Archive for the ‘Eating Animals’ Category

Learning to Speak Spanish Part I – Querer

lengua in traditional colombian salsa (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I learned Spanish verbs in this order: to want, to kiss, to eat. And I learned them not because I had a sudden interest in educating myself or for any other practical purpose, but for the only reason anybody learns anything when there isn’t any reason to.

We met buying jewelry. Or rather, I was buying. He was selling, working with a Mexican who made the pieces – rings, necklaces, and bracelets shaped from silverware. I thought – it’s me! Food and jewelry combined! – and I don’t know, I was feeling exuberant and chatty and the weather was uncharacteristically balmy for Berlin and we started talking. And now I’m learning to speak Spanish.

Recently, I’ve spent a lot of time practicing at the source, so to speak. After spending Christmas in the US, we flew to Colombia for three weeks to visit his family. On our first real night in Bogotá, he said, “my uncle is coming for dinner,” and I thought, You can do this. It’s good practice. Your five Spanish classes are totally sufficient to say ‘Hi! I am fine! My Spanish is bad!’ But apparently, when you say, “my uncle” in Colombia, it means, “my entire extended family.”

So that night, I met everyone within a hundred mile radius – aunts, uncles, cousins, godparents, an uncle’s wife’s sister. And maybe my Spanish wasn’t as good as I thought, because “No hablo mucho español” didn’t get me very far. I was asked a number of questions I’m not sure I answered correctly, learned to dance vallenato, and had my first taste of Colombian cooking – lechona, pig skin stuffed with pork, rice, peas, potatoes and spices and cooked in a brick oven all day until the skin is crackled and the rice suffused with the fragrance of pork. » Continue reading this post…

Stew, Baby, Stew: Hungarian Goulash

Hungarian goulash (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

How can you go wrong with a recipe that has both bacon and wine? You can’t, as I discovered making this variation on Hungarian Goulash. Authenticity aside, this hearty, heavy winter stew was exactly what I needed coming back to Berlin after two weeks on a beach in the north of Colombia.

Here in Berlin, where I find myself wearing all of the clothes I own at one time, there’s no action too petty to warm up. Like showering multiple times a day because it’s the warmest place in the apartment. Or reneging on sunlight because it just might be warmer with the shutters closed. Or begging my boyfriend never to leave the bed just so that it’s always warm when I want to go to sleep.

veggies for Hungarian goulash (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

beef chuck in the pot (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

About a month or so ago, my uncle sent me an email, which is worth reprinting:

i am making soup as I type.

i have some smoked ribs i made a month or so ago that i just won’t eat so i figured i would cook them off the bones.  of course, I have no recipe as I just do jungle cooking – onion, celery (love it for flavor), green pepper, black pepper, bay leaves, garlic cloves, Cajun seasoning, and some beef bullion …i will let it cook for four or five hours and then taste and add seasonings as required.  tomorrow after it cooks overnight, i will peel the meat off the bones and add some carrots… finally, i will add some noodles and make some fresh bread to serve with the soup…

soup is a wonderful way to get rid of leftovers while creating a new meal …kind of like making wine out of water and that friend yeast thing Mom use to raise…just kept going and going… can see why humans still make pots of soup and just keep adding to it (no this tradition didn’t stop after the mid-evil ages… there are billions who are thousands of years behind us and still live this way – look at WV… yuk yuk…)

p.s. » Continue reading this post…

How to Be Southern: Classic Fried Chicken

how to make fried chicken (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I want to be a Southern grandma when I grow up. I want to have a sweet drawl and spoil my grandchildren and make fried chicken every day.

Not just any fried chicken. This fried chicken. This crisp on the outside, meltingly soft on the inside, salty and a little bit spicy fried chicken.

I love when you have one of those moments where you’ve built something up so high that you know it can never be as good again – like a trip to your favorite childhood city or heroin – and then it’s just as great as you remember. The heroin is hearsay, I promise.

eggy goodness (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

fried chicken (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

fried chicken (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

This fried chicken is like that – Jamie and I made it a few summers ago (two?) in Brooklyn. We’d had one too many sweet tea vodka cocktails on the back porch while we gossiped like old ladies about everyone we knew and forgot the chicken we’d left to brine up in the kitchen. Late in the evening, when the summer sun was already starting to set, we remembered that the actual goal of the evening was to fry the chicken, not just bathe it. We swept our thoroughly brined chicken through buttermilk and a dredge of flour, salt, pepper, and Jamaican jerk seasoning, then fried it in a pan of hot oil. A crisp crust cracking open to reveal a steamy pocket of juicy meat – it was the best fried chicken I’ve ever had.

Jamie came to visit me in Berlin for Thanksgiving this year. I guess you can’t call two years in a row a true tradition, but it already feels like one. Of course we roasted a turkey and made all the traditional fixin’s – and this year, Jamie even brought a bag of marshmallows and a can of cranberry stuffing across the ocean – but what I really, really wanted to re-create was that fried chicken. » Continue reading this post…

What I Learned in Brooklyn: Chicken Tacos with Habanero Salsa and Red Cabbage & Pepper Slaw

tacos with roast chicken and habanero salsa recipe (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

They may not be authentic or conventional. But as long as they’re made with 100% corn tortillas (preferably pressed in the back of a tortilla factory in Brooklyn), they’re real.

