Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Tahleia's Last Meal

For my last meal, I would absolutely love to just have a variation of pastas, and sugary desserts. 

Pasta has always been my one of my favourites, and if I had to go, I would love to do so with a belly stuffed with pasta. I would have my sister be the dinner chef, because she makes the best pastas and lasagnas, and then have my mom make all the deserts.

I would like to have Beef Italia which is a cheesy beef lasagna and I would have to say the best thing I have ever tasted in my life. 

I think this must be a family recipe because it is made with a special orange sauce that my sister makes from scratch, and I have tried to find the recipe in books and online, but I have never had any success. This is the dish I always ask my sister to make when I come home from school, and I consider myself lucky that I don’t know how to make it or I would be a very fat woman. 

Following that, I would like to have a vegetable lasagna. As it is my special day, I would ask for extra corn! People always say its bad for you, but to me, the corn is what really makes a vegetable lasagna so good. 

Finally, I would finish up with the classic spaghetti and meat sauce. An oldy but goody that I would be more than pleased to eat on my final day. 

My mother makes great chocolates as a part of her business, so on my final day, I would like an assortment of all the chocolates and flavour fillings that she has made over the years. 

To top it all off, I would finish with a strawberry crepe with extra cool whip, and a chocolate milkshake on the side. 

Thus completes my perfect final meal. Far from luxurious, but its everything I would need to die happy. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Last Meal

When asked about what I want to eat, the answer usually comes immediately to mind.  However, The Last Meal has a certain sense of gravity to it that makes me hesitant to even start.  As a college student, deprived of a full kitchen and limited only to foods that fit on a meal plan (which is surprisingly varied, and looking less and less appetizing by the day) home-cooking would be the way I'd want to go out.  I have no particular meal in mind, as long as my mom makes it I'd die happy.  It's not just the physical food that I crave, but the process before it.  The sounds of NPR which are almost guaranteed to be on at all points of time in the house, the occasional blaring of the smoke alarm and the ensuing chaos to just dear god make it stop.  The smells of sauteing onions, grilled vegetables, even the very particular scent of boiling pasta have a very homey feel for me.  The scents that would fill up the house made the wait agonizing but it was so much more fulfilling when we finally sat down and ate.  I think it is the sense of fulfillment that I miss the most and I think that would make for the perfect last meal.  

Last meal

My last meal as a topic was quite interesting one to think about as I had never thought there would be such a finality to food. I would have to say that my last meal would be a porterhouse steak medium and a lobster tail, there's just something about the combo of land and sea that has always resonated with me. All in all this last class signifies the end of a interesting experiment that brought me some new experience and as the Romans believed experience was tantamount to life itself.

The Black Dinner

In the early fifteenth century, the Clan Douglas was consolidating power in the Kingdom of Scotland.  They carried a lot of clout in the kingdom; so much so that the crown saw them as a threat to the stability of the realm.  In 1440, the conflict between the crown and the Douglases came to a head over the control of King James II, who was only ten years old and therefore able to be controlled.  Sir William Crichton, the Lord Chancellor of the Kingdom of Scotland and Sir Alexander Livingstone conspired to come up with a solution to the problem of the Douglases' rise to power.  They invited William Douglas, 6th Earl of Douglas, and his younger brother David Douglas to a dinner with the boy king James II.  When the food was to be brought out, they brought out instead the head of a black bull, a symbol of death.  The Earl and his brother were dragged out to Castle Hill and given a mock trial.  They were found guilty of treason and summarily beheaded there and then.  This last meal for William and David Douglas became known as the Black Dinner.

What would I want for my last meal?

Most people eat to live, I would say I live to eat. Nothing brings me the pure joy that food does so imagining my last meal is incredibly hard. What would I probably want served in my last meal? Some of everything, a bite of my favorite meal from each of my favorite cuisines. However, that would probably end up giving me a severe stomach ache and I wouldn't like to go out like that. For my last meal I would want an endless supply of fruits, I can eat fruits all day. Some of my favorites are mangoes, strawberries, raspberries, pineapple, oranges, grapes, and papaya. I can just imagine eating an entire bowl of thinly sliced mangoes covered in salt and chili powder. Actually now that I think about it that is exactly what I would want for my last meal: A bowl of thinly sliced mangoes covered in salt and chili powder. At the beginning of this blog post I was not sure of what I would want for my last meal because I would not wanna give up any meal that I like. However, it has helped me identify exactly what my favorite thing to eat is. Now that I think about it every time I visit home during break before I leave my mom makes sure to buy a green mango and prepare it just the way i like with salt and chili powder. If you haven't tried it and you like spice and fruits you should definitely try it!

