Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Eier-Kyehrahn-Oeufs...Add some kimchi to your deviled egg? Ja, s'il vous plaît...

The German part--some good Senf (mustard) from Düsseldorf
The Korean stuff--kimchi, toasted sesame seed, gochu garu (crushed red chile powder)
The French touch--cornichons (itty bitty sour pickles)

I've liked deviled eggs ever since I can remember. My mother wouldn't make them often, but it was one non-Korean thing she learned to make soon after marrying my father. My wife can't stand them...so her mother loves making them...for me.

Fusion-food doesn't always work, but from a bi-racial point-of-view, it's almost always intriguing...

For a while I've been meaning to play with the basic recipe and add a Korean twist. I deliberately avoided googling "Korean deviled eggs"--I knew that it had probably already been done, but I wanted to entertain the illusion of 'inventing something' for a while longer...So this afternoon, wanting a cold snack after working a good part of the day in a non-air-conditioned classroom (THIS IS TUCSON!? COME ON, SCHOOL-DISTRICT, YOU KNOW SOME TEACHERS NEED TO BE AT SCHOOL AT LEAST OCCASIONALLY DURING THE SUMMER!!), and having a few boiled eggs in the fridge from the other evening--this was the day to try out the idea...

Here are the proportions of the ingredients for three eggs--all I had...but six deviled-egg-halves are plenty...

For the filling:

3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon of finely diced kimchi
     (squeeze out the excess liquid 
     with a paper towel first)
2 diced cornichons
1 teaspoon of German mustard 
     (smooth, not grainy; this is 
      in lieu of mayonnaise)
1/2 teaspoon of either crème fraîche or mascarpone 
     (I know, sounds weird, but it worked)
1 teaspoon of roasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon of gochu garu--Korean red chile 
      powder--it's bright red, but not as hot as
      you might fear

(gotta love these crunchy little cornichons)
Mix together all of the above ingredients in a bowl until smooth. Spoon the mixture carefully back into the eggs which have been cut in half lengthwise. Garnish with chopped scallions and a sprinkling of sesame seeds and the gochu garu. And then for a final touch on top, some fleur de sel would be nice--a change in texture and an extra bit of mineral saltiness.

And that was my 'invention'...or so I thought. Now, if you do google 'Korean deviled eggs,' there are lots of variations already published out there. But maybe you heard it here first. Maybe.

Happy experimenting, (let me know what you come up with!) and bon appétit.

Today's culinary language-lesson:

"Deviled eggs" in French: "oeufs mimosa" (no idea why it's 'mimosa')

--in German: either "Eier-Mimosa" or "Teufels-Eier" ("Teufel" meaning "devil")
--in Spanish: "huevos rellenos" (just means 'stuffed'...boring, eh?)
And for Korean, I propose "mah-gwee kyeh-rahn" ("mah-gwee"=devil..."kyeh-rahn"=egg)

And why are they called 'deviled' anyway? Here's an explanation.


And finally--a couple of trippy eggs-for-children videos, from S. Korea. 
East-Asian-didactic-cutesy-ness for kids...

Yeah, weird.
And here it is, in English translation:

...but, why?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Memory & tastes...photos?...reading Paris and Barcelona...

One of my all-time favorite literary cartoons is 

"No-fat Madeleines"

I still have this clipping from when I was in grad school. Proust is not my favorite, but the cartoon is brilliant...
(It's crazy, the continuing American obsession with no-fat-or-low-fat...I mean, come on, EAT what's GOOD ONCE in a while...and don't be sedentary! Voilà. Eat fat--good fat--slowly...and then go for a run. Memories require flavor. Taste and see...)

Okay, so I'll finally admit it: I, a French teacher with an M.A., have not read "À la Recherche du Temps Perdu" from cover-to-cover. I mean, it's THOUSANDS of pages! (And here's a snarky column about Proust's chef d'oeuvre, from The Guardian.) And, as for getting 'The Proustian Moment,' well, countless people 'get' what that is without having to read all those pages...Alain de Botton's book (How Proust Can Change Your Life) has been widely cited, and then there's the scene in Disney's "Ratatouille" (when food critic Anton Ego has a flashback to childhood upon tasting the film's namesake dish)--all viewers can identify with that sensation, even if they've never read THE early 20th-century French passage about the madeleine-in-the-cup-of-tea...

