Thursday, March 18, 2010
A CELEBRATION OF ETHNIC FOODS!
Last night we had a wonderful dinner at a local Oakland restaurant. It was a delicious 4-course meal inspired by none other than Julia Child! Julia’s infamous Boeuf Bourguignon was on the menu along with her classic French Onion Soup and many other tasty dishes. For dessert, we all had Pot de Crème. It wasn’t served in a huge bowl as we Americans have grown accustomed to. It was served in an itty-bitty pot and so you didn’t feel like a piggy for licking the whipped cream off your spoon.
We here in the U.S. have a lot to learn from the French…and the Italians…and the Cubans…and the Indians…and the Thai…and the Ethiopians…and the… and the… Yes, we have a lot to learn from just about everyone else on this planet about how to cook using whole, seasonal and local ingredients. In France, every city neighborhood, every town and every village seems to have its farmer’s market. In Italy, cooks use ingredients found locally– basil, tomatoes, oregano, olives, fish for those living by the sea, lamb for those living inland. In Cuba, rice, beans, plantains and coconut feature for supper, as those are readily available on the island. Fast food and junk food is an exception, not a rule in most far-away places. In fact, the more removed a culture is from an industrialized place, the healthier they seem to eat. Just take a look at the photos from the book, Hungry Planet: What the World Eats, Part II by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio. Compare the photos of the family in Australia and in Guatemala or the family in the U.S. and in India. Count the number of bottles and boxes (processed food) you see in each photo and compare it to the number of fresh foods you see. Which countries do you think eat healthier? How many soda bottles to the Mendozas of Todos Santos, Guatemala buy every week? How many soda bottles do the Browns of Australia buy weekly?
Strange though this sounds, it seems that the poorer a country is, the healthier their food! They may have far less food than we do but the food they do have is more nutritious, by far! A poor family in India may only live on rice, a few vegetables, lentils and hot tea. A poor family in the U.S. might live on canned soup, chips, doughnuts and soft drinks. Which family is eating a healthier meal?
We have a lot to learn about eating healthy from those who have far less than we do. Really study the photos from the Hungry Planet. Check out the book at your local library. You will be amazed at the pictures and at the articles you will find written there.
In celebration of healthy, ethnic foods, today we are posting recipes for fried plantains and coconut ice cream! You might find this dessert in Cuba, Haiti, Honduras, Brazil and places in Africa even. These are both incredibly easy to make (though you do need an ice cream maker) and delicious beyond words! And, these recipes come from whole foods, have far less sugar than a traditional American dessert and have no artificial preservatives, sweeteners or colors in them. Make them and enjoy!
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 plantain, peeled and cut in ½ inch thick slices on the diagonal
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp organic sugar
Melt coconut oil in a large, shallow frying pan. Sprinkle tops of plantain slices with cinnamon and sugar. Place in frying pan and let sautee until they become browned and gooey on one side, about 5 minutes. Flip over and sprinkle with more cinnamon and sugar.
Cook another 5 minutes until browned and gooey on other side. Serve warm with coconut ice cream.
COCONUT ICE CREAM
2 cans whole coconut milk
½ cup water
¾ cup + 2 Tbsp palm sugar
1 pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ice cube
In small saucepan, add water, sugar and salt. Turn on low heat and stir until sugar melts. Turn off heat and add ice cube to cool down the sugar-water (simple syrup). Open cans of coconut milk and place in a bowl. Whisk until coconut cream and water are thoroughly incorporated and it is smooth and creamy (if you think of it ahead, put the coconut milk in the fridge to chill it). Add vanilla extract to the coconut milk. Add simple syrup to the coconut milk and whisk until smooth. Place mixture in an ice cream maker. Turn ice cream maker on and let it do its thing for ½ hour. Enjoy!! If you have leftovers (LOL), put in the freezer immediately.