Living in Florida has its downsides, like giant snakes, mammoth cockroaches and mandatory gun ownership for squirrely girlfriend-abusing-senseless-murder acquittees. But there are good things about it too, like a high of 72 F today and the ubiquity of cheap Caribbean takeout joints, like the one that made my lunch (and snack, and dinner) pictured below:


What’s your favorite ethnic or otherwise exotic food? Is it available where you live, or do you have to make it yourself or beg others to make it for you?

One of my aunties is Cuban-American, and after building trust with her mother for a decade or so (via flattery and hours of voluntary kitchen labor around holiday times), I finally gained access to some of Abuela’s favorite recipes. It was SO worth it!

Please feel free to discuss whatever.

162 replies
  1. 1
    raven says:

    I have a big pot of duck and sausage gumbo simmerin!

  2. 2
    Baud says:

    One of my aunties is Cuban-American, and after building trust with her mother for a decade or so (via flattery and hours of voluntary kitchen labor around holiday times), I finally gained access to some of Abuela’s favorite recipes. It was SO worth it!

    And now you never have to see her again. Win!

  3. 3
    BGinCHI says:

    I am already so sick of winter I could almost go to Florida. Almost.

    Bracing for the Freezapocalypse.

  4. 4
    reality-based says:

    Ok, I moved back from California to North Dakota to do elder parent care.

    I don’t mind the mosquitos.

    I’m not even overly grumpy about the fact that is is 15 degrees below zero here, on it’s way down to 30 below. (That’s actual temp – wind shills will be 60-70 below. )

    I have even recovered form spinning on black ice and landing in the ditch a few weeks ago.

    But there is NO VIETNAMESE FOOD HERE! (well, there is one restaurant in Fargo now – 3 hours away)

    In Santa Clara, I lived on Pho, (beef noodle soup) Cha Gia (Vietnamese egg rolls) and caramel grilled pork.

    A sister sent me a care package of fish sauce, so I can make the pork – but oh, God, what I wouldn’t give for a 6-dollar bowl of steaming Pho Tai!

  5. 5
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Baud: For her, maybe.

  6. 6
    MBL says:

    My wife bought me a mortar and pestle today on an emergency grocery run and I have no idea what to do with it other than grind up chilies. Any suggestions?

  7. 7
    shelly says:

    But there is NO VIETNAMESE FOOD HERE! (well, there is one restaurant in Fargo now – 3 hours away)

    Do they deliver? ;-)

    Maybe they do mail-order for the truely desperate.

  8. 8
    Botsplainer says:

    I’m part Lebanese, and have a real love for that cuisine. My grandmother taught me quite a bit (none of her daughters-in-law had interest). My second favorite ethnic food is Vietnamese, and my next is Mexican.

  9. 9
    IowaOldLady says:

    I miss middle-eastern food here in Iowa. When we lived in Detroit, great middle-eastern food was everywhere.

  10. 10
    Another Holocene Human says:

    Todd Kincannon just called MHP an “uppity mulatto” and I hate humanity today. Beam me up.

  11. 11
    Baud says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    LOL. Maybe that’s why she let you have her recipes so easily. ;-)

  12. 12
    MattF says:

    Well, dim sum is high on my list. And there’s a Mexican restaurant in Encinitas that specializes in soups-to-die-for. And I think I’ll stop right here before the longing gets painful.

  13. 13
    trollhattan says:

    Favorite is probably Japanese, but more often find myself going Mexican–bang for the caloric-density buck and all. We have so many choices I literally can’t count them, within two miles of das Haus are Mexican, Salvadorian, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Tibetan, Korean, Italian, and good ol’ Murkan. And I’m forgetting some, I’m certain.

  14. 14
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @reality-based: I am not sure I would have a lot of confidence in Fargo-based Vietnamese food. Laotian food in Minnesota and Wisconsin, however, can be pretty damn good. Consider a drive.

  15. 15
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @BGinCHI: It’s plenty cold north of Betty. Ugh. I wouldn’t hate it except for The Crud. Just coming off of it, wife has it now.

    It was pretty darn chillzy in Orlando last week and remarkably wonderful in Fort Dodderdale but isn’t it always?

  16. 16
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Indian, and I’m a good hundred miles from the nearest Indian restaurant. There’s some frozen stuff at the Food King, but it’s pretty gross. I fake it with yogurt and grocery store spices and I can make some tasty stuff, but it’s not the same. My ersatz-tandoori chicken always comes out goopy with the yogurt marinade, and yellow, and I finally read an article on Indian cooking that said the secret to that nice red color is almost always food coloring. Fortunately, I don’t care much about ‘presentation’.

  17. 17
    reality-based says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    well, my sister scoped it out – it is run by actual vietnamese people, so that’s a plus – it opened over Christmas, and if it ever stops being 30 below here, I’m going to make a pilgrimage to check it out –

    (Or I could just go visit friends in Santa Clara – and be poorer, but wamer AND have nummy food at the same time!

  18. 18
    scav says:

    Thai was an immediate lack, but a variety of Indian, Chinese, Mexican regional stuff, with Vietnamese also near the top of the list. Ethiopian and Japanese, other African and seriously real Italian I could go without for longer periods. Huzzah for Chicago, I was well-indulged over the holidays and stocked up on misc Asian yesterday before the coming plummet into the other aspect of Chicago.

