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Add Vegetarian, Organic; consider it uninteresting; equate with remedies prescribed by a physician.

Eminent sage Red Foxx warned:  "Health nuts are going to feel real stupid someday - lying in the hospital, dying of nothing."


Hot Dogs
Like apple pie's analogy, a frankfurter is as American as...oh, a frank is German since it has quality added with use of smoked meats.  Germans refer to elongated franks as sausages using prime meat cuts from the whole hog.

American hot dogs are composed of a meat packer's leftovers, usually snouts, guts, trim ends, and meal extenders, all pulverized in casings of unknown materials. US hot dog fanciers think provincially. There is the "Chicago hot dog" which intends to be premium, one made Vienna-style with choice beer. In New York, no one buys a dog unless it says Nathan's Coney Island.

Advisory: Hot dogs are not for the health-minded. Alleged "vegetarian" hot dogs are frauds upon humankind. Purveyors of such should have their children put up for adoption in Russia.

Life begins with goulash.                             

Indian, the Nation
Includes Pakistan 


Vague, try to avoid in writing.

Is there an Irish cuisine?

When the Potato Famine of 1845-1850 wiped out the spud crop, the world thought Ireland would revert to a boiled mutton menu. Now, Mad Cow may make Spam turkey acceptable survival fare.

Defining Irish cuisine may be moot since all of the authentic Irish pubs are being disassembled, crated, and shipped to America to become chain fish-and-chips joints. Expect restaurant vegetables to be overly salted; expect meats to be fatty, seldom trimmed. Root vegetables and mushrooms abundant. Roasted quail popular all year.

Irish stew may be the major contribution from the thin galaxy of Ireland's exports to USA. Credit us for taste improvement. Instead of mutton, our chefs tend to double the lamb as a condiment. Spuds and onions still make the bowl. But the texture and taste secret in Irish stew surfaces only when it is two days old. Never accept Irish stew from a restaurant until the cook comes to your table and swears on his Catholic scriptures that (1) no mutton was used; and (2) the stew was made the day before.

If there is one Irish culinary contribution to the world, it is soda bread made with buttermilk. Right there is a roadblock outside of Ireland. Few restaurants have buttermilk. Fewer bakers understand soda bread, best when studded with currants. You'll recognize the real stuff when it is served with a cross slashed across the top. That is to keep the devil at bay. People who like soda bread also like salt rising bread. Try to find either in your favorite restaurant. Or bakery.

America's favorite.

In this country, we speak of meat and potatoes as survival food. We are bulk eaters with little attention given to the art of dining. Food and dining in France is an art. In Italy, it is a habit. Italian food is about nourishment and consumed with joy about being alive. Italian cuisine is upscale peasant food. Pasta is a carrier for just about everything edible.

I like to think the Italians, in their lean economic years, pioneered the use of meat as a condiment. Example: spaghetti with meat sauce. How best to judge Italian fare? Playwright Neil Simon once noted there are two universal laws - the Law of Gravity and Everybody Likes Italian Food. 

How influential is Italian cuisine in America? I'll answer that - no one thinks of Italian fare as ethnic.

Many times given a bum rap when referred to as "reggae cuisine."

Think reggae with food and images of Jamaica's shantytowns beyond seedy Kingston come to mind. Think Kingston and my first advisory surfaces: Pass quickly through the airport without (1) eating anything from the carts; and (2) avoid all airport plumbing.

Island has two fame claims: Blue Mountain coffee and mysteries of jerk seasoning. Jerk is another credit to African influences; used as a rub on meats, composed of allspice and ground chilies, best described as the rub mix that made Paul Prudhomme famous in his blackened red snapper era, but when served in K-Paul's Kitchen, it is credited as Cajun/Creole. Only here will you find the historical reference to the how and why of jerk seasoning. As in old Africa, jerk mixes were used as repairs for spoiled foods. Today, such is not the case.

Tourism forced repairs to the island's sanitation practices, but the wary still stick to name resorts, hotels and spas. Jamaica is one place to avoid eating off the countryside. Food handling is primitive which may account for so much boiling and frying...which brings me to the national dish - ackee, a tropical fruit, cooked with salted cod. Sounds terrible. It is, but each to her own. Both are staples in diet and national identity when sauteed with onions and those mystery spices.

About the time Bob Marley was exported north, we started to experience a Jamaican favorite, "stamp and go." In this USofA, it is a deep-fried meat fritter. Before Marley and along streets of Montego Bay, stamp and go was a codfish fritter fried in any edible grease available, usually hog lard in the post-World War II days.

