My mother used to make wonderful custard. It's hard to do custard well -- you have get the proportions right or else it's all runny and awful, and you have to know how to test when it's done. She also knew how much nutmeg to sprinkle on top, so that the skin is nice and tasty.
We ate a lot of custard because she typically made it whenever we had baked potatoes, since they required the same oven temperature.
She also made wonderful chocolate pudding from scratch using Droste cocoa. Very different from Jello pudding, to be sure.
Mother is still with us, but is no longer able to cook.
@betajet: My mother used to make wonderful custard.
My mom always amazes me -- my friends say I'm a good cook, but I have a very limited range compared to my mom -- she can do everything "from soup to nuts" as it were, including baking the bread and making her own pastry -- it blows me away.
Yes, but I don't want to go into details this early in the morning other than to link to the classic Carl Rose / E.B. White New Yorker cartoon which I think captures brilliantly the tendency of well-meaning parents to foist adult culinary experiences on children who aren't old enough to appreciate them.
@Max "Since reading your comment, I think I'll do wihout LOL"
In my opinion, fried green tomatoes, properly prepared, are quite good. You can get them at several restaurants in Atlanta. If you loved the film, you can also try them in Juliette, GA where the fiilm was made. The Whistle Stop Cafe from the movie is still there. The town looks very much like it did when the move was made. Juliette is just a little north of Macon, GA and is about an hour's drive from Atlanta.
When I was 5 or 6 years old (near the beginning of time itself), my parents took me and my brother out to get a snack. I heard my parents ordering chocolate eclairs and I freaked out. Something in my head told me that anything called an "eclair" must be really horrid. I started a rant about how I hated chocolate eclairs before I actually had a clue as to what they were. When I saw my parents and my brother scarfing down these wondeful treats I was to embarrassed to admit my error, so I had to continue my false dislike of eclairs. It was several years before I swallowed my pride (and a few eclairs). I hate that I missed out on them for all that time.
@rcurl: ...before I actually had a clue as to what they were...
Your tale of woe brought tears to my eyes ... I cannot imagine the pain you felt watching your parents and brother scarfing down those yummy-scrummy, cream-filled delights. I will make sure to have some on hand the next time you come to visit my office.
That chocolate eclair story is wonderful illustration of the value of the experimental method (taste before deciding). By the way, as fried foods go, fried green tomatoes are pretty good. [On the other hand, I spent an entire afternoon in grade school detention for refusing to eat my tapioca.] A year later I witnessed the first effective student protest (around 1962) when some kids who disliked the vanilla pudding climbed up onto the balcony above the food serving area and sprinked staples into the serving containers. Since the school couldn't be sure there were no residual staples in the pudding, it was pitched out and the students were spared. From then on, the vanilla pudding was known as staple pudding.
Hmm...I still haven't acquired a taste for an eclairs. In fact the other day, I stopped at a bakery that used to serve heavenly lemon filled doughnuts. I hadn't had one from that bakery for several years, and was pretty sure they no longer made them. They weren't your standard fair lemon doughnut, but rather, several notches above. So that day, I eyed the doughnuts they had on display--twists, maple bars...and I was about to order a glazed twist when I instead found myself saying, "do you have any lemon doughnuts?" "I think we have one left," was her reply. Wow! What luck! The lemon dougnut had truly returned. It turned out it was not a true lemon round dougnnut, however, but a bar lemon filled doughnut. No matter, who cares about the shape--it is the ingredients that count. Mold them how you wish! It was only after I left the bakery, though, that I realized that the doughnut not only had the wonderful lemon, but also the dreaded custard. Friends, Romans, fellow countrymen, any time you buy a doughnut that does not have a hole in the middle, always inquire to whether it has the dreaded custard hidden inside.
There was a dish my Mom made that consisted of diced ham, peas, and carrots, all cooked together. It was called Skillet Supper. Now, I love ham. I like cooked carrots. And peas, while not my favorite vegetable, are still tolerable. However, there is something about mixing these three ingredients together that creates something truly abhorrent. It is not a 2+2=5 situation. It is more like a 1+1+1=-10 And the bad thing was that when Mom "discovered" this recipe she thought it was the greatest thing on earth and proclaimed it so. "I'm so glad I found this recipe!" It was delicious. It was easy to make. It was fast. Soon we were having it ALL the time. You can imagine my dismay.