  19. 19
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @reality-based: A tip for ordering Asian food in the Mid-west. If you want it hot, tell them you want it Asian hot not Midwest hot. Otherwise, you will barely taste anything.

  20. 20
    eemom says:

    Ethiopian. Love the stuff. Plus it is so primordially satisfying eating with the squishy bread.

    Hate this fucking cold, though. I’d kill for your 72 degrees.

  21. 21
    Baud says:

    You guys are making me hungry.

  22. 22
    Ruckus says:

    I just like food.
    Don’t like some dishes from every style/ethnicity of cooking. On the other hand I’ve never traveled and not been able to find good food. I found delicious foods at sidewalk stands and horrible food at expensive restaurants. The best Chinese food I’ve had was in Rota Spain. Best Greek was in Athens, second best in Glendale. Best Mexican in San Gabriel(sadly closed now).

  23. 23
    Randy P says:

    Huh. FYWP ate my comment. No “your comment is in moderation”, just silence. And when I resubmit it tells me “you already said that”.

  24. 24
    srv says:

    Not content to destroy the midwest with his tornados, Obama now uses HAARP to freeze people.

    When will people realize that Obama doesn’t need to send people to gulags, he can make them wherever he wants.

  25. 25
    scav says:

    @eemom: People either get that bread or they don’t. That coffee is amazing too.

    And I forgot Korean — Bulgogi!

  26. 26
    🎉 Martin says:

    Here in SoCal Korean, Chinese, Mexican isn’t really exotic or ethnic – it’s just food. Much harder to find southern – fried chicken, barbecue, etc. So, that’s really what I’d consider foreign.

    I’ve never seen poutine here in SoCal. So, I’d say Canadian food might be the hardest to find and most exotic.

  27. 27
    Betty Cracker says:

    @reality-based: I’ve only tried Pho once, and it was watery and flavorless. Your devotion to it makes me suspect I just got a bad bowl. I’ll try it again at a different place next time I’m in town.

    @Another Holocene Human: Who the hell is Todd Kincannon? Sounds like he needs to be punched in the throat, whoever he is.

  28. 28
    raven says:

    We have a Vietnamese joint called “Just Pho. . .and More!

  29. 29
    jeffreyw says:

    There’s a lot to like about cheesesteak sammies. Philly or otherwise.

  30. 30
    22over7 says:

    If I don’t get something with green chile in it at least once a week, I get stabby. My green chile chicken enchiladas are a family favorite.

  31. 31
    BGinCHI says:

    @MBL: Self defense.

  32. 32
    Yatsuno says:

    @scav: Loves me some Korean. Fave is Japanese however.

  33. 33
    Ruckus says:

    @🎉 Martin:
    My favorite BBQ is in Glendale. I believe I’ve tried all the major styles, had some great meals but… Have been eating at this place since 1961, the current owner is third generation.

  34. 34

    Fortunate to have splendid Thai and Indian offerings within short drives.

    The simple chai recipe from Julie Sanhi yields fuel for a nation.

  35. 35
    raven says:

    @22over7: Just knocked down a few Trader Joes cheese and green chile tamales!

  36. 36
    Jim, Foolish LIteralist says:

    @Betty Cracker: So Carolina Republican party official, IIRC, with a history of brazen and unapologetic public racism.

    His carefully maintained Wiki page (Todd Kincannon, Esq) gives an idea of the douche behind the racist twitter account.

  37. 37
    scav says:

    @🎉 Martin: There’s hard to find and there’s hard to recreate. Jello salad is the sheer pinnacle of exotic to me along with mushroom-based hotdishes, but I assume I could cobble them together on my own should the mood strike. Might even attempt a jello one soon although I suspect there’s a lurking confusion between Cool Whip and Dream Whip that first must be investigated.

  38. 38
    wasabi gasp says:

    Heaven is a big greasy bag of cuchifritos.

  39. 39
    Roger Moore says:

    @🎉 Martin:

    Much harder to find southern – fried chicken, barbecue, etc.

    You’re just looking in the wrong neighborhoods. You have to find an African American neighborhood, and there’ll be plenty of barbecue and fried chicken. Mmmm. Roscoe’s.

  40. 40
    PsiFighter37 says:

    I will eat just about anything you put in front of me, but it is hard to beat top-quality sushi here in NYC. I’ve also grown quite fond of tapas after my trip to Barcelona a couple years ago.

  41. 41
    Elizabelle says:

    Lebanese, Vietnamese and non-hazmat Thai.

    Cuban food is great. Greek — moussaka’s my fave, but most Mediterranean cuisine (olives, fish, lemon, garlic, yum).

    How nice to be thinking about good food rather than shabby politics and cowards.

    Thank you, Betty C.

  42. 42
    Yatsuno says:

    Oh and Seattle does have a Malaysian restaurant. That should give Amir a happy.

  43. 43
    Ruckus says:

    Jello salad? Really? Exotic? Never in my strangest dreams would jello salad be exotic. You must be lost from the irony thread.

  44. 44
    gogol's wife says:

    I grew up in Kansas City, which has the best barbecue and fried chicken as well as excellent Mexican food. Can’t get any of that where I live now. Then I lived in New Haven, which has the best pizza in the world. I moved 25 miles away to a place that has the worst pizza in the world. And I’m too lazy to stand in line in New Haven any more.

