The World in My Pantry

My mother and I went to a big fancy-schmancy grocery store the other day, and I spent time and money in the “World Foods” aisle. Here is what I got:

English Muffin Bread
Not very good. Oh, I didn’t get that in the World Foods aisle, I got it in the store’s bakery. The “English Toasting Bread” in our little local store is way better, and less expensive, too. We live and learn.

Mushy Peas
In England, my British son-in-law and British Twitter friends tell me, they have marrowfat peas, which they cook until tender and serve with butter and a touch of vinegar. We will try this. This particular can also has food dye in it, apparently to make the peas a virulent shade of green, and claims to be made “by bachelors FOR bachelors”, so I guess Charlie and I are risking our happy marriage by even opening the can, but what’s life without a little danger?

Minute Miso
Concentrated soybean, yeast (not the baking kind), kelp, spices and alcohol. You add a couple of tablespoons to water and make soup. Or add some to soup and make better soup. It’s good, and not just because of the alcohol.

Good Korma
Har-har-hardy-har-har-har. But it sounded good, and I love chicken korma, so I thought I’d get this and make some seitan and put korma sauce over it. I actually got some vital wheat gluten and made some seitan that was mighty tasty, so I’m looking forward to this.

Last, but not least, there is:

Carpet Soup
This is actually Sapporo Ichiban, Japanese style noodles with fried bean curd and soup base. Sounds good, eh? No? Well, how about when I tell you that each and every package comes with two–count ’em, two–sheets of dried fried bean curd that, when reconstituted in the soup, resemble nothing so much in look and texture as carpet samples? Get your mouth to watering? You may be asking yourself why in the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed world I paid cash money for this stuff. I’ll tell you: I had some once, when there was nothing else to eat, and I thought it was ghastly but I couldn’t forget it. I had to have some more. I had some more. There is nothing else on earth quite like this stuff, unless actual carpet samples, which I have never eaten, taste like this.

What I forgot:

These crunchy fried things that look like snow peas and taste like salt. More addictive than potato chips.

Is there a particular food of another country that you love, especially one you love against your better judgment?


writing prompt: Write about a picky eater. Remember that “picky” is peculiar to each person–A kid who only eats crunchy peanut butter or a gourmet who only eats white truffles, not black ones or a man who won’t eat his canned beans on whole-wheat rather than white toast are all picky eaters.

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I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “The World in My Pantry

  1. Dani

    July 21, 2010 at 10:38pm

    I like fish sauce. And herring in sour cream – so fattening! 😀 Hubbs is giving me a list of German baked goods as I type this. Starting with Stollen. I’m not typing all that… shaddup will ya! He’s on a roll here – a Kaiser roll!

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      July 22, 2010 at 7:58am

      How about kuchen? I grew up with the weekends meaning cinnamon “kooka”–as we said it–from a German-origin family bakery in the neighborhood. I found a recipe a couple of years ago and made one for a family party. It was a big hit, but took too darned long to make!

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  2. Leslie R. Lee

    July 21, 2010 at 11:06pm

    marrowfat peas are truly ghastly. Vile. Horrid. Just my opinion but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      July 22, 2010 at 7:59am

      Warning duly noted. I’ll have a backup green veg to substitute if we can’t take the mushy peas. Daughter and sil love them, though, so I have hopes.

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  3. mary montague sikes

    July 21, 2010 at 11:58pm

    Wow! You are adventurous. I’m not where it comes to food. My husband and I are sensitive to a lot of food items and wouldn’t want to take a chance on getting ill. We definitely are picky eaters!!! Red and green peppers appear to be staples for gourmet cooks. I always pick them out of my food.


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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      July 22, 2010 at 8:02am

      I used to be allergic to green and red peppers! I told my stepdaughters that peppers made me turn red, then green, then sweat and pass out. They bugged me to eat some until I said, “Fine. You want to see it–see it!” And I ate one. To their disappointment and my delight, I had lost the allergy.

      Turns out I’m idiopathic, which doesn’t mean I’m allergic to stupid people, but that I never know what might trigger a reaction. It’s very exciting.

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  4. Patricia Stoltey

    July 22, 2010 at 3:23pm

    Funny you should ask, Marian. I’ve been thinking a lot about two of the foods I discovered on a trip to Norway and could barely swallow at the time. One was the salt cod with potatoes and carrots…I had a lot of trouble with all that salt. The other was the brown cheese which has a nice flavor but a strange texture. Why would I be wanting to taste both of them again when they were so difficult to eat the first time?

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      July 23, 2010 at 4:58pm

      I think it takes us back to our babyhood, when every taste was new and different and exploded onto our tastebuds. We were all, “DO NOT LIKE!” And then we thought about it for a while, and then we were like, “Let’s have that again and see. If nothing else, I certainly remember it.”

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  5. The Yard Bard

    July 22, 2010 at 4:05pm

    That is my new and permanent definition of idiopathic — thank you!! Let’s see… food… Well, I’ve never eaten carpet soup, but I looooove sushi. I should make some soon… I also like borscht and colcannon.

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      July 23, 2010 at 4:59pm

      I like borscht and colcannon–have made both–but I don’t care for sushi, even veggie sushi. It’s the seaweed. Don’t like the seaweed. Or wasabi. Ick-ick-ick!

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