shrimp paste
Red Means Tasty

Travel this Sunday included a trip to the Ramsey County compost heap, to Dragon Star Oriental Foods, and to the Jamba Juice franchise on Snelling & Grand. This was a short trip, as I just had a few items to find, and I had a very smelly and rustling pile of decaying branches in the back of my Versa. Why is a trip that included an overpriced green smoothie worthy of a post, today? This great story & project on Foodscape Mapping has inspired me to map the cooking & dietary habits of my household. The future is now. Well, I’m just going to dabble a little, and try a dry run in outline format, before attempting to actually map our food.

black from tula tomato
A Tomato from Russia

Ingredient Gathering

Seeds for the tomatoes at right came from the Seed Bank in Petaluma, when we went to California last August. The resulting fruit came from our backyard! So did the arugula and Anaheim peppers that we put on a pizza, later in the weekend.

On Saturday afternoon, as we returned from Rochester, we stopped at El Burrito Mercado, in our own West Side of St. Paul neighborhood, for some barbecue fixings.

On the Sunday afternoon trip, I visited Dragon Star Oriental Foods in Central St. Paul, for rice vinegar, and possibly also some bonito flakes and sakura ebi shrimp. I was in the St. Paul neighborhood and craving fruit and veggies, so I stopped by Jamba Juice for an “Apple ‘n Greens” drink.

Sunday afternoon’s grocery trip was short because after brunch, Steve and I stopped at the Wedge Co-op in Uptown Minneapolis, where I’ve been a member since I lived a block away from it, since 2002 or so. I had coupons to use up, and we had our bi-weekly grocery trip list ready.

On Sunday evening we made pizza, and the pizza dough was made from a sourdough starter that I received in July from King Arthur Flour, in Vermont. The pepper flakes and Za’atar spices that went onto the pizza were acquired some time last year at Penzey’s Spices, on Crocus Hill, St. Paul.

Dining Out

For lunch on Saturday I was in Rochester at a Med City Mafia fundraiser.

On Sunday, we headed over to Linwood Hills, on the western edge of Minneapolis, to treat our friend Ben to a great meal at Tilia. We weren’t disappointed.

Cuisines

The Dragon Star trip was almost 100% for some Japanese cooking: I was thinking of using some of our radish leaves to make furikake; I’d already used the radishes to make some Japanese-style pickled radishes. and some of the greens in a Genoan pesto. Would Italians put radish leaves in a pesto? I’m not sure – but it goes really well with prosciutto from not Italy but Iowa.

tiki cake
From Polynesia via Phoenix (and also, very likely, via a French pastry chef)

Saturday’s picnic lunch was fittingly made-in-the-USA: hot dogs, Cheetos, and a homemade-by-a-rollergirl’s mom cookie that resembled these.

My brunch on Sunday was a Mexican dish called chilaquiles. Ben had a lobster Benedict. Surprisingly, the Benedict did not originate in England. Steve had a fairly French omelet. Our super strong coffee was likely a French roast.

On Tuesday evening. Steve prepared a most fragrant and succulent Moroccan chicken dish, which included stewed onions, fried almonds, prunes, cinnamon, and turmeric. I discovered that the lingering smell from that is not a bad one to encounter upon waking, the following morning. Yum! We’d forgotten to prepare couscous for it, but we did sop up the delicious sauce with some store-bought Indian Naan bread.

Ingredient Origin

We’re growing some “black” tomatoes, a variety that originated in Russia called Black from Tula (see photo above, at right).

We put Turkish Aleppo Pepper flakes, as well as the middle eastern Za’atar blend, onto our pizza. Penzey’s, our supplier, is a Wisconsin company.

At Dragon Star, I also picked up some Chinese rice vinegar – it’s my preferred salad vinegar.

Whoah!

I’ve just realized that this project, even on this scale without a map, could go on forever, due to our full larder and all the near and far places I normally shop for foods (thank you, Nuts.com, CossettaMike the Butcher, and even Byerly’s). Regrettably it means that my carbon footprint is large, due to our insatiable quest for tasty, exotic flavors and fun kitchen challenges. Still, extending it to include maps and friends, this type of project could be a really fun party activity for when my climbing friends regather at the end of this summer. And some of them have been in Italy and Germany!

Additionally, this exercise (along with today’s tasty lunch of Moroccan leftovers) provides some inspiration and motivation to travel further away, to try some of those cuisines from an original source. We’re overdue for another Italy trip. And very overdue for a trip to Turkey or Thailand!

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