Thu, Feb. 3rd, 2005, 08:57 pm

add to memories

Alas, I am turning jonquil's really awesome post on foodie hierarchy into some sort of meme. But it is really fun ticking off the imaginary checkboxes to see how I measure up:

You must like:
* All Asian cuisines. Gain points for knowing one or more of the following: Lao, Singaporean, Indonesian, Cambodian, any Chinese region except Hunan, Szechuan, or Canton. Lose points for liking fried rice, chow mein, or egg foo young.

I think I like all Asian cuisines. At least, all that I have encountered, with the exception of pineapple in fried rice. Definitely like Chinese food from any region, including Hunan, Szechuan and Canton. And I am biased, but I shall say that any foodie who looks down on liking Cantonese food because it is more prevalent in America should go to Hong Kong. Oh. My. God. Food heaven! That was the absolute best part about ibanking (the only really good part) -- anyone who stayed past 8 (and we all stayed past eight) got a dinner budget of about $25 in Hong Kong, land of good food. I also like fried rice. I don't like chow mien in Chinese-American restaurants generally, and er, I have no idea what egg foo young is. I think it's sort of funny, because I sometimes do the snob thing and play the trump card of "I lived in Taiwan and ate frog legs on the street!" or something, but then again, I really, really, really like California rolls. And General Tso's chicken. And Peking duck. I think with Asian cuisine, or among Asians, there is this sort of snobbery as to what you will eat, the weirder the better. So I can play the trump card of eating snails or frog or pig ears (crunchy!), but then someone else will say they eat intestines, which beats me (they taste ok, but there's something in the texture I don't quite like). I think internal organs tend to beat out most things, with the possible exception of insects. Eating all kinds of seafood in assorted states of raw and cooked is also a bonus. I think it's very hard to go anywhere fancy in Taiwan and not eat seafood. Now I am craving fresh seafood.

The funny thing is that I feel the "I eat weirder stuff than you" contest isn't really tinged by snobbism in the traditional sense -- it's not about how hard to get or prepare the stuff is (unless you are talking about shark fin or abalone or swallow's nest, which really doesn't taste like anything at all). I think the whole thing is about having an iron stomach, because imho, there's really no point in eating all sorts of fancy Chinese food, even though it is really, insanely good, if you don't also eat street food. I suspect this is rather like the thing for diner food in America? You've got to know the right place to get the best fruit from the fruit stands, the right vendor who sells the hottest, crispiest egg cakes, the vendor who makes green onion pancakes just the way you like them. Food in Taiwan is probably less chain-store-like than it is here, just because Taiwan is a lot messier. Except for Seven Eleven. I love Seven Eleven and all the Taiwan convenience stores, who keep trying to outdo each other with more and more special food. Kimchi onigiri! Taiwan also seems to have a lot of food trends -- there was the year in which Japanese cream puffs were all the rage, and the year Portuguese/Chinese-style egg tarts from Macau were, and the year anything pumpkin was. And of course the pearl milk tea boom, which is one of the few which haven't crashed. I think there was a Japanese food thing going round when I was in high school. Now there seems to be more Thai food, though maybe it's just because I'm noticing them because I crave Thai food a lot now.

I had so much fun the year we went to China. It was my very first time in China, and I know it's rather silly of me to not expect it, but the food there is different! I had such amazing food in Shanghai and Beijing and Suzhou, included Su Dong Po pork, named so because it was the poet's favorite dish. Shanghai had these "drunken crabs" -- raw crabs steeped in alcohol till they got sort of chewy. And a ton of other stuff I can't quite recall yet. And this was after a trip to Hong Kong, which is basically a giant city full of foodies.

Um. I just got sort of distracted. Food does that to me.

* California cuisine, but only as practiced at very expensive and/or obscure restaurants. This one is tricky; praise the wrong restaurant and you'll hear "Well, they certainly have a lot of ingredients, but what they DO with them!"

Er. What's California cuisine? Whatever it is, I suspect I like it. And yes, this includes California Pizza Kitchen! Hrm, then again, I do tend to roll my eyes a little at fusion, but I am more accepting of it now, especially because it means I can get seared Ahi tuna practically anywhere now.

* French. Gain points for knowing at least one obscure village where you can get the truly authentic cuisine bourgeoise. Lose points for cribbing from My Year In Provence or anything by Paula Wolfert

Love French. Ohhhh, love it. No idea about obscure villages! Also no idea about My Year in Provence, though I have heard of it, and have no idea who Paula Wolfert is.