Bon. 'Nuff said. 

But yes, taste & memory--such a rich part of life...and speaking of memories, a week from today, I'll be back in a city that made so many memories--I lived there only for a year, but what a year, Paris:
--I've been playing around with this snapshot from years ago;
this was the view from my apartment, and on one serendipitous afternoon, a rainbow appeared above the Eiffel Tower, ending at the gold-domed Église des Invalides, where Emperor-worship continues (site of Napoléon I's burial)...

Memory--it can compartmentalize our past,
selectively coloring what it wants to, eh?

Now, back to tastes and eating;
a couple of local restaurant reviews.

On the East side, New Mexico-style breakfast:

Breakfast at a mom-and-pop-restaurant--there's just no better way to get a local-flavor-start-of-the-day when you're from out of town. In Tucson, you can't go wrong if you get a hearty plate at "Poco &Mom's."

Yes, "New Mexico food" may not be entirely 'native' to Arizona, but Tucson is just a few hours down the highway from Hatch, NM, famed for its chile peppers. Poco & Mom's gets all their chiles from there, and their unpretentious menu is a Tucson treasure. The love for chile peppers knows no borders in the Southwest...

My favorite is the "Santa Fe" breakfast: a blue corn tortilla topped with beans and eggs, along with hashbrowns...I like to add 'machaca' (shredded spiced beef)--and when the waitress asks "you want red or green chile, darlin'? (and yes she really says 'darlin!'), make sure you say "Christmas" and you'll get both. Along with the bottomless cup of coffee--fresh house-made salsa!

Try it for breakfast...and you may come back for dinner; the green chile rocks!

(There are only 12 tables, plus an outdoor patio--come early if you want to try it on a weekend...and it's on the east side of the city, not far from Saguaro National Park East--perfect for post-hike refueling.)

In downtown's "Penca," a taste of Puebla for dinner:

"Chile en nogada": a poblano chile pepper, stuffed with "picadillo" (shredded meat, aromatic diced dried fruit and spices), topped with a walnut-cream sauce and pomegranate seeds--this dish from Puebla is not often found on menus of Mexican restaurants in the U.S. It's not even that common south of the border, except during the August-September season surrounding Mexican Independence Day. But if you're in downtown Tucson, you can try it at "Penca."

In a re-purposed space with exposed brick and hip cocktails, this restaurant is also a worthy destination for brunch or late afternoon tacos--choose from carnitas, fish, lengua, cabeza, nopales, carne asada... The corn-tortillas are hand-made right after you place your order. (The tortillas alone are almost worth coming for.) Mexico City is the inspiration.

The food is fresh, and the scene is full of optimism; downtown Tucson is reinventing itself with a new streetcar for a live-work-play vibe. Taste and see how this desert city continues to evolve...

After dinner, the sun was just setting (ahh, long days),
and the curving lines of this parking garage (so scenic) around
the corner from the restaurant,
leading to the desert hills west of the city,
 caught my eye:
So, when does using apps make an image cross the line from being "a photo" to being "not a photo?" I find the term "iPhoneArt" a bit awkward, but it's out there and being used...

Back to Penca--
a few days after S. and I had dinner there, I decided to go back for lunch;
it was still early so I didn't feel as self-conscious taking a quick pic:
From Portland to Brooklyn and beyond...exposed brick is de rigueur...
and trendy or not, I like it. So. That's Penca. If you're in Tucson, check it out. If you visit us, we just might take you there...


I went for my long weekend run this morning--
but by this time of the year, you have to run early enough 
so that the sun isn't baking the canyon floor;
enjoy the shady 70's before the triple-digit-temps take over...

This is how the desert feels by mid-morning in June,
the heat colors everything--the slightest breeze
feeling, not welcome, but like a hair-dryer...
or, what it must be like to be inside a convection oven...
(So, is this still a photo? or has my 'apping' de-photographed it, morphing it into something 'arty'...or just overly processed? Not gratuitous filtering, though.)

...but early mornings are still cool, 
and the nocturnal cactus blooms haven't closed up yet for the day:


I have less patience with novels now.

But here are a couple I felt it was my leisurely-'duty' to read, in preparation for this upcoming trip to Europe--one set in Paris by a British author, and the other in Barcelona, by a Spanish writer.

And I found them in Costco.
(Does that make it 'middlebrow?' Oh, snobbery...)

