Soul Food

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annis
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Soul Food

Post by annis » Mon Jul 04, 2005 3:56 am

For 11 years I lived in Texas. I wasn't there by my decision in the first place, and unlike my younger sisters, I never took to the place. I couldn't handle the heat, the fire ants and hostile shrubbery (mesquite'll mess you up good), nor the - with apologies to Baptists - Southern Baptists and associated Evangelicals asking me what I considered rude and intrusive questions about my religion (always trouble in my case).

Eventually I came back to my home territory, Wisconsin, land of frigid winters, well-defined seasons, a landscape of mixed prairie and limestone cliffs and hills, to my people, farmers who can drive a tractor at a 45 degree angle along a hill without freaking out, and who make their long 'O' sound without the /w/ off-glide (the characteristic feature of the dialect in the movie Fargo).

But I had friends in Texas, and I learned a love of Southern food (Texas isn't quite The South, but it shares with it many cultural traits).

A member of my circle of friends, her husband and their charismatic little boy are moving to Alabama, so we had a party for them. It was decided all southern food would be involved. I was put in charge of the greens.

If there's anything better than a well-made mess o' greens I just don't know what it is. (For non-US-citizens: collard greens are a leafy relative of cabbage. It's not a delicate vegetable, and takes 20-30 minutes cooking minimum. It is not, however, as thuggish as kale. The usual Southern preparation involves remote cuts of pork, usually smoked. Some use straight fatback, however.)

Sometimes here I've raved about exotic foods. Jeff has commented on the proper approach to Indian food. More directly related to the greens, Kopio and I have chatted about the edgier parts of pig. And making collard greens got me to thinking about the frankly magical use of sometimes marginal ingredients that so often define the heart of a regional cuisine. In my home range, smelt, a disgusting little fish, transformed, can be the center of a community event.

So what food defines your home territory?
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Post by Carola » Mon Jul 04, 2005 4:23 am

We seem to eat a lot of Asian food (not to mention a strong Italian & Greek influence) and have somehow translated this into a sort of Asian/Mediterranean mix! But one piece of very Australian food is the yabbie (or is it yabby? - it seems to exist in both spellings!) . It's a freshwater shellfish like a small fat lobster. Very tasty, once you get past the initial strange appearance. There is also a lot of interest in some of the "bush food" and having eaten kangaroo stuffed with native herbs and roasted over coals I can certainly recommend it! (This was very kindly done for us by the Aboriginal people while we were staying in central Australia).
Your comment about the long cooking time for the collard greens sounds like an Australian joke - to cook a galah (a kind of parrot) you boil it for 3 hours with an old boot, then you eat the boot! I know galahs are quite muscular but I don't know anyone who has ever eaten one!

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Post by Eureka » Thu Jul 07, 2005 8:03 am

You left out pie-floaters, Carola. :wink:

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Post by annis » Thu Jul 07, 2005 12:51 pm

Eureka wrote:You left out pie-floaters, Carola. :wink:
Just the name gives pause.
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Post by GlottalGreekGeek » Thu Jul 07, 2005 7:49 pm

Being a major metropolitan area, there are all kinds of food around here (I once ate food in an Afgani restaurant run by relatives of Karzai himself). To narrow the scope, I will just talk about my neighborhood, or rather neighborhoods since I'm on the border of two districts.

SUNSET DISTRICT : This is the residence of the middle class. One gets the impression that one is in a suburb, except the houses are too closely sandwiched together. There are all kinds of ethnicities here, along with representative restaurants. The largest and more influential group, in terms of influencing the neighborhood, are the several-generations-in-America Chinese. They have done far better than other groups at preserving their culture due to their bulk, but they have been in America long enough to diverge from mainstream Chinese culture (to what extent, I cannot tell you having never been in China).

There is a paticular area of the Sunset, which I call "Little Canton" where Cantonese overpowers English as the primary language (fortunately, anglophones like me can also get by). The local snack food is dim sum and tapioca drinks, as well as variously other Chinese-American treats one can hunt for in the grocery stores. The fortune cookie, which after all was invented in this city, is offered at every restaurant along with the tab. Being vegetarian, I only eat in the Buddhist restaurants which have all developed their own tofu and gluten based mock-meats. Having never eaten much meat, I cannot tell how authentic they taste, but many of them taste good.

