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EPICUREAN TRAVEL ISSUE THE YALE

Spring 2012

AN UNDERGRADUATE PUBLICATION

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FROM THE EDITOR | JORDAN ZIMMERMAN

DEAR FAITHFUL EPICUREANS, A

s my senior year draws to a close, I find myself waxing nostalgic about the best moments I’ve had here at Yale. Not to my surprise, I found that many of those moments happened with people I love, while sharing something edible. I’ll never forget the look on my best friend’s puzzled face (she’s what I like to call a “recovering vegetarian”) when she took her first bite of chorizo and figs at Barcelona. I smile every time I think of the killer fried chicken at Silliman’s annual Kentucky Derby party, and the absurd hat-making activities we enjoyed before indulging. I’ll always be touched when I think of the time Chef Chris prepared a special four-mushroom soup for a Friday night dining hall dinner, naming it “Jordan’s Mushroom Soup” in honor of the great food-related conversations we’d share as I’d pile my dinner plate with his stir-fry or pasta alla vodka. I think of my years at Yale as somewhat of a culinary adventure—one that has primed me for adventures beyond its nouveau-Gothic walls. Such adventures are what this issue is all about. When we here at the Epicurean think of “travel,” we immediately associate tourism with eating our ways through the cities, countries, and continents we visit. We’re looking at you, fresh Croatian oysters, ethereal Tokyo sushi, and exotic Dominican curried lamb. We’re the Facebook friends who come back from Spring Break with more pictures of late-night falafel sandwiches and seven-course Moroccan feasts than friends in bikinis and Coronas (although, when in Mexico, a Corona every now and then…) We firmly believe that food is a point of access to the multi-faceted customs and culture of a place, whether that place be Astoria or Mumbai. So before you all jet off to your lavish summer beach homes, your not-so-lavish summer job serving snocones at your hometown’s little league championships, your fancy summer internship at a chic cosmopolitan finance firm, or your first jaunt into the real world (may God grant us, occasionally, the money for groceries), take a moment to flip through these pages and experience how other Yalies integrate food-centric experiences into their travels. In the words of country-western singer and Southern sage Dolly Parton, “Find out who you are, and do it on purpose.” When this school year ends, I intend to do just that. I will engage in some traveling of my own—to New York City, where I will continue to work in, and write about, my food adventures. I encourage all Epicureans to do the same. If food is your interest, if food is your passion, makes moves. Go explore. Have an adventure—just be sure to cultivate a healthy appetite. It’s been a pleasure to serve as Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Epicurean, and to our readers, but especially to my wonderful editorial, design, and business staff: you all are rockstars. I can’t wait to see what you’ll do in the future. Stay hungry. Gastronomically yours,

THE YALE

EPICUREAN AN UNDERGRADUATE PUBLICATION Editor-in-Chief | Jordan Zimmerman Gastronomica | Kate Huh Reviews | TaoTao Holmes Recipes | Alison James Business | Winnie Huang Design | Earl Lee www.yaleepicurean.com The views and opinions expressed in articles in this publication are those of the authors of the articles and of the editorial board of The Yale Epicurean, and not of Yale College or Yale University. All references to The Yale Epicurean refer, in fact to the full name of the organization, The Yale Epicurean, an Undergraduate Publication.


THE YALE

EPICUREAN AN UNDERGRADUATE PUBLICATION

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SPRING 2012 | VOLUME III | ISSUE 3

GASTRONOMICA

Becoming a Foodie | Earl Lee From Pig to Pork | Sophie Mendelson Battle of General Tso | Lucas Sin Chasing Cars: Food Trucks and LA Culture | Jackson McHenry

5 9 11 13

From Coast to Coast: Fusion Cuisine | Sophia Hua 5 Best Meals for Less Than $5 | Andy Brown iPhone Epicures: Evernote Food | Serena Gelb Select Restaurants in NYC | Ryan Healey Da Story Behind Da Man: Chef Chris | Stephanie Mazursky

15 17 18 19 21

RECIPES

Mumbai Vada Pav | Anisha Suterwala Macarons au Citron | Elizabeth Chrystal West Lake Sweet-and-Sour Fish | Alice Wang Crumbly Cinnamon Cake in a Cup | Lucas Sin

22 23 26 26

OTHERS

Bottle Talk | Brannack McLain H贸rta Culture | Josh Evans

27 29

REVIEWS

Interested in contributing to the Yale Epicurean? Email editor@yaleepicurean.com Cover design by Earl Lee.

4 | Winter 2012

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5 | Winter 2012

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Becoming a Foodie... essay and photos Earl Lee


B

lood seeped out as I sank my knife into what once was muscle—cow muscle. Now, it is a $26 burger sold at the fashionable New York City restaurant Minetta’s Tavern. Justifying that price for a pair of buns, ground meat, and toppings is difficult, so the fact that chefs Lee Hanson and Riad Nasr manage to do so implies a prodigal clientele—investment bankers, high-priced lawyers, and celebrities. Unlike the usual crowd at Minetta’s, I am neither rich, nor powerful, nor famous. I am a food blogger sporting a youthful face with tussled hair. Armed with a Nikon D3000 camera in one hand and a notepad in the other, I had travelled far to try the legendary Black Label burger. I learned of the burger a few months ago when I came across the headline “Secrets of Minetta’s Tavern ‘Black Label’ burger” while browsing through Google Reader. I follow many food blogs to keep up-to-date with the food world, but I rarely spend much time on any single article. Something about this one held my attention. As I read on, buzz phrases such as “Creekstone Farms,” “dry aged ribeye,” and “brioche buns” fed my desire to try the burger. After learning about the restaurant, however, I dismissed fantasies of dining there, citing as reasons two main obstacles: the price and the difficulty of getting a reservation. Without a job, I could not squander $26 on a burger, and convincing either of my parents to pay seemed futile. Securing a reservation at Minetta’s was similarly daunting: I would have to call months in advance and travel from Maryland to New York. Even then, there was a chance that the restaurant’s infamously cavalier attitude toward no-name diners would cause me to lose my seat: Minetta’s owner, Keith McNally, has been known to seat the likes of Ben Affleck and Madonna at tables reserved for others. However, the real reason behind my reluctance was more psychological than practical. Ever since food blogs burgeoned in the early 2000s, blogging became a favorite pastime for virtually anyone who could type and take photographs. People could easily catalog recipes and review restaurants, so they did. The 2009 film Julie & Julia, which highlighted the glamour of food blogging without conveying its toils, triggered a new

wave of food bloggers. Since then, the term “foodie” has become a mainstream definition for someone who eats for the pleasure of gustatory experiences—and often blogs about them. Once pop culture absorbed the term, it began popping up in television shows, from How I Met Your Mother to Suits. But along with the growth of foodie1 ism came its critics. While some could not care less that foodies take eating seriously, others were displeased to observe them taking photos in restaurants and writing hyperbolic reviews about food. Brian Meyers, a columnist for the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, went as far as calling foodies gluttons in the Atlantic2 . At restaurants, whenever I begin fidgeting around with the settings on my DSLR camera, heads turn. While some diners are curious, others appear offended, as though they are being stared at while eating. I dare not use flash, but the beam of light that helps my camera auto-focus is unavoidable, and the dim lighting present in many classy restaurants only accentuates the problem. During the brief moment when my camera focuses, I hold my breath, bracing myself for complaints from neighboring diners. I simply want to observe and report on my blog, but it is hard not to attract attention when you are the only one taking photos in a restaurant. It was this same self-consciousness, this recurrent fear of provoking fellow diners’ disdain, that prevented me from seeking out Minetta’s. The fact that I eventually ended up eating there happened by chance, not by intent, and with much hesitation. During the winter of 2010, I visited WD~50, an avant-garde restaurant in New York City, with my mother. WD~50, though not as famous for celebrity sightings, catered to clientele similar as that of Minetta’s Tavern—successful, aristocratic adults who like indulging in fanciful meals—so I went in with a bit of apprehension. When we entered, the hostess seated my mother and me at a two-person table that was situated snugly between two other two-seaters. I noticed that to get out of my seat, I would have to disturb a neighboring couple. The couple appeared 1 The culture of eating and caring about food that unites foodies. 2 B.R. Myers. “The Moral Crusade Against Foodies” http://www.theatlantic.com/ magazine/archive/2011/03/the-moralcrusade-against-foodies/8370/


From top-left, clockwise: the author at Locanda Verde, an upscale, Italian taverna in TriBeCa, NY; mackerel sashimi at ABC Kitchen, also in NYC; cold-fried chicken at WD~50, an avant-garde restaurant in NYC; burgers at The Spotted Pig in NYC. Photos by Earl Lee and In Yu.