When I was at Telecomms college, back in the mists of time in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) I lived in a police hostel (I was a conscripted trainee police radio tech at the time), The canteen there gave us a packed lunch which consisted of 3 sandwiches. Two of these were inevitably polony - which was a large sausage-type thing made of some kind of meat, by a process I dare not even guess at. So I grew to loathe polony. We'd complain occasionally and we'd get wonderful sanwiches for a week - cheese and tomato, beef and mustard and sometimes even ham. Then it would revert to the two polony and something else regime.
So we used to throw the polony ones away. We had a guy in our class on whom we played a great practical joke during our training on teleprinters. He used some of our retrieved polony sandwiches as his revenge - you can read more here:
Once there were three construction workers, a Mexican, an Irishman, and an American. They were building a skyscraper and would have lunch together sitting on a girder far above the ground.
One day the Mexican opened his lunch box and said: "Burritos? I'm suck of burritos for lunch every day. If I get burritos again, I'm going jump off this building." The Irishman opened his lunch box and said: "Corned beef? I'm sick of corned beef. If I get corned beef again, I'm going to jump too." The American opened his lunch box and said: "Baloney? If I get baloney again, I'm jumping."
The next day, the Mexican got burritos again, so he jumped. The Irishman got corned beef again -- and he jumped. The American got baloney again -- and he jumped too.
At the funeral, the Mexican's wife was in tears. "Why didn't he tell me he didn't want burritos any more? I could have made him so many other things." The Irishman's wife said "Why didn't he tell me he was sick of corned beef? I could have made him something else." The American's wife said "Don't look at me. He packs his own lunch."
And then there is the old Dr Seuss staple, Green Eggs and Ham. For those who don't know it, it's a kids book in which the main character adamantly refuses the Green Eggs and Ham offered to him by Sam-I-Am right until the end when he agrees to try them for a bit of peace, and finds he likes them.
Google it if you've never seen it. The weird drawings are half the fun. I saw the book in a department store recently when my wife was looking at wool and she had to drag me away. It's never too late to have a happy childhood.....
@David: ...in fact i saw a recipe recently for Green Eggs and Ham...
About 12 years ago my mom and little bro' came over at Christmas for a visit. I had a friend with an Emu farm so I'd gotten an Emu Egg -- which is about the size of an Ostrich egg (like 8" across) -- I don't know if they are all this color, but the one I had was emerald green (the shell -- not the contents). So I got a bottle of Dom Perignon champagne, and some ham, and on Christmas morning we started the day with "Green Eggs & Ham & Champagne"
I used to hate beans and lentils (pretty much any dish based on them!) because of similar bad childhood memories of such dishes but I have managed to reprogram my mind so to speak with better experiences later on. Basically, you need to starve yourself first then prepare the problematic meal and you will erase any past bad memory :-)
All this talk of custard brought back another memory. When I started work as a police radio tech, I got posted to the main Harare radio workshop. On the first day one of the guys bought custard slices for everyone from a nearby bakery. These were slices of very flaky pastry with custard in between, toppped off with half a ton of icing sugar. I thought "This is nice!". Little did I know it was a fiendish plot. If you breathed in while biting in to your custard slice, some of the icing sugar went down your throat and provoked a coughing fit. And fits of laughter from your new "friends".... Once you learned how to eat them, though, they were very yummy.
Your cautionary tale about custard slices reminds me of Vernor's, which is a particularly strong USA ginger ale mostly sold in Michigan and Wisconsin. If you're not used to Vernor's, the bubbles are so strong that it feels like you're suffocating. I can imagine someone having a coughing fit with your custard slices taking a quick belt of Vernor's as his last act on this mortal coil.
Note: some people refer to Michigan and Wisconsin as part of the Midwest. The proper term for the region is the "Upper US", as in "I come from the Upper US". Be careful how you say that, especially if you have an Italian accent.
I'm just not particularly fond of any food that wiggles! But a memory that really sticks with me is the summer I decided to try all the "50" Baskin Robbin flavors or whatever the number was. I went along fine until I got to the letter "D" and had the "Daiquiri" ice cream. Quite the most horrid thing I'd ever tasted!