HAIGHT-ASHBURY : There are two Haight streets : the Haight where the tourists go, and the Haight where the locals go. I ignore many of the buisnesses because they only sell, in my opinion, tourist junk. Restaurants are the places where these two Haight streets are most likely to merge. The places where I go, as a local, are a good Thai place, a pan-Asian noodle house, Escape from New York Pizza (with their creative Gourmet and U Say Potato pizzas), and occasionally an omelette place.

At home, I mostly eat variations on pasta, couscous, (brown) rice, bread, or veggie meats. My family gets most of its food from the local Korean groceries (which are very international in their scope) and Trader Joe's.

There are a few local plants growing in the city which are edible. My mother likes fennel, I occasionally take some redwood sorrel and miner's lettuce (after washing, of course), there are blackberries growing everywhere to be plucked and when the nasturshum (I don't know how to spell it since I only use the word orally) flowers are in bloom I take some of the nectar. It seems odd that there is actually food growing wild in the big city, but their primary nutritional value is vitamins and minerals.

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Post by mariek » Fri Jul 08, 2005 5:38 am

Geez, hard to say. I live in an area with a lot of diversity, it seems like you can find almost anything if you just knew where to look. I guess I eat/cook mostly Asian or Italian foods. And of course "American" food, whatever that is. :shock:

Sunset district: Are you talking about that little commercial strip on Irving? Or one on Noriega? I've never heard of an area of the Sunset called "Little Canton". :(

Haight: I remember going to a hole-in-the-wall sausage place next door to the Torenado. Can't remember the name of it though. :?

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Post by Geoff » Fri Jul 08, 2005 3:03 pm

hmmmm,

Soul Food AND mesquite? Somewhere near Waco?

Texas is great.

THere's nothing too exotic here though. My wife and I do like Greek food (go figure). Great resturaunt here called saffron Grill. Of course we have the best BBQ in the world Hard 8 Cafe.

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Post by GlottalGreekGeek » Fri Jul 08, 2005 8:38 pm

mariek wrote: Sunset district: Are you talking about that little commercial strip on Irving? Or one on Noriega? I've never heard of an area of the Sunset called "Little Canton". :(
I am the only one who calls it Little Canton - my invention. I am referring to Irving - the Noriega strip (if you mean the one in the 20-something avenues, if you mean another one I don't know it) is less lively and less Chinese.

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Post by annis » Fri Jul 08, 2005 9:08 pm

Geoff wrote:Soul Food AND mesquite? Somewhere near Waco?
I passed by Waco often on my way between suburbs of Dallas (especially the Land Of Gar) and Austin, where I went to college.
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Post by Kopio » Sat Jul 09, 2005 3:49 am

Ahhhh William.....just the mention of collard greens is enough to make me salivate!!!

I'm a sucker for a good mess of greens. There probably isn't any food that disagrees with me more, that I will still eat a bunch of, in spite of the cost :oops:

Nothing too outragous where I live. I do have to say we probably have some of the very best and freshest salmon in the US (Bert might be able to beat me here though....but he's in Canada), so our seafood is great, we also have phenomenal oyster here in Washington state....my personal favorite being the Neah Bay variety (they are small and sweet and make the best shooters EVER).

Another thing that we do very well in this area is Vietnamese food. I absolutley love Pho (beef noodle soup). I get mine straight up like the Vietnamese do (with the tripe and fatty tendon), at my favorite Pho spot the owner smiles when I come in....it's the same every time....Large #12 with an order of salad rolls (or fish balls if I'm feeling randy)!

That's most of the local fare....nothing too exotic.

As far as Texas goes.......I went there last November and I loved it. The food, the people, the Baptists (of which I am one....don't worry Will, no offense taken :wink: ), the BBQ especially. We went to a place on the River Walk in San Antonio that had all you can eat BBQ.....REAL BBQ, I'm talking brisket (my personal fave), baby back, chicken, okra (the greatest vegtabke in the world when it's breaded and fried), and cornbread. It was soooo good they had to haul me outta there in a wheelbarrow :oops: :oops:

Anyhow....I got ramblin.....food and Greek are two things I get very excited about.

