and will be ready to go back to "my own" food.

In the interest of comparative analysis, here's a sample of "my own" food -- the sort of thing I used to make all the time before I got my copy of Climbing the Mango Trees for Christmas.

We'll call it "Mac-'n-Cheese-'n-Peas." Though, as you'll soon notice, there is no "mac" involved.

Ingredients: Ramen noodles, cheese, peas, water.

Step One: Put ramen noodles in bowl, add water, microwave for 5 minutes.

Step Two: Remove bowl, drain water, and studiously avoid adding the "flavor packet" because a packet full of lab-created chemicals designed to taste like chicken or beef or (as one box proclaims) "oriental" is just too weird to consider eating. Instead, add giant pile of shredded cheese to now-drained, loose noodles.

Step Three: Put a bunch of peas (either frozen or canned/drained) into another bowl and microwave for 1 minute 30 seconds.

Step Four: While peas are nuking, stir pile of cheese into noodles until everything turns orange and sticky. The noodles will begin to lose their texture at this point, as they never had much of one to begin with, and the result will be the approximate consistency of mush.

Step Five: When the microwave dings, pull out the peas and add them to the noodles and cheese. Continue to stir.

Step Six: Coat entire thing with black pepper because the bland noodles tend to suck the flavor out of things and it's your job to bring it back.

Step Seven: Eat. Mmmm... yeah.

So that's "white-girl" food. Other recipes in the collection include "the frozen pizza" and "the frozen burrito." (In fact, I used to make a thing I called a "burrito bowl of death" which included one frozen burrito, a pile of cheese, and a big ol' glop of salsa, all microwaved together until they became a puree, and then eaten with corn chips.)

Technically "my culture" has a few more recipes than that, of course, although if one's going meatless it becomes more difficult, and if one's trying to avoid eating processed foods it becomes more difficult still.

Although I have been itching, as of late, for this bean-and-cornbread thing my mother used to make. Unfortunately I have no baking pan, which is an essential part of the recipe. (Yes, I know I can get one for $5. ^__^)

Anyway. I hope this post has made abundantly clear why I continue to explore the recipes in Madhur Jaffrey's World-of-the-East Vegetarian Cooking, although I have recently expanded to a library copy of Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian, which includes all the recipes from World-of-the-East plus a fair sampling of recipes from "world-of-the-west."

Rock on. ^__^


Ennis said...

I just find it funny that you never discovered vegetables before this. As in: spaghetti, jar of sauce, and vegetables. I guess you had no reason to.

Blue said...

Ennis -- most cans of spaghetti sauce these days include the vegetables straight in the can, like Ragu Chunky Garden. ^__^ That's why.