My Last Meal

I picture my last meal with my close family members in my grandparents home in the mountainous hills of the Dominican Republic. We would have a four course meal full of some of my favorite foods I enjoyed throughout my childhood. For as long as I can remember the best feasts in my home were for thanksgiving day so I also imagine this meal taking place at the end of November. Some of the dishes would be prepared in this old school brick oven in the backyard of my grandparents home. The dinner table would have a tacky table cover with hideous floral patterns, as is typical in my home. However, the most important part of my last meal would be an endless appetite so that I could try every item on the menu.

The Grand Meal Menu - 
Appetizers: french fries, hot dogs, and pepperoni pizza
Salad: Dominican potato salad or Caesar Salad
Entree: A platter of tostones (Thick plantain chips), sweet potato fries, yucca, mangu (mashed plantains), and a protein choice of either roasted chicken or turkey
Dessert: Bananas foster with Haagen-Dazs ice cream

The most memorable meal I have ever had was surprisingly not at home but at my favorite uncles house in New Jersey. This meal took place during Christmas eve sometime during my adolescence but it was really more of a house warming party. My uncles wife made roast chicken with white rice and although this is something I ate way too often in the past, this was the best version of the dish I have had to date. When thinking about this blog entry what triggered my memory was a bowl of walnuts and a batch of delicious earthy cookies that were present that day items that were never present in any family meals that I can remember. 

A Greek Last Meal

It seems very odd to me to be thinking of what I would want my last meal to be. In high school, we would joke around about what we would want our last meals to be, but now that I'm older I feel like it's more of a serious question. I think I would rather have my last meal be somewhat unexpected like the Romans at Pompeii, rather than knowing when I would have my last meal.

In high school when I was asked what my last meal to be I would respond by saying pizza, lasagna, cannolis, and usually Italian food. Since then my response has changed and now I would say all Greek food. If I were to have one last meal, then I would want to have my favorite food, which is Mediterranean food.

I had one more last night then, it would go as so...

After a history filled day of looking at archaeological sites and museums in Athens, I would go back to my hostel and put on best outfit, which would probably be a long dress.

Next, all of my family, friends, and myself would go out for a roof top dinner looking over the Akropolis that played live music. The restaurant would be playing live music and would be filled lots of traditional dancing. We would order lots of food, that would include pita, tzatziki, hummus, saganoki, meat platters with lamb, spanikopita, moussaka, dolmades, octopus, and horiatiki salad. There would also be a gyro meat spinning around on a metal spit on the roof top, so anyone could go up and cut pieces of meat off to make a gyro. To go along with the meal traditional drinks, such as ouzo and wine from Santorini, would be served. Not very Greek like, but I would be drinking mead. I really enjoy the sweetness of the honey wine.

Once dinner is finished, everyone would get up and form a circle to dance. We would all dance traditionally to the beautifully music. After enjoying the music for a bit, we would sit back down and for dessert. For dessert, delicious specialties, such as baklava, loukamades, loukoumi, galaktoboureko, and yogurt with honey and nuts, would be served. All of the desserts, except the loukoumi, would be covered in lots of honey. After dessert, everyone would continue to enjoy the company and stunning scenery.

So if I had only one more meal left, I would want to enjoy it with my family and friends while eating Mediterranean food in a historical atmosphere. It would definitely be a night to remember.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Last Meal