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Post by mariek » Sat Jul 09, 2005 5:02 am

GlottalGreekGeek wrote:I am the only one who calls it Little Canton - my invention. I am referring to Irving - the Noriega strip (if you mean the one in the 20-something avenues, if you mean another one I don't know it) is less lively and less Chinese.
Ah, so it's your very own neologism. I used to shop on Irving aeons ago. Now I just go to Ranch 99 in Daly City where it's more parking friendly. :lol:

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Post by mariek » Sat Jul 09, 2005 5:04 am

Kopio wrote:I absolutley love Pho (beef noodle soup).
Me too! Mmmmmm, yum! There's something comforting about it ... kinda like really good spaghetti & meatballs.

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Post by Emma_85 » Sat Jul 09, 2005 4:29 pm

Well, I'm currently living in Italy and I love pizza, yum, yum Image

otherwise I don't really know... :P
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Post by Rhuiden » Sat Jul 09, 2005 11:53 pm

One of my favorites is gravy and biscuits. It is good with any meal. Add a meat (chicken, cube steak, bacon, ham,...any will do) and you have good eatin'. My mouth is starting to water just thinking about it.

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Post by Phylax » Sun Jul 10, 2005 12:19 am

biscuits.
I know that biscuits are something Americans and Brits (and possibly Canadians and Aussies) get confused about: the Brit 'biscuit' when sweet being equivalent to a cookie, when savoury or unsweetened equivalent to a cracker.

So what is an American biscuit? Is it like a scone, or a griddle-cake, or a Scots pancake?

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Post by Phylax » Sun Jul 10, 2005 1:06 am

Apparently the most popular dish in Britain is not in fact Fish and Chips, but the Indian dish Chicken Tikka Massala - I say Indian, though apparently it is a dish unknown on the Subcontinent: invented here in Blighty by Indian (or possibly Bangladeshi) restaurators.

For my soul food I would probably opt for an English Sunday dinner roast, either lamb, or roast beef and Yorkshire pudding (not for nothing are my countrymen known as 'rosbifs' by a number of our European friends).

Sussex, where I am living, is known for inventing two desserts:
1) Sussex Pond Pudding, a spongy suet pudding with a lemon inside it (see http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/r_0000001446.asp )
2) Banoffee Pie, a dessert invented at the Hungry Monk restaurant in Jevington, about ten miles east of here, in the'70s (see http://www.hungrymonk.co.uk/pages/banoffi.htm ) *

But since I come from a Lancashire family, mill workers as far back as I have been able to trace them, I'd also have to include that famous one-vessel dish Lancashire Hotpot - http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/r_0000000797.asp

* We were holding a street party once, and my neighbour Paul had elected to make Banoffee Pies. I visited him in his kitchen, and he said, "I've made four big ones. Do you think that will be enough?" I replied, "No, Paul. There is no such thing as enough Banoffee Pie."
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Post by Phylax » Sun Jul 10, 2005 1:13 am

You left out pie-floaters, Carola.
What about that other wonderful Australian invention, the Peach Melba?
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Post by Rhuiden » Sun Jul 10, 2005 2:00 am

Phylax wrote:
biscuits.
I know that biscuits are something Americans and Brits (and possibly Canadians and Aussies) get confused about: the Brit 'biscuit' when sweet being equivalent to a cookie, when savoury or unsweetened equivalent to a cracker.

So what is an American biscuit? Is it like a scone, or a griddle-cake, or a Scots pancake?

Phylax
I was not familiar with some of the terms used by the British. I found this on wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scone_%28bread%29. From this, it seems that American biscuits and British scones are very similar.

Rhuiden

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Post by Phylax » Sun Jul 10, 2005 3:06 am

Excellent! Thank you, Rhuiden :D : that sorts it out nicely!

