Re: [gardeners] Couscous or tagine?

penny x stamm (
Sat, 10 Feb 2001 02:10:35 -0500

Mary-Anne, I cannot believe what a versatile menu you provide for your
visiting family--!  Just as Ron keeps surprising me with the things he
fixes --- 

I would think that it's too late to recommend anything else for this
coming Sunday, and besides, you do have the thing quite under
control....   but it brings back a memory of a wonderful trip in South
America with my then 22-y-o daughter, Andrea, where we spent 
24 hours in Lima, Peru, on our way up to Cuzco and Macho Picu.

We took ourselves as late as we could stand it to dinner at a local
hotel ...  10 waiters stood around, with nothing to do. And there we
were, two babes-in-arms, alone in a foreign dining room, and very
hungry for new experiences. After checking out the elegant menu, 
I suggested that perhaps she might order the paella and I would
get the bouillabaisse. 

You can laugh all you want to -- it was both a challenge and a
mortification. We could have asked ALL the waiters standing at
the wall to join us for dinner, and had some left over!  And there 
were no doggie bags in Lima . . . .  
Last night was a problem.  Jim's cousin Dick was coming for
dinner, and I always fix a special meal for him because he
so much appreciates it. Having decided on Suki Yaki, I brought
home all those wonderful ingredients ahead of time, and thought
that this would be a breeze...  Hours ahead of his 4:00pm arrival,
I started washing and cutting up all the greens, and I actually  
filled two huge turkey platters with giant heaps of colorful foods
as I had seen my Japanese assistant do 10 years ago...  There
were bok choy, Chinese cabbage, snow peas, tofu, scallions,
giant sweet white onions, red onions, chrysanthemum leaves,
and lots of the fresh mushrooms which look like golf tees on
elongated stems.. Next to marinate the very thin sliced beef:
oh yeah, dummy, I forgot to thaw it! I even forgot that I could have
used the microwave to encourage the thawing....   so there I was,
cautiously peeling away shreds of lovely beef from a 3-lb mountain.
I pulled out my Korean cookbook and made up the yummy marinade, 
and coaxed the beef into it. 

Set the table, placed all those platters on top, added the table-top
cooker on an extension chord, and then put out the assorted Greek
olives, the Korean 'oy kimchi' ( new cukes stuffed with very hot
shredded peppers), Thai pickled onions, and the Korean daikon
(white radish) salad which we love. Prepared the cooking sauce of
half soy and half aji mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine). Got the
chunk of beef fat out of the freezer for greasing the pan. Put out the
Greek beer. And I was so overwhelmed by the amount of work
involved here that I helped myself to a daiqueri which I had also
prepared for the occasion.   
It wasn't until I sat down to do the table-side cooking that I realized
what I had done... I had prepared the beef for a Korean Bul-gogi . . . . 
not a Japanese suki yaki...!  Ye gods, Penny, time for another 
daiqueri, to ease the trauma, of course. I never said a word about
it. And niether Jimmie nor Cousin Dick knew the difference. 

Toyomi taught me those many years ago that it was de rigueur to 
ask the host, "Is it all right?" and for the host to reply, naturally, 
"Yes, it is fine!"  Of course, I went thru the motions. 

You would never believe it but true to custom, we finished ALL
that food with no effort. The veggies seem to cook down to nothing
in a short time, and the hostess just keeps adding more and more
stuff to the pot, to keep the process flowing...  

To end the meal I had a Trader Joe's ready-to-bake apple strudel
in the oven as we ate, so we miraculously found enough room to
eat it along with some vanilla ice cream and coffee.  Only my hubby
needed a 1:00am snack of 2 bowls of cereal and milk. 

And I have no intention of fixing another suki yaki for the rest of
my life. Another daiqueri ? -- well, that's a horse of another color... 

Penny, NY -- oh dear, I never remembered to include the noodles .....