2015 New York Summer Fancy Food Show

The 2015 New York Summer Fancy Food Show was similar to the 2014 event in that 1) once again, the U.S. booths did their best to ignore me, 2) Tunisia had the best main dish and 3) attendees stayed far away from the China portion.  Over in Italy, gestures spoke louder than words, half of Mexico was composed of tequila producers and someone over in Korea – no, not that Korea – regaled me (for 45 minutes, mind you) with the health benefits of bamboo salt.  In case you’re curious, it tastes like boiled eggs.So, how about the loot?:

2015 New York Summer Fancy Food Show Loot

Not pictured: Things not in this picture

It was a liquid-heavy haul for samples this year.  Overall however, notable flavor profiles include La Croix passion fruit seltzer, Qancha corn nuts (aka chulpe), salmon jerky, teapigs matcha with elderflower, and Navitas coconut hemp sunflower seeds (aka pepitas).  Now that I’m inspecting these products more closely, I reckon that having a meal consisting solely of kombucha and kimchi might have devastating effects.

Have you ever attended a food expo?

The Great Bunny Chow (South Africa)

Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa - Bunny Chow

What part of this is a sandwich?

So…there’s a chance that I used the phrase “the great” in the title either in the pejorative sense, or to reference another sandwich from South Africa called gatsby.

Regardless of whether I enjoyed this food, what seems to be in less dispute is the origin of the name of bunny chow.

Gotcha again!  That’s even more contentious.  Less disputable is that the name “bunny” stems from the South Asian merchant class called Bania.  But did the idea stem from Indian golf caddies or a necessity to find a sturdier bread to support the curry, vegetables, beans, potatoes (and these days, meat) than the beloved roti?

The one I tried (above), in Soweto, Johannesburg, looks awfully downtrodden.  I didn’t actually know what bunny chow was before a local told me to GET SOMETHING ALREADY.  Wait sec…this looks somewhat familiar after all.

Would you prefer a gatsby over bunny chow?

Napping, Hong Kong-Style

Do you ever think that you’re the only passenger awake on planes?

I often do.  It doesn’t matter how tired I am, but sleep always seems like less of a possibility than getting served something inedible.

At the other end of the spectrum you have this guy, taking a nap on his cane in a Hong Kong park. Looking back, I should have asked this guy, blissfully (?) , what his trick was (conpoy, perhaps, or age?)…

Hong Kong- Cane Nap

Airline Meals, Part Seven: Burgers for Lunch, Seat Belt Extensions for Dinner

Please pardon my recent absence, as I was on vacation in Indonesia, Narita (Airport) and Jetlagistan.

I didn’t even plan to have a night in Japan, but flying seven hours to connect to a 12+ hour flight after a layover of a few more hours did not sound particularly appealing.  Thus, I paid another visit to the city of Narita and its surplus of budget Japanese food, as well as visited the nearby AEON mall to raid its snack food department.

Yet, if there’s (at least) one made-in-Japan fast food that I crave that isn’t…originally Japanese, it’s MOS Burger.  It could just be nostalgia, from eating it during my first visit to the country in July 2000, or it could be the odd acronym – Mountain Ocean Sun, or maybe it’s (perish the thought) the burger itself, but whatever it was, something about the chain caught my attention.  But with such a limited time in Japan, eating a hamburger wasn’t a priority.

But wait…flying with Japan Airlines back to NY (among other US destinations) offered a surprising treat:

Mos Burger, Japan Airlines, NRT-JFK
Sounds kinda nasty, no?  A burger as airplane food?  On the contrary, it was heated quite well.  There were “instructions” on how to complete the MOS Burger – though I think for other airline meals this might be more appropriate.  For toppings, we’ve got tomato, onions, meat sauce, mangoes (?), and Kewpie mayonnaise.

Oh, and that’s me, wearing a Kewpie t-shirt strategically photographed with said Kewpie mayonnaise.  Naturally, I didn’t go near the stuff…bakeries in that part of the world have gotten too familiar with it.