Speaking of daiquiris and nutmeg, here's another one from the Old Jokes Home:
Once there was a doctor who always stopped by a bar for a daiquiri on the way home. The bartender got used to this regular customer so when he saw the doctor coming down the sidewalk, he'd quickly make a daiquiri the way the doctor liked it -- with a sprinkling of nutmeg. That way the drink would be ready when the doctor came in the door.
One day the bartender saw the doctor coming and started to make the usual daiquiri, but discovered he was out of nutmeg. In a panic, he looked for something he could substitute. The best he could find were some hickory nuts, so he ground them up and sprinkled them on the daiquiri, hoping for the best.
The doctor tasted the concoction, considered it for a moment and said: "This daiquiri is very good, but there seems to be something different."
The bartender replied: "That's a hickory daiquiri, Doc."
(Talking of barmen...) There's a mythical character in South Africa called Van - short for Van der Merwe which is a very common surname. He is a rather stupid but loveable character who is the butt of many jokes. In one, he visits a Village pub in the UK. The local Squire comes in, clicks his fingers at the barman and says "Harry, my usual, please!"
Harry the barman cracks a couple of raw eggs into a glass and hands it to the Squire. He knocks them back and then sighs with satisfaction.
Van's curiosity is piqued. "Excuse me", he says, "But why did you do that?"
The Squire replies "Well firstly my good man, it's none of your business. Secondly, I happen to like it. And thirdly, it puts lead in my pencil!"
Van is impressed. Back in South Africa, he goes into his local bar. "Hey, Van" says the barman, "Welcome back. What are you having?"
"Give me two raw eggs in a glass" says Van. "Van, are you mad?" asks the barman. "Just do it!" replies Van.
He knocks back the eggs, can't stand the taste and spits them out. "Gee, Van" says the barman" Why did you do that?"
"Well firstly, my good man, it's none of your business"
I grew up in Wisconsin, so Van is replaced with Ole (sometimes adding Sven and/or Inga). Ole is by default Norwegian, unless you're Norwegian in which case Ole is Swedish. If you're half-Norwegian and half-Swedish, Ole is Danish.
Speaking of which (International Wing of the Old Jokes Home):
A Scandinavian ocean liner shipwrecks on a desert island. One year later, the Norwegians have built a fishing boat, the Finns have cut down all the trees, the Danes have formed a coöperative and the Swedes are still waiting for someone to introduce them to each other.
@Karen....your post about icecream reminds me of a staple of South African restaurants - the "Don Pedro". This consists of Icecream mixed with whisky, brandy or (preferably) a sweet liqueur - you can use pretty well anything that's to hand - usually served in a wine glass. It's also made at parties where it is usually mixed in a bucket using a couple of tubs of icecream and a bottle or two of liqueur. It is then called "Hooligan Juice" because of the likely effects.
A friend of mine from the UK was once in Johannesburg with his late teens daughter and we chanced to meet. We went to a nearby restaurant and after the meal I ordered a Don Pedro. "What's a Don Pedro?" she asked. "It's also called Hooligan Juice.... " I started to explain, but she cut me off. "I'LL HAVE ONE!"
David wrote: "It's also called Hooligan Juice.... "
One of my father's favorites when he was a lad was ginger ale (not Verner's :-) with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. His jocular grandfather would have the same, but he'd add some whiskey to it and call the drink a "mule's neck".
Dion't knock until you've tried it. But surely you know it as a coke float. There were high brows amongst us Rhodesians who maintained that coke with ice cream was a coke float and that a brown cow was coke with milk. Searching the 'net, I see that brown cow now has Khalua implications and there were times that a brown cow combined ice cream and root beer (unknown in Rhodesia) whilst black cow used coke.
As to other South African delectables that may give you pause:
Bunny Chow: a hollowed out loaf of bread (only van would have it sliced) filled with curried vegetables/meat
and my personal favourite (to churn my stomach): sardines and condensed milk. Condensed milk is pretty much diabetes in a can and the salt of the sardines is supposed to enhance the sweetness, if that were possible.
