Eat Me. Drink Me.

Why We Eat. Why We Drink. Why We Write.

Tag: curry

The Nontraditional Easteralist or Curried Easter

by lyzpfister

The smell of frying fish and mangoes shocks the apartment as Sigourney drapes slips of catfish into a hot skillet. We’ve dragged ourselves out of bed for the third time today and this time, the effort seems to have paid off. Last night was a late night. An Easter party, whose connection to Easter seemed to veer toward the irreverent and bunny-themed took up the latter part of our night and the majority of the early morning. There was dancing, neon gin and tonic, and an Easter breakfast haloumi sandwich from the still-open or maybe just opened döner place by the train station.

This isn’t usually how I spend Easter. First of all, I’m usually still in bed at six. Secondly, I’m usually not roaming around the streets of Berlin with a pair of lopsided bunny ears haphazardly thrown together from a paper towel roll and some tape. Usually, I’m with my family. I make everyone dye Easter eggs, I cook an Easter feast, we unwrap baskets on Easter morning, and at Easter lunch we smash eggs together like our Bulgarian guests taught us once.

I guess this is what happens when you decide to uproot your life and move across the world and across the ocean. You make new traditions.

So our Easter feast this year is a roast Jamaican fish and mashed potatoes. There’s not an egg in sight. There’s no ham, no quiche, no rack of lamb. Just me and Sigourney and rap music and a roasting fish.

I love having visitors. Showing people around makes you more aware of the positive qualities of the place where you are. When you have to convince someone else they’re having a good time, you often end up having a good time yourself. Even though Berlin has been a bit moody this week (As Sigourney said, as it started to snow, then hail, then be sunny, “This weather is on its period.”), I’ve really loved watching someone else love my city and know that to some extent, I am responsible.

We’ve eaten well, and like all good Berliners, taken as many meals as possible outside, no matter what the weather. We even tried to picnic one day – from the apartment on the fifth floor, the bright sun tricked us into thinking that the weather would be balmy. But as we stepped outside, the sky turned overcast, and even as we walked to the canal, we pulled our jackets closer. We were the only people crazy enough to sit outside, much less picnic. And though our food was delicious – an Asian-inspired noodle salad and grilled chicken, bread, cheese, nutella, and salami – let’s just say we didn’t linger. We walked quickly past the swans, skimming the water and nipping each other, past the line-less ice cream truck, and back up to the warm fifth floor where we had a cup of coffee.

I could think of this Easter fish as just another good meal. But it’s Easter. And I have a tendency toward traditioning. By which I mean, I’m the one who makes us dye Easter eggs every year. I’m the one will never be too old for an Easter basket. I’m the one who insists on making deviled eggs even though no one eats them.

In reality, though, all traditions are tidal. They are broken and created as families shift shapes, through marriages or divorces, children being born, children moving out. Every moment is the possible beginning of a tradition. Which means we should always surround ourselves with people we love and imbue our actions with kindness.

“Happy Easter,” Sigourney and I say to each other, and eat our fish.

Jamaican Strawberry and Pepper Roasted Fish

Preheat the oven to 420ºF. On a baking sheet rubbed with olive oil, arrange a halved pepper lined with strawberry slices. Combine 1 cup mango nectar with chili, paprika, cumin, curry powder, oregano, salt, and pepper. Set aside. In olive oil, sauté 1 chopped red onion, 1 tomato, 1 clove garlic, and 4 large chopped strawberries. Sweep the fish (any white fish will do) through the mango sauce and pan fry until lightly browned on both sides. Add about half the sauce and a few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice to the skillet. Remove the fish from the skillet and arrange in the peppers. Top with the sautéed vegetables. Bake for 15 minutes or until cooked through.

Curried Mashed Potatoes

Boil 5-6 peeled, small/medium potatoes until soft. Drain off water and mash hot potatoes with ½ cup milk, 2 tbsp butter, and the other half of the mango sauce.

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Christening

by lyzpfister

Finally, a beginning.

Last night, I was talking with my roommate about the bedbugs.  It’s still almost shameful to say, even though they are an epidemic in New York – apparently the whole country.  The people I tell, I laugh and say, Oh, it’s fine, I’m just spending a fortune in laundry.  But the bedbugs have brought out the worst in us.  They have robbed us of our time and stolen our sanity.  We bicker over little things and act selfishly because we can’t think otherwise.  But mostly, we haven’t made our new apartment home.  And somehow, it’s worse to expresses these fears than to suffer them in silence.  But now you know.

We were in the kitchen, and I don’t remember why, but I wanted to know the secrets of making rice.  My attempts always leave a thin burned layer of grains stuck to the bottom of the pot.  I think of them as sacrificial grains.

Eulas started telling me his method for cooking rice – water to just cover the rice, cooked to boiling, heat turned low and covered while the steam works.  Then Sarah – I’ve perfected my rice recipe.  You need lots of time, at least 45 minutes.  We debated rice cooking methods, discussed the merit of steam, water to rice ratios, pot types, rice types, and lids for half an hour.  As the last few words were said, we began to separate; silence pushing us back to our rooms.  We could make rice now, Sarah said.  I’ll make beans, Eulas said, and with relief we drew together again in the kitchen.

We cooked and talked – about something, I don’t even remember – as the music of cars and neighborhood children clashed outside our window.  The redolent smell of cumin and pepper and the kitchen’s warm lights.

We ate rice and chickpeas at the table that still only has two chairs – I brought out the desk chair from my room.  Then we thanked each other and went to bed, since it was already eleven o’clock.

Reclaim the space, I keep saying.  Make it home, and they will go away.  (Also, spray a lot of poison and they will go away.)  I didn’t sleep much last night, waking up with phantom itches and fears, but my kitchen is christened.  And the bedbugs, they too shall pass.

Sarah’s Rice
1 cup brown rice
2 1/3 cups water
¼ bouillon cube

Place rice and water in a small pot and bring to a boil.  When water boils, turn heat as low as it will go and cover with a lid.  Cook 45 minutes or until grains are tender.

Eulas’ Chickpeas
1 can garbanzo beans
½ red pepper
handful cilantro sprigs
½ yellow onion
1 garlic clove
¼ + cups water
salt
black pepper
cayenne pepper
white pepper
cumin
paprika

Simmer everything together in a covered skillet over medium heat until tender and water is evaporated.  You may use a plate to cover your skillet if you don’t have a lid.

Serve chickpeas over rice.