            If I were to imagine what my last meal ever would be like, I would definitely have the people closet to me by my side.  Of course your last meal would be eating your most favorite foods, but sharing that moment with loved ones is more important in my opinion.  My favorite thing to eat is PASTA.  I love me some pasta.  What do you call a fake noodle?  An impasta.  A corny joke my friend once told me.  Just felt it was appropriate.  Don’t mind the improper English.  My favorite pasta dish would have to be penne ala vodka with shrimp and broccoli.  For my last meal I would also need to have sushi.  Spicy California hand rolls and spicy salmon avocado rolls are a must.  I love chipotle so I would definitely have a burrito bowl with brown rice, steak, sour cream, guacamole, corn, pico de gallo, cheese, lettuce and of course chipotle sauce.  My favorite Asian dish I would eat growing up is rice with spicy minced beef tofu.  It’s called mapu tofu in Mandarin; I would definitely have that dish.  In terms of vegetables I definitely want broccoli cooked with olive oil and garlic.  Mashed potatoes with gravy and Buffalo wings would be at my last meal as well.  In terms of drinks, I would have dr. pepper and a peanut butter banana smoothie from red mango.  For dessert I would have green tea and red bean ice cream.  Growing up I would always love when my grandma cooked for us.  So I would definitely want a few of her cooked meals as well, specifically a spicy fish dish.  As you can see from all the different kinds of meals I would want at my last meal ever, growing up as an Asian-American I was able to enjoy many different types of food.  I am very thankful to have had this opportunity.  I am also glad I was able to enroll in this course the day before when I decided to take a different seminar class.  A discovery seminar class about rural life didn’t seem that interesting to me.  Thank you. 

Last meal

For the Catholics and Orthodox Christians, Easter had just passed and like many knowledgeable of the bible and its scriptures, it celebrates Jesus' rebirth. Many people only think about Easter as a day meant for egg hunting and giant bunnies with baskets, and painting Easter Eggs. But the second most famous schema that reflect Easter was actually a last meal of Jesus. Jesus' final meal was illustrated and immortalized not only through the scriptures but from art as well; Leonardo Da Vinci, Italy's most famous painter, illustrates Jesus' final meal in one of his more known masterpieces: the Last Supper. Many can see that for his last meal before his crucifixion was composed almost entirely of grain products - specifically bread. This final supper shows much similarity with most of the food we've cooked. Roman diet was focused heavily on bread and grains; they had varieties of bread for all types of circumstances. The Romans used bread dipping to sandwich their meat, and for dessert - where bread is sweetened in milk and fried. In addition,a decent amount of evidence regarding the Roman diet is wheat. During the Pompeii eruption, the volcanic ash were able to create a cast of the some of the objects and people of the city. There were many casts of humans, pets, and other household utensils. Among this collection, a lot of the food that were preserved seem to be bread; many photos of Pompeii's remnants show that in the dining area, the ash were formed in shape of traditional roman bread eaten by commoners. However, the Romans still had other meals in their diet; unfortunately, the volcanic ash didn't shape itself into the form of other typical Roman meal/fast food in restaurants or fast food joints. Although the Romans of Pompeii weren't Christians, they did, however, enjoy bread for their last supper too.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Last Dinner!

The dinner that comes to mind when we talk about a final dinner is when my parents took the family out before my oldest sibling went to college. I was about 13 at the time and didn't think much of it, but my dad put a lot of thought into this dinner. We went to Adam's Rib on main street, which is the same place my grandfather brought my dad before he went to college. My dad made sure we had the same table, and the same crackers and cheese. I appreciate this dinner more now because I realize how much my father appreciated what his dad did for him and now my father was only trying to share an experience with everyone. This was also one of the last dinners my family had together, while we were all living under one roof. After this dinner my parents shipped off all four of us (their children) to college in the next five years. Since then both of my sisters come home sparingly and when they do it is for the holidays and sometimes they both don't make it home. Basically I have fond memories of this dinner, but more of the meaning of it than the actual food.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Last Meal

I few things come to mind when I think about a possible last meal.  First would be the macaroni and cheese my grandfather used to make.  We always asked for it on our birthdays and he always deliverd.  There would also have to be shawarma, but not any shawarma.  When I was in Israel there was a little hole in the wall stand in Tzfat that made the best shawarma. A bunch of friends and myself found it while we were exploring the city. Combine their shawarma with a lot of hummus, pickled turnips, regular pickles, lettuce and tomato.  There would also have to be shashouka, particularly from a hotel we stayed at in Jerusalem.  For dessert, probably a root beer float or frozen custard from Adrian's on Grand Island.  Wash that all down with a glass of 2010 Moscato from the Golan Heights Winery or the white russians that my sister makes. 

All of these foods have a great memory attached, from cooking with my grandfather and being in Israel to summer vacation in elementary and middle school.

Monday, April 28, 2014

My Last Meal

If for some reason I had to choose my last meal, it would be overflowing with 3 of my favorite things: carbs, cheese, and chocolate... of course, not all together.

