Sunday, July 22, 2007

The world in mid-Georgia

I think my international cooking craze started when we moved out to the country. Because we were no longer surrounded by restaurants, I got it in my head that if I wanted to eat decent world cuisine, I was going to have to Iron Chef it myself.

About that time, my cookbook collection--already a couple of U-Haul boxes in size--truly began to explode. Now it is all we can do to find places for the new entries. Major collections began to accumulate, especially when I discovered how frequently volumes from the justifiably renowned Time-Life Foods of the World series showed up in thrift stores. (I think I have almost all of them now, both hardbound cultural studies and spiral-bound recipe books. And, as with almost all my cookbooks, I got them for a song.)

For a long time, Asian food has been a weak spot in my repertoire. But a couple of months ago I started learning spoken and written Mandarin, and it seemed as good a time as any to whip my Chinese cooking into shape. So far, reviews have been mixed: I loved my tea-cooked eggs, but the s.o. thought they were "funky" and my friends looked askance at their goth-style cobweb markings. A batch of bitterish almond cookies satisfied no one.

But there's one recipe that has produced a fantastically snackalicious addition to my repertoire. From the Foods of the World China volume, I present...


2 medium cucumbers
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 Tbs. white vinegar
1 Tbs. sugar
2 tsp. sesame oil
1/4 tsp. Tabasco
1/2 tsp. salt

Peel and seed the cucumbers, and cut them into 1/4-inch slices. Toss with remaining ingredients. Chill.

Easy, eh? Don't blame me when you eat two batches of it per day. Remember, I said "snackalicious."

That salad, along with the tasty Fish Fillet Soup Noodles from Stella Lau Fessler's Chinese Seafood Cooking, made up this week's One Local Summer meal. Neither the noodles nor the seasonings were local, but the dishes made such excellent use of our homegrown and home-caught foods that I decided to go with it.

Cucumbers - our own
Seasonings - elsewhere

White bass - caught in Oconee River (20 miles)
Fish stock - frozen from fish caught at local fishing creek (12 miles)
Green onions and jalapeƱo peppers - our own
Noodles and seasonings - elsewhere