to be in their sixties. The husband, dressed in clean khakis, a blue-striped collared shirt, and dark blue sports coat, sat diagonally across from me. I could tell from his attire that he was wealthy. Throughout the meal, he watched me scribble notes and shoot photos, and I overheard snippets of his conversations with the waiter and his wife. At one point, the man complained to his waiter that one of the dishes did not cater to his allergies. When the waiter peacefully made alternative suggestions, he shot back rude protests. As the dinner progressed, I could tell from the way he name dropped restaurants like French Laundry and Per Se, that this man was no stranger to haute cuisine. However, he and his wife did not seem like foodies. They did not take photos or talk about the food they were eating besides a fleeting comparison to other restaurants. They simply ate. After taking nearly two-hundred photos and jotting down a page of notes, I stood up to leave when my phone fell out of my pocket. After what seemed like two to three bounces, my phone skid to a halt next to the man’s shoes. The couple ceased their conversation as if a burglar had shown up at their home. After glancing at the man’s face

to see a flash of annoyance, I blurted out an apology. Quickly, I stooped to pick up my phone and scurried out of the restaurant. During the entire incident, the man never said a word or made eye contact. He knew my phone was inches away from his foot, but instead of helping, he kept quiet. I felt that the man’s unwillingness to help or even acknowledge the situation stemmed from a disdain towards me for being a foodie, and that angered me. Who was he to judge me based on the fact that I took pictures of food and wrote about it? To him, the fact that my hobby happened to be seeking out foods and blogging about them cast me as inferior him. We were separated not by divisive issues such as religion but by our thoughts on food. My high school English teacher, Mr. Dickel, once told my class that he would rather be known and hated than not known at all. Mr. Dickel was an imposing man who played rugby, so his statement did not surprise me; he was unafraid to take or give hits, both physical and metaphorical. During class discussions of texts, he firmly defended his opinions and sometimes accepted those of others. After thinking about what Mr. Dickel said, I have begun to realize that

others’ perceptions of what I do should not affect whether or how I pursue my passions. Simply speaking, it would be a pity to let the man at WD~50 make me feel guilty about taking photos and passionately dissecting the flavors of food because he thinks it silly to do so. I will be as attached to the food I eat as I want to be. Just as we shape identity through fashion or ideals, we express it through our interests; by letting the disapproval of certain people prevent me from blogging, I ultimately compromise my identity. Now, when I visit restaurants, I try to exude the confidence of a Michelin-guide food critic and take my job seriously as one. I ignore the haughty looks on people’s faces, and I chat with other camera-wielding foodies. I am entitled to inspect, photograph, and write about food, just as much as others are free to dislike my doing so. Social norms change over time, and maybe tomorrow, those who do not take cuisine as seriously as foodies do now will be the outsiders. Earl Lee is a freshman in Timothy Dwight College. He runs the food blog Toastable. com and his only post-graduate goal is to live in New York City.


From Pig to Pork in Tuscany, Italy essay and photos by Sophie Mendelson

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GASTRONOMICA | SOPHIE MENDELSON

I have my thumb looped through a slit in the pig’s flesh. The sow, cleaved in two, hangs suspended upside-down from metal hooks in the ceiling, and I can feel the weight of her body in my hand as I hold her side open so that Riccio, our butcher, can meticulously trim away the fat lining the internal cavity of her body. Until this point, I have hung back, watching: the pig’s clear reluctance; the bolt to the head; the disturbing tumbler, not unlike a giant clothes dryer, in which the pig’s body was stripped of hair; the slit throat and torrent of blood, astounding in quantity; the brilliant, shocking red splattering the pristine white and steel of the slaughterhouse; the worker, cigarette clenched between his teeth, who slowly lowered the humming saw through the pig’s midline. All this I have observed quietly, removed physically as well as emotionally. But now my thumb is hooked through the pig’s side, and I am unambiguously participating. I have spent the last two and a half months working as the guest services intern at La Tenuta di Spannocchia, a working farm and agritourism center dedicated to the preservation of Etruscan culture. Here, nestled in a Tuscan hill dotted with old stone farmhouses, the mostly Italian staff is joined each season by eight interns to work the farm and guest operation. Together, we raise vegetables, wheat, faro, olives, grapes, and heritage Cinta Senese pigs. The pork operation, however, extends beyond the field and into the sala di transformazione, where Riccio and the butchering apprentices transform the Cinta into an array of truly exceptional salumi products. First, there is the prosciutto, which Chris, butchering apprentice and graduate of the University of Gastronomic Science in Parma, judges to be of higher quality than the world-renowned product of that city. Then

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there is capocollo, dark and sweet; salame, studded with peppercorns; and pancetta, intensely salty and fatty, gracing the best spaghetti alla carbonara I will probably ever eat. Sopressata—the far more appealing Italian version of headcheese—though grey and gelatinous, tastes of Christmas, its flavor more than making up for its off-putting appearance. And then there is the lardo—oh, the lardo! Pure, cured pig’s fat that melts on the tongue and whispers of juniper berries. All of these delicacies are produced only meters from the fields and forests in which the pigs spend their lives. The Cinta Senese is identifiable by the white “belt” (cinta, in Italian) ringing its shoulders and front legs. This breed of pork is local to the Siena region; evidence of its presence in the area dates back to the fourteenth century. However, changes in the Italian agricultural system over the past few decades have greatly reduced the number of herds. As fast-paced factory farming has caught on in Europe, this lean pig has fallen out of favor in mainstream agriculture. While Cinta put on weight slowly and tend to have a lower ratio of fat to lean meat, the fat that they do have is integrated into the lean, making their meat particularly flavorful. Spannocchia first decided to raise Cinta Senese because of the threat to the breed posed by industrial farming, but kept them because of the exquisite salumi that they produce. Sustainable agriculture must be sustainable economically as well as ecologically, and the farm relies heavily on meat sales for revenue. All of the interns have the option of attending a slaughter. After all, we raise the pigs and we eat the pigs—we should have the humility to see them die. This early morning in April, I have chosen to put myself to the test. As we drove to the slaughterhouse at 4:30 AM, Riccio singing along to the radio,

I wondered if I would still be able to eat the pig’s meat after seeing it killed. Now, my thumb looped through the supple fat of the pig’s side, I am suddenly aware of how hungry I have become. Ravenous. I suppose I have my answer. Now, I generally think of myself as a compassionate person. I try to consider the moral implications of my actions, and to hold myself to a high moral standard. But I have just watched an animal die, and I am unfazed. As it turned out, that pig was always meat to me. It lived so that it might die and become food, and so I regarded it as food from the start. In fact, its entire breed remains in existence for the sole reason that it is delicious; without humans to raise them for slaughter, Cinta Senese would be extinct. The killing of individual animals ensures the endurance of the species. Eating meat is not a moral act—it cannot be. There are ways in which the wrongness can be minimized, and certainly Spannocchia raises its pigs so that they might have the most satisfying lives possible. But it is not possible to raise an animal to be killed in a way that can be called morally correct. We do it not because it is right, but because we evolved under conditions in which the question of morality in regard to food was irrelevant. We eat meat because we can, and because it is nutritious and tasty. I choose to eat meat that is raised with care and respect. I can live with that choice. Can you? Sophie Mendelson is a freshman in Berkeley College. She spent three months last fall as the guest services intern at La Tenuta di Spannocchia, and fell in love with the food, the landscape, and most of all, the people. Please see  www.spannocchia.org  for more information about the farm and its seasonal internships.