My last meal would ultimately be a side spinach salad with grapes, feta cheese, blueberries, walnuts, and raspberry vinaigrette. The main portion of the meal would be ravioli stuffed with cheese and smothered in a lot of sweet tomoatoe sauce! For dessert, I would request cannolis filled with strained and sweetened ricotta cheese (like my family makes) along with triple chocolate cake topped with shavings of toffee. Doesn't that all sound delicious?!

The important message to this post though is that food is universal. No matter if its your last meal of the day, or the last meal of your life, food is diverse, delicious and it brings people together.

This has been an exciting class getting to meet new people and try new foods and I'm glad I was able to have this experience!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Last Meal

Last meal on Earth? Without hesitation: feta sesame pizza with a honey drizzle.

Kidding (though it was delicious). Honestly, I have never thought of my choice for a last meal and I didn't think it would be a hard decision. I would start with a dinner salad, 86 the dressing. Then make my way to my favorite food: pasta. As per the type, easy, rigatoni. Dessert was the hardest decision. As I contemplated this question, I was thinking I would go for a slice of apple pie or maybe little bit of ice cream. But then I thought, a slice? A scoop? Who am I kidding? Scratch that, gimme the whole pie and tub of Ben & Jerry's Hazed and Confused® and I'll decide when I'm done. And scratch the salad too. Just out of principle. In one of the most famous case of a last meal, the Last Supper, I don't think Jesus skimped out on the food he liked.

I think good meal isn't all about the food. Some of the best meals I've ever had were eating PBJ's on top of an Adirondack mountain or a bowl of microwaved mac and cheese in the dorms. Food is about half of the equation, the other half would be the people to share it with. Since it seems I have complete control this meal in my hypothetical situation, I would put everybody I've ever known there. And the president. Why settle?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Last Meal

a last meal

aroma so sweet
intoxicating flavor
it was delicious

I wish I could say this about the last meal I had a few hours ago. Unfortunately, I can't. There have been only a few times where I remarked on how good the food was, and only these times. Other times, I have had to shovel down food, so I would avoid the repulsive taste and mushy texture. Such has been the fate of my palate and stomach while eating at the Governor's Dining Center. As that time comes around for dinner, around 5:30 PM, I look at the dinner menu. I never have high hopes for it, and am not usually disappointed. A feeling of dread usually creeps up from my stomach and makes me exhale a sigh of despair. Looks like I am sticking with the usual, consisting of a salad, some type of meat, the occasional soup, and a water. I try to stay away from certain foods. Usually if it can be cooked incorrectly, it is. The pasta is usually under cooked, I dare not try the pizza, and the rice spoons out in globs. I often eat a large lunch at the Union when I am out for classes, so I can eat less of the food at dinner. After dinner, I will usually go to the Cellar for a late night snack. This fills the void that was left by the minimal amount of dinner food I eat. It is really unfortunate that we are, as a freshman, constrained to a meal plan, 14 or 19 meals. Don't get me wrong, if it was optional I would still have one, but I would cook for myself quite a bit more. As the expression goes; If you want it done correctly, do it yourself. I'm an amateur chef and have prepared a few basic dishes, among them
General Tso's Chicken, seasoned Chicken and the ever so good boxed macaroni & cheese. Now that is meal!

This is simply satirical (for the most part).

Monday, April 7, 2014

Eat Like a Roman Night

Discovery Seminar Student Allen Zhou gets ready to Eat Like a Roman
The April 6 Eat Like a Roman night was a huge success!   Many thanks to the students in UB's Eat Like a Roman Discovery Seminar, the UB Classics Department, and the awesome staff at Crossroads Culinary Center.  At least 1500 (will update when we have the final count) people ate like Romans at  at UB, many of them dressed in ancient garb.  Displays included poster presentations on Roman food made by the students in the Eat Like a Roman Discovery Seminar, a display of Roman pottery and weapons, a toga-wrapping demonstration, a wandering Cleopatra played by UB Classics Ph.D. student Kristen Slonsky (make-up by Caitlin Diddams), Latin speaking greeters dressed in Roman clothing at the entrance to the dining hall, and a table with information on UB's fabulous CLASSICS DEPARTMENT.   Here is a link to the Buffalo News article (complete with video footage and an appearance by Professor McGuire), and below, some photos from the event:

Cleopatra has her eye on unsuspecting Classics Professor Brad Ault...

