American Home Cooking

Rochi’s friend Shinsuke runs a ramen shop. He and family have never been to the States and have never had real American cooking, so they asked me to come to their house and teach them how to make roast chicken and mashed potatoes, of all things. I decided to throw in gravy and a Waldorf salad just for kicks. Much to my distress, I will have to forgo the stack of Wonder bread, which isn’t available here. I really wanted to give them the full treatment.

My Ma always made Waldorf salad with cabbage and raisins, but Fawlty Towers informs me that it’s celery, apples, walnuts and grapes. The interwebs say the original didn’t include grapes, but I’m with Basil on that one. My roast chicken isn’t exactly classic American, either. Lemon and garlic inside, then rub the whole bird with soy sauce and sprinkle with chopped rosemary before roasting. The aroma will drive you wild and the soy sauce gives the gravy a nice umami. I once used this recipe in a dialogue I wrote for a textbook and my editor added that you have to be very gentle with the bird. “No, no,” says I. “You can slap it silly if you want to. It’s already dead.” Before prepping the bird, I always pick it up by its wings and say “bgawk-bgawk” a couple of times. This is essential for proper roasting.

So we’re off for this gastronomic adventure tonight. The good thing about serving something my diners have never had is that they won’t know the difference if I screw something up. And it’s charming that they think something as ho-hum as chicken and potatoes is exotic. I don’t have a clue how they make the soup for their noodles, so for me that’s exotic. I guess it’s all relative.

Hey! I made it through a whole post without any of those pesky parentheses. (Well, there were some, but I took them out.) (Oops.)


One thought on “American Home Cooking”

  1. Yes, so true. It’s all relative. Since fish head soup was on the lunch menu at a recent meeting and I’m a sissy American, I brought a bag lunch. My Khmer colleague looked at my PB sandwich with great confusion and asked me what it was. I said “It’s a plain peanut butter sandwich. I don’t like jelly.” My British colleague then translated – “Americans take peanuts and mash them into a paste and spread it on bread. It’s very popular.”

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