@antedeluvian Wow, thanks for the primer in Rhodesian delicacies! I can't really cast aspersions on your dietary pleasures as when I was a kid I used to love a sandwich consisting of peanut butter, mayo, and lettuce! Granted a notch or two above sardines and condensed milk, but barely. :-)
I did try bacon and banana once and while it wasn't bad, I wouldn't go out of my way for it. I never heard of sardines and condensed milk...yuck! But bunny chow...now you're making me hungry......
And you have not even touched on those Rhodies / SA staples, biltong and boerewors. Biltong, for those not from the same obscure origins as Antedeluvian and I. is like beef jerky but spicier. With chillies it is known as chilli bites and boy are those nice. Boerewors (literally "farmer's sausage" is like sausages but again spicier, and recipies for good boerewors spice are closely guarded secrets. It comes as one long coil a couple of feet long, and that's how you cook it on a braai (barbeque). Now I am making myself hungry.....
@David: Boerewors (literally "farmer's sausage" is like sausages but again spicier, and recipies for good boerewors spice are closely guarded secrets.
OMG! Now I'm starving! I want some!!!
You can actually get boerwors in a number of places in North America where there are sizable South African emigre populations. I know LA is one and San Diego as well. I think there is somewhere in NYC. Certainly there is plenty up here in Toronto (we can't ship meat into the states), but if you choose to visit- I extend an invitation to you for a braai (as David says, BBQ to you) where I will treat you to some, along with sadza (white corn meal similar to Polenta) and even some biltong; even if it is midwinter.
@antedeluvian: You can actually get boerwors in a number of places in North America where there are sizable South African emigre populations. I know LA is one and San Diego as well. I think there is somewhere in NYC.
Sadly, I live in a culinary outpost -- Huntsville, Alabama -- the best on offer here is "Chicken-Fried-Chicken" (they have to say "chicken" twice to give you a clue as to what it is you are eating -- your first guess would be rubber from old tires :-)
@Antedeluvian: ...if you choose to visit- I extend an invitation to you for a braai (as David says, BBQ to you) where I will treat you to some, along with sadza (white corn meal similar to Polenta) and even some biltong; even if it is midwinter.
I'm heading hom eto pack my suitcase right now! I so want to try boerwors and biltong and sadza....
There are several sources for good boerwors here in Atlanta. We have a number of shops run by RSA ex-pats and even a few restaurants. Maybe that will help get Max to schedule a visit here! I do enjoy boerwors, BTW, along with numerous other flavorful sausages. Another Eastern European goody I love is the Rumanian delicacy karnatzale. It's a beefy sausage (no casing, just sausage-shaped) that's about 20% minced garlic along with other seasonings. Many years ago my wife and I went to a Rumanian restaurant on the north side of Chicago (where we lived at the time) and ordered these. The waiter (a typically crusty old Rumanian Jew) refused to take our order, saying "You wouldn't like it!" When we finally convinced him we really would like it, he reluctantly took the order, repeating "OK, but you really won't like it!" Of course we enjoyed them (to excess, in fact). Unfortunately, after dinner we went to a party in a very crowded grad student apartment. At that point we were actually sweating garlic, and had to leave soon after we arrived as the other guests were sniffing around with wrinkled noses!
Max, re: "@Duane: ...I have been forced to consume condensed milk and canned oysters...
I can't recall if I ever asked you -- who came up with this one? It wasn't another one of your mother's "experiments" was it?"
Well, my dad was a bit of a spy during the cold war and spent some time undercover in East Germany. I can only presume that he was captured and, as a condition of his release, was forced to take the recipe for this concoction home to my mom as a form of pre-torture to discourage me from following in his footsteps.
Yes. He was apparently well versed at tapping communications systems amongst other things on both sides of the border.
One of the stories he passed on to me involved an employee at a coffee shop in Frankfurt, Germany. This was a place were US servicemen hung out, and the employee would crawl into the heating duct work to listen for any useful tidbits that he could sell.
My dad and the guys he was working with got wind of it, so they bolted a giant loudspeaker to the duct. Next time the guy was up in the ductwork, they turned it on, blasted his eardrums, and laughed as the guy bounced up and down trying to get out as fast as he could.
Not sure at all why Coke+ice_cream sounds unappetizing -- its sibling is the root beer float which is root beer and vanilla ice cream. Substituting Coke for root beer is a relatively small departure from this.