Classics Ph.D. students James Gawley in a senatorial toga and Caitlin Diddams  in a Roman stola.

The Crossroads Culinary Center menu for the evening

A Roman soldier stands guard at the entrance
Our Cleopatra is ready for the crowds about to enter the dining hall

Tonius and UB Classics major Lesley Crawford, ready for action

UB Classics alumnus Tony Waleszczak speaks with WBFO's Mike Desmond
UB Discovery Seminar student and Classics major Ashley Cercone displays some Roman magic

UB Discovery Seminar students Alex Sobczak and Jeremy Caldwell look pleased with their meal

A poster on household slaves by students in the Eat Like a Roman Discovery Seminar

We aren't sure what point Senator Tom Buck was making, but it seems to have alarmed matrona Katherine Roache and UB Ph. D. student Michael McGlin 

Crossroads Culinary Center staff member looking Classic!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Menu for April 6

After three months of studying and testing Roman recipes, Chef Neal Plazio has created the following menu for Sunday's banquet in CCC:
Cinnamon Lamb Soup
Chicken Pottage with Meatballs
Lentil Soup

Olive-Celery Paté
Tuna-Leek Salad
Marinated Olives with Herbs
Melon with Mint Dressing
Assorted Breads and Cheeses

Main Courses:
Parthian Chicken
Patina Apiciana (ancient equivalent of lasagna)
Rustic chicken with pasta (yes, we know the Romans didn't eat pasta, but CCC has a pasta station.  The chicken recipe is authentic even if the pasta is not)
Baked Ham with Figs in a Pastry Crust

Sesame-Honey Pizza
Carrots and Parsnips in Cumin-Honey Glaze
Spring Cabbage

Peaches in Cumin Sauce
Cato the Elder's Cheesecake
Rice Pudding

And click below to read all about it:
  • Soups: cinnamon lamb soup, chicken pottage with meatballs, and lentil soup
  • Appetizers and Salads: tuna leek salad, olive and celery pate, melon with mint dressing, marinated olives with herbs, and assorted breads and cheeses
  • Main Courses: rustic pasta with chicken (although pasta was not ancient fare, the sauce is from an ancient recipe), patina apiciana, baked ham with figs, Parthian chicken, and porchetta
  • Sides: spring cabbage with cumin, carrots and parsnips with cumin and honey glaze, and honey and sesame “pizza”
  • Desserts: peaches in a cumin sauce, Cato the Elder's cheesecake, and rice pudding
  • - See more at: http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2014/04/002.html#sthash.XFdciVGv.dpuf
    • Soups: cinnamon lamb soup, chicken pottage with meatballs, and lentil soup
    • Appetizers and Salads: tuna leek salad, olive and celery pate, melon with mint dressing, marinated olives with herbs, and assorted breads and cheeses
    • Main Courses: rustic pasta with chicken (although pasta was not ancient fare, the sauce is from an ancient recipe), patina apiciana, baked ham with figs, Parthian chicken, and porchetta
    • Sides: spring cabbage with cumin, carrots and parsnips with cumin and honey glaze, and honey and sesame “pizza”
    • Desserts: peaches in a cumin sauce, Cato the Elder's cheesecake, and rice pudding
    - See more at: http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2014/04/002.html#sthash.fq19Fvqk.dpuf
    • Soups: cinnamon lamb soup, chicken pottage with meatballs, and lentil soup
    • Appetizers and Salads: tuna leek salad, olive and celery pate, melon with mint dressing, marinated olives with herbs, and assorted breads and cheeses
    • Main Courses: rustic pasta with chicken (although pasta was not ancient fare, the sauce is from an ancient recipe), patina apiciana, baked ham with figs, Parthian chicken, and porchetta
    • Sides: spring cabbage with cumin, carrots and parsnips with cumin and honey glaze, and honey and sesame “pizza”
    • Desserts: peaches in a cumin sauce, Cato the Elder's cheesecake, and rice pudding
    - See more at: http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2014/04/002.html#sthash.fq19Fvqk.dpuf
    Press Release for Roman Dinner

    Monday, March 31, 2014

    Dress Like a Roman!

    In response to Ashley's request, here is a link to a video put out by the Getty Museum in Los Angeles on how to wrap a toga:
     How to wear a toga.
     Halfway through, there are instructions on how to make a toga from a bed sheet:  There are also links to longer articles on Roman dress.

