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Wed, Mar. 17th, 2010, 09:50 am
Now for something completely uncontroversial

So, heh, nice weather we're having? (Noo! Brisbane's weather has been very unsettled lately and that might lead to a discussion of... global warming.)

My raccoon has taken up cooking (real cooking--from raw ingredients!) and I'm enormously proud of him. The problem is, he's bought an American cookbook. (I don't think they should sell those here, but that's another--controversial--issue we'll leave alone.) I love Americans and their cooking, but they use imperial measurements and their taste for spicy food tends to strain our more delicate palates. Also, some foodstuffs which are common there are unheard of here and vice versa. Um, what are tomatillos? The recipe calls for a can of tomatillos and neither us nor the store have heard of them.

EDIT: I should clarify, when I say American cookbook, I don't mean a cookbook about American cuisine. It pretended to be a generic cookbook for slow cooker recipes but in fact it was written for American audiences and so has limited usefulness outside of the US.

Tue, Mar. 16th, 2010 11:56 pm (UTC)
schnee

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomatillo

Yay cooking, too. :)

Wed, Mar. 17th, 2010 12:53 am (UTC)
marko_the_rat

Thanks. I could have looked up Wikipedia too, but I get more "spice" and "local flavour" (if you'll pardon the puns) by reading responses from Americans.

Wed, Mar. 17th, 2010 10:30 am (UTC)
schnee

Fair enough. :)

Wed, Mar. 17th, 2010 12:02 am (UTC)
vandringar

Tomatillos are also called husk tomatoes. Here in the US, I've generally only see them in stores in areas with a large Hispanic population.

Wed, Mar. 17th, 2010 12:08 am (UTC)
maddogairpirate

As much as I loved Brisbane, and I totally did, I do feel American culture has just seeped in way too much. But that said, some American recipes are excellent.

And I never cared for spicy food either. Guess that makes me more Australian than American. 0=)

Wed, Mar. 17th, 2010 12:40 am (UTC)
tjfoxx

Australians don't like spicy foods?

I figured you'd love a good curry.

Wed, Mar. 17th, 2010 12:50 am (UTC)
marko_the_rat

Australians tend more towards Asian cuisine. Indian outlets are not uncommon, but they're not the main focus here. Americans have lots of spicy snack foods and the like that have never occurred to us here.

Wed, Mar. 17th, 2010 12:48 am (UTC)
kit_ping

Um. So, should I refuse to buy a French cookbook because it uses metric?

Wed, Mar. 17th, 2010 01:06 am (UTC)
marko_the_rat

Well, that's entirely up to you. I was merely pointing out the shortcomings I've experienced with American cookbooks in Australia, especially when the regionalisation of it is not made obvious. It was promising to be a generic cookbook (it even had the measurements in this case converted to metric) rather than an exploration of American cuisine. The motivations for buying a French cookbook are I think quite different. Personally, my biggest objection to a French cookbook would be that I don't read French. :) I suspect the availability of certain ingredients locally would also be an issue, but if you're making a concerted to cook in a French style I expect you'd go the extra mile to get authentic ingredients.

In trying to lighten the mood, I think I've stumbled onto another controversial topic. -_-

Wed, Mar. 17th, 2010 02:04 am (UTC)
kit_ping

Merely trying to figure out the logic. :)

Wed, Mar. 17th, 2010 01:01 am (UTC)
ultratails42

Yay cooking! I too have taken up a bit of fresh cooking recently. I actually love to cook and it was a second choice for a career if I didn't do computers. Unfortunately I don't get to cook from scratch as much as id like as we can't afford to get the fresh raw ingredients.
(Deleted comment)

Wed, Mar. 17th, 2010 01:37 am (UTC)
marko_the_rat

Good god--what's that?!
(Deleted comment)

Wed, Mar. 17th, 2010 01:59 am (UTC)
marko_the_rat

"Get a hole lot more out of life!" I guess you can still buy those in the shops. I was never a big fan of them. I have never seen nor heard of Musk ice-cream though, and I am not a stranger to ice-cream outlets. Baskin Robbins will mix sweets into your ice-cream for you, so I suppose they might have Life Savers behind the counter.
(Deleted comment)

Wed, Mar. 17th, 2010 01:40 am (UTC)
kendermouse

i LIVE in the US and don't know what a tomatillo is. ::looks concerned::

i still remember you cooking for us and the dubious "fun" of shopping for ingredients. ::snicker:: Measurements/can sizes, stored in brine vs. stored in oil or water. I felt SO SORRY for you.

and then of course there was the "is EVERYTHING fried here?" :: grin :: It was VERY interesting to see our cooking/cuisine through non-American eyes. It REALLY makes you stop and think. Which isn't necessarily a BAD thing.

and what kinds of "spicy" foods are you looking at? We've got some pretty lightly spiced stuff too, just depends on the region, i think.

::hugs you and the raccoon::

Good luck!
the kendermouse (who loves to cook but doesn't do it NEARLY often enough)

Wed, Mar. 17th, 2010 02:09 am (UTC)
marko_the_rat

Oh no! Not all American cooking is spicy, just as not all Mexican cooking is spicy, but you guys are willing to go further with spice than we are and it's liable to burn delicate raccoon tongues. (Student households in any country are a different matter, of course.)