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Post by psilord » Sun Jul 10, 2005 9:29 am

I live in the same city as William A. does and I'll say that we have an enormous selection of fine dining establishments. We are a big college town with a decent foreign population. One can walk down a single street in this town and go around the world for food. Literally: Chinese, American, Veitnamese, Thailand, Italian. All within 10 minutes from each other and that isn't even one of the GOOD streets to walk down for restaurants. I'd say the only food we don't represent properly are the eastern european countries (Hungary--alas!), South American cuisine, and central asia. We do have a Russian place, but it is strictly dumplings. We used to have a better Russian place, but they went out of business. Man, they had an awesome interpretation of beef stroganoff that used the a paprika/onion/sour cream sauce instead of the prototypical beef broth/onion/sour cream sauce. It was vastly superior. Their borscht was killer....

Since I grew up in and around restaurants, I learned how cook exceedingly well. I can make all sorts of food from around the world (sushi is probably my favorite, then Indian food, then Hungarian food). I spent a long time learning the intricacies of Indian cooking and I have the waist line to prove it. :)

I'm pretty skewed regionally for food due to my overindulgence of around the world cuisines.... I'd say region-wise, a Wisconsionite probably has a serious command of bratwursts, brandy, and cheese and could expound endlessly about catagories and flavors of just those three things. Fish boils (usually haddock and cod) are much more commonly found north of Madison, but you'll find fish fry(haddock, cod, perch, walleye) anywhere in the state on a friday. Even the "foriegn" restaurants will have a fish fry filtered through their cultural cuisine. No lie, I've seen deep fried salmon roll specials at sushi places here only on fridays....

And truth be told, I had some brandy in a cherry pie my wife and I made a week ago, ate brats the day after, and had 5 different types of cheese on crackers the day after that. Then, we went to a sushi place, I made a chicken pot pie, and then went Indian. :)

It is truly hilarious because once I really began preparing high quality dishes for my wife, she became snobbish about food and refuses to eat at places like McDonald's and other nasty quality food places. I swear I've created a monster in her. :) I'll mention something about being tired after comming home and macaroni and cheese looks good, but then somehow end up making a 4 hour indian dish in the kitchen grinding 15 spices by hand wondering if the traditionally cooked rice I'm making needs to get more butter or not.

She can be persuasive sometimes.... :)

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Post by Carola » Tue Jul 12, 2005 6:36 am

Eureka wrote:You left out pie-floaters, Carola. :wink:
Sorry - I forgot to look back at the posts! Yes - the pie floater. well, not being a native of South Australia I did actually try one of these one night (it's the sort of food you eat very late at night after a long evening of partying). I have to say that it was quite delicious, but at 3.30 in the morning maybe anything would be. For those who don't know about this culinary delight - it is a steak pie upended in very thick pea soup. How it ever got to be a South Australian food item amazes me - they have the most beautiful food in Adelaide, not to mention being in the middle of a premium wine growing district. So they invent the pie floater. Maybe it was a back-lash against trendy restaurants!

For our next lesson we will get onto Vegemite. :lol:

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Post by Bert » Wed Jul 13, 2005 1:21 am

Carola wrote:
For our next lesson we will get onto Vegemite. :lol:
I worked with an Australian fellow for about 9 months. He used Vegemite as sandwich spread and as a chip-dip. (He also said nile for nail :wink: )

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Post by chad » Wed Jul 13, 2005 4:41 am

It's always funny watching non-Aussies try vegemite for the first time. The problem is they smother it on too thick and then run around retching. I'm sure every country has running jokes like this. :)

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Post by Eureka » Wed Jul 13, 2005 5:16 am

Bert wrote:I worked with an Australian fellow for about 9 months. He used Vegemite as sandwich spread and as a chip-dip. (He also said nile for nail :wink: )
Are you sure he wasn't a New Zealander?

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Post by Carola » Wed Jul 13, 2005 6:13 am

Eureka wrote:
Bert wrote:I worked with an Australian fellow for about 9 months. He used Vegemite as sandwich spread and as a chip-dip. (He also said nile for nail :wink: )
Are you sure he wasn't a New Zealander?
Actually, the people who say "nile" for "nail" are usually (a) non-Australians trying to imitate an Australian accent or (b) residents of Queensland (the Deep North). When I used to go there for holidays when I was a kid my sister and I used to mimic the accent and fall about laughing hysterically. I think TV and radio have "smoothed out" a lot of these accents, a pity because we could all do with a few laughs! :lol:

Vegemite: it is one of those things that you have to be trained to like from infancy. I love it - especially on crusty fresh bread. It apparently is rich in Vitamin B but I wouldn't care - I just eat it! There is even a Vegemite song (ask your Australian friends to sing it - it is the most idiotic tune ever written and sticks in your brain like....Vegemite). :wink:

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Post by Emma_85 » Wed Jul 13, 2005 10:06 am

Rhuiden wrote:
Phylax wrote:
biscuits.
I know that biscuits are something Americans and Brits (and possibly Canadians and Aussies) get confused about: the Brit 'biscuit' when sweet being equivalent to a cookie, when savoury or unsweetened equivalent to a cracker.

So what is an American biscuit? Is it like a scone, or a griddle-cake, or a Scots pancake?

Phylax
I was not familiar with some of the terms used by the British. I found this on wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scone_%28bread%29. From this, it seems that American biscuits and British scones are very similar.

Rhuiden
ah! I didn't know that - learned something new again... I was going to ask you what biscuits + gravy was all about... still... gravy and scones?! :P
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Post by Bert » Wed Jul 13, 2005 11:43 pm

Carola wrote:
Eureka wrote:
Bert wrote:I worked with an Australian fellow for about 9 months. He used Vegemite as sandwich spread and as a chip-dip. (He also said nile for nail :wink: )
Are you sure he wasn't a New Zealander?
Actually, the people who say "nile" for "nail" are usually (a) non-Australians trying to imitate an Australian accent or (b) residents of Queensland (the Deep North).
He was born and raised in WA. A super nice guy. He came to Canada for about 9 or 10 months, found a nice Canadian girl and then both went to Australia.
It was a lot of fun, especialy at first, to get used to the different ways we say things.
I am a carpenter so the word 'nail' came up the first day.
When I figured out what he meant when he said 'nile', I asked him what he calls that long river that runs North through Africa. He laughed and said that he pronounces it the sime. Oh well, maybe his Aussie friends find that he has an accent too.

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Post by annis » Thu Jul 14, 2005 1:42 am

Emma_85 wrote:I was going to ask you what biscuits + gravy was all about... still... gravy and scones?!
Like savory scones, not sweet.
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Post by Rhuiden » Thu Jul 14, 2005 2:08 am

Emma_85 wrote:ah! I didn't know that - learned something new again... I was going to ask you what biscuits + gravy was all about... still... gravy and scones?!
It is not a brown gravy. Here is a link from wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravy. The thickened kind mentioned in the article is what I am talking about.

To make it, you first cook your meat. Then remove the meat from the pan. This leaves only the fat/juices and small pieces of meat in pan. Add flour and stir until brown. Then add milk. Stir until all/most lumps are gone and it thickens. You take this and put it on a biscuit, it is very good. Wait, my mouth is watering again.....must clean off the keyboard.

It is very popular in the southern US, especially in rural areas.

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Post by Rhuiden » Thu Jul 14, 2005 2:09 am

annis wrote:
Emma_85 wrote:I was going to ask you what biscuits + gravy was all about... still... gravy and scones?!
Like savory scones, not sweet.
What is a savory scone?

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Post by Carola » Thu Jul 14, 2005 7:30 am

Bert wrote:
He was born and raised in WA. A super nice guy. He came to Canada for about 9 or 10 months, found a nice Canadian girl and then both went to Australia.
It was a lot of fun, especialy at first, to get used to the different ways we say things.
I am a carpenter so the word 'nail' came up the first day.
When I figured out what he meant when he said 'nile', I asked him what he calls that long river that runs North through Africa. He laughed and said that he pronounces it the sime. Oh well, maybe his Aussie friends find that he has an accent too.
Yes, that is interesting, because most of us say it "nay-ill" - not "nale" as BBC announcers would. There is a noticable difference between the way Sydney people (me f'rinstance) and South Australians speak. We say "a" as in "cat" in words like "plant" and here they say "plarnt".
And have you heard the Vegemite song yet?

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Post by Geoff » Thu Jul 14, 2005 3:15 pm

oh oh, buttered biscuits and chocolate grave (sauce) Mmmmmmmm :D

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Post by eris » Thu Jul 14, 2005 6:02 pm

What exactly IS vegemite? Do I dare ask what it tastes like?? :shock:

My comfort food is my mom's Korean cooking. mmmmmmmm Hot & spicy foods, such as Kim Chee, make me happy, too!

