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ethnic food.

Posted Mar 18 2010 7:28am

Two more days to enter to win a yoga mat!


Maybe its my New York roots, but when it comes to the dinner table, I have always seen two different USAs.  There’s the fast, the fried, and the refined that has the health of so many in danger.  And then, there’s the melting pot: the mass hodgepodge that has me cooking South Indian fare one day and dining on Thai curry the next.  It’s diverse, flavorful, and usually good for our health – which is how I feel about our country’s eclectic nature anyhow.  Then again, I may be biased by living in one of the most multicultural cities in the world.  [Hmm, can anyone tell I've spent the past 3 days writing about diversity in dance?]

My parents have always loved ethnic food.  We’ve patronized nearly every  establishment of the kind in the corner of Connecticut in which I grew up – Indian, Thai, Japanese, Ethiopian, Spanish, Mediterranean, Moroccan, Pakistani…  Honestly, if a new culture opens its doors by way of food, my family will be at a table.

Even before I took on my food-is-an-adventure philosophy, I was still
into the ethnic atmosphere: back in high school, my friends and I often visited a local Japanese hibachi joint.  Under eighteen and stuck in suburbia, gathering around that fiery stovetop for a multi-course meal was the highest form of entertainment.  Plus, it’s there that I learned how teriyaki could infuse any food with flavor, and how egg makes quite the addition to rice.

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This week, I met up with  my blogging twin for an ethnic treat I don’t get often enough: Ethiopian food at  Awash .  We shared wine [obviously] and a vegetarian feast, digging in to lentils seasoned in all manner of ways and a host of spiced vegetables, from carrots and collard greens to beets and cabbage.  Scooping it all up with our hands and traditional injera bread, it was a perfect trip away from the usual fork, knife, and simply-flavored fare.

As Danielle as I discovered yet another similarity between us [a mutual fascination with linguistics], we chowed down in what I consider quintessential New-York-American fashion: at a small table, in a small dining room, tasting food served and cooked by people who live and breathe the culture – after all, in the case of Awash, the chefs and owners are Ethiopian themselves.

I much prefer dining in this American style, as the menu isn’t peppered with the points and calorie counts of the country’s customary chains .  Instead, it is packed with whole foods – wide-ranging vegetables and whole grains [How often do we eat anything made from teff, like Ethiopian injera bread?  It's a great whole grain.]

As I always say: when the food is real, the numbers just don’t matter.  Sometimes, we have to travel around the world to learn that.  I’m certainly glad I did.

What’s your favorite ethnic cuisine?

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