Māori Fish Salad & the legend of New Zealand | Ika Mata

One of the largest fish ever caught is the stuff of Māori legend. Today, this fish is known as New Zealand’s north island. The fisherman able to haul in such a prize?  Māui, the mythological hero. As the story goes, Māui paddled his canoe far out into the ocean in search of a big catch. He used his ancestor’s jawbone as a fish hook, coating it with blood from his nose. Down, down, down went the hook, into the depths of the deep blue waters.  After some time, the slack line tightened. It took all Māui’s strength to reel in the heavy fish. Stumbling under the effort,  Māui had to brace himself on the edge of his canoe as he pulled the line up, up, up. When the fish finally rose out of the water, Māui gasped. It was the largest sea creature he’d ever seen, big enough to blot out the horizon, with shiny green scales. Māui decided to leave this precious prize with his brothers while he set out in search of a priest to bless …

Read More

Swazi Salad | Slaai

Swaziland’s swooping slopes are dotted with crops; it is here that the Swazi grow the freshest produce, from sunshine yellow lemons, to buttery avocados. With farming of that caliber, it should come as no surprise that Swazi Salads are especially grand. This is not to say they are carefully composed salads. (Most things that are careful, aren’t nearly as delicious.) No, these are simple, heaped piles of chopped veggies. But you can get them on the side of even the most humble plate of beans, which counts for, well, everything. There’s no elaborate dressing, save, perhaps, a squeeze of lemon juice and fresh grated ginger. Croutons? Forget it. The crunch you seek comes from a handful of crushed peanuts and the crisp bite of a sharp radish. Feeling bold? Add minced hot peppers to that lemon juice. Fresher and brighter is the name of the game. So what’s in a Swazi Salad? Every time I looked up Swazi salads, I happened across some combination of avocado, lettuce, onion, and beets. Beets were everywhere: red heaped piles …

Read More

Hungarian Campfire Bacon

Stars poke holes in the black sky. Crickets chirp. A campfire crackles. A few dear friends sit in a circle, chattering. They laugh until they cry and cry until they laugh. And, since they’re Hungarian, they’re holding bacon. Giant cubes of bacon. On sticks. Welcome to Hungarian summer. Campfire bacon kabobs, a.k.a. Gypsy Bacon (Cigany Szalonna) are an integral part of any Hungarian barbecue. In Planet Barbecue Steven Raichlen states: There once was a time – perhaps it’s true still – when Hungary had the highest per capita calorie intake of any country in Europe. Lard and Goose fat undoubtedly helped Hungary achieve this distinction, but the real culprit was […] grilled bacon. Now I know why mom and brother, Damien, always loved to “chew the fat” – literally. Our Hungarian roots all but require it. Here’s how it works: 1. Buy the biggest piece of rind-on slab bacon you can find. Unsliced. I had to call about 5 butchers before I found it at Perry’s in Tulsa. Even then, they tried to slice it up …

Read More