    Citizen, matron, curule magistrate, Emperor, general, workman, slave

    Sunday, March 30, 2014

    Mixtura, Moretum, and the New York Times

    Greetings, all!  Don't miss  "You Probably Don't Want to Look in the Crisper..."-- a New York Times Magazine article that features an exploration of the refrigerators of 11 New York chefs.  There are some strange items in those refrigerators...along with a surprising amount of expensive champagne.

    Today we will revisit two dishes from earlier in the semester-- feta, sesame, and honey "pizza" and the herb and cheese dip Mixtura cum Caseo.  Here they are:

    Mixtura cum Caseo
    Mixtura contains feta, olive oil, and various greens-- leeks, lettuce, arugula, basil, mint, thyme, coriander...

    The sesame-feta-honey  pizzas (Staititai) are made slightly differently from ours-- the dough is similar to our pizza dough, but instead of baking it, you shallow-fry the rolled out disks of dough in in olive oil before adding the toppings.

     To the right, the dough divided into 4 disks before rolling out on a lightly floured surface.  And below, the finished pizza, topped with a mix of chevre and feta cheeses, drizzled with honey, and sprinkled with sesame seeds. 

    We will also try an amazing dip called Moretum.  As is the case with Mixtura, there are a number of variations one can make, substituting different kinds of cheeses and flavorings.  Unlike most ancient Roman recipes, this one includes garlic.  I used the recipe from Laura Kelley's The Silk Road Gourmet, which she in turn got from a restaurant I would love to visit:  Hostaria Antica Roma.  It is not the most attractive dish, especially as photographed here in a plastic tub, on its way to class, but it is fantastic.
    Moretum, a minimalist version.
    Here is the recipe:

    4-6 medium cloves garlic (more or less as desired)
    1/2 pound Romano cheese, grated (could use parmesan)
    ½ teaspoon salt (or as desired)
    2-3 teaspooons of fennel seeds, ground
    3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (more as needed for consistency)
    Grind garlic along with the salt in a mortar and pestle or food processor, and then add the grated Romano cheese and blend thoroughly. Add the olive oil as needed for the consistency of a smooth paste.* Garlic Flavor will be less strong if it is allowed to sit for several hours or overnight. 

    Optional ingredients for this amount of moretum can also include: a small to medium bunch of cilantro, chopped; ¼ cup chopped celery and two tablespoons of young rue or fennel leaves. If herbs are added, the consistency will have to be adjusted with the addition of more olive oil. Serve room temperature or slightly cool. 

    *I decided to try a trick I learned  while researching hummus-- grinding or blending in some ice water, a little at a time, to lighten the consistency.  It worked very well. It may look like mashed potatoes in the photo, but it has a much lighter, smoother texture.

    Sunday, March 9, 2014

    For your projects

    Check the UB Learns course documents section-- I have posted a number of documents and links to web-pages that may be of use to you as you work on your projects.  The following reference works may also get you started, and will provide you with further bibliography.

    The oxford encyclopedia of ancient greece and rome, ed. Michael Gagarin.  Oxford University Press.
    Women and Slaves in Greco-Roman Culture, ed. Sandra Joshel and Sheila Murnaghan, Routledge, 1998.

    Sunday, March 2, 2014

    A Recipe for ?

    Food hits us hard when  it comes to our roots.  Aden's description of the Seder brings my grandfather right back to me.  I come from a very mixed family, with Catholics and Jews fighting it out with English and Native Americans in my DNA.  My grandfather was  Russian Jewish, from Moldova, and stowed away on a ship at age 14 with his little sister Sarah, to get away from the pogroms. They landed in Canada. Long, long story short, when he was 35 he married my grandmother, who was 19 and of mixed descent-- white missionary met Native American somewhere in the Dakotas.  She was 5'11" and he was 5'5."  They both had mighty brains.  A recipe for a troubled but lively marriage. 

    My dad was raised rather schizophrenically by my grandfather, who was trained as a rabbi in the Soviet Union, moved to Canada, apprenticed to a tailor, went to McGill University, and became a psychiatrist, and my grandmother, who was part Blackfoot Indian and more parts missionary stock who grew up in the mountains of Idaho.   She was a card-carrying member of the Communist party, literally, while he was a refugee from Russia who despised Lenin and, later, Stalin. 