    Can’t say I’d want to live in Kansas City again, though, even if the food is superior.

  45. 45
    Elizabelle says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Chicken and waffles! And Obama photos on the way in.

    PBO stopped at a Roscoe’s during an LA visit a while back …

  46. 46
    Elizabelle says:


    I think Amy Sedaris might have written a cookbook to your liking, then?

  47. 47
    aimai says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Some of the best chinese food I ever had was on Tonga. Just depends on how recently the cook came over, I think. The longer someone has been in the host country the more inauthentic and crowd pleasing the food is going to be. Years ago when I was doing archaeology near Cheltenham, England, I came in on my free tuesday and went to find some dumplings at a chinese restaurant. I was dying for some dumplings. I think I must have been the only white person to ever order anything other than fish and chips and a big almond cookie. The entire waitstaff and the cook came out to look at me. It did not improve the dumplings, however, which were barely edible.

  48. 48
    Roger Moore says:

    I took a group of Chinese friends and coworkers to Roscoe’s in Hollywood a few years ago, and it was a real cultural experience for them. When I want to go, though, I go to the one in Pasadena, which is closer and more convenient.

  49. 49
    p.a. says:

    Can’t decide my fave between Thai, Korean, Vietnamese, and all are available near me. OK, Bun Bo Hue is my go-to, and clay pot catfish, so Viet it is. SEXISM ALERT: Hottest waitresses: Thai.

    No Ethiopian, other side of the continent, a Senegalese/Gambian restaurant has opened. Interesting stuff, pretty ‘heavy’ stews and braises. A Venezuelan close by, LaArepa, and a Cape Verdean I haven’t checked out yet. A Jamaican that just moved to a larger space, so they’re doing well.

  50. 50
    hitchhiker says:

    thai green curry chicken!

    and, um, Betty, are you gonna share those recipes???

  51. 51
    Violet says:

    The thermometer in my yard says 68 degrees. It’s nice out. We’ll pay in July. And June and August and September and some of May and October too. You can all point and laugh then.

    I live where there’s almost any food you can think of. Love it.

  52. 52
    scav says:

    @Ruckus: Apparently it was one of the things that the cooking elements of my childhood fled from. Had my first holiday geen bean casserole this year, learned of the older family links to jello salad and oyster stew after wielding chopsticks before I hit the double digits. How dare my family not conform to Hallmark stereotypes! No wonder I’m so twisted and un’merkan.

  53. 53
    Roger Moore says:


    The longer someone has been in the host country the more inauthentic and crowd pleasing the food is going to be.

    Depends on what the local crowd is like. Here in the San Gabriel Valley, the local crowd is as likely to be from China as the cooks, so there’s some pressure to keep the food authentic. I think the restaurants tend to get better for a while as the cooks adapt to the local ingredients.

  54. 54
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @gogol’s wife: You do get fresh lobster and cherrystone clams though, right?

  55. 55
    scav says:

    @Elizabelle: Did she write one? I’m mining ones from thrift shops and what is the Sterne one that does it by decades, plus the Perfection Salad book (which is too dour, but has details).

  56. 56
    Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader says:

    Prolly Lebanese/Mediterranean. Love stuffed grape leaves with the yogurt cheese.

  57. 57
    Randy P says:

    @Betty Cracker: They traditionally serve it with a dish of extra ingredients on the side: thai basil leaves, lime, bean sprouts, jalapeno slices. Plus there’s generally plum sauce and sriracha on the table.

    Put all that stuff into your soup and I think you won’t find it “flavorless”.

  58. 58
    Ruckus says:

    I do dislike chicken though. The US navy did that to me. The food was generally pretty bad but they had more ways to fuck up a chicken than I could ever imagine. Mom used to make many chicken dishes that I loved. My grandma who lived in south central LA could cook up some fried chicken, starting with wringing it’s neck. But the navy beat that taste right out of me. I’ll still eat it occasionally, mostly for something different, but I’ve lost any real taste for it.

  59. 59
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Depends on what the local crowd is like.

    Bingo. Laotian food is pretty decent here because of the large numbers of refugees who came over in the early 80s. The restaurants have to be able to produce the authentic foods as well as the Americanized versions. I try to ensure that I get the authentic.

  60. 60
  61. 61
    Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader says:


    I do dislike chicken though.

    That’s two of us. Turkey, too.

  62. 62
    MBL says:

    I enjoy this recipe for chicken tikka masala enough that I don’t get it at Indian restaurants anymore.

  63. 63
    Nutella says:


    The longer someone has been in the host country the more inauthentic and crowd pleasing the food is going to be.

    Yeah, I learned that the old rule ‘a Chinese restaurant run by Chinese people will have good Chinese food’ was wrong when I lived in Grand Rapids a few years ago. The Chinese restaurateurs there catered to the appalling bad taste of the locals. More accurate is ‘a Chinese restaurant with Chinese customers will have good Chinese food’. Sometimes you may have to convince them that you want to order from the serious menu, though.

  64. 64
    Haydnseek says:

    @reality-based: I know what you mean. I live in the San Gabriel Valley in SoCal. Five exceptional Vietnamese restaurants in walking distance from my house. If I could airlift you a tub of Pho I would do it in a heartbeat. I know whereof you speak with regard to elder care, and I wish nothing but the best for you in such a difficult, painful time.