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The Battle of General Tso by Lucas Sin photos by Earl Lee

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GASTRONOMICA | LUCAS SIN

T

he only proper way to write this article was to write it over a box of General Tso’s Chicken. And so that’s what I did— with a circle of friends, two boxes of General Tso’s, a portion of chop suey, and too many fortune cookies. This would be the first time I’d have American-Chinese food, and my suitemates had already told me all about it. “You’re not going to like it,” they said. “It’s not Chinese food.” Their answers to my probing questions about American-Chinese cuisine had led me to conclude that to feed a native Hong Konger American-Chinese food was to thrust upon him a bastardization of his national cuisine, and out him through the suffering of grease, too much sweet-and-sour sauce, and plenty of MSG. It was with these misgivings that I opened the deceptively small Main Garden takeout box. Sweet. Fried. Chicken. Everything Americans love— and, frankly, everything I love, too. Despite my friends’ warnings, it tasted delicious. It’s not difficult to see how a nation like this one has more Chinese restaurants than Burger King, McDonald’s, Wendy’s and KFC branches combined. Sure, none of the doughy chunks on the end of my fork resembled anything remotely Chinese, but they were irresistible. Skip ahead a week from my late-night rendezvous with General Tso to a Saturday evening in West Haven. My cousin, who served with the Peace Corps in Chengdu, took a few friends and me to a small restaurant named Hao Si Chuan. Wedged between a Hong Kong Market and Family Dollar in an inconspicuous strip mall beyond the University of New Haven, the restaurant didn’t look promising—the name, which translates to “Good Sichuan,” was nearly as tacky as the untimely Christmas lights strung across the storefront. Perhaps I was going to meet General Tso once again. As it happened, I was pretty far off. Instead of brown sauce and doughy fried chicken, we dined on laziji (stir-fried chicken pieces with a superfluous amount Yale Epicurean

of red Sichuanese peppers), shuizhuyu (fish poached in chili peppers and oil), and daumiu (garlic stir-fried pea shoots). By the end of the meal, we were slouching against our chairs. Some of us clung onto our Tsingtao beers to wash down the heat; others combed through the mounds of peppers to find the last piece of chicken. The owner was hovering above our table, teasing the Americans. Pointing at the tops of their heads, she exclaimed, “Look—there’s steam!” We sat there, faces red, jaws numb, and hearts warm. There I was, after a meal at a Sichuanese restaurant better than any I’d had back at home. The food was authentic, familiar; it spoke to the Chinese gastronome inside me. It wasn’t until the owner passed out fortune cookies that I remembered I was in a shadowy strip mall beside a Connecticut freeway.

The question that came to me almost immediately was: How did this polarity of Chinese foods in America come to be? On one hand, we have American-Chinese cuisine, a product of American reductionism of the exotic through a complex history of cultural evolution since the Gold Rush in the mid-19th century. On the other hand, we have Chinese cuisine seemingly directly exported from the city of Chengdu to the United States. Both are Chinese—they have always been, and continue to be, produced by Chinese. Yet the former is a staple of the American diet and totally unrecognizable by local Chinese. The melting pot of America, indeed, seems to have reduced the dynamic, multifarious Chinese cuisine into a tangy, sweet-and-sour “brown” sauce. Why is this, and how did it come to be?

Several journalists and anthropologists—Jennifer 8. Lee, Andrew Coe, and Sylvia Lovegren among them— have written on the topic; and their analysis largely points toward greater historical trends that have reduced authentic Chinese cuisine to chop suey and spring rolls. What’s more interesting to the reader of the history of American-Chinese cuisine, however, is the haphazard manner in which AmericanChinese cuisine came to be. On first contact, part of the reason Americans did not receive Chinese cuisine well was that many restaurants were staffed by unskilled laborers left without jobs in mines or railroads. Fortune cookies were originally Japanese, but the Chinese took over their production and incorporated it into their meals after the Japanese-American internment of World War II. Chop suey is the rumored result of a lack of fresh ingredients; old strips of chicken; julienned carrots, cabbage, and celery; and too many drunk miners in a San Francisco establishment. Hunanese cuisine, the regional cuisine from which General Tso’s chicken is derived, was popularized after Nixon reportedly enjoyed it on his visit to China in 1972. The Chinese takeout box is an American invention, a paper version of the oyster pail used to transport raw oysters photo by Earl Lee in the 19th century (it wasn’t until 1970 that the red pagoda was first printed on the boxes by the graphic designer Fold-Pak). It goes on. What history demonstrates, then, is that these Chinese restaurants grew independently of each other—yet today, America has more Chinese restaurants than McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, and KFC branches combined. Much like fast food, American-Chinese cuisine is scattered all over the country. Americans, it seems to the foreigner like me, have been hooked by the pseudo-exotic—and at the end of the day, I have to confess that I’m hooked, too. Lucas Sin is a freshman in Davenport College. He wants to write fortune cookies one day.

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photos by Jackson McHenry

Chasing Cars: Food Trucks and LA Culture by Jackson McHenry

O

ne of my favorite moments in the run up to vacations is when people start listing their food cravings and I get to hear from those kids who, with one simple snack, can sum up the entire world of their hometown—New Yorkers who want that slice, Philly kids craving cheesesteak, friends from Portland and Seattle in need of the bittersweet caffeine jolt they can’t find at Blue State. As an Angeleno, I have an insufferably long list of favorite break-time foods: In-NOut burgers (of course), Korean barbeque, sushi, tacos, pho… If anyone is still paying attention, they usually ask me to narrow my list down to one item. “What do you really want? What do you really miss?” This past spring break, I made it my goal to answer that question. In the space of two weeks, I was going to find the ultimate Los Angeles food—or, failing that, my ultimate Los Angeles food. The requirements: I had to be able to buy it off the street; it had to be fairly common; and it had to evoke the spirit of LA unequivocally, whether that meant beaches, street corners, or Hollywood boulevards.

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photos by Earl Lee

When I got home, I found that the food trucks of Los Angeles were already hard at work answering my questions. The food truck business as we know it today took off in 2008, when chefs who were laid off in the recession began to take to the streets in repurposed “roach coaches,” the traditional homes of construction site tacos. The growing influence of social media, especially Facebook and Twitter, allowed these chefs to advertise and appeal to increasingly niche markets. The Kogi BBQ truck, which serves juicy Korean barbequed short ribs on traditional Mexican tortillas, was the first and perhaps most insistently famous example of such a unique twist on food. But if you believe that Korean barbeque tacos account entirely for the summit of cosmopolitan cuisine that is Los Angeles, you have another thing coming. A quick Google search of “LA food trucks” reveals over 50 varieties on Twitter, each with its own punny name and raison d’être. Some, like the “Grill ‘Em All” truck, have obvious goals. Others, like the “Grilled Cheese Truck” and the “Coolhaus” (which makes mean variations on ice cream sandwiches), want to complicate conventional interpretations of Yale Epicurean

standby fare. Some simply bask in their own absurdity, like “The Mighty Boba Truck,” which serves a variety of bubble teas with a side of honeyed sweet potato fries (I didn’t question the combination; neither should you). Still others, such as “No Tomatoes,” which self-defines as an attempt to promote “desi” style street food, directly address their role in the foodie scene. My favorite example of food truck specialization is the “Nom Nom Truck,” made famous by the Food Network’s “Great Food Truck Race.” The Nom Nom Truck specializes in banh mi, which consists of a layer of grilled pork in sweet glaze (thit nuong) nestled between the crunch of cucumbers, carrots, radish, jalapeño, cilantro, and mayonnaise spread across a fresh French baguette. The banh mi was invented in Vietnam under French colonialism, but the cilantro and jalapeño are indubitably Mexican, while the truck’s whimsically Tweet-friendly name and 30-seconds-to-your-hands delivery are pure modern Los Angeleno. When you order from a food truck like Nom Nom, you have in your hands the union of a remarkably disparate cast not only of flavors but also of cuisines, characters, and national histories.

That sandwich represents the sum total of the shared taste of thousands of people, peasants, conquerors, and, most importantly for us, immigrants and innovators. I can’t say in good conscience that the banh mi from Nom Nom Truck is my ultimate Los Angeles food; that single dish testifies to the viability and “LA-ness” of the hundreds of other cuisines that surround my house (Chinese, Indian, Armenian— the list goes on). For now, banh mi is a placeholder, something complex enough both to hint at my cosmopolitan yearnings and to acknowledge that nothing will ever capture them all. Los Angeles, like many of America’s metropolises, has grown beyond a single cultural definition—and the aim of the food truck, it seems, is to both consolidate and celebrate those new cultures. Some food trucks serve a hidden niche; others combine everything you crave. Either way, the joy is in the multiplicity. Jackson McHenry is a freshman in Silliman College. Unless you want to fall asleep, don’t ask him what he’s craving. Ever.

