Pringles: An Existential Question

A friend of mine recently departed on leave from South Sudan after spending several weeks carrying out aid work. During her time there she witnessed plenty of hardship and suffering, sharing in the day-to-day activities and working side-by-side with the people of this newly formed country.  On her UN flight home she was offered a choice—a simple one, but after many weeks of lentils and rice perhaps a significant one for her.  She ponders:

Existential question: I live in the world’s newest country. On a UN flight today, there was an option to buy Pringles, which I promptly ordered. The flight attendant offered me “cheesy cheese” or “original” flavors. My colleague and I ordered one of each. It turns out that “original”  is actually salt and vinegar here. This begs the question: in a new country, who determines that sea salt and vinegar flavor is “original”? What are the implications of this flavor conundrum? Is this a painful gastronomical residue of British colonialism?

In the grand scheme of things this is a pretty insignificant thought, a lighthearted conundrum for someone who was given a simple choice to entice her taste buds after many weeks of bland lentils and rice.  However, it raises an interesting question: who gets to decide what “original” is? And why do they change it for different regions?

I grew up in Britain, with the same “original” Pringles as the US, so I don’t think the UK had any influential factor here (although s&v is my personal favorite.)  But the same question could be asked for other regions around the world: what determines an “original” palate from nation to nation; it’s not as if lightly salted is defined to a specific region or salt & vinegar has any agricultural prevalence…why do Germans prefer red pepper, Americans plain, Indonesians barbecue and Austrians garlic?

(Photo: Pringles)

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The Top 10 Craziest Street Foods in the World

Editor’s Note: This article is brought to you by Rease Kirchner of TheFlyingFugu.com, a team of foodie writers delivering a menu of delights to your inbox: daring delicacies, foodie travel tips and easy recipes to re-create in your own world kitchen. Follow the Fugu on Twitter @TheFlyingFugu.

For our money, we’d say street food is usually just as delicious as fancier restaurant fare (if not more so). And we’re not just talking about sandwiches and hot dogs. Take a look at the ten wackiest street food finds from around the globe — each one actually a very common find in one particular corner of the earth.

10. Fruit with Chili Powder — Mexico

You may think it’s odd to put something spicy on something sweet, but Mexicans do it all the time. It is very common to pick up fruit in a bowl or on a stick with some spicy chili powder sprinkled on top. Think of it as a twist on the sweet and salty combo — Mexico has sweet and spicy instead! (Photo: Spotreporting)

9. Chicken Feet — China

These grilled feet may look disturbingly similar to a human hand, but don’t worry, they actually come from a chicken. The meat is described as a bit chewier than a chicken leg might be. On the street, they are generally served grilled with some spices, on a stick or just in a basket. (Photo: Whologwhy)

8. Bugs on a Stick — Thailand

In Thailand,insects like crickets, grasshoppers and worms are fried up, shoved on a stick and served up to anyone with a rumbling tummy. The taste varies by the insect and the spices used to flavor them. In general, the insects are crunchy on the outside and a little soft on the inside. Mmm…soft and flavorful bug guts. (Photo: Star5112)

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Eggs a la Africa

OK, I know I said earlier this week that Tanzania doesn’t have an awful lot of food to write home about, but there is one dish you really do need to know about. Actually, it’s pretty much the de facto national dish of Tanzania and I have to declare that it is pretty damn amazing.

Anywhere you go in this country, you’ll see little makeshift stands along the side of the road, generally stocked with just two things:

1) A giant, wok-like bowl set over a fire, perpetually cooking up a new batch of french fries in a big ol’ pool of oil.

2) A crate of farm-fresh eggs.

So what exactly do they make at all of these mysterious egg and french fry stands?

They make a muthafuckin french fry omelet, fool! Doesn’t require much of an explanation, really. You just throw the french fries in a pan and re-fry them with a bunch of eggs poured around them. Depending on how fancy your roadside stand is, your french fry omelet might be served with a slaw of fresh vegetables, just with a few spicy pili pili peppers on the side, or sometimes you just get salt and ketchup. Also depending on how fancy the stand is, you might get a toothpick or two to break it apart and eat it with, or you might simply have to go ahead and barehand it. In Swahili it’s known as chips mayai (chips and eggs), and it can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner, midday snack, midnight snack — really, it’s always acceptable, and I know exactly what I’ll be doing next time I find myself at home with leftover french fries.

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A Breakfast Revelation: BananaCado

Jambo, America. As some of you know, I have spent the past six weeks avoiding winter in Tanzania, East Africa. I haven’t blogged much, because I have to say that the food here is, for the most part, not crazy enough to write home about (no bacon-donut-fried-chicken sandwiches in Africa for some reason). However, this continent does have something that America most certainly does not: the very best fruit salesmen in the world.