  65. 65
    Randy P says:

    Summarizing the comment that was apparently eaten: Probably Salvadoran. Mexican if it’s the real thing, say in Texas or Southern California (one of my tests is whether there is mole on the menu, probably my all-time favorite Mexican dish).

    And Peruvian spit-roasted chicken. Amazing flavor on that stuff.

    Also, all things New Orleans, another cuisine I never tire of.

    All of the above I learned to love in DC-area places when I lived in that area. Alas, here in the Philly burbs most of it is nowhere to be found.

  66. 66
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader: Turkey is dry and flavorless. I’ll eat a couple of pieces of dark meat smothered in gravy on Thanksgiving and that is enough for the year.

  67. 67
    Uncle Ebeneezer says:

    @reality-based: That stinks. I’m so glad that LA has just about every cuisine imaginable. My wife introduced me to Banh Mi and Vietnamese in general, and it might be my current favorite. Also killer Ramen. I only knew Ramen as Cup-O-Noodles and was pretty blown away when I finally had the real deal here in Little Tokyo.

  68. 68
    Elizabelle says:

    Link to some recipes from that Amy Sedaris cookbook. No exotic jello molds, alas.

    She’s even got rabbit smack snacks (for your rabbit, not made of Fluffy).

    She’s got a crafts book, too, that it sounds like Betty Cracker helped guest write. Don’t know if wine foil is involved.

    Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People

  69. 69
    Ruckus says:

    I think I had the opposite food life growing up. One good thing I got was an appreciation of foods of many cultures/styles. Mom cooked decent Mexican, Russian, pretty good Italian(her mom from Sicily), solid american, amazing BBQ ribs and a few others I can’t identify. I also could use chopsticks well enough to not starve at about that age, but the food would be cold before I was finished. But still, jello salad and bean/onion rings from a can casserole? That’s just bad food, not exotic. Mom made them, my aunts made them, grandmas made them. That didn’t make them good.

  70. 70
    Haydnseek says:

    @Roger Moore: I almost lived on Roscoe’s when I was in college in Long Beach.

  71. 71
    Roger Moore says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Turkey is dry and flavorless.

    Depends on the turkey and how it’s been cooked. Turkey legs are plenty flavorful, and they can be juicy enough if you don’t cook them to death. They go great in a green chile.

  72. 72
    Uncle Ebeneezer says:

    @Betty Cracker: Definitely try it again. I was unimpressed with my first Pho experience then tried it again years later at a different place where there was alot of jalapeno, basil, lime etc., and while it was still a fairly clear broth, it packed a whole lot of punch.

  73. 73
    JCJ says:

    I would love to be able to get a Döner kabob like the ones in Berlin. I would also love to get Bangkok street food. There is a grilled chicken vendor (kai yang) not far from where we stay that is outstanding. I leave tomorrow morning for Bangkok so I am already drooling! Grilled pork (moo ping), a coconut snack (kanom khroak), and many other items are on the menu!

    Also, the high temperature on Tuesday in Bangkok will be 92 degrees instead of 0 here in Brookfield, Wisconsin.

    eta: the low in BKK will be 72 instead of -18!

  74. 74
    Comrade Mary says:

    @Betty Cracker: Good Pho is the furthest thing from tasteless. The best broth you will ever have is to be found in Pho — if it’s made right.

    One thing about Toronto is that we have lots of great Asian food. We’re still behind with Latino food, but it’s getting better each year.

  75. 75
    JCJ says:


    My wife uses one to mash garlic to make paste,crush roasted spices like coriander seeds or cumin seeds and peppercorns, and crush ginger for ginger paste

  76. 76
    🎉 Martin says:

    @Roger Moore: Yeah, and I like Roscoe’s (have to drive to Long Beach for one), but I’ve just not found much variety. And much less here in OC. Virtually no black neighborhoods down here.

  77. 77
    Uncle Ebeneezer says:

    @Roger Moore: Also Dinah’s on Centinella down by LAX has amazing fried chicken. And while it ain’t Southern, Kyochan in Koreatown makes incredible Korean wings.

  78. 78
    🎉 Martin says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I cook our turkey on the barbecue rotisserie – it comes out fantastic. Not dry at all, and with a good smoking, rub, and stuff, not flavorless either.

  79. 79
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @JCJ: Have you tried Tulip in Milwaukee? It’s in the Third Ward. I haven’t been there yet, but I hear it does pretty good Turkish food.

  80. 80
  81. 81
    Ruckus says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader:
    I still like turkey but it has to be cooked properly. I mean I still eat chicken but I sure wouldn’t walk across the street to find some.
    The ex and I tried to cook a turkey once but even the small one we got lasted for what seemed 6 months. So the next year(and the year after that and after taht…) we roasted just a breast. Juicy and tender that was. Much better than the whole bird.

  82. 82
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @raven: I’ve had brined turkey. I like goose and duck. Even the juiciest turkey is too dry for me.

  83. 83
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @Yatsuno: Malaysian food is yummy, I had quite alot during my years in Seattle.