Briefly, then--
"Paris" by Edward Rutherfurd.

I did finish it. (Rainy nights while in Georgia earlier this month...)

Hmm...well, 'turgid' and 'didactic' come to mind. Not so kind, but those are honest adjectives.
As a teenager, I read Rutherfurd's debut novel "Sarum" (synopsis and review here); it was indeed epic, but a couple of decades later, perhaps the formula has worn thin? That being said, it's still a worthwhile read if you want to get the historical sweep of Paris from the middle ages to the mid-20th-century without taking a class...but I did use the word 'didactic' to describe the novel. Parts of it read like a wikipedia entry. But hey, I like facts. I guess that's why I stuck with Rutherfurd until the book's end.

"The Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

This novel has been a best-seller in Europe for years. And the New York Times critic put it succinctly (and made fun of himself for doing it) when he writes: "Gabriel García Márquez meets Umberto Eco meets Jorge Luis Borges for a sprawling magic show." Magical Realism is not something I can eat bucketfuls of, but once in a while, it's a clever diversion..and the sense-of-place for Barcelona is strong. 


...ending tonight with another recently "apped" photo, 
another scene of Paris--
a view of the Latin Quarter from the Bell Tower of Notre Dame cathedral...
This is one of those clichéd post-card scenes of Paris,
but when I took it (wow, over fourteen years ago),
it was new to me...

Ahh, Paris. 
Lived there for a year...then took my wife there for our first anniversary (her first trip to Europe)...and after that, one more visit...eleven years ago(!)...and then years of travels to Central and South America, Canada, Korea...Now, it's time to return.

And, by the way, "cliché" in French means, photographically, a 'negative'
or even, sometimes, just 'snapshot.'

So, if the cliché is truly yours
ignore what others say and enjoy.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Spanish moss, the beauty of old brick, and 'eating local'...

My stay in Georgia comes to an end tomorrow;
back to the dry heat of Tucson after a week-and-a-half of the gentle green warmth of early June, the beauty of old brick, and the freshness of local produce...

Trees by the river, draped in Spanish Moss--never gets old; each time I visit Georgia, my favorite place to go for a run is on the trails between the Savannah River and the Augusta Canal--this is an ecological convergence zone, where the subtropical vegetation of 'the low country' meets the upland forests more common in the Appalachians; the occasional alligator plies the waters around here, and it's the northern limit for both those giant reptiles and the epiphytic moss that gives these woods their sense of place...Soft on the feet, and soft green light all around...

From the lock gates at the headwaters, it's about 5.5 miles (9 km) to the historic mills near downtown.
I took my iPhone with me on a run last Sunday morning; when I got down there, I spent a while photographing the quiet façades...

...a ladder to the sky
This 150-ft tall obelisk-smokestack is all that remains of the Confederate Powder Works--
during the Civil War, it was the second-largest gunpowder-producing facility in the world, the South's only source. The rest of the powder works was dismantled, but the chimney was allowed to remain standing as a memorial...

After the war, the Sibley Mill was built on the same site. 
(hard to read, but the inscription at the top is "esse quam videri,"
Latin for "to be, rather than to seem")

It no longer produces tons of denim, but the turbines still produce hydroelectricity for the area.

(Incidentally, as you'll see--
lots of fun with photo-apps this week, 
mainly snapseed, laminar, scratchcam, & mextures, 
if you're interested.)

Next to the Sibley Mill is the King Mill, also from the 19th century--its central tower is remarkable for its Italianate architecture:
The missing panes in the windows seem to be 'speaking in code'...broken Italian, maybe?

On the other side of the canal, this little building caught my eye:
Organic, eh? Green overtakes red...

But not everything is in such a picturesque stage of benevolent decay. Just up the street is the well-preserved  Ezekiel Harris House--a planter's home that dates to the 1790's:
This area is still called 'Harrisburg,'

Now, on to a few local eats...

(Thanks to the Portlandia skit, I can hardly use the term 'local' anymore, but still...)

America may 'run on Dunkin',' but The South still swears by Krispy Kreme:
And while I had my doughnut, 
the newspaper headlines announced this year's peach harvest...

...and around the corner from where my mother lives, a produce stand:

But we didn't just buy peaches; 
we also got some cucumbers...
...and with help from the Chinese chives from my mother's backyard garden, 
those cucumbers morphed into 'oh-ee soh-bah-ghee kimchi'
--a 'quick pickle' stuffed-cucumber kimchi: 

South-Korean in The South--so local.