When my friend Akiko asked what I wanted her to bring me from America, the only thing I could think of was real tortillas. Not big, floppy flour mats, but small, imperfectly round discs with traces of char.

I’m not a taco Nazi, and I think there are many ways to build a beautiful taco. Often, I don’t even think it’s necessary to include traditional taco ingredients. In Germany this is hard to do anyway, since The Great Cilantro Hunt is a time-consuming task and limes are not, as they were in Brooklyn, ten for $1. But we make do with what we have – and though the tacos I made a few weeks ago on burrito wraps were good, these tacos, with the Brooklyn tortillas Akiko brought me, were great.

spicy habaneros (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

non-traditional tacos (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

roast chicken and vegetables (Eat Me. Drink Me.) » Continue reading this post…

The Best Things Come in… Well, You Know: Patatas Bravas & Roast Vegetable Antipasta

oh hey, delicious tapas (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I like little things. Maybe this is because I myself am little. Or maybe it’s because there’s something absolutely endearing about holding a button-sized penguin in the palm of your hand. Penguins. I don’t know.

This is also perhaps why I find tapas particularly appealing. They are small. Though messy, you can hold them in your hands. Also, they are delicious.

dates and prunes wrapped in bacon (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

For a long time, my favorite restaurant was a Spanish tapas place in Bremen called Aioli. I was thirteen the first time we were there – my family and a group of college students doing a summer study program with my parents. We sat wedged together at a big table, sneaking bits of fried octopus and potato slices, anchovies, dates wrapped in bacon, marinated eggplant slices. Picking food from platters family style, because that summer, we were like family.

The restaurant was snuck into the Schnoor viertel, one of the oldest sections of town. Like everything in the Schnoor, where the roads were as wide as a handspan and the buildings all falling in on themselves, we could never find the restaurant again if we were looking for it. Just every now and then, we’d turn a corner and its friendly yellow façade would be waiting there to welcome us inside, promising fresh sangria heaped with fruits, dim blue lights, wooden tables, and slathers of garlic.

I once told a friend of mine about this favorite restaurant. Apparently, he spent the entire conversation under the impression that I’d said “topless restaurant.”

Oh, tapas, tapas, tapas.

tapas everywhere (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I made tapas with a friend from work this week. I’ve never actually made tapas before, just happily stuffed my face with them whenever I got the chance. But making them is lovely – and possibly the best sort of meal to cook with someone else who knows how to cook. » Continue reading this post…

Beautiful, Beautiful Bacon

bacon, once upon a time in America (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I miss bacon.

There is no bacon in Germany.

There is speck. There is pork belly.

But there is no bacon.

Bacon is what love is made of. Bacon is salt and fat, gnawed-upon muscle with crunch. Lips licked of grease and an old-timey taste of applewood or hickory. Bacon is hot Christmas morning and hungover brunch. It is the marriage of egg and potato hash, the slash of red on a diner’s cream plate. Bacon is being fed in bed and being too small to reach the stove. Bacon is getting your hand smacked for stealing strips still hot and popping. Bacon is burning your tongue. Bacon is burning your tongue again. Bacon converts vegetarians or is what vegetarians dream of even when they don’t dream. The scent of it sinks into clothes like the damp whiskey smell of campfire seep.

Like a hazy summer morning on the East coast. Without bacon there is no baked beans, there is no avocado sandwich, there are no dates wrapped in bacon blankets set on a plate in a restaurant in Seville, next to tiny octopi in oil, olives, and chopitos. Bacon is the what I make for you because I like you and the what you make for me because you like me. It’s also the what I make for myself when no one’s looking. Germany, oh land of beers and brats, oh land of cheeses and sausages, spätzle and baked breads – what I wouldn’t give for bacon. » Continue reading this post…

A Fish Out of Water Springs Back In: Roast Fish with Tomatoes, Lemon & Fennel

fish tail just waiting for roasting (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I wonder if I can run some water over it, I said, as I held the fish in my hand.

Then I realized what I’d said.

And truthfully, I can’t say for certain whether I said this or thought this, since, living alone, one develops a lingual fluidity. Since there’s no one there to hear what you say except yourself, the words you say aloud and the words that stay inside your head reach exactly the same audience. Which means, you may quietly slip into insanity without noticing that it’s happened.

I often find myself speaking out loud as I’m unchaining my bike in my building’s courtyard. The courtyard is a gray space between my apartment, where it’s ok to talk to myself, and the outside world – where it’s not. There, in that small patch of stone and weeds and rows of bikes which in winter always look a bit brittle, it’s as though a switch flips in my mind, one that says, hey, it’s not ok to talk to yourself out loud anymore. Of course, I usually say that sentence out loud. It’s followed by: Um, you just said that out loud. Then: Wait, you just said that out loud too. Followed by: Ok, you really need to stop talking to yourself out loud. Ad infinitum.

I’m hoping to curb this habit now that I’m a working woman once again (isn’t that a lovely phrase?). Every day, from 9-6, I sit inside a neo-industrial building near Checkpoint Charlie and write advertisements for a company’s online marketing department. Then I bike home and write more. (Perhaps the slip into insanity has already occurred?)

What’s nice about actually going to work – versus schlepping myself to a coffee shop for five hours where I pretend to write – is that it forces me to interact with people for a large portion of my day, where I apparently fulfill an unmeasured daily public communication quota which prevents me from talking to myself. » Continue reading this post…