Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Way too much excitement about good food

A Lebanese restaurant opened up a few weeks ago very near the school. Yesterday I was on my way back from a training session and I was going to swing by Arby's or somewhere in search of a chicken breast when I saw the Lebanese place and I did the fastest U-turn you've ever seen. I went in and ordered some chicken shawarma to go. While I waited, I was chatting with the owner. Apparently he got here from Lebanon about 20 years ago. I told him how excited I was to see the restaurant and how much the area needed something beyond Chinese and fast food. We also got to talking about languages and how hard it is to keep up with a language you just don't use much (I do still wish I could pick back up on my Arabic studies someday!). Anyway, I got back to the school just in time to teach my last class of the day, so the shawarma had to wait a little while, but when I finally got to it it was fantastic. The best was the hummus--I've been eating stuff out of the refrigerator section for so long (and that's not horrid) that I really had forgotten how great a fresh batch can taste.

The thing I'm most excited about is that going into state testing season, I have a restaurant like this so close that I can call and order something to run pick up after school before my all-nighters so maybe I won't have to subsist on fast food and granola bars for two months starting in mid-April. There is a Santa Claus!

Anyway, since I'm food blogging at the moment, I might as well fess up that here it is, 12:15 am, and I am currently prepping pork roast for the crock pot. I decided to try my Chinese/Indian Pork Chops in slow roasted form, i.e. not hacked into chops but rather kept more like roasts and pre-browned in a sauté pan then thrown into the slow cooker. I'm doing that with about half of the pork loin; I'm still trying to figure out how I want to cook the other half--traditional rosemary and garlic, or maybe curry? I don't know what I'm in the mood for. And let's face it. If I were really in the mood for any kind of roast pork at this time of night, that might be a sign of trouble. Anyway. Some version of the rosemary theme will probably win. Maybe cooked with some lemon teabags? Who knows.

Today the coolest package arrived from Amazon. Last week I read about and instantly purchased The Silver Spoon - an Italian cookbook translated into English (with American measurements and suggestions for American ingredient equivalents--sounds lame, why don't I just get a cookbook in Italian, but really, this will be much more usable). The whole thing is just a testament to how bipolar Italian cooking is--either it is simple, and absolutely beautiful and flavorful in its simplicity, or it is complex and (dare I say?) weird, and (even?) overdone. Thankfully, most of it falls in the simplicity category.

Last word on food for the evening: If you haven't yet, and if you're the least bit interested in history and food, a must-read is Salt: A World History. One of the top three books, and certainly the funnest, of the books I read last year. The book even prompted me to buy a can of herring. Not that I have dared to open it yet. But it sits there, waiting for me to engage in the miracle that is tinned herring in salt...

Yeah. It's late. I'll shut up now. Good night.

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