To drink...?
But I just can't drink the stuff anymore. It's not 'tea'--it's 'syrup.'
Or, to transcribe the proper local pronunciation--'surrp.'
And I just 'cain't' drink it no more...

A friend took me to a new burger-pub downtown,
where the beef and the eggs come from surrounding farms...
And those are sweet-potato-tater-tots. A revelation.
But why "FarmHAUS?" Nothing remotely German here;
gratuitous foreign spelling, but tasty.

'Feelin' good' about eating local?
Just up the street, this statue of  James Brown:
Yep--"The Godfather of Soul" hailed from Augusta.

At the other end of the musical spectrum, 
opera diva Jessye Norman comes from here as well. 
An amphitheater on the Savannah River is named after her:
Up until the late 1990's, the South Carolina side of the river was still marshland;
now it's been drained and golf-coursed, lined with neo-Plantation McMansions.
Whoa, that's a pink house!

Another couple of blocks up Broad Street:
--the old Imperial Theater, 
beneath the I.M. Pei-designed penthouse atop the Lamar Building. 
Yes, the same I. M. Pei who designed the glass pyramid 
in the courtyard of The Louvre in Paris.
Some around here call the top of this structure "The Toaster."

And a few blocks away, more old bricks for this scene:
See the embedded stars? And there used to be another window there....this is part of the Old Iron Works which was incorporated into the new campus of the Davidson Fine Arts School...

(I know, I kinda iphone-camera-visually-obsessed over brick walls on this visit.)

A block up from that school is the Sacred Heart Cultural Center,
a deconsecrated church from the end of the 19th-century,
originally built for the Irish Catholic community in this bastion of Baptists:
I've always loved the ornate brickwork on this neo-Romanesque façade...
No longer a church, but a fabulous place to rent for weddings...
...and when I was in high school, I played in a chamber music concert here.

Enough bricks for now. Back to my mother's house, with her garden...
...gardenias are flowering now--oh, that chest-filling heady scent--you can't help but slow down and inhale deeply when you pass by a bush in bloom...it is the trademark scent of a Southern summer night.

...and the start for 'over-apping;' the bloom seemed evocative of a galaxy, so I decided to go astronomical...

These, my mother calls 'four o'clock afteroon flower.' And sure enough, they open by late afternoon and close up the following morning just after sunrise:
(These are native to Perú, but grow very well in the Southeast U.S.)


March through November, if you're in Georgia's second-oldest city on a Saturday morning, make your way to the river. Augusta's Riverwalk hosts a weekly farmer's market, and on this particular June morning: okra, cucumbers, peaches...artisan breads...BBQ, funnel-cake...After breakfast and browsing, walk a couple of blocks to the west on the brick esplanade above the Savannah River, then spend some time in The Morris Museum of Art--the nation's only museum dedicated to the visual arts of The South: Antebellum portraiture, depictions of the Civil War, contemporary self-taught artists, landscapes...

(including this, one of my favorites, "Georgia Red Clay" by Nell Choate Jones)

...and they'll let you stash your bag of farmers-market-produce in their coatroom while you enjoy the elegantly air-conditioned collection...

While walking back to the car from the museum, 
I saw this 'accidental garden'
on the back wall of the old jail:

And I'm not done with bricks just yet--here's the old Pump House on the canal that I ran by a couple of mornings ago:
red clay, red bricks, red paint on the railroad bridge...

I obsess, but I do love the Canal and its trails and trees...


Time for bed and time to pack for tomorrow's flight...
(I miss 'my' saguaro-studded mountains.)

But one last thing: fried green leaves.
It's still too early for fried green tomatoes, but it's perfect timing
for fried green LEAVES.
Perilla-leaves, that is...from the backyard!

These aromatic leaves ("shiso" in Japanese, "ggaenip" in Korean) are a powerhouse of edible phytochemicals, and I grew up with them. I love them prepared any which way, but the 'funnest' (and least healthiest) way to eat them is...fried. This is The South, so it's an appropriate transplant. Dip these leaves in tempura batter then briefly in boiling oil, and they transform into crispy green treats; they're best straight from the source.


After eating these veggies, you'd better go for a RUN!
And the Canal's a great place to start...