It's interesting that you haven't heard of tomatillos either. I guess what a respondent said above is true: You need a strong Hispanic population to have them, making it all the more unlikely that we would find them here. I admit I do feel let down by that cookbook.

I loved cooking for you guys, but I was certainly grateful for the support in the supermarket. The biggest culture shock I get in the supermarket is going through the breakfast foods aisle with row upon row of sugary cereals. Having said that though, your highest fibre cereal easily beats our best offering.

Wed, Mar. 17th, 2010 02:57 am (UTC)
kendermouse

i will admit that Ma'am is MUCH more adventurous then I am when it comes to cooking. And she probably would have at least known where to LOOK for tomatillos. I'm pretty... pedestrian about my ingredients. GARLIC! Never too much garlic. ::giggle::

and i'll admit to growing up on midwest "Farm food" (steak and potatoes, biscuits and gravy - and no, not cookies, rolls (had to clear that up with a UK friend the first time i mentioned i was having that for breakfast - he was GROSSED OUT!), etc) and German cooking (which is pretty... bland and heavy). I didn't discover curry, REAL Mexican, Cajun, etc until recently and it took a while for me to get used to the spices. mom and dad STILL don't do much in the way of "heavy spice".

Will be interesting to see how the cookbook works out for you though. Sounds like a CHALLENGE.

Yeah... we LOVE our sugar in the mornings. ::grin:: Though some of the "healthy cereals" are starting to be REALLY good. Kashi has a "Vanilla Harvest"/shredded wheat bites cereal that's REALLY good. but then, i like vanilla. Though i will admit to having "sugary cereal" cravings and using them as "snacks" once and a while. ::grin::

Peace,
the maus

Wed, Mar. 17th, 2010 01:40 am (UTC)
arokh

You and your vegimite on EVERYTHING! BWAFF! HUF! chili power and hot curry on EVERYTHING!!!

Wed, Mar. 17th, 2010 04:08 am (UTC)
nicodemusrat

Interesting. See, I wouldn't have expected American food to be thought of as "spicy", particularly. Maybe lots of "savory". And "deep fried"... but that's a separate problem. :P

Wed, Mar. 17th, 2010 10:50 am (UTC)
marko_the_rat

I think my reply to Kender Mouse above should address your concerns.
(Deleted comment)

Wed, Mar. 17th, 2010 08:30 pm (UTC)
marko_the_rat

Imperial and metric cups (and tablespoons, etc) are different. (Eg, imperial cup = 284mm vs a metric cup = 250mm) I would say it's close enough that you can fudge it (cooking is an inexact science) but aussiehusky above disagrees and variance creeps in. My real issue is with the other measurements and we have no hope of finding tomatillos here except in an online mail order store.

Wed, Mar. 17th, 2010 10:03 pm (UTC)
kupok

I've seen them things in stores, But I've alwase been afraid to touch them! They look like little pod people :o

Slow cooker soups are great through. If you ever end up with a Ham bone, toss it in the slow cooker with water, salt, a LOT of dry beans (I mean, as many diffrent kinds of beans as you can find), dry split peas, pepper, garlic, bay leafs, basil and oregano.

It should look like mostly water to start (About half just water), but the dry beans will soon expand, the fat left on the ham bone will turn liquid and flavor everything, anything that was still meat will fall off the bone and join the soup, the bone and the marrow itself will add flavor, and the beans expand. In a few hours time, you have an irresistable scent in the house, and a reddish broth full of delicious ham-flavored beans.

I'm sure there are recipes out there with more "exact" measurements out there, But the great thing about soups in the slow cooker, is you don't need exact mesurements. Throw things in a pot of water (Or chicken broth if it's a chicken soup) And a few hours later, it's delicious :9

Thu, Mar. 18th, 2010 02:14 am (UTC)
lupine52

heh when you say American food all I can think of is hamburger, fries, coke and anything that can be fried or nuked.

No seriously though alot of American food is a hybrid of different cultures. A truly american food is the burrito, it despite what many may think is not a mexican dish as the burrito is made with a flour tortilla. In Mexico tortillas are typically made from ground corn and not flour.

Thu, Mar. 18th, 2010 02:30 pm (UTC)
bob_bunny: weather

With regard to Brisbane's weather.

Can we please have the rain back if your finished with it.:)

We have had no real rain here in Western Australia since November last year.

Thu, Mar. 18th, 2010 07:46 pm (UTC)
marko_the_rat: Re: weather

Eep! Sorry! Our dams are overflowing, or on the verge, so I think we've had enough. I'll have a word with ristin (our local storm raccoon) about sending the rest west.

Tue, Apr. 27th, 2010 02:44 am (UTC)
savant_da_rat

Hooray for cooking raccoons! All of the ones I know by me still live off of instant microwave stuff and pizza :P

The only reason I already knew what tomatillos are is b/c I make a point of trying any weird veggie they have at the store. I was not that impressed with them to be honest.

FWIW, figuring out measurements (and specific items) on recipes from outside of the US is half the fun for me :) Unless the cookbook is calling for too many ingredients that you simply can't get in your country, I don't think it's all bad. (And if you can't get them, a quick google search for something like "recipe substitute ingredient X" where X is the thing you can't get will often find something suitable.

Complete side note, the grocery local to me that sold that yummy sunflower seed butter with the raccoon on the label went out of business, I have not gotten another jar after the one we had at AC! :(