Here, menus offer "rice and peas." The peas are kidney beans. Jamaican curries have an unappealing, yellowish look. But tastes are more sweet with Caribbean spices than with India's whatever. If the menu offers "fishcakes," they are really fish pies with gummy crusts. Lastly, unlike Chinese pork ribs, Jamaican barbecued ribs have meat intact and are seasoned with a thin brown soy sauce, seldom with tomato puree.

Suggestion: Take your dental records.

If there is a visual cuisine, it must be credited to the Japanese of the 19th Century when the nation depended heavily on a vegetarian diet, augmented somewhat by fish.

Red meat has been slow to catch on in Japan. Dairy products never have made it in Japan. Rice remains Japan's staff of life. In America we are familiar with Japan's tempura and sushi, both enhancing the visual factor. Sushi and sushi bars are now common in America, but we need an alert on what we have done to sushi. (See Sushi item.)

Even in Japan, sushi has become industrialized. And it can be blamed on the late Yoshiaki Shiraishi (died 29 August 2001) who described himself as a "sushi innovator." He invented a system of serving sushi on a conveyor belt, an idea he said he borrowed when he saw beer bottles being filled in a brewery. It must have worked. His company has 11 shops in and around Osaka.

I equate that with the Cruvinet, the Dairy Queen of wine service where pours are machine measured. Your readers may accept innovation through ignorance, but provide them with enough culinary history for enlightenment if they have open minds.

My opinion: Japanese restaurants are the cleanest of all the Asian eateries in this country.   

caribbean kitchen
JERK seasoning
While there may be differing tales of how Jerk came about, there is little question that Jamaica is its island birthplace, and now the most widely recognized flavor to come from the Caribbean.

Jerk was originally a method of seasoning and preserving meat and its development is credited to the Maroons, runaway slaves who were abandoned by the Spanish during the British capture. The highly seasoned meat (chicken, pork, etc.) was then placed over a fire-pit of pimento wood, covered and slowly cooked.

The secret to Jerk Seasoning is the very specific combination of Scallions, Jamaican-grown Scotch Bonnet Peppers, Allspice (pimento), Nutmeg and other spices. This authentic recipe remains true to the essential ingredients of the original Maroon Jerk.

It was only about 50 years ago that Jerk recipes began to be prepared openly, and was regarded mainly as "street food” until the 70’s when Jerk became all the rage. Today, jerk seasoning is readily available worldwide and is slowly becoming an all-purpose seasoning. But it is important to distinguish authentic Jerk from poor imitations. Look carefully. Some product labels/recipes list such ingredients as soy sauce, brown sugar, pineapple juice and believe it or not,
virginia burke
ketchup. Go now and enjoy. I’m sure you’ll find many ways to use Jerk, and savor the robust flavor of the Caribbean.

Virginia Burke
Caribbean Kitchen   

No pepperoni, no cheeseburgers, no clam's casino.  Rules, rules, and more rules. No meat at the same meal with dairy products, no shellfish or catfish like bottom feeders, fins and scales are a necessity, and forget about spare ribs and southern barbeque. Meat can come only from animals that chew their cud and have split hooves, is killed in a certified traditional manner and is properly salted and bled.  Is there a Circle K or OU on the box - better look.  Ingredient reading is not enough.

Of course, there is the infamous "kosher style".  Enter the Corned Beef and Pastrami Cultural Jew.  Carnegie Deli, Katzingers and bagels and rye bread. Look for dried out pastries, lox (smoked salmon) will not do and matzo balls so heavy they will sink your stomach.

Makosh, kakosh, babka, strudel, borscht, chav, cholent, chopped liver, knishes, kishka and gefilte fish.  Do you make your cabbage sweet and sour or just sour, are your pickles new dill, old dill or actually green tomatoes?

Are your grandparents from Lithuania, Hungary, Poland or Germany?  Jews eat their genealogy.

Oy vey.  The family is Sephardy, from Syria, from Yemen, from Persia or Turkey. Look for rice on Passover, chickpeas in everything, and lentils and eggplant. 

Jewish food, Kosher food, Israeli food, Bubbie's food, Sunday night Chinese food - you figure it out.

goel gelberman


Junk food

Jello, potato chips, Kool-Aid, chicken wings, white bread with a butter and white sugar spread, drive-through french fries.

And if you cannot identify junk food from fast food, best you return to installing mufflers, or whatever.

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