  84. 84
    scav says:

    @Ruckus: Similar background as Mom’s a good cook and cycled through a lot of similar phases plus Mexican, Thai, Chinese, native German and a lot of Sunset, but minus the BBQ. The difference is that I guess I missed the exposure to them (jello and hotdish) as bad foods, they were just absent foods, hence exotic (Also missing were the bulk of my relatives, off in the middle of the country). Coming to them later, with techniques and ingredients picked up elsewhere, I’ve managed to find a good number rather edible. Granted, I omit the veggies coming from cans part, which may not be playing entirely authentic for certain periods.

  85. 85
    raven says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Aite den. You probably wouldn’t like my duck gumbo neither!

  86. 86
    Ruckus says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:
    Isn’t that what gravy was invented for?

  87. 87
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @raven: It has duck and is gumbo, right? Odds are I’d love it.

  88. 88
    lockewasright says:

    I grew up on eastern block kosher food in Columbus, Ohio so naturally I love Chinese food. I have since moved to the Phoenix, Arizona area where I get a lot of fantastic Mexican food. I have been on a Cuban sandwich kick lately though.

    Want unique? There is a place here called Chino-Bandido. It is Chinese/Mexican fusion! It’s fun.

  89. 89
    JCJ says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Yes I have. It is quite good. We have been there three times. Each visit was quite good. My wife, daughter and I have all tried different dishes and all were excellent. I have been to Husnu’s in Madison on State Street, but it is no longer there. I think Kabul’s next door to it is moving across the street, but I did not see anything about Husnu’s.

  90. 90
  91. 91
    geg6 says:

    Impossible to say. My grandfather was German and he made so many fantastic German dishes that I still love today. This part of PA is filled with the progeny of various Eastern European immigrants, so Serbian, Croatian, Ukranian and Polish foods are ubiquitous and delicious. There were also many Italian immigrants and you can get great Italian food everywhere. There’s a great Taiwanese place just down the road that I dream about sometimes. There are lot of great Lebanese places here, too, with a superb takeout place just down the street. It is difficult to find good Mexican, though. And Cuban is non-existent. In my travels, though, I have discovered a great love for both. Another, more unusual, love is Ethiopian. I’ve been to a few Ethiopian restaurants in various cities, but found the best ones to be in Washington, DC and Philly.

    ETA: And people might laugh at me because there is a lot of really bad British food, but I still love me some really authentic fish and chips, Yorkshire pudding and nobody makes a standing rib roast like a good Brit cook. And tea is scrumptious even if I don’t much like tea. The foods–the finger sandwiches, the biscuits and all the rest–are heaven.

  92. 92
    Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader says:

    @Ruckus: Same here about chicken. I’m with Omnes on turkey. Once a year is enough for me. I tried ground turkey because it is supposed to be healthy. I thought it was disgusting. This year, I got a country cured ham for Christmas, soaked it for 24 hours in water, then simmered it in a lobster pot with apple juice, apple cider vinegar and molasses for 6 hours and then baked it for two hours with a pineapple and honey glaze and it was simply amazing. I ate on that ham for two weeks until it was gone. Who would find bland turkey bird preferable to that? Insane.

  93. 93
    Elizabelle says:

    New thread up on Bobo and weed column. Author is doghouse j riley.

    McLaren’s already there. (sigh) You wuz warned.

    I’m staying here with good food.

  94. 94
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @JCJ: Husnu’s is looking for a new location. There are some empty store fronts on State, so maybe they’ll settle in one.

  95. 95
    Ruckus says:

    OK now we are getting to the heart of it. I thought you were discussing Lucy era foods, not some actual cooking involved foods.
    A box of jello with a can of stuff floating in it, a bean casserole entirely from cans, that’s just a horrible waste of food, time and energy.

  96. 96
    raven says:

    @lockewasright: Try El Bravo on 7th. Killer.

  97. 97
  98. 98
    scav says:

    @Elizabelle: Wise. I’m now wondering about attempting a cheeseball, although there is a familial cheese dip with pimentos that I think I can rescue from Velveeta and do some hand roasting of alternative peppers with. Jello is too chilly to play with at the moment.

  99. 99
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: If turkey is dry and flavorless, it’s cooked wrong.

  100. 100
    scav says:

    @Ruckus: Jello gets a bit of a by from me as it is silly Aspic, leading to a line of silly Terrines. With quality floaty bits.

  101. 101
    raven says:

    @scav: My salmon in aspic is good.

  102. 102
    Ruckus says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader:
    I do have to say that mom and one of my uncles could roast the best turkeys. Never had one that wasn’t juicy and tasty. But I also know exactly what you and Omnes are on about, I have had presented for my eating displeasure some pretty dry birds that I basically had to choke down for holiday meals.

  103. 103
    scav says:

    @raven: How close are you? Will you share? Recipe might squeeze down the tubes easier, but that rather filters out superior technique.

  104. 104
    Ruckus says:

    Maybe my taste for jello was killed in the same way as my taste for chicken, by bad presentations that tasted much worse than they looked.

  105. 105
    Roger Moore says:

    @🎉 Martin:

    And much less here in OC.

    Well, there’s your problem. If you want good ethnic food, you have to avoid white flight areas and go to the places the whites were fleeing from. Hie thee to Crenshaw, and thou shall be rewarded with great barbecue and fried chicken.