Now I'd understand one's reservations if the ice cream chosen to float is arbitrary. No flavors besides (optionally, french) vanilla sounds particularly good to me at first thought. But to diss vanilla ice cream applied to many soda types discounts a pretty large class of widely accepted and popular outcomes.
Once it devolves into its "melty" state, it heads towards becoming a "cream soda", another popular-enough end-product. At that point it's just a matter of where your gag-reflex kicks in w.r.t. sweetness -- the younger you are, that threshold probably goes up exponentially.
@Max: "I don't drink and sort of soda (Coke, DR Pepper, etc.)"
Well, I'm not very proud about this, but I love the sodas with loads of caffeine and glucose. Indeed, I'm missing DR Pepper so much -- we don't have this in Spain and I drank a lot of cans while at EE Live!
I had an aunt that raised goats. We brought home an ample supply of goats milk after one of our visits - raw and unpasteurized goats milk. We didn't drink it fast enough, so we ended up with some less than fresh milk left over. My mom thought that by using it to make hot chocolate, we wouldn't notice that it was no longer fresh.
For those of you that haven't experienced it, goats, in person, have a very distinct and very strong musk smell. When goats milk ages past its consumable stage, it takes on an aftertaste that is very similar to that musk smell. The smell is bad enough. You really don't want to experience it as a taste.
The chocolate was not enough to hide the taste. Not even close. I understand that to some people, goat cheese is a bit of a delicacy. However, to this day, just the mention of goat cheese, goat's milk, or anything goat related brings that musk taste back to mind.
Max - I suspect that she was smart enough to take a smell before drinking up, or just take a sip and leave it at that. I being the somewhat obedient kid that I was, and not wanting to waste it, drank the whole mug.
Two general rules of thumb come immediately to mind. The first is that warning bells start to go off with me when "British" and "food" get used in the same sentence (see also, "haggis"). With only a few exceptions, the words that follow need to be closely scrutinized when constructing a culinarily correct sentence.
The second rule is that the bar is pretty low in the US, as many things qualify as food in the US as long as it can be served in sufficient quantity to fill an American-sized stomach. If it's corporate-branded, better yet!
Surprised the subject of "stinky tofu" (especially steamed vs. fried) hasn't come up. If you're Chinese, you know what I'm talking about. If you're not, you probably don't want to know. Let it suffice to say that it's something that you can smell from city blocks away, and whether or not this is a good thing or a very, very, very bad thing is 100% dependent upon how you feel about eating it. There's not much middle ground on this one.
In a western dictionary, see also "stinky cheese".
@Ewertz...stinky cheese.....I once visited a friend of mine in Johannesburg and bought some Esrom cheese. This is a Danish cheese that smells like old socks but tastes delicious. I had a bit and kept it in his fridge...or should I say their fridge - it was a share house with about 5 occupants. Alas - I forgot to take it with me when I left. Over the succeeding weeks it stank more and more,, but no one did anything about it because they all thought it was someone else's. When it finally got too much and someone asked around, and found out no-one owned up to owning it, they chucked it out. When I next visited, I innocently asked "Did someone enjoy my cheese that I forgot to take?" Five pairs of eyes turned on me. "IT WAS YOURS!!!" Things were a little frosty but fortunately they all had a sense of humor....
@David: ...this is a Danish cheese that smells like old socks but tastes delicious.
As compared to Danish Blue Cheese whicj smells delicious but tastes like old socks :-) I've tried a lot of different blue cheeses, and I never found anything I liked better than good old English Stilton
-- Stinky to-fu, beloved by quite a few of my Chinese friends. There even used to be a stinky tofu restaurant in the famed Barber Lane plaza (99 Ranch Milpitas).
-- Stinky cheese, such as blue cheese, Limburger, and more. I didn't like these when young, but now I do.
-- Durian: smells like hell, tastes like heaven. Not my favorite, but it does taste (kind of custard-y) much better than it smells.
Other food notes:
--Goat and sheep cheese (such as Manchego), yumm! Of course, for names, it's hard to beat Tetilla ("tit") cheese from Galicia in Spain -- it's a mild cheese that looks like its namesake.