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| SOPHIA HUA “Korean” fried GASTRONOMICA chicken

FROM COAST TO COAST: FUSION CUISINE ON BOTH SIDES OF THE MELTING POT by Sophia Hua photos by Earl Lee

BBQ Pork with tofu

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ribs

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GASTRONOMICA | SOPHIA HUA

W

ho can dispute that our world today is more interconnected than ever before? We can physically cross the world in a matter of hours, talk to someone thousands of miles away in mere seconds, and trade ideas over the Web in the blink of an eye. In light of this everincreasing exchange of people and information, it’s only natural that innovative chefs would start to play around with the idea of blending cuisines, mashing up the flavors and ingredients from past lives with those from current lives. Fusion cuisine and the localization of food are separated by a very hazy line. Simply put, fusion is the deliberate marriage of two cuisines, while the localization of cuisine is initiated for the sake of convenience, availability, or local tastes (beef, for instance, isn’t used in traditional Chinese dishes, but is plentiful in American-Chinese restaurants). This process of blending seemingly disparate flavors into new dishes has rapidly gained momentum, from coast to coast. I grew up on the West Coast surrounded by fusion cuisine: Korean barbeque tacos, French-style pastries filled with Japanese flavors, and Indian pizza (with toppings such as curried cauliflower and tandoori chicken). In the past few years,

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the chef at the renowned San Francisco restaurant Benu has made a name for himself by combining Eastern and Western cooking techniques, flavors, and ingredients—not an entirely new concept, but certainly executed in a way that sets this restaurant apart from all others. Most people have heard of Shanghai Soup Dumplings ( 上海小笼包), thinly-wrapped dumplings encasing succulent pork and bathing in rich, savory soup. But who has heard of soup dumplings filled plump with foie gras, swimming in a flavorful soup made with the traditional dipping vinegar? This is fusion at its finest. Another delightful innovation from Benu: gnocchishaped rice cakes with truffles, draped in a sauce of rice water, pumpkin juice, and butter. How’s that for innovation? While it’s easy to wax poetic about dishes concocted by the chef of a Michelinstarred restaurant, others in the West Coast have created unconventional dishes as well. Sushirittos, yuzu-sage buns, negi-miso (spring onions and miso) challah, and the famous California roll—all have a place of recognition because marrying two flavors from different cultures is, without a doubt, a tough act to execute. Who would have thought that a jumbo-sized, hand-held sushi roll stuffed with traditional Latin

and Asian ingredients would be so successful? The unique name, sushiritto, is enough to grab the attention of a passerby, and curiosity will do the rest. On turning our attention across America to the Atlantic coast, we recognize Yale’s very own famous fusion restaurant—I speak, of course, of Miya’s. From the newest freshman to the most hardened senior, everyone has felt the draw of the restaurant’s cool lights. One key trait that owner Bun Lai possesses—and that, in fact, all fusion chefs possess—is the bravery to experiment, to step away from the norm and rethink the compatibility of flavors. Lai modestly admits that not all of his experiments with new rolls are successes. In fact, his Lost Tribe of Chiang roll, which includes delicacies such as thousandyear old duck eggs and figs, is questionable. Although the simple act of including it on the menu indicates Lai’s approval, I felt on trying it that the pungent duck egg didn’t mix well with the sweet figs and goat cheese, among other ingredients; the roll felt too much like a forced icebreaker. Others, however, such as the Kiss the Smiling Piggie roll (packed with sweet potatoes, mango chutney, and pine nuts), deserve a standing ovation. Bun Lai’s offerings include rolls inspired from all over the

world, with ingredients such as jalapeños, goat cheese, cream cheese, chutney, okra, grits, mole, Chinese black beans, brie, peanut butter, and berbere. Every single inhabited continent is represented on Lai’s eclectic menu, which sets his restaurant apart from most other fusion restaurants. Whereas most fusion restaurants concentrate on bringing together two specific regions of the world, Lai doesn’t bother with such restrictions. At his place, if the combination tastes good, it goes on the menu. And when it comes to good food, that seems the ideal mentality. Fusion cuisine is not a new idea, but its essence allows for a lot of experimenting, giving rise to many astonishingly great flavor combinations. By simply living in the melting pot of the world, we’re lucky enough to enjoy cultural influences from all over the globe. So take advantage of your fortune— and the next time you visit the grocery store, put some different spices and ingredients into your cart. Sophia Hua is a sophomore in Saybrook College who frequently burns her tongue while eating traditional Shanghai soup dumplings. She has no doubt she would burn her tongue eating fusion soup dumplings.

Spring 2012 | 16


Andy Brown’s Guide to the 5 Best Foods For

$5 A

Photos run clockwise from top-left in order of appearance in review. Photos by Andy Brown.

s a college senior, I’ve done my fair share of eating in the dining halls, and let’s just say, it gets really boring after a while. But, considering how expensive the meal plan is, it seems like a waste to be eating out all the time. So I made myself a mission: Find the best and cheapest meals in New Haven. Here’s what I’ve found; hopefully, it will help you break the monotony of the dining hall without breaking the bank.

Chicken Kefta Kebab Sandwich, Mamoun’s — $4.75

I know what you’re thinking: not falafel? Well, if you’re like me, you can probably eat about four or five of the falafel sandwiches at Mamoun’s and still be hungry. So, in the spirit of thrifty fulfillment, I decided to look for a little more bang for my buck. The chicken kefta kebab sandwich just fit the bill. It’s a patty of ground chicken, parsley, and onions, combined with salad and tahini dressing inside of a pita, together creating a truly delicious and satisfying sandwich. The patty has a nice barbequed and slightly charred taste while the cilantro in the salad, combined with the sweet and tangy tahini dressing, makes this a sandwich worth ordering again and again. This is the perfect sandwich if you’re looking for a quick, fresh lunch.

Cheese Omelette Platter, Educated Burger — $4.45 17 | Spring 2012

or less!

Wake up to the absolute perfect lazy Saturday or Sunday morning brunch. With your choice of Swiss or American cheese (plain for just 3.75), this sizeable platter comes with toast and potatoes, which vary from hash browns or tater tots in the morning to fries in the afternoon (for those who’ve had a long night). The omelettes are always cooked perfectly here, and you don’t have to wait forever to get one. It’s delicious, and for breakfast food, a perfect deal.

Orange Chicken Luncheon Special, China King — $4.75

Possibly one of the best value lunches in New Haven, this generous chicken special comes with a side of white or pork fried rice as well as the choice between wonton, hot and sour, or egg drop soup or a can of soda. The chicken is crisp and lightly fried and the orange flavoring manages to avoid tasting like concentrated Gatorade, like at many Chinese eateries. If you don’t mind waiting in line with some eccentric folk, the entire luncheon menu is worth a try. In fact, they have 36 different lunch specials under $5. Really good American Chinese food, and at a fantastic price.

Burger and Fries Special, Prime 16 — $5

By now, Prime 16 has become well known on Yale’s campus for having some of the best burgers in town. Some might even consider it better than the legendary Louis’ Lunch ($5.25). While that debate should

be saved for another article, what canot be debated is their incredible $5 burger deal, a huge steal compared to their regular burger prices which average around $1s. From 2 pm – 4 pm on weekdays, you can get a hamburger with lettuce, tomato, pickle, and a side of their original hand-cut fries all for a mere $5. Their burgers are thick and juicy and always cooked perfectly, an Their handcut fries have thag authentic potato taste of being made fres, from scratch. Who cares that Commons closes at 2:30 now? If you need a late lunch or early dinner, Prime 16 has you covered.

Pad Thai, Thai Awesome food cart — $4.75

Here In New Haven, It would be impossible to consider all thefgreat foods for low prices without including some kind of food cart sampling. Burritos are delicious, but so passé. If you’ve ever signed up for a class only to be horrifiedtto find it was on science hill, then you’ve probably noticed the plethora of food carts outside of Ingalls Rink at lunchtime. After sampling quite a few of the most popular items, I snagged a winner. The Pad Thai from the Thai Awesome food cart is not only some of the best Pad Thai on wheelt, but possibly in all New Haven. It may look liks a mess, but it tastes genuinely amazing, and You get a hefty servinn of noodles with an irresistible sweetnesm. Make sure to ask for extra peanut sauce, as this is essential to achieving the ultimate Thai Awesome pad thai experience. Yale Epicurean


iPhone Epicures:

Tracking Your Tummy with Evernote Food by Serena Gelb

E

picures are entering a new era: the era of the tech-savvy foodie. Food blogs are becoming increasingly popular and food photography more and more accessible, especially if you are the owner a smart phone, which is more likely than not the case. With today’s access to technology, the lines between food bloggers and everyone else are beginning to blur. A perfect example of the growing phenomenon: Evernote Food, a free app recently launched by xx company Evernote, Some of you may be familiar with Evernote already. I use their main app for note-taking in big lecture classes. One great feature that all Evernote apps have in common is wireless syncing, so that users can access their notes (or now, food photos) wherever they may be. Evernote Food is fairly simple. It lets you take pictures of your food, record notes about it, and then syncs the photos wirelessly with your Evernote account so that you can access them anywhere. Of course, you need an Evernote account to use any Evernote product. The good news: it’s all free, and registering is a snap. After downloading Evernote Food, users are guided through the two basic options: logging food notes and taking pictures. It’s simple, hands-on, and fuss-free. When logging an entry, you can add a title, location, tags, captions, and additional notes. You can even share your meals through Twitter, Facebook or good old email. And, adding an entire other dimension to the app, after logging an entry, you can see recent or related entries of photos taken near you.All of your meals are saved together, chronologically, on the main page. Although the interface is beautiful and sleek, I’ve already noticed some organization issues. Unfortunately, you can’t create folders for specific types of meals (like breakfast or sweets), so if you’re searching for something within a sizable collection, it may be hard to sort through the pile. Additionally, there is no retroactive dating feature, so if you’re recording a note of something you ate yesterday (or last year), it’ll still show up based on when you recorded the note. As I’ve mentioned, Evernote Food is not a fancy, elaborate app. Unlike other phone photography apps like Instagram, which allow you edit the photos you take, filter them, and sometimes even draw on them, Evernote Food doesn’t let you do Yale Epicurean

anything with your snapshots. What you take is what you see, so you better have a steady hand. I’ve noticed unwanted blur in many photos (more so than in my regular iPhone photos) due to a slightly shaky hand. Unless you’re a skilled photographer, you’re probably not going to get crystal clear shots every time. So, while practical, this is not a terribly artistic app. If you do want quality photographs, Evernote Food also allows you to upload photos from your regular photo library into its database. If you’re really that concerned, you would have to first upload your DSLR photos into your phone’s library, and that would seems rather taxing in regards to this simple app. At this point, you’re probably either itching to connect to cyberspace and download this app, or, alternatively, thinking: who the hell would want an app to snap pics of their food? Unless you’re a food blogger you probably aren’t accustomed to taking pictures of everything you eat on a regular basis. If you are a food blogger, you probably have a nicer camera than your iPhone and might think Evernote Food is a big waste of time, and you could be right. I view Evernote Food less as a beautiful way to showcase meals (with the tendency for bad lighting and shaky, blurred pictures) and more as a way to remember meals. If you eat something at a dimly lit restaurant or with your friends and you’re not expecting to be blogging about it, you’ll probably still have your phone. A quick picture and a few notes can help bloggers, chefs, and regular people who just love to eat remember what they ate and help them to re-create it in the future. Another group who will find Evernote Food useful are the chronic dieters. This app makes it extremely easy to track what and when you ate and thus can help dieters stick to their regimens. Evernote Food is an easier, more portable way to log everything that goes down the gullet on a 24/7 basis, keeping people aware up to the last nibble. You could even try Evernote Food out of pure curiosity. Who knows? You might find a new use for this simple app, and a new avenue to engage with your love of food. And hey, it’s free.

WRITE PHOTOGRAPH

or DRAW

FOR US!

Serena Gelb is a freshman in Branford moonlighting as a vegetarian food blogger and photographer.

editor@yaleepicurean.com Spring 2012 | 18


Ryan Healey a review of a few New York City Restaurants

G

oing into New York is cool. You’re with your friends, without your parents, in the sun, enjoying being young. What could be better? But the city can also be disorienting; “the bright lights will inspire you” like Alicia says, but they also may distract you, lead you down less than savory food trails as you traipse, dangerously free, through the concrete jungle. We’re here to help. You’re probably somewhere downtown — East or West Village or SoHo on your day in the city. It’s gritty and authentic, you tell yourself, but every block there’s an Apple Store, J. Crew, or Marc Jacobs boutique — a comforting blend of New York City and suburban Mall. This doesn’t mean, however, that you have to eat as if you’re at a food court. You may have to pay a bit more than if you were to grab a salad, or — horror of all horrors — chow at some chain restaurant. But do it. This is what New York is about: the adventure, the thrill, the money spent, the experience. This is what you came for. Tertulia 359 6th Avenue The hype for Tertulia, located in West Village, was off-putting. For a moment in the fading summer days of August 2011, the New York food media dedicated itself to broadcasting the most mind-numbing Tertulia-centric minutiae. The restaurant was inspired by cider houses in Spain! A bespoke suit maker designed the staff’s aprons! Jay-Z and Beyoncé sightings! I wanted to hate it. Then, well, I went. From the moment the deep yellow egg yolk of the Cojonudo exploded in my mouth, mixing with the salty, fatty pig cheek, intensified by a kick of pepper, I was won over. Sitting next to an enormous wood-burning grill, I spent the next hour and a half in reverential silence, a sort of smoky Spanish haze. In this Tertulia trance, I devoured a frightening succession of dishes. Arroz a la Plancha — hearty rice with creamy snails and wild mushrooms — came and went. Same too with crunchy, salty, heavenly Croquetas De Jamón Ibérico. Deep-fried Brussels Sprouts, slicked with spicy mojo picon, studded with nubs of pork belly, produced only giggles of delight and longing for another order. The dishes at

19 | Spring 2012

Tertulia are meant for this order-everything approach. Moderately priced, not quite tapas-sized, but not enough for one person— it’s perfect for sharing with friends on the long summer nights to come. Momofuku 171 1st avenue In the past few years, Momofuku’s tentacles have spread from their humble East Village home to cover all of New York and now, the world. What started as a humble noodle bar has metastasized: four restaurants and five bakeries in New York and a new outpost in Sydney, Australia. For our student budgets, lunch at Momofuku Noodle Bar is the way to go. Owned by David Chang, deservedly deified by the press in the past few years, Momofuku Noodle Bar serves, as the name implies, delicious noodles. But to start: pork buns. Two pieces of pork belly, hoisin sauce, paper-thin cucumber in a soft flap of a roll — heaven. Seriously consider breaking all your kosher considerations for this; the Bible never meant to keep you from food this good. You’ll also want a bowl of heavenly, rich Momofuku Ramen or the ginger scallion noodles to fill you up in preparation for the neighborhood’s vintage shops. For desert, linger not. Walk to Momofuku Milk Bar, one block over on Second Avenue. Order Cinnamon Bun Pie — a gaspingly good mess of “liquid” cheesecake piled on soft bread topped with a cinnamon streusel — and wonder how you’ve eked out a double digit existence without this. It’s that good. The whimsical soft serve flavors change monthly — I’ve had everything from stuffing (oddly good) to sugar cookie (omigodyes). The blueberry cream cookie is also life-changing. Feeling slightly splurgy? Eat at Momofuku Ssam Bar instead. The prices are incredibly reasonable (entrees in the midtwenties as opposed to mid-teens at Noodle Bar) for food that is three-star rated by The Times. There’s no pretension, no backs to the stools, and best of all, no dress code. It’s my favorite restaurant in New York. It could be yours, too. Lupa 175 Thompson Street Tucked away on Thompson Street across from the main SoHo area, Lupa is a

gem. Owned by Mario Batali — that big, ebullient redhead in orange Crocs, you’ve seen him — Lupa serves delicious Roman food. An entire meal could be made out of their complimentary pillowy, salty foccacia and fruity olive oil. I singlehandedly went through three plates of it, stopped only by askance looks from the couple next to me at the communal table. But perhaps they were right: I needed to leave room — though not a ton; the pastas are not gargantuan— for what was to come. And what should come? Gnocchi, in any sauce, combination, permutation or preparation they’re making it. Little clouds of heaven, these gnocchi are a far cry from the rock-solid mini-grenades served so often at red-sauce Italian joints. Feeling creamy? The pasta carbonara with guanciale — jowl bacon— is alarmingly rich. If not these two, you should also order whatever special pasta they’re offering — especially if it’s the tagliatelle with pork-shoulder ragu they’ve served suspiciously often. Budget well for Lupa. It’s worth it. You don’t need another pair of leggings, you need this gnocchi. A day in the city can be tiring, I know. Food isn’t important; you think, I’ll just grab something in the basement of Grand Central. But you’ve missed the point. Food is as essential to the New York experience as anything else: cabbies, angry people, subways. So I urge you: make the effort. Ration a few dollars extra for food. Beg your parents — it’s a cultural education. It’s worth it! And on the train home, under the pall of those sickly fluorescent lights, the smell of the bathroom and unwashed floors wafting toward you, the creaky wheels grating on the tracks, the little lights outside the train whizzing by like stars, you’ll be happy. Everything seems better with a full stomach Ryan Healey is a sophomore in Berkeley who transfered from Georgetown for Pepe’s.. Next page, from top, clockwise direction: Graffiti wall in NYC; yogurt parfait; swordfish; barbecue sandiwch; pork buns—all at Momofuku Ssam Bar in NYC. Photos by Earl Lee.