  106. 106
    PurpleGirl says:

    In NYC you can find a restaurant of any ethnicity you want — one will be somewhere in the city. Maybe a bus ride or subway ride away but you can find it. I like Indian, Moroccan, Afghanian, Mexican, Chinese (a dim sum place I really liked closed a few years back; yes, in Chinatown you look for the places with Chinese customers).

  107. 107
    lockewasright says:

    @raven: Thanks! I’ll try them out.

    The building and the layout of the dining room look familiar. Was the place always called that?

  108. 108
    Elizabelle says:


    The internet’s so great for coming up with recipes for ingredients you have on hand.

    And old cookbooks in thrift stores — especially the Junior League and “wives’ club” ones — are a font of retro recipes.

    Maybe Tamara should do a bad recipes thread some night. Or a Mad Men and I Like Ike era thread.

  109. 109
    geg6 says:


    Turkey is difficult to cook IMHO. After many years, I’ve found that the only way to get a really delicious turkey is to only buy fresh ones and brine them for several days. That’s what I’ve been doing for several years and everybody now insists that I host Thanksgiving every year because my turkey is so freaking awesome. If I do say so myself. ;-)

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    scav says:

    @Ruckus: Entirely possible. Shellfish were dead to me for years after Dad failed to remember they couldn’t just be transported cross-country in his briefcase.

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  112. 112
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Elizabelle: The Trinity Lutheran Church book of parishioner recipes that I have is a wonder.

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    geg6 says:


    And old cookbooks in thrift stores — especially the Junior League and “wives’ club” ones — are a font of retro recipes.

    I have a perfect one that my mom used to make on Fridays, especially during Lent, when I was a kid. It sounds terrible and is every kind of 50s/60s stereotype of that sort of food, but I loved it then and I love it now. She came up with it during a steel strike in the early 60s, trying to use what she had on hand and what was in the care box sent by the steelworkers union to the strikers’ families. She had six kids and husband to feed and we ate it ever after. She called it tuna roll. Like I said, it was shockingly good, especially when you want some comfort food in cold weather.

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    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @geg6: It has mayo, doesn’t it?

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    lockewasright says:

    I recently purchased 3 Cajun cook books. I also received a meat grinder for christmakuh. I am gonna start making sausage soon.

    Oh yeah, and my wife has vowed to replace my well worn horizontal offset smoker soon too. She swears that my pork ribs are the best ever. Of course that’s kind of like your mom saying that you’re the most handsome boy in your class.

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    geg6 says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Nope, no mayo. Cream of mushroom soup, though. And if that isn’t as retro as it gets, I don’t know what is.

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    scav says:

    @raven: Aaaahhh, thanks. I’m already tweaking and thinking about floaty dill or chives and maybe a caper or two . . .

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    Elizabelle says:


    how to dress game, how to properly sharpen a knife, how to make wines and beer, how to make French soap and also what to do in case of hydrogen or cobalt bomb attacks, keeping as much in alphabetical order as possible.

    What cookbook doesn’t cover THAT?

    I want. Had never heard of it. Thanks.

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    raven says:

    @Elizabelle: Oh it’s hilarious. The Norwegian Method of Killing Rats, How to Quit Smoking and many other gems.

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    Ruckus says:

    Never saw mom or uncle brine their turkey. But I also never remember them being frozen.
    I don’t know to laugh or not. OK, OK, IFLOL. Did he at least get a new briefcase out of it?

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    scav says:

    @Elizabelle: Craft of the Country Cook has a similar breadth of coverage, alas! with far less history but huzzah! rather more storage and preserving.

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    Ruckus says:

    Cream of mushroom soup, crushed potato chips and tuna. A little salt and pepper to jazz it up.

    A friends sister used to make this. It was crap but it was also just different enough to like.

    ETA Occasionally.

  124. 124
    Elizabelle says:


    Would love to hear what’s in your Mom’s tuna roll.

    Just checked. No tuna noodle casserole in the family Joy of Cooking copy, apparently published in 1964. We made it all the time, though, with flaked tuna, macaroni, can of Campbell’s Mushroom Soup, milk, I guess. …

    I heard Joy updated the recipe for foodies in their 1990s/early 2000 edition, and screaming commenced …

  125. 125
    Elizabelle says:

    Cruising the 1964 Joy of Cooking. It has a recipe for raccoon, as I remembered, but get this, from a few inches above:


    If possible, trap ‘possum and feed it on milk and cereals for 10 days before killing.

    I’m sorry. By that time it’s named Lovie and is a family pet. No can do.

    Page 454

  126. 126
    Annamal says:

    No single favourite, I love sushi of just about every stripe, I love lebanese/middle eastern kebabs and iskendars, vegetarian roti chanai and a decent burger.

    Wellington New Zealand is great for Malaysian, Chinese and Middle Eastern but lousy for Eastern European and (until recently) very limited in terms of Mexican and decent American (oh pumpkin…why do so few people here understand that you’re not just savoury).

    Fortunately if you stuff enough public servants and artsy types in one place it turns out that varied ethnic food will happen in abundance.

    We’re supposed to be smack dab in the middle of summer here but it’s kind of wet and miserable and howling up a gale.

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    Jane2 says:

    @reality-based: Drive up to Regina….there’s tons here!