    They compromised by practicing no religion at home, and celebrated Christmas in a secular way.  But my grandfather talked a lot about Passover and its rituals, more and more as he grew older, so I recognize all the things Aden describes here.  When I was in college and graduate school, I went to a number of Seders, and I can say that I love the charoset and the matzoh ball soup (and the wine!).  Also, we have a tradition very much like the afikomen-- we hide an ornament shaped like a pickle in our Christmas tree each year, and the person who finds the pickle on Christmas morning gets a special prize.

    How to Carve a Chicken

    A link, for those who don't know:

    Jamie Oliver, how to carve a chicken
    Chinese New Year Meals

    One of my favorite holiday meals is during Chinese New Year.  Each year around January or February is Chinese New Year.  The date of Chinese New Year changes every year.  This year it was January 31st and it's the year of the horse.  On New Year's Eve my family gathers together at my grandma's house and we have a big celebration and feast.  Around this time my family always has these trays of little snacks such as peanuts, pistachios, and candled fruit melons.  The tray has eight compartments, the lucky number in Chinese culture.  The snacks are meant for guests to munch on throughout their stay.  Whenever I would see these trays as a kid I knew it was around the time of Chinese New Year.  The dishes we eat on New Year's Eve always consist of long noodles to symbolize a long life span.  There is always fish to symbolize wealth.  Since my family is from Taiwan we cook traditional Taiwanese cuisine as well.  There is always rice and usually soup for after the meal.  For dessert we eat niangao which is a cake like dessert made of glutinous rice.  Another tradition is the giving and receiving of red envelopes or hongbao in Mandarin with money inside for good luck.

    Anthony Yeh

    Comment from Martha:

    Anthony's post is quite vivid.  I've been to a few Chinese New Year's celebrations (probably not too authentic, since a Jewish UB professor organized them, but he is a serious student of Chinese food and always hired a Chinese restaurant for the occasion, and let the chefs dictate the menu choices). I was always amazed by the variety and number of the dishes served.   No matter if I ate nothing all  day before  the dinner,  and no matter how small the portions I took, I was always too full to eat more before the midpoint of the meal.  And I LOVED the food.  The kind hosts of the restaurant would hastily explain each fabulous dish as they served it, so I know we had the lucky snacks, the long noodles, and the fish that Anthony mentions.  Not sure about the dessert, because I never had enough stamina to eat it. 

    Thanksgiving at my Grandmothers

           From the first 16 years of my life we would spend thanksgiving at my Grandmas house. We would have turkey and a small ham steak for my sister who refused to eat the bird. But what is always in my mind about those annual meals is the one side dish that I have been unable to replicate and that was a baked broccoli cheddar rice casserole. It was my favorite dish and reminds me of happy times. Now we spend thanksgiving at my aunt’s house and everything is pretty much the same except for that casserole.

          Rituals for this dinner are really only saying grace before eating. The one dish that is essential to the entire process is of course the bird. What would Thanksgiving be without a turkey? The one dish I absolutely dread is the boiled turnip that my aunt makes for her and my mom, it stinks up the whole kitchen. My favorite tradition that we have done for as long as I can remember is that after dessert we play board games.  

    Chinese New Years Meal

    CHinese new years is often celebrated by the family. It's just my parents, siblings, and me who gather together to enjoy a small recipe. Although it's a stew it's commonly referred to as Chinese fondue. It's simply a a stew with a variety of vegetables and other meat that is heated in a very spicy broth. The thing that is different about this recipe is that instead of using a stove, we always would use a portable gas stove to cook our simple dish. as the spicy broth gradually heated up we would place the meat first into the pot, then would be the vegetables. As the stew cooked we would always discuss the new zodiac and the prospect of the new year

    Comment from Martha:
    When Don and I lived in Los Angeles back in the day, we used to go to a Mongolian restaurant that had the same kind of "fondue"-- each table had its own burner and bubbling pot of broth, and everyone took turns cooking their meat and vegetables on long forks or skewers in the spicy broth.  Unfortunately, we were too ignorant to discuss the zodiac!  I have a feeling the Romans would have loved this, and I wonder if some of the corner snack bars might have offered similar dishes.

    Basynoi: Sort of like a Fig Newton Potsticker...

    Michael Grant's Roman Cookery  has a recipe for basynoi, a little stuffed pastry offered by inhabitants of the Greek island of Delos to Iris, goddess of the rainbow and messenger to the gods. 

