This week’s Friday Five question comes to us courtesy of Adrienne Martini of martinimade.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about food. It’s something I think about a lot, granted, but this is more about food and place. For me, these connections are intense and evocative. The question: if you could travel back to any place you’ve lived (or, in a pinch, visited) and have just one meal in each location that reminded you of the time you spent there, what would your top five stops and dishes be?
Wow, for me it’s become that way as well. For a long time I walked around as in if in a haze, never thinking much about food, nor appreciating it. For some reason, I found that among my Asian friendsbe they Asian-Canadians or immigrants from Asiareally cared about food. I mean, it was a big deal to them. Sometimes I would get invited to dinner parties and slowly I started to catch on.
But the real wakeup call was hanging around with my friend Helen (the taller woman in this picture). For Helen, life was multifaceted in a way I’d never learned to live my life. She had all kinds of places where she could feed her soul, finding small pleasures in things like a cup of tea, a bowl of lentils-and-rice that reminded me of the stuff you got on the side at Montreal’s many Lebanese restaurants… sometimes it was just a cup of tea with the right amount of milk and honey in it. For Helen food wasn’t, I realized, something that mattered only on special occasions. Food was intimately connected with life, with quality of life even, and cooking seemed for her to be some kind of ongoing experiment or, perhaps, some kind of endless, sedate, and quotidian but nonetheless satisfying, adventure.
So it was that in Montreal I began to learn that food mattered. And coming to Korea has only strengthened that conviction. I don’t long for many foods, but curries and the odd hamburger grilled at my parents’ house on the barbecue… those things I miss. I love the food in Korea, of course. It’s slimmed me down amazingly and I find there’s a wide enough variation to keep me occasionally surprised and generally satisfied. But where would I go again to eat something I’ve eaten before?
Hm. I tend these days to want to go tonew places and eat new foods, but… I’ll give it a shot:
- Bangkok, for banana-and-chicken curry with coconut milk. I actually tasted this first on Koh Samui, but I hated that island and I am sure I could get it made just as good in Bangkok. I have only visited Bangkok, but the coconut milk curries were astonighingly good.
- My parents’ house, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, for a barbecue with smokies (smoked sausages) and hamburgers. I don’t eat this kind of food very often in Korea, but at my folks’ place there is something very satisfying about those homemade burgers. And I get to grill them myself, since barbecue duty is usually my job.
- Edmonton, Alberta, for a Creamsicle-flavoured cheesecake at the Cheesecake Cafe. This cheesecake is that good. I am not kidding.
- Montreal, for some of that wonderful greasy and cheap shish taouk at the place I always used to go to on Rue Ste-Catherine. I forget the name of the shop, but there were two locations on that street, and the bigger one always gave you better food. I came to really like Lebanese food in Montreal.
- Iksan, for dalk doritang. This is a very spicy chicken stew with reddish sauce and carrots, potatoes, and all kinds of other goodies. It’s made in a loot of places in Iksan, but the best I’ve found is at Wonkwang Bunshik next to Shindong Jae-Il Apartments. (Someone recently told me that Iksan is famous for this dish, but I have only heard that in Jeonju, never in Iksan.) Seeing as this trip is only half an hour away, it’s the most likely to happen anytime soon. I hope it happens before the end of December, in fact!
Looking back on my answers, I get the distinct impression I need to travel more, since most of these places are in Canada. We’ll see if I manage that in the coming holiday, because my ticket bookings got screwed up… but anyway, I still feel as if I have sampled so many kinds of foods, even if I haven’t managed to travel much. Hmmm.