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    scav says:

    @Elizabelle: You’ve identified a possible hole in my library, must go see what Joy I have. The Country Book does manage to come through with a recipe for Sloppy Duck, followed by Small Birds in Baked in Grape Leaves, and an entire section devoted to heads:

    The head of any animal, young or old, domestic or wild, is a valuable source of food, so a killing method that spares the head is an appreciable saving. The boney parts make extraordinarily good soup. . .

    and I will stop there in the name of nervous housepets everywhere.

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    Jane2 says:

    I miss Tex-Mex and actual Italian food. Here on the prairies, the former is translated into hard Old El Paso corn taco shells with ground beef, shredded lettuce, sad tomato slices, and some generic cheese. The latter is huge portions (must get value for money, and that translates into three cups of pasta) with some sort of alfredo sauce (and for four bucks more, you can get the pre-fab chicken breast). Give me Texas and Toronto in that order.

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    gogol's wife says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Yes, but alas, I’ve never developed a real taste for them.

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    Elizabelle says:


    Welcome New Zealander!

  132. 132
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @gogol’s wife: Unrelated, but have you seen this?

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    Robert says:

    My family has a lot of really good poor Czech and Polish dishes that are always crowd pleasers. The most popular is a potato dumpling in a cabbage sauce. And by cabbage sauce, I mean caramelized onions, shredded cabbage, and butter. Lots and lots of butter. So good.

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    geg6 says:


    Nope, that’s tuna casserole.

    Tuna roll only uses cream of mushroom soup for the sauce you pour over the top of the roll.

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    karen says:

    Living in the DC area, there is lots of international cuisine. But what I miss is real NY style pizza and real NY bagels.

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    Elizabelle says:


    But the roll of what? Multiple cans of tuna? Canned veggies too?

  137. 137
    geg6 says:


    Tuna roll is a mixture of tuna (white, packed in water and drained), egg, onions, and celery and put in a crust made from Jiffy Mix (or Bisquick, but my mom preferred Jiffy Mix. Do they even make that anymore?). You don’t roll it like a cinnamon roll, but roll out the dough into a rectangle and put the tuna mixture in the middle and just fold over the crust and crimp it to seal. Turn it over onto the prettier side (the crimps should be on the bottom). Brush some egg wash over the top and slit the crust a few times to let steam escape. Bake until golden brown. Heat some cream of mushroom soup, cut the tuna roll into slices and pour some soup over each piece. Serve with green salad or sauteed green beans.

    At least, that’s how mom made it. And it’s good.

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    geg6 says:


    Haluski! At least, that’s what they call it around here. Delicious.

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    Elizabelle says:


    That sounds good. Thank you. It’s almost like a kind of chicken pot pie, but square and made with tuna, hmmm?

    They do still make Jiffy Mix.

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    scav says:

    @geg6: Sort of a multi-person tuna pasty with the crimp side down and soup, not gravy on top afterwards?

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    lockewasright says:

    @karen: Real bagels! I married a gentile and had to explain to her that round bread with a hole in the middle isn’t a bagel. It’s boiled and then baked and much more dense than bread. I also had to explain that lunch meat is sliced at a deli while you wait. Dog food is found in prepackaged containers between the hot dogs and bags of shredded cheese in the coolers at the grocery store.

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    scav says:

    @geg6: Yoikes, Haluski are essentially Bohemian Spätzle (made with potato too?!) and I can eat them them with butter and onions! I die happy.

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    Betty Cracker says:

    @Elizabelle: Word. I have that same cookbook, passed down from my granny.

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    gogol's wife says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I only saw it when I saw your last night’s comment this morning. With our present weather, I have been trying to remind myself that I survived four winters there — but I was so much younger then, I’m older than that now!

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    gogol's wife says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I didn’t see the news clip earlier — that’s so cute! I love the guy from UW Oshkosh who’s complaining they didn’t make the list.

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    geg6 says:


    Awesome. I’m going to look for some Jiffy Mix the next time I’m at the grocery store.


    Exactly. A huge pasty with tuna and mushroom soup sauce instead of gravy.


    I think different regions in Eastern Europe use the name haluski for similar but not exactly the same dishes. For some, it’s egg noodles, cabbage, onions and butter. For some, it’s the potato spaetzle with the same. I even have heard a particular version of stuffed cabbage called haluski.

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    poptaracus says:

    Cali is better. Florida crazy redneck weakness.

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    Gravenstone says:

    @Elizabelle: You’re a much better person than I if you can befriend a possum, even after a week or two of feeding them. They are ugly, mean and all around unpleasant little bastards. Had one get caught in my trapline once (was hoping to get a raccoon). I clubbed it over the head in an effort to put it down. My walking stick broke, and it just hissed at me in annoyance.

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    scav says:

    @geg6: That’s life in the Pirohi belt. I’ve already wandered into a haulsky s kapoustou double overlap, and that’s Kapuska from my Ruthenian by association heritage, in the cabbage / sauerkraut strange attractor. Luckily one of the blood lines wanders close enough to Moravia (with rumours of further in) that I can probably legitimately claim some potato in my halusky. Rather like a tartan in Scotland, only perhaps more anciently rooted.

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    My favorite food when I eat out is Asian (I rotate between Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese) and then Middle Eastern and Mediterranean (Lebanese, Turkish, Greek). I like food with a bit of a kick to it.