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Yale Epicurean

Spring 2012 | 20


REVIEWS | STEPHANIE MAZURSKY

Da Story Behind Da Man: Chef Chris “I

t’s like pulling the pin on a flavor

grenade.” These words, articulated by an avid fan of Da Bowl and its creator, perfectly describe a diner’s typical initial response to this dish of recent fame. With one bite, students transcend the familiar confines of the Morse College dining hall, and instead assume the role of guests at a four star restaurant.

had an epiphany: Why stick to one flavor palette when there are an infinite number to explore? In that moment, a gem was born; ever since this fateful day, Chef Chris has never once repeated a combination, and he definitively states that he never will. If this lack of repetition is not noteworthy enough, Chef Chris creates each day’s creation in under an hour and a half. The concept, the cooking, and the impeccable presentation all come together

Culinary Creativity Takes Hold in Morse You may be asking yourself, “What is this magical concoction that has the ability to create a nearly impossible illusion?” Reader — if this is the position in which you find yourself, let me be the first to tell you that you have been missing out on the greatest resource Yale Dining Services has offered us to date. A one-sentence description would not do justice to Morse’s Chef Chris and his intense gastronomic creation. Da Bowl brings together a host of spices, sauces, vegetables, dumplings, noodles, and meats, always topped off with a dab of Chef Chris’s signature sriracha sauce. Each bowl is madeto-order, and diners have the freedom to pick and choose the ingredients they desire to combine (though I advise leaving the decision-making to the expert — he knows what he’s doing!). It’s more than just the food itself that attracts Chef Chris’s regulars, however — it’s the process of ordering it. It’s his consistently upbeat music that fills the atmosphere of the kitchen; it’s his infectious effervescence that excites every consumer; it’s his creativity that is infused into each ethnically inspired creation; it’s the pride he has in his self-proclaimed “one man show.” Of course, Da Bowl did not always exist as a staple in the Morse dining hall. It was an idea that developed less than a year ago, when a Yale Summer Session instructor familiar with the restaurant business and with a background in Asian cuisine teamed up with Chef Chris. Together they worked to produce Da Bowl’s predecessor, the Pho Noodle Bowl. As an experiment, this option was offered to Yalies for two days during the past fall semester. Apparently the popularity it garnered during those two days was all it took for Chef Chris to realize this concept — this bowl — had serious potential. He 21 | Spring 2012

during the block of time between the end of Morse’s breakfast rush and the reopening of the dining hall for lunch. Chef Chris never plans the night before, nor comes into work knowing what he wants to serve that day. Instead, he examines the kitchen’s inventory, begins with a base, and from there the rest of the dish’s complements are added. Perhaps it’s the excitement, or the surge of adrenaline that allows him to complete this daily venture in such a small timeframe — whatever the case, his efforts have produced a great success. Furthermore, this highpressure process has served as excellent practice for his upcoming endeavor. What’s next for our very own Chef Chris? The answer is twofold. First, he is in the process of developing a new creation, which he intends to call Da Plate. Morse College recently invested in a sushi-making machine, which will allow the kitchen staff to now produce sushi in large quantities. As a result, although it will not be a daily offering, Chef Chris intends to branch off of his original pride and joy (which he will, of course, continue producing) and establish a new sort of concoction that, much like Da Bowl, has endless possibilities. Second, he has applied to join the ranks of seasoned chefs on the popular television show Chopped, which airs on the Food Network. This competition tests chefs of all stripes on their ability to construct and execute a culinary work of art in a prescribed window of time, a skill we now know Chef Chris has down pat. When he is chosen, all of Yale will be watching, eager to provide him with full support! If you want to delight in Morse’s well-kept secret, stop in for lunch any day Monday-Thursday!

Top: Chef Chris cooking. Bottom: Tofu mushroom bowl with vegetable dumpling, apricot, yellow curry, sour greens, and hoisin. Photos by Stephanie Mazursky Stephanie Mazursky is a sophomore in Jonathan Edwards who thinks she is a disney princess and therefore spends her spare time baking pink cupcakes topped with rainbow sprinkles.

Yale Epicurean


Mumbai Vada Pav by Anisha Suterwala

photo from Wikimedia Commons The first rule of travelling in India is to never eat the street food. I would watch longingly as my Mumbai-based extended family consumed snack after snack: baraf gola (ice pops), chaat (something like a seven-layer dip), pakoras (fritters). Because each dish had uncooked elements, I could eat nothing. Nothing, that is, except for the fully-cooked gloriousness that is the vada pav. Vada pav is a potato fritter (the vada) sandwiched in a dinner roll (the pav). The vadas are fried in huge vats of oil roadside, and the pav toasted on inverted vats over gas flames. It’s a spectacle, and a delicious one at that. The result is an absurdly good mélange of crispy, buttery bread, creamy, hot, spicy potato, and a touch of garlicky chutney. The recipe that follows will make eight vada pav. Making the vadas is a bit labor-intensive, but well worth the effort. As always, spice measurements are just guidelines – add a little more, or a little less, depending on how fiery you want the final product to be. Yields 8 servings Ingredients: For the batata vada: -Oil -1 tsp mustard seeds -1-2 green chilies, (as per taste), finely chopped -½ to ¾ inch piece ginger, grated -½ tsp turmeric powder -¼ tsp asafetida* -6-8 curry leaves (optional) -4 medium sized potatoes, boiled, peeled, and mashed -Salt to taste -1 tbsp lemon juice -3 tbsp chopped cilantro -Salt to taste *Note: Asafetida is a spice commonly used in Indian cooking, but rarely otherwise. It Yale Epicurean

should be available at an Indian grocery store. If not, the spice can be omitted from the recipe. For the batter: -½ cup chickpea flour -½ tsp salt -½ tsp red chili powder (more or less to taste) -¼ tsp turmeric powder -½ tsp coriander powder -½ tsp cumin powder -scant ½ cup water -8 dinner rolls, sliced in half, or 8 hamburger rolls Directions: 1. First, make the batata (potato) mix. Heat about a tablespoon of oil on medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the mustard seeds. When they crackle, the oil is sufficiently heated. Toss in the green chili, ginger, and the curry leaves (if desired). Sauté on low heat for a couple of minutes. Then add the turmeric powder and asafetida. Stir well. 2. Add the potatoes and salt to taste. Mix well, cover the saucepan, and cook on low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Switch off the heat and sprinkle on the lemon juice. Garnish with the chopped cilantro and mix. Set the batata aside to cool. 3. Meanwhile, prepare the batter. Mix the chickpea flour, salt, red chili powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, and cumin powder. Add enough water (the entire ½ cup might not be necessary) to make a batter of pouring consistency, a little thinner than cake batter. Let it rest for at least 15 minutes. 4. While the batter is resting, divide the batata into eight parts and shape it into eight round balls. 5. To make the vadas, heat enough oil in a frying pan to cover a single layer of the batata rounds. Lower the heat to medium and let the oil rest for a couple

6.

of minutes, so that the vada doesn’t brown immediately after it is dropped into the hot oil. Dip each batata round into the batter and immediately drop it into the hot oil, frying a single layer of three to four vadas at a time, until golden brown. Flip the vadas once while they fry to ensure they brown evenly. Remove with slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil. To assemble the vada pav, sandwich a vada in a dinner roll sliced in half or in a hamburger bun. Serve with ketchup or sweet-and-sour chutney. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, with a little dry garlic chutney (recipes follow).

Dry Garlic Chutney: Sauté four garlic cloves, peeled, with ¼ cup dry coconut powder in 1 tbsp oil for a few minutes. Pulse in a food processor or blender with a pinch of chili powder and salt to taste until it forms a smooth paste. Sweet-and-Sour Chutney: Boil together ½ cup tamarind paste, 1 ¾ cup brown sugar, and 7 ounces seedless dates for 15 to 20 minutes, until the dates are soft. Let cool. Transfer to a blender and pulse until the mixture becomes a smooth paste. Pass through a sieve and return to the heat. Add ½ tsp salt, 2 tbsp cumin powder, 2 tsp red chili powder, and 1 tsp coriander powder. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Cool and store in the refrigerator in a glass jar. Anisha Suterwala is a sophomore in Timothy Dwight. She puts Sriracha on almost everything, and she likes making dessert more than she likes making actual food, which means that after Yale Dining (and her mommy) stop cooking for her she’s going to have some issues.