* Northern Italian.
Yes. Southern too. I think. Actually, I am not sure if I have had southern. What's the difference? And now I am being snobby, because I really dislike Americanized Italian restaurants, who put too much marinara sauce on everything. I hate marinara, ever since I went to a summer camp which served watery marinara and limp noodles every day. Ugh. I want to go back to Italy someday and just sit and eat.

* The official American regional cuisines: barbecue, diner food, anything Cajun or Creole, selected Southern. Read about them as served in their native haunts, but eat them in "authentic" restaurants. Cracker Barrel is Right Out. Do not cook home-style food at home unless you gussy it up. Meat loaf with shiitake mushrooms and garlic mashed potatoes is fine; meat loaf with a ketchup topping, mashed potatoes, and gravy is incorrect. Biscuits must be made from scratch, even though authentic Southern biscuits are in fact made from self-rising flour that's been bleached whiter than a Rotary club meeting.

Mmm! But I have never had them in "authentic" restaurants. But I like it anyway! And I eat TV dinners a lot or leftovers, so I suspect all points for home-style food have gone straight out the window right there ;).

* Southwestern food. Lose points for liking Tex-Mex. Lose all credibility for liking seven-layer dip.
I had non-Chevy's Mexican food for the first time in Santa Fe and after that I sort of went on a tamale streak. I think tamales are very interesting -- they're just like the Mexican version of Chinese zhongzi, but with ground corn instead of sticky rice! I'm pretty sure I like Tex-Mex. And seven-layer dip. Mmm.

You are permitted your own opinions about Germanic foods. You can count coup by knowing any cuisine unknown to your opponent. African cuisines other than Ethiopian are especially suitable for this.

I like the stollen (sp? schtollen? the sort of gingery-spicey bread/cake with frosting?) and pig's foot (mmmm) and that coke-lemonade drink they have there, and the egg noodles. And black forest cake. Alas, I do not have much knowledge about other cuisines. Maybe Taiwanese street food is my specialty, haha!

You look down on:
* American Italian food
Er, yeah, sort of. See above.
* Self-rising flour No idea what it is. Do not bake.
* Microwaves I like my microwave. It makes me TV dinners.
* All themed restaurants In general, yes, because I tend to think they are horribly overpriced and put more effort in the decor than in the food, which is really just criminal.
* The Betty Crocker Cookbook Um. Probably?

You hate:
* All canned vegetables except tomatoes.
I can eat canned baby corn by the pound. And canned corn.
* All Campbell's soups except tomato. I really like cream of mushroom, especially cream of mushroom casserole with Chinese veggies and Kraft parmesan cheese on top, which is what my mom makes and it is very good. So. There shall be no mockage of Campbell's soup casseroles.
* Miracle Whip
* Kool Whip I discovered the goodness of Kool Whip (or Miracle Whip... I can't keep them straight) last year. It freezes! It's gooey! I ate an embarrassing amount.
* Jell-O I like jello, especially lime green jello, just because I like how bright the colors are.
* Pillsbury Crescent Rolls I had them once, and they didn't taste very croissant-like. Not too impressed.
* Boxed mixes. Bagged gourmet mixes from the expensive grocery store are okay. I am very fond of Rice-a-Roni and that chocolate cake and yellow cake that comes out of a box.
* Any recipe that refers to any of the above Hrm. Outside of the Campbell's soup thing, I am not quite sure I would use any of those in a recipe, mostly because I am rather baffled as to how one naturally integrates jello in a recipe.
* English food unless it's (A) nouveau English or (B) Indian I really like the shepard pie things. And yorkshire pudding (it is so strange! It's all puffy!). I really want to try plum pudding and figgy pudding some time, from years of reading about "traditional" Christmas.
* McDonald's. Julia Child made it briefly okay to like McDonald's fries, but then they changed the recipe. I read Fast Food Nation and decided I was never going to eat McDonald's again. Sometimes I eat Taco Bell and KFC, because for some reason they are not quite as associated with the fast food hamburger image, but, ugh. I do really like going to other countries and seeing what their McDonald's are like. In Taiwan, the McDonald's are serving bien dang (boxed lunches) of rice and chicken leg and veggies, just like the cheap lunch places around, to compete. They also have soft serve green tea ice cream with sweet red beans mixed in, omg best thing ever.
* Anything made with curry powder Haven't used it, but I really like Japanese-style curry made from those cubes of curry. Mmmm. Curry.
* Ditto ditto garlic powder It tastes really good on fries, mixed with pepper. In Taiwan, there was a period when all the McDonald's would pass out little packets of flavored powder (best combination is garlic and pepper), and you'd pour them into your bag of fries and shake it really hard. Voila! Garlic fries!