Tuesday, January 31