Blimey! I hadn't expected it to be over a month between my last post and this one. Maybe what I talked about in the Reboot post is taking longer to overcome than I expected. I haven't been ignoring this space though. I played around with the design, thought a lot about what I wanted this blog to achieve content wise and finally wrote the 'about' page. It feels a lot more like home now and I'm expecting to spend more time here from now on.
When I started planning my return to this blog I wanted a cooking challenge that would have infinite possibilities. I decided I wanted to cook regional dishes. I can and have cooked food from countless different countries, but what I want now is to find recipes that are local to specific regions, cities, towns or maybe even special to a tiny village. I love that idea that something can be commonplace in one town and exotic in another. Ideally I'd like to be given the recipes by people who think the meal special to their home is worth sharing, but if I come across them in books or magazines that's alright too. For health reasons I can't travel very far at the moment, so I basically want to have gastronomical roadtrip without leaving my kitchen.
My first stop on this trek is in America. There are many advantages to no longer having to travel back and forth to the US several times a year (again, see the Reboot post) but the food is not one of them. I miss American food. I miss how enormous the portions are, I miss how unapologetic it is about layering meats from several different animals in one meal and I miss how you can get anything you want at any time of the night or day, always draped in a coating of bacon and/or artificial cheese. I wouldn't want to eat it every day, but there are moments when I wish I could snap my fingers and have a huge burger (the kind you only find in the US) on my lap.
The first pin in the map is Cincinnati. I can't remember if I've been to Cincinnati or not. I was once supposed to fly from the UK to Nashville via New York. The immigration line was so long I ended up missing my connection and had to fly on to Nashville via Cleveland or Cincinnati. I was too exhausted to remember which city it was. How I ever made it to Nashville is a miracle. Either way, I don't think I've spent more than three hours in Ohio and I wouldn't have dared eat chili when I was about to board a plane.
I accepted this recipe with some trepidation but I was assured it was tasty. My chili is usually no more than steak mince, onions, tomatoes, chillies and beans. This recipe was loaded with what I consider to be heady, sweet spices and has no beans whatsoever. It even had chocolate in it.
I followed the recipe as closely as possible and left it to cook down. It all seemed a little thick to me, but I resisted to urge to keep adding passata to it. It certainly wasn't like the chili I'm used to, but I kept the faith as it bubbled away.
I was told it was to be eaten over spaghetti or hotdogs and buried in cheese. Ahhhh that's the America I know. In the interest of being scientific (and because I'm stupidly greedy) I tried it both ways within an hour.
On spaghetti it was almost inedible (I still ate it). The spices were far too strong and I could hardly taste the beef at all. I felt I might be spending the night sat up in bed, grabbing at my chest and popping Zantac every time it felt like it was crushing me. I definitely wouldn't bother to cook it again to eat with spaghetti. I felt that I was somehow betraying my much documented obsession with pasta by covering it in this sticky stuff.
The hotdogs were another matter entirely. I couldn't get enough! Well, actually, I could. I'd just eaten a plate of spaghetti. There was only so much food I could manage. I don't know if it was the smoked meat in the hotdog, the fact that the bread was so absorbent or a combination of both, but as a hotdog topping it was incredible. I was informed while assembling these gorgeous creatures that they were a little small. Wow. Really? Again in my defence, I had just eaten a plate of spaghetti! I'll know for next time. And yes, there will be a next time. It's worth every chest crunching pang of heartburn.
If you have a dish or a recipe from your local area that you think I'd enjoy cooking and eating, why not drop me a line at cogyddes(at)gmail(dot)com?