When I was planning my first trip to Hong Kong, about 20 years ago, the head chef of a very elegant and famous Cantonese restaurant in that great eating city wrote to me, telling me how proud he was of his “stork.” He mentioned the “stork” several times in his letter, and I was tingling with the anticipation of tasting something completely new.
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Sweet wines–also called “dessert wines” for the food that most frequently accompanies them–always appear on connoisseurs’ lists of the greatest wines in the world. Sauternes. Vintage Port. Trockenbeerenauslese. These are names that instantly weaken the knees of many an otherwise-sturdy oenophile.
One of the great Tex-Mex dishes is Chile Rellenos–luscious poblano chiles, stuffed with cheese or meat, dipped in batter and deep-fried. In New Mexico, home cooks don’t usually go to all that trouble. Why should they? They have an alternative that may be even more delicious, and is certainly easier to prepare. Roll-ups of roasted poblano chiles, stuffed with meat, get covered with cheese and a batter-like mixture in a casserole. You pop it in the oven…and 45 minutes later you have an incredible Southwestern spin on comfort food.
Alrighty then…just what is it about this pie that places it right up there on every short list of The Things That Define America? Apples are not indigenous; we have knowledge of their cultivation in Egypt going back 4000 years. The pie itself is not indigenous; English cooks were bakin’ it long before the Pilgrims landed here. But the Pilgrims did bring the first apple seeds to North America…and, almost 400 years later, America is the world’s largest producer of apples.
Bistec Encebollado, I’ve been told, is the “Puerto Rican national dish;” you could surmise this from its presence on the menu of every restaurant near my house in New York that’s run by Puerto Rican families. It is comfort food at its finest: steak and onions in gravy, with a Latino spin or two.
About David Rosengarten
Journalist, television personality, and cookbook author, David Rosengarten has covered great food products, restaurants, wines, gastronomic travel destinations, and related subjects for over 25 years...
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