What am I doing writing about cooking? My signature dish is spaghetti Bolognese, and my cooking has been described as sacré bleu rather than cordon bleu. But, I’ve been told my bacon and eggs are to kill for, and I have been known to whip up a presentable chili con carne … which is really just spag. bol. without the spag, and some beans, chili powder and peppers added.
The other day, though, I tried a new recipe for chicken risotto. It turned out rather well … but I thought it tasted more like a paella. Or rather, what I think it tastes like. Sometimes, I think if you asked five Spanish ladies for a recipe for paella, you’d get eight different recipes! The only thing they agree on is don’t be tempted to use turmeric; always use saffron!
This is what I call cuisine sans frontiers. Once, in Venice, I ordered a cotelette milanese. This is a veal cutlet coated in breadcrumbs … which most people call a wiener schnitzel. The waiter agreed. He said ‘The Austrians stole the recipe from us!’ Then, in Brazil, we found the self-same thing … there, it’s called a milanesa.
Where I, and most other men excel … or claim to excel … is the barbecue. Almost invariably, the woman is assigned to preparing the salad. I swear, I once saw a man push his daughter, a griddle chef, from her own barbecue, which he then took over, then proceeded to reduce prime steak to pure carbon in the shortest time possible.
But, try telling Barbecue Man his barbie is pants; that’s like criticising his driving, or saying he’s no good in bed.
In the course of my travels, I’ve tried many cuisines. Chinese, Arab, French, Indian … but my favourite sort of alternates between Greek and Italian. Spanish has its place too, especially the tapas. I remembered the first time I tried patatas bravas. Basically, this is simply chips in tomato sauce, with a little (or more!) spice added. But, as I later found out, some patatas are more brava than others,
‘It’s our own special sauce.’ I was told ‘We call it ‘salsa sagrada’’
‘Holy sauce? Why?’ I asked.
‘Try some and see’. So, I did ….
‘JESUS CHRIST!!!’ I exclaimed.
And that, said the waiter, grinning, is what most folk say, and why we call it ‘Holy Sauce’
This week’s contribution to the Travel Theme. More at https://wheresmybackpack.com/2017/04/15/travel-theme-cook/