Spring 2012 | 22


Macarons byau Citron Elizabeth Chrystal photos by Sarah Jampel

23 | Spring 2012

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Spring 2012 | 24


RECIPES | ELIZABETH CHRYSTAL

Not to be confused with American “macaroons,” the sickly-sweet coconut confections that can take on the density of small bricks, French macarons are delightfully airy and delicate. With their almond-meringue biscuits and endlessly adaptable cream filling, macarons make the perfect treat for spring afternoons. While they’re increasingly available in U.S. bakeries – especially with the famous French patisserie Ladurée opening a boutique in New York City this past winter – it’s a lot easier, and less expensive, to make your own. Lemon zest in the cookies and lemon juice in the cream add a sweet-sour note perfect for this time of year. Bon appétit ! Elizabeth Chrystal is a junior in Davenport College majoring in French. When she is not baking French pastries or cooking in the Davenport Kitchen, she enjoys skiing, rock climbing, and listening to NPR. adapted from David Lebovitz, www.davidlebovitz.com Ingredients: For the cookies: -1 generous cup (110 grams) powdered sugar -½ cup powdered almonds, finely ground using a food processor -2 large egg whites -4 tablespoons granulated sugar -Zest of ½ lemon Lemon curd filling: -Juice of ½ lemon -1 egg -2 ½ tablespoons butter -½ cup sugar -2 teaspoons cornstarch Directions: To make the cookies: 1. 2. 3. 4.

5. 6.

Preheat the oven to 350º F. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until they begin to rise and form soft peaks. While beating, mix in the granulated sugar until the mixture is thick and firm. Carefully fold the zest, powdered sugar, and almonds into the mixture, being careful not to deflate the batter. When the mixture is just blended and there are no white streaks, scrape the batter into a large Ziploc bag. Cut off one corner of the bag. Pipe the batter in small circles on a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving about an inch between the cookies. Before placing the tray into the oven, tap it on the counter a few times to flatten the cookies and remove any air bubbles. Bake 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies. Let cool before removing from the tray.

To make the lemon curd filling: 1.

25 | Spring 2012

In a small pot, melt the butter. With the heat still on, add the sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice. Mix thoroughly, then add the egg. Beat until the mixture becomes rich and thick. Let cool at least 2 hours in the fridge before spreading between cookies.

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RECIPES | LA WANG & LUCAS SIN

West Lake Sweet-and-Sour Fish L

ike many other dishes from my hometown of Hangzhou, this dish is not purely an aesthetic or epicurean experience, but a literary and historical evocation of an old legend. Many years ago, there were two brothers with the surname of Song. Although both were very learned and scholarly, they made their living as fishermen. One day, an evil official named Zhao saw a beautiful maiden washing garments on the banks of the West Lake in Hangzhou, and was filled with insatiable lust. Zhao plotted to murder her husband, who was none other than the older brother Song. Widowed because of Zhao’s lechery, the sister-in-law and her brother went to court to protest the wickedness of the official. But they were too naïve, for the court was in cohorts with the evil Zhao. Not only were they evicted from the court, but they were also beaten. That night, the widow made a farewell dinner for her brother-in-law, beseeching him to flee the city. The brother-in-law asked her, “Why does tonight’s fish taste like this?” To which she responded, “The fish is sweet and sour, so that you will always remember how your elder brother died. No matter how sweet your life may be, you must always remember the oppression of the common people and the suffering of your sister-inlaw.” Many years later, the brother-in-law

returned to Hangzhou. He had become a prominent official after passing his civil examinations, and he avenged his older brother’s death through his position in court. But he could not find his sister-in-law, for she had disappeared. One day, he was invited to a banquet at a local official’s house, at which he tasted a fish that was both sweet and sour. He rushed to the kitchens, realizing that his sister-in-law had gone into disguise as a cook. Overjoyed, he resigned from his position in the court and he and his sister-in-law returned to their lives as fishermen. How do we make a fish that tastes of suffering, revenge, and ultimately, providence? It is, of course, best to begin with the freshwater carp from the West Lake—one that has been starved for two days in clean water to ensure that its meat will be pure white and will be eliminated of its natural odors. In lieu of such a fish, however, striped bass, blackfish, catfish, cod, grouper, and monkfish will all suffice as substitutes. Fresh, whole, and thoroughly cleaned is best; such a fish should be divided in half (yet still connected on one side). Whole slices of ginger should be sandwiched between the two halves. Yields 2 servings Ingredients: -Fish (whole or 2 fillets) -2 tbsp. cooking wine (Shaoxing is best)

the van, draw a few pairs of envious eyes, and sustain you throughout that debilitating 3 hour trip. -Lucas Sin Crumbly Cinnamon Cake in a Cup Yields 1 serving photo by Lorraine Sin The driver might disappear; there may be 11 of you in that tiny van; the limo might not turn up on time. The CT Limo experience is an aggravating one, and here’s something that could alleviate some of that stress - a cake in a cup. Hopefully, this 3 minute sweet treat will send wafts of cinnamon through

Yale Epicurean

Equipment: -1 microwavable mug -1 mircowave -1 fork Ingredients: -4 tbs flour -1 tbs butter -2 tbs sugar -½ egg, whisked (optional) -2 tsp cinnamon

-2 inches of ginger, finely chopped -2 ½ tbsp. sugar -4 tbsp. black rice vinegar -5 tbsp. soy sauce -3 tbsp. cornstarch -Chopped green onions and slivered ginger for garnish Directions: 1. Bring four cups of water to boil in a wok or large pot, and submerge the fish for eight minutes. Do not turn or flip the fish during the cooking process. 2. Discard half the liquid; add soy sauce, cooking wine, ginger, and sugar and simmer for ten minutes. 3. Take fish out and place two halves on a plate with skin side up. 4. Add vinegar to the soup left in the wok and thicken with cornstarch. Bring to a boil and pour on fish. 5. Garnish with green onions and slivered ginger. Drizzle some sesame oil if desired. The best way to serve this dish, however, is with a sharing of the Legend of the Song Sister-in-Law. Alice (La) Wang is a senior Humanities major in Pierson College. When she’s not working on her senior thesis, she likes to invent cocktails and collect international spices.

-2 tbsp applesauce -1 tbs milk -3 drops vanilla extract -½ pinch salt -¼ tsp baking powder Directions: 1. Soften the butter in a mug for 10 seconds. 2. Combine the rest of the ingredients and whisk together in the mug with a fork until smooth. 3. Microwave the mixture on high for about a minute and check for doneness (the cake should be springy but still moist). 4. Continue microwaving in 10 second intervals until done.

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Bottle Talk with Brannack McLain

T

his May, thousands of Yalies will spill out of New Haven into the wide world, many braving the challenges of life in an unknown country. If you’re lucky enough to be heading somewhere new and your travel experiences are anything like mine, you won’t know the local language, you’ll quickly lose your cell phone and/or wallet, you’ll be desperately craving peanut butter, and you’ll be exposed to a light flow of criticism, subtle and direct, about America. Political critiques don’t faze me these days, but I’ll defend America’s honor in matters of culture. A Parisian barista once told me that America was a black hole of culture. Fuck that guy—America has made some unparalleled contributions to the global cultural milieu, and I hate coffee. Sure, America isn’t exactly global epicenter of arts and refinement, but let’s not forget what the country has produced: Jazz, Pop Art, Hollywood, and, of course, the cocktail. Taking root in colonial America, the cocktail was a uniquely American idea: take a bunch of ingredients from Europe and the New World, and throw them together in an unexpectedly successful way. (Instead of discussing the American melting pot, should we talk about the American cocktail shaker?) Through the dawn of the 20th century, “cocktail culture” was an upper and middle class phenomenon. Even if they could afford to, members of the working class weren’t exactly eager to embrace the cocktail; anything but beer and straight whisky was (is) pretentious and effeminate. Cocktails finally became widely popular during The Prohibition, when rich or sweet mixers covered fetid liquor. Drinks like “Sex on the Beach” have continued to excel at masking the taste of alcohol—such mixed drinks are not truly “cocktails”. Classic cocktails are aperitifs, designed to stimulate the appetite and aid digestion— although consumed in excess, cocktails reverse digestion. The term “cocktail” was defined in the early 19th century as “a 27 | Spring 2012

