Home cooking ain’t so good

Are you like me? Just hating your own cooking and sick of the same few dishes that you have been serving up endlessly over the last year of this pandemic? For someone who used to eat out quite a lot this has been a real penance. You have probably bumped into me at Safeway wandering aimlessly around looking for inspiration. Sigh.

Then I get to thinking about going away and not having to cook a meal for a week, a month??? Doesn’t that sound wonderful? I promise I will never ever complain again about any kind of meal that is served to me that I didn’t have to cook. Promise.

Hmmmm well hang on Lesley – don’t be too quick to give away the world. Remember that there have been some meals both here and around the world that you didn’t want to eat – even though you hadn’t cooked it. Alright, alright! I know.

Portugal – now dried fish is common around the world but the Portuguese have a special dish called bacalao. It is salted dried cod and very popular – if you like salted dried fish that is! I was familiar with this dish so when it was passed around at the table I politely declined. My husband however was misled by the casserole topping of sliced potatoes. I think he thought it was a Lancashire Hotpot. There was no way I could warn him – honest! He is not a fishy person at the best of times. As our hostess dug into the dish the very recognisable salty cod smell hit him. His smile faded quickly and I squeezed his hand under the table as a sign of moral support. He is very polite and ate it all. Poor man.

Britain – Coming from Britain I am pretty used to most of the local favourites – things like Black Pudding (which is really just blood sausage) are some of my favourites. Very strange actually taking into account my squeamish eating habits – but then I was eating Black Pudding before I could speak. There are however some traditional Brit foods which I really would not eat under any circumstances at all. If you have guessed Tripe and Onions then you have guessed right. Did you know that there are four different types of tripe from each of the cow’s stomachs. I know, hey? This just seems to be TMI (for those of you who don’t know this other language that means too much information).

Japan – I love the Japanese people. They are so polite and kind. But visiting Japan as part of a formal tour group can have its challenges in the form of the famous Traditional Bento Box. These boxes are lovingly prepared and are really works of art – but what the heck is in it? We Brits are very traditional – meat and three veg – but what have we here?

OK I recognise the sushi and the salmon. I love smoked salmon but not sure about the raw fish thing.

Scotland – now for someone who is squeamish about food I can tell you from experience that haggis is delicious and well worth a try. But it does sound horrible – “It’s no lie that haggis is comprised of sheep intestines or pluck, with offal. To be precise, a sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs are mixed with onion, oatmeal, suet, salt, stock, and spices. Traditionally, these items are blended together inside the casing of a sheep’s stomach. “The Culture Trip”. I am told that my first taste of haggis was as a child living in Glasgow – I don’t remember that – but I do remember an excellent haggis I enjoyed at a friend’s house in Harare, Zimbabwe of all places. These Scots get around a bit!

Brisbane, Australia – A visit to Brisbane would not be complete without a seafood dinner. There are a whole range of restaurants along the sea front so you can sit at a table with the water lapping at the deck and try something local like a Moreton Bay Bug. My goodness when I saw that on the menu I was attracted and repelled all at the same time. I asked the waiter who explained to me in his Ozzie twang that it was sort of like a crayfish and that they catch them locally. I must have looked doubtful because he then bobbed off to the kitchen and brought back a raw one for me to check out. Not sure if that was the ideal sales pitch but by this time I was committed one way or another.

It looked a lot better cooked than raw – pink shell and nice flesh – and I least I can say I went to Brisbane and tasted one of the local delights (if that’s the right name)!

Canada – yes we should include our home country and being an immigrant, there were some new foods that I hadn’t come across before. Of course many of the Canadian favourites are derived from foods that immigrants have brought to Canada over the years. There is one however I must confess I have not tasted and that is poutine! It’s not because I don’t like chips (as the British call them) or gravy or cheese (even cheese curds) – it’s just that I always seem to be on a perpetual diet (like most women) so try to avoid these foods. I am told however that once you are bitten by the poutine bug it is hard to shake off. So for the poutine fans here are some interesting facts – courtesy of MacLeans

1. It is widely accepted that poutine was invented in 1957 when a trucker asked Fernand Lachance to add cheese curds to his fries in Warwick, Que.

2. “Poutine” is Quebec slang for “a mess.”

3. The average male would have to jog 2.5 hours to burn off the 1,422 calories contained in the country-style poutine (bacon, chicken, gravy, fries, onions and mushrooms) available nationwide through Smoke’s Poutinerie.

4. In 1970s New York and New Jersey, poutine was served as a late-night side dish at clubs. They called
it “disco fries.”

Major League Eater Pat “Deep Dish” Bertoletti, left, from Chicago is declared the winner of the World Poutine Eating championship in Toronto after eating 5.9 kilos of poutine in 10 minutes on Saturday, May 22, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

5. At a 2010 poutine-eating contest in Toronto, the winner, Pat “Deep Dish” Bertoletti of Chicago (pictured above) ate 5.9 kg of poutine.

Does he look kinda sick?

By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.

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