If I'm having American fare, I love Kansas City BBQ (or Bar-B-Que to some folks). No vinegar-y sauces here!

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Post by amans » Thu Jul 14, 2005 6:19 pm

eris wrote:What exactly IS vegemite? Do I dare ask what it tastes like?? :shock:
Wow! I don't know if this is just really clever or if we're under some kind of surveillance here . . . But the talk about vegemite made this Google ad appear here at Textkit:
Buy Vegemite Online
Can't find anwhere to buy Vegemite We've Got Your Toast Covered
And as a result of the mention of aussie food in general . . .
Dining Downunder Cookbook
Deliciously easy recipes and ideas for an authentic Australian flavour
And by the way: perhaps Vegemite Online is not such a bad idea. I've met Australian students abroad who brought their own supplies along, not relying on being able to find this food abroad . . .

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Post by Emma_85 » Thu Jul 14, 2005 6:25 pm

Rhuiden wrote:
Emma_85 wrote:ah! I didn't know that - learned something new again... I was going to ask you what biscuits + gravy was all about... still... gravy and scones?!
It is not a brown gravy. Here is a link from wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravy. The thickened kind mentioned in the article is what I am talking about.

To make it, you first cook your meat. Then remove the meat from the pan. This leaves only the fat/juices and small pieces of meat in pan. Add flour and stir until brown. Then add milk. Stir until all/most lumps are gone and it thickens. You take this and put it on a biscuit, it is very good. Wait, my mouth is watering again.....must clean off the keyboard.

It is very popular in the southern US, especially in rural areas.

Rhuiden

hehehe, I realised it was a savoury scone and not a sweet one :lol:

Thanks for the detailed description Rhuiden, but I'm still having trouble with this... just put it down to cutural differences, eh? :wink:

Vegemite is the Aussi equivalent of Marmite, right? Well, my cousin lives in the US and of course he can't survive without Marmite any less than I can, so he has some jars of Marmite which he just brought back from the UK. Apparently to an American Marmite 'smells like shoe polish and tastes worse'.
I think it tastes great though, but according to a survey from the Marmite company, if you weren't exposed to this toxic smelling substance before the age of four, the chances that you'll actually like it are very slim.
Marmite's official slogan is Love it or Hate it! :P
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Emma_85
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Post by Emma_85 » Thu Jul 14, 2005 6:30 pm

Rhuiden wrote:
annis wrote:
Emma_85 wrote:I was going to ask you what biscuits + gravy was all about... still... gravy and scones?!
Like savory scones, not sweet.
What is a savory scone?

Rhuiden
Apparently it's like a US biscuit... :lol:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/apps/ifl/food/show ... e=15&Id=14
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eris
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Post by eris » Thu Jul 14, 2005 7:22 pm

I've never heard of Marmite!! :shock: What area of the US eats that?

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Post by antianira » Fri Jul 15, 2005 3:18 pm

After living in MD for a few years, I've come to really like crab cakes. For the most part I hate sea food (fish included), so I resisted for some time, but there is a crab shack on every corner here, and even my local pizza place has homemade crab cakes, so after awhile, I couldn't resist. They're yummy. - especially the spicy ones.

But I used to live in San Diego, how I miss all the little taco places...

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Post by Carola » Thu Jul 21, 2005 7:26 am

eris wrote:I've never heard of Marmite!! :shock: What area of the US eats that?
Marmite is the poor cousin of Vegemite. Real Vegemite is tangy and kind of salty, Marmite just tastes like a beef stock cube. There is no substitute, and also Marmite doesn't have a song! :D

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Post by Bardo de Saldo » Sat Jul 23, 2005 7:19 pm

Spaniards have proved throughout the ages that all one really needs to trick the soul into sticking with the body one more day is bread and wine.

"I am a carpenter (...)." (Bert)

Are we overdoing Christian Fundamentalism a bit much here, Bert? :D

And yes, Australians do say nile for nail and mite for mate. I'm going to have to go down there to put a little order.

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