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Pork, liberal use of rum and cinnamon as seasonings; cleanest kitchens in Latin America; in pre-Castro era, the finest hotels and service in all the Americas.                             

Descriptive meaning "I don't know."

(please, do not snicker)

In London today, search out the growing ranks of top French restaurants; London has three 3-star Michelins, but all first days in city should be spent in the Food Hall of Harrod's, first level. Take tea in the fifth floor dining room.

Fortnum & Mason is the world's finest locale for foodstuffs imported from around the world, the establishment served Brit troops during the Boar War with all the canned puddings the Empire could produce.

Credit the Brits with bringing civility to tea service as well as expanding all tea knowledge.

Finger food according to protocol; berbere spice mix is blended into slow-cooked stews of meat and vegetables, all sopped up with pully fragments of ingera bread in the form of tender over-sized pancakes.

(from Terry Libby, writer for Down East Books).

Fast Food
Anything served in nine seconds after yelling Big Mac into speakerphone.

Don't knock it, this is the way America eats. Never confuse fast food with junk food. (See Junk Food below, a horror story.)

Broadway actress Kristin Chenoweth is a fan, saying "I like restaurants that have my food ready when I enter the door." She would like Jack-In-The-Box, Wendy's, Arby's, joints that serve from steam tables, and from the all-you-can-eat wasteland.

Fast track
Gloppy, unattended AYCE buffets.

The Philippines is a nation of more than 6,000 islands and uninhabited reefs, all productive with edible vegetation, many with rice, all with boar for pork; popular seasonings of palm vinegar and fermented fish paste.

Cooks take hints from Latin and Asian recipes using a regional ingredient-base for favorites such as scallop seviche, wildly seasoned with lime juice, white wine vinegar, garlic, ginger, sweet wine vinegar. If there is a national dish, it is duck adobe, a stew simmered in vinegar, soy, garlic; kare-kare is oxtail stew (or with tripe) mixed with beans, onion, all in a peanut sauce.

My best-ever culinary advice in any nation - avoid the balut which is mostly sold by street vendors. Law prevents me from describing.

Another one of those "fusion funnies" invented in Key West to make tourists pay stiff tabs for what they think is authentic Jamaican and Cuban when it really is little more than conch covered with black beans, rice on the side.

In Key West, stick to the cheap rum; never drink milk or tap water.

If nothing else, credit Escoffier, that great turn-of-the-century chef for giving professionalism to people who cook in commercial kitchens for others; the French put art into cooking; the French made our civilized world pay attention to produce freshness, encouraged use of meats as condiments, and advised all to consider wine as food.

I like French influences, but can stomach only so much richness. (See Nouvelle Cuisine.)

Blame the French Foreign Legion and French colonials for occupying a backward part of the world and teaching the natives how to use their countryside abundance.

But, then the French learned that noodles worked as well with spicier seasonals as with heavy creams.

Use sparingly until some authority can actually list ingredients.

Artwork: Annette Plasterer
Inspiration: Calvin Trillin,
from one of his lectures.

Freeway Food
Fried, sometimes day-old, can be packaged for transport.

Heavy, most comforting cuisine on the Continent, spaetzele, sauerbraten, tangy gravies, fermented cabbages served hot; world's finest beers.                            

The beginning of civilized cuisines.

Haute cuisine
High kitchen prep of fine foods by the finest trained chefs, no fry cooks need apply.                                                 

Anything flavored with pineapple, or serving poi.


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