--One of the more interesting appetizers I've had is prosciutto ham with melon (at a Italian restaurant in Bangkok); it actually tasted pretty good.
--A lot of Mexican restaurants around here have fried ice cream as a desert, but I've never tried it.
--And of course, every culture has its "odd" foods, like pig's ears (Chinese, can be pretty good - crunchy and spicy), blood sausages, head cheese, and scrapple (a Philly breakfast sausage made from leftover pig parts, often eaten with sweet syrup).
--Sausages really do come in a wide variety of shapes & sizes. OK, in the US, they pretty much all look the same (unlike Europe; my German cookbook shows an incredible array of shapes -- hmmm, haven't been to the local German deli in too long, should see what they have), but at least around here I can get some pretty hot sausages.
In my childhood, I was really good friend with vegetables. Spinach? Yumm! It did help, that my grandmother was an excellent cook. However, there was one dish, combining elements that individually I did like but together, they were the devil and it almost ruined my grandmother's culinary credibility in my eyes. I mean, what sick and twisted mind would come up with the recipe for lettuce soup??! And, by the way, it does look like sick, as well.
I won't perpetuate this monstrosity by repeating the recipe here but some of the ingredients were lettuce (cooked!!), milk and vinegar. Together.
Lettuce soup is right up there with other "interesting" foods, such as...
@SandorD: ...what sick and twisted mind would come up with the recipe for lettuce soup??!
Probably not a twisted mind, but a very, very hungry stomach. Cabbage soup was very common during the Great Depression and Neorealist films of post-war Italy. Cheap and filling. Lettuce soup probably along the same lines.
@betajet: Cabbage soup is much more nourishing than lettuce soup (assuming each is the primary ingredient)! That brings to mind an old gastronomic theory of mine: it seems that a great many "traditional" dishes really make a sort of good sense when considered in light of modern nutritional science. A good example is corned beef and cabbage. The corned beef is generally quite fatty; this is abated by consuming it with the Vitamin C-rich cabbage! Same goes for other traditional combinations like sauerkraut and pork (or sausages in general). Cabbage and its relatives (including Max's faves Brussels Sprouts, kimchi, etc.) factor onto quite a few such combinations. I'm sure you can all add to this list. Max, sorry if I'm making you even hungrier!
There are many Jewish traditional foods that I love, derived from my parent's Eastern European heritage. However the sight of PTCHA turned me off so that I could never bring myself to try it. Perhaps there are associations with my aformentioned jelly aversions.
@Max: "...I'm squirming in my seat just thinking about it (well, trying not to think about it)"
It's actually pretty delicious. My family used to eat it in winter time, usually around New Year. It was based on pork, though. Definitely not the Jewish version of the recipe!! :-) The key is the use of lots of gelatinous meat/skin and plenty of garlic, otherwise it won't set properly.
I think variations on the same thing are pretty well known dishes in all European countries with a cold enough climate, because the dish originates from before the time of the now ubiquitous family fridge and traditionally, the jelly (aspic) was set by placing the dish in a cold place. Hence the requirement for a cold winter.
My father LOVED p'tcha (how he spelled it). I never acquired the taste for it and never will... even though i adore almost anything with lots of garlic! That was what I immediately thought of when I saw this thread. On the other hand, I did learn to love the jelly from gefilte fish! I find that's a pretty good test for one's tolerance for tasty things with an off-putting texture.
@Betajet....Thanks for that....I found the Garlic Festival is almost exactly a month later. And given that my wife will not let me come to the US for a whole month, I have a serious choice to make...... :-((
@Max....Well I guess that since, to my horror and consternation, the Gilroy Garlic Festival is a month away from EELive 2015, that will have to be Plan B...... For you to like it they would have to serve garlic flavoured bacon and beer?? (Not garlic flavoured beer....just the bacon....)
Attention Karen: Can't you make EELive a month later? Or get hold of the Gilroy Garlic Festival and tell them you'll have a bunch of hungry garlic-mad engineers in the area and get them to make theirs a month earlier? (or compromise - each of you move 2 weeks.... :-)
I just happened to notice that the majority of the "most commented" subjects are either associated with caption contests or food! I guess that proves what concerns engineers the most: recognition and food! Maslow had it mostly right....