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    Ruckus says:

    Had one in the tree outside my room growing up. About the size of Tunch. Whenever I tried to sleep she(at one time she had some small critters) would jump all over the roof. Never heard a pep when I was awake, but try to sleep day or night… I think she had Extra Sensory Pissed.

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    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: Have you checked out my recipe for Tandoori chicken?. Also too, Madur Jaffrey’s books on Indian Cooking are the best ones around in my opinion.

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    Ruckus says:

    Life is good, I’m still able to learn something every day.

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    One might argue that there is no such thing as Indian food just as there is no such thing as European food. The subcontinent is a mix of many distinct regions each with a distinct food culture and the typical restaurant offerings in the US don’t even scratch the surface of the diversity and range of the food from India.

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    Steeplejack says:

    So sorry I (almost) missed this thread. My favorite ethnic food is Tex-Mex, for which San Antonio is Ground Zero. I lived in a fool’s paradise in Atlanta for 25 years, because it has great Tex-Mex restaurants—El Torero, El Toro, Jalisco, Nuevo Laredo, El Jinete (out in Snellville), etc.—and I thought every American city would have good Tex-Mex restaurants now. D.C. has been a desert for me. The “Mexican” restaurants here are mostly Mexican/something-else—Salvadoran, Peruvian, Guatemalan, etc., and they veer from the canon pretty quickly—or else they are a little too gringo-ized. About the best I have found in my neck of the woods (Falls Church/Arlington) are Taquería el Poblano (gringo-ized) and El Paso Café (okay but not great). And let me preëmptively refudiate Burnsie’s recommendation of Anita’s. I have eaten there twice in the last year or two, and it’s not as good as he remembers it. District Taco is great for breakfast burritos and has a couple of amazing salsas. That will slake the Tex-Mex lust for a while.

    I also like Asian food—Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai. I lived in Japan my last two years of high school. There are lots of good Asian restaurants around here. Just today I had some great pho tan for lunch at Pho Royal, out by the Leesburg outlet mall. Highly recommended if you have to go to the outlet mall. (I was there with the bro’ man, who is prepping for a 10-day trip to Brazil next week to meet the apparently very numerous in-laws.) The excellent Chinese restaurant Fortune is right across Arlington Boulevard from me (dim sum every day, always a good sign for a Chinese restaurant, and it’s booked up many Friday and Saturday nights for huge Chinese wedding receptions). Bangkok Golden, a good Thai restaurant, is right next to my usual grocery store, and I live just a couple of blocks from Eden Center, which is a hive of Vietnamese restaurants and sandwich shops.

    This is not making me hungry, because I still have a goodly portion of pho that I brought home from lunch today. Might have to hit that in a bit.

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    Shana says:

    @22over7: Recipe, please….

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    Katherine says:

    @MBL: make pesto the original way

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    Shana says:

    @PurpleGirl: Reminds me of the joke about DC. Whenever there’s unrest somewhere in the world, 6 months later DC has a new crop of ethnic restaurants.

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    reality-based says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    my pho tips –

    1. start by asking for Pho Tai – raw round steak, cooked by the boiling broth poured ever it. Move on to the chewy stuff later.

    2. Add a ton of thai Basil to the Pho, as well as some sriracha and a BUNCH of lime juice.

    3. The excellence of the pho joint can be judged not only by the quality of the broth, but also by the platter of greens and add-ins they serve with it. At the low end of the scale – some dried-out shreds of onion, yellowish ancient bean sprouts, and a few sprigs of cilantro.

    4. a GOOD pho joint will offer paper-this slices of fresh juicy onion, sliced jalapenos, fresh bean sprouts, as well as both chopped cilantro and whole sprigs of thai (purple) basil.

    5. If you stumble into a pho shop that also offers Ngo Gai with your pho – a tangy, slightly bitter, herb – you have died, gone to heaven, and found the Platonic ideal of a Pho joint. Pledge your undying fealty at once.

    seriously – try it again, preferably in a city or area with a large population of Vietnamese descent. Then report back!

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    Thor Heyerdahl says:

    As Comrade Mary said above – terrific food options in Toronto. However Mexican is a bit dicey, but other Latino options are quite good. There is a lack of good African-American soul food – since most of the black population is from the Caribbean.

    I do miss good street food (more than just hot dog stands). German donairs, Montreal Bagels or fresh seafood (just back from Sweden who have a massive traditional Christmas buffet – I had 12 kinds of herring and 4 kinds of salmon…and 4 other hot tables of meat and veggies and sweets. Plus lutefisk (get over it Minnesota it’s nothing special).

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    Elizabelle says:


    Whoa scav. Ask and you shall receive.

    This link appeared, care of commenter Jackie, in a Sarah P&T thread a few hours later.

    Mormon recipes. Lots of jello concoctions. Dream Whip. One has pretzels. One has Grape Nuts in it. For Christmas, yet.

    La Cuisine de Nouvelle Zion.

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    scav says:

    @Elizabelle: The Grape Nut one is outré, and I’m not sure why. Low on the usual odd veggie and dairy product metric, must be the sodden breakfat cereal cloister bell going off. On the other hand, presoaking some of those fruit in rum or brandy, possibly even a more spongelike bran / cake substitute, also pre-soaked . . . . good for a laugh on a dreary day, especially as there’s all the experimentation and tasting of ingredients . . . .

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