How does this sound to you?  Better than this?



Chicken for Dessert: Tavuk Göğsü

What did you have for dinner?

You don’t say.

How about dessert?

After a long wander through downtown Izmir, Turkey, I was craving something sweet.  Baklava would have been an easy choice, but I wanted to try something different.

Not knowing more than ten words of Turkish – including the topic of this post – I entered what appeared to be a pudding restaurant.

Izmir, Turkey - Chicken Dessert (Tavuk Göğsü)

After a few probably misconstrued hand gestures, I received a plate of tavuk göğsü, which in Turkish means chicken breast and likely originates from the early Ottoman Empire.  If you are into archaic recipes, you may also know this dish as blancmange.

Yes, shredded chicken, as well as milk, sugar, and cinnamon all play an important role in this dish.  Is this the balut of desserts?  No.  In fact, upon tasting it I had no idea that this somewhat weird food contained poultry.


Imagine that–eggs for brunch, fried chicken for dinner and this edible flotation device to finish off your day.  Could you foresee this as the next fad?

Mansaf (منسف‎), Jordan’s “National Dish”

Truthfully, I have mixed feelings about rice.  In countries where it is one of the staple starches – as opposed to it being the go-to starch – I either never want it or expressly want it.  For example, in China, even though noodles (wheat) is a northern thing, from having lived in the south for the majority of the time, I only ever want rice.  But with Indian food, with its naan and dosa, rice should stay far away from my plate.

It doesn’t make much sense, hey?

Cut to Amman, Jordan, located in a region known both rice and bread such as pita.  Now, although I can drown a plate of rice in olive oil, my favorite condiment, with the pita you can sop up olive oil, hummus and other mezze (side dishes).  Pita: 1, rice: negligible impression.

At the same time – are you ready for it? – rice is food.  I like food.  I like rice.  Enter mansaf, Jordan’s “national dish:”

Amman, Jordan - Mansaf (Jordanian National Dish)

Huzzah, it was also served with pita

Mansaf is a rice- and lamb– focused meal cooked in jameed (dehydrated goat’s milk yoghurt) and topped with almonds and pine nuts.  It’s difficult for me to get excited about pilaf-style mains, but I’ll give Jordan credit for adding banchan, in this case olives, peppers and an ashtray, that help distract from the monotony of the dish.

When you travel, do you try to seek out “national dishes?”  What is your national and/or regional dish?

Chinese Guilinggao: Turtle Jelly, as Bitter as its Consumers

Turtle jelly, or 龟/龜苓膏 (guīlínggāo), is considered one of many types of 凉茶 (liáng​chá), or Chinese herbal teas.  It’s not good.  The end.

Ah, no, I won’t do that to you.

The preparation of the tea is centuries old.; It was thought that making a powder of a “golden coin” turtle plastron (bottom part of the shell; nowadays if they are used at all, shells from not-so endangered but soon to be endangered turtles are used) and combining it with various herbs de jour would benefit one’s skin and gradually lead towards a healthier complexion, as well as being the same kind of panacea as every other facet of Chinese medicine.  Though, since its main focus is skin care, considering the typically ominous skies in many mainland cities, business should be booming.

Kaiping, China- GuiLingGao (Turtle Jelly)

I tried a glass on a whim while in Kaiping, China.  I happened to wander by many an herbal tea shop, taking a whiff of things that were never welcoming when I decided to dive right into the unpleasantly bitter water bed that is guilinggao.  And talk about bitter!  You see, my usual refrain when speaking with a drink vendor is 不加糖 (bù​jiātáng), or “don’t add sugar/no added sugar.”  Apparently, you’re supposed to add something sweet to it, obviously to counteract its bitterness.  Yes, well which of the other thousands of healing properties does that also negate?

As stated above, if you’re interested in trying it and you’re near a Chinatown, you might have a good chance.  Turtles may not even be listed in the ingredients, but do you believe everything you read (excluding this blog, of course)?