You never have to look far to find a streetside stand selling avocados, mangoes, papayas, and all kinds of other tropical fruit. But the best part is that the fruit salesmen will always help you pick out the most ideal piece of fruit, depending on when you want to eat it. On my first avocado buying mission the day that I got here, I used my extremely limited Swahili (OK fine, I used mostly sign language), to tell the salesman that I wanted three avocados. He promptly picked out three avocados for me and, using sign language and Swahinglish, handed them to me in order of ripeness, instructing me that “this one is today, this one tomorrow, this one the day after tomorrow.” How great is that! The same thing happened when I returned to buy two mangoes — I was given one perfectly ripe one, and one almost perfectly ripe one. Can this happen in every supermarket in the world, please?

Anyway, this is all meant to lead up to a story about the craziest, most amazing (but really kind of simple) sandwich that I’ve eaten in Africa. On a trek through the beautiful, remote Usambara mountains, our guide introduced us to a surprising breakfast: one half of an avocado, plus one half of a banana, with a hefty helping of salt, rolled up in a chapati (Indian-style bread). I never thought to mix banana and avo before, but it’s really an ingenious combo–two rich, hearty fruits that play surprisingly well together, for a sweet, salty and savory sandwich. Paired with a slice of mango, I’d say it’s damn near a perfect breakfast.

Not sure whether or not it would be better with bacon.

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Cheesesteaks Gone Wild!

Being a native Philadelphian, I wouldn’t dare say that we got bored with cheesesteaks (not possible), but we’re always looking for ways to make good things better — and easier to eat in a social setting with a fork. These seven insane creations mean you can spend a weekend in Philadelphia and eat a different kind of cheesesteak spinoff at every meal.

1. Cheesesteak Fries

This happens to be my personal favorite of all the non-traditional cheesesteak varieties. The wonderful, wonderful combination was introduced to me by a former roommate when we went out to watch the Phillies at The Fieldhouse. Cheesesteak meat, fried onions and cheez whiz are piled on these long, crinkle cut fries that hold the meat and cheese so perfectly. I mean, doesn’t a fried potato increase the goodness of anything by ten thousand percent?

2. The Philly Taco

Also known as South Street Sushi (which I prefer…I mean, it’s not really a taco, right?) is a legend. So what is it? Head to South Street in Philly a buy a gigantic slice of Lorenzo’s pizza. Then head to neighboring Ishkabibble’s and order cheese fries, cheese on the side. This taco is best pulled-off when with a group. Enter Jim’s cheesesteak: send one person to order a cheesesteak, send the rest of the group upstairs with the remaining ingredients.

To assemble: Cover your cheesesteak with fries, and the accompanying cheese, then wrap the whole thing, taco-style, in the slice of pizza. Consume.

I guess it can be any cheesesteak, pizza and fries combination, but these three places are all a block away from each other, and Lorenzo’s slices are just the right size for the sandwich.

More >> Watch the Philly Taco How-To Video.

3. Cheesesteak Egg Rolls

It might look like vomit, but this is a must-eat. Hell, I live in Philadelphia and I find myself craving these weekly. Imagine all of the goodness of a cheesesteak (meat, cheese, fried onions, maybe peppers and mushrooms)….deep fried in a crispy wrapper. You can find these at many restaurants in the city, but my favorite version is from Old Eagle Tavern — served with sriracha ketchup. More on the version pictured — from Smokin’ Betty’s — at la vie en route.

Photo: (la vie en route)

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A Consummated Love Affair: Eggs and Potato Chips

potato chip eggs

Without a doubt potato chips are my favorite snack food. Cheese (extremely sharp cheddar) is next and a combination of a plate of Herr’s Ripples with cheddar, spicy mustard and a pickle is my ultimate combo. With all this love, however, I’ve never incorporated chips into my cooking. (Though I  always wanted to try Herr’s Potato Chip Cookie.)

This was until I saw DC food writer Monica Bhide tweet about chips in an Indian-spiced egg dish. Holy Crap! How have I never thought of combining my two favorite things to eat. Finally! My love for salty crunch and creamy egg can be together at last! And because I now work from home full time I decided to try this out last week for lunch.

Egg Over Green Chili Potato Chips

Because I cooked this on the fly I didn’t have all of Monica’s set ingredients, which you can check out at her site. Here’s how I handled the situation.

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Pork and Nail Polish

photo-49

I stopped the paper trail. When I lazily let my Gourmet subscription expire, I also stopped receiving Bon Appetit. Coincidentally, my dad stopped getting Cooking Light. I went from getting at most four magazines (Cook’s Illustrated expired just previously) down to tired zeros.

I realized that tired wasn’t an issue though. There was no way every month that I could flip through 4 mags. I saved the mags that were never opened. And now I have a pretty clear collection of just-old publications to scroll through. I forgot how much fun it is to flip through pages of carefully worded articles and recipes.

Blogs are pretty perfect. Perfect for their searchability. Perfect for their brevity. Not perfect, however, in the physicality. Which is why in this drunken typing state I present to you: an ad that is geared to women, possibly  a sexist ad, but that I don’t care because I love nail polish that much.I’ll also see it a real live and flesh magazine. Crap. Not making sense. Sorry.

I miss magazines.

Advertisement language and commentary [Tigers and Strawberries]

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