stimulating liquor composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters”. It’s easy to follow branches of the cocktail family tree back to the simple seeds planted before the Prohibition; nearly all true cocktails can be traced back to The Manhattan, The Old Fashioned, and The Martini. If you can learn these cocktails, you’ll be able to muddle your way through a lifetime of libations. The Old-Fashioned is true to the classic definition of “cocktail”, with spirits (whiskey), sugar (or simple syrup), water, and bitters (angostura). The Old-Fashioned was served in some form or another from the dawn of the cocktail era, but the maraschino cherry and orange slice now considered central to the identity of the Old-Fashioned didn’t join the party until over a hundred years after the drink gained prominence. Ubiquitous yet contentious, Martini is king of the cocktails. Everyone seems to have an opinion on Martini preparation. Some opinions are wrong—despite James Bond’s predilections, your Martini should be stirred, not shaken. (Bartenders maintain that shaking cocktails “bruises” liquors and degrades the clarity of drinks that don’t feature cloudy ingredients like juices, sugar, or cream.) Martini recipes that include vodka can be discarded; gin and vermouth are the only true constants. Everything else is up for debate. Dry vermouth or sweet vermouth? How much gin to vermouth? (Martini recipes range from 1:1 to 10:1.) Olives? Bitters? A lemon twist? What can the cocktail’s history reveal? The original dry Martini was wet by modern standards, with a gin to vermouth ratio of around 2:1. (The more dry vermouth you add, the wetter your Martini.) The classic Martini usually featured orange bitters, and the most traditional garnish was a lemon twist, with the oils lightly rubbed on the rim of the glass and spritzed over the drink’s surface. Bitters lost favor during prohibition, but the lemon twist stayed stalwart, despite competition from olives. Making its social debut in the 1880’s New York, The Manhattan is a close sibling of

the Martini. The proportions of a Manhattan are similar to that of a Martini, but the Manhattan showcases rye whiskey instead of gin, defaults to sweet vermouth over dry, and is rounded out with angostura bitters, not orange. By the time The Manhattan rolled around, maraschino cherries were in vogue. Back in the day, Manhattans featured imported cherries preserved in maraschino liqueur. If you can only get your hands on bright red sugary crap, skip it. These three cocktails are like the mother sauces of cocktail craft. Learn them, and you’ll a traveling testament to one of America’s greatest cultural contributions: cocktails. If you never have the opportunity to showcase your skills, at least you can feel well-informed while you drown your sorrows. Classic Old-Fashioned 1 cube sugar 2 dashes angostura bitters 1 tsp water 2 oz. whiskey Muddle sugar cube, water, and bitters in an old-fashioned glass. Add whiskey and stir. Fill with ice, and garnish with a lemon twist. (You can substitute a teaspoon of simple syrup for the sugar and water.) Classic Dry Martini 1½ oz. gin ¾ oz. dry vermouth 2 dashes orange bitters Stir with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with a lemon twist. Classic Manhattan 1½ oz. rye whiskey ½ oz. sweet vermouth 1 dash angostura bitters Stir with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with a maraschino cherry.

Yale Epicurean


Josh Evans

Hórta Culture: A Cretan quest for wild foods

I learned about hórta months before I got to Crete. They came up in everything I read, with every person I talked to. They were a mystery, an edible myth I had to verify by finding and eating them myself. Hórta are, in short, wild greens. They can be anything, I’m led to believe, that is green, grows in the mountains or on the side of the road, and good to eat. With dozens of different types, they vary with the season and region – but in any one place there is always something to gather. And though many Greeks carry their own strongly rooted food traditions, most will cede to Crete a particularly ardent loyalty to its own specific food culture, informed by a proud selfsufficiency and a passion for wild foods.

From top: almond tree on the side of the row; fava bean purée with red onions, parsley, feta, and olive oil; Hohloi boubouristoi—wild snails poached in olive oil, dark vinegar, and rosemary; wild sage from the slopes of Mt. Juktas. On right, from top: ripe olives left on branch; figs left from the fall.

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I saved the plane from Istanbul to Athens for Greek history. Crete’s is both bright and tumultuous: the seat of the advanced ancient Minoan civilisation, since occupied by Myceneans, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Venetians, Ottomans, Arabs, and Nazis. During the occupation of WWII, foraging for hórta was largely how Cretans stayed alive. Athens to Heraklion was for scribbling down useful words in my notebook. Most were of food. I went over the letters “χόρτα” three or four times, engraving them through the page with my plastic bic. My habit drew attention. The man next to me, a young Cretan living in Athens, was returning home to see his family. His mother was cooking dinner tonight. I asked about his favourite Cretan foods: tyropites, myzithra. “And what about hórta?” I pressed, intent on drawing forth clues to aid my quest. “Ah, yeah, my mom makes great hórta.” He knew some of their Greek names, and none of their English ones. The flight double-backed to Athens because of fog in Heraklion, and triplebacked once the ground was clear. I picked his brain for hours but that was all I got. By my second day in Crete I was itching to get out of the city. So far, I’d found streets lined with orange trees, but not much in the way of hórta. We took a bus to Knossós, the largest ancient Minoan site, and after wandering the ruins made our way further out to visit a local winery in Skalani. We told our taxi not to wait. I looked forward to the wine, but even more, I think, to the walk back through the hills.

photos by Josh Evans

The almond tree, it seemed to me, is the Cretan highway shrub of choice. Boughs of bitter orange hang over main roads and side streets, in the spaces between backyard groves of olive. Behemoth fig trees serve as punctuation. I stood at every new corner, astounded, convinced this was some sort of benign illusion. My gaping mouth provided ample amusement for our host. And though I couldn’t tear my eyes and hands from the roadside bounty, my mind kept drifting to more modest plants, the greens at my feet that may or may not be what I really sought. Gradually, they began to show themselves: slender bulbs of wild fennel, as wide as my thumb and no longer; pungent shoots of some sort of allium; broad, leafy folds of adult arugula; purple bursts of young amaranth, or vlita (one of the words I learned from my airplane friend). “Hórta!” I exclaimed whenever I got the chance, giddy and eager to gather. “No, these ones aren’t good, they’re dirty and near the road,” my host admonished. High standards; I can appreciate that. My enthusiasm deferred, and grew stronger.

The next day, we headed back up into the mountains to a small town called Archanes, our base camp in hiking Mt. Juktas. Almond and fig trees nodded lustrously, aiming to distract me as we picked our way through hexagonal rows of olive trees planted on the lower slopes. But I was determined. Today was the day. We began our ascent up the steeper face, fanning out and picking our individual ways among the geometric thorns and boulders of gypsum. At a certain height, I became enveloped in the smell of salvia – sweet, earthy, overwhelming. I picked some young buds to have with lunch. -After our picnic at the summit, we wove ourselves along the ridge, heading back down towards the valley in the falling light. Our host from Archanes took us to his favourite taverna in town. We were ravenous and asked for a feast: dakos, a type of double-baked barley ring, topped with minced tomatoes, feta, olive oil, and oregano, left to sit to absorb the juice; fava, a warm, thick purée of fava beans with feta, olive oil, onions, and parsley; tzatziki of strained yoghurt, mint, and garlic; a sort of vegetable omelet. And then there were the snails: Hohloi boubouristoi, a Cretan Yale Epicurean


specialty of foraged snails poached in olive oil, dark vinegar, and rosemary. Supple, fragrant, and impossible to eat without gusto. And, at last, the hortápites – hand pies filled with cooked hórta. The cook brought them out piled on a plate, the flaky, egg-washed crust glimmering in the firelight. I hefted one into my palm and bit in with reverent triumph. Aromatic steam filtered down my throat. Dill, vlita, fennel, ramps. Bitternesses I didn’t know. Baffling simplicity – greens and pastry – hiding layers of old friends and strangers you can’t help but look in the eye. Oh yes – hórta were definitely a real thing. The meal ended as most do in Greece: with three or four complimentary desserts and a round of ouzo on the house. A thick slab of halvah, a hill of little fritters with honey, bitter orange sponge cake doused in syrup, small cheese pies, and the cloudy anise liqueur. The hortápites were still with me as we left into the cool night. The snails, though – the snails haunted me all the way back to Heraklion.

The day before our flight, we sat on a beach in Matala, a small town on the southern coast. We had just finished exploring the caves in the sandstone cliffs: once ancient Roman burial sites, used more recently as recluse hippie abodes. Our host lit a cigarette, dug into his pockets, held out his hands: prickly pears the colour of Castilleja. “I picked them while I was waiting for you at Phaestós. They make your hands itchy but they’re delicious.” He handed us each one, and looked out towards the bay. Fleshy, perfumed, slightly sweet. I let no juice drip, until the last bite, when I paused to think. A tingle spread in my hand, past the first fruit, and the second, lingered even after I washed my hands in the shallows.

Yale Epicurean

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Yale Epicurean

Spring 2012  
Spring 2012  

Vol III. Issue III.

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