    Here is the recipe (n.b. Grant uses weight  measurements for dry ingredients):

    For the pastry: 
    7 oz. all purpose flour
    2 fl. oz.  olive oil
    3 fl. oz. water
    Combine in a large bowl and knead until you have a very smooth dough.  Place the dough in a plastic bag and let sit for an hour or so.

    3 oz. walnuts  [I substituted raw UNSALTED pistachios, as I had no walnuts-- apologies to Iris]
    1 oz. figs

    Combine in a blender or food processor or large mortar and pestle until finely ground.  Roll the pastry out as thinly as possible on a floured surface.  Use a cookie cutter or a glass 2 and a half inches in diameter to cut out the pastries (I used a 2 " glass, then stretched the circles out a bit).
    Two inch circles, measured with a Roman Ruler

    Place about half to 1 tsp. of filling onto the dough circles. It is rather dry, so you have to squeeze the filling against the back of the spoon to get it to stick together.  Brush the edges of the dough with water.  Fold into a half-moon shape and pinch to seal.  Aren't they cute?
    Pastry with filling

    Folded and sealed

    Heat 3 ounces olive oil in a large pan-- if you want to test the heat, keep a few scraps of dough from the leftover trimmings.  When the oil sizzles when you drop a piece in, the oil is ready to fry.  Fry the pastries in batches until they are crisp and golden on both sides; if they start to burn, turn down the heat a bit..  Drain on paper towels.
    Frying up nicely in the olive oil.

    Waiting for their quick turn in the hot honey, surrounded by  sesamides.

    Just before serving, heat 3 fl. oz. honey in a pan and turn the pastries in it to coat.  Serve warm.

    Saint Joseph's Day Table / San Giusepe

    I really enjoy Saint Joseph's Day/San Giusepe for the unique food. I also really enjoy this holiday because of the involvement that it includes. Most holidays I spend at home or at a family member's house, but for this holiday I spend it at church...a Parish that's not even my own.

    My mom comes from a large Sicilian family that is very close, even though everyone lives far apart. My relative drive and fly in for this holiday every year. Even my "Aunt" Kathy from California comes in for this holiday, just so that she can work at the church.

    I did not really start to celebrate this holiday, until a few years ago when my Aunt Kathy invited me to help her. Now every year I go to the church early in the morning to begin baking, along with other older women from the Parish. We begin baking at 9am and stop around 3pm. All day long we make two different kids of bread. One kind has lemon shavings and the other kind has anise in it. Once the bread is mixed we shape the dough into long strips. After we connect the strips at the top and then bread the dough into shapes, such as a shepherd's cane. While the women make the bread, the men in the kitchen begin to make the sauce and pasta.

    The next day the meal is served around 1pm. The meal is served in various courses, which each represent something else...By the end of the meal, your stomach is in SO much pain from eating.

    - A plate of braided bread, raw vegetables, oranges, and boiled eggs is placed on the table first
    - Lentil soup
    - Pasta con sarde with mollica or pasta with red sauce and mollica (mollica is suppose to be like saw dust)
    - Salad
    - Broiled fish with lemon
    - Frittatas: Omletes with vegetables and/or fish
    - Dessert: Cannolis, sfinge (deep fried donut with sugar and cinnamon), pizzelli, pingolata/strufoli (honey balls), and assorted cookies, such as ricotta cookies.

    Every year these same foods are severed. I can't imagine one of these courses not being present...even though I am not a fan of the pasta con sarda or the frittatas. I do not like sardines or frittatas. My favorite of the meal is probably the bread because it's very buttery and sweet.

    This year it is celebrated on March 19, which is very soon!

    Comment from Martha:
    I love this description!  It reminds me of all the elaborately sculpted breads you can still see on different holidays in Italy, and in Little Italies in American cities (e.g., Hertel Ave in Buffalo and Boston's North End, which I used to visit when I was growing up in the Boston suburbs, and which always has a huge St. Joseph's Day parade).    Anthony talked about the symbolism of the food at Chinese New Year's, and you and Silvana both mention the "sawdust" that honors St Joseph the Carpenter.  Do the sardines and braided bread also symbolize something? The bread sounds a lot like challah, also sweet and braided. 

    Although we are not Italian, we always think of St Joseph each year because my sisters, who are twins, were born on his day--March 19, 2 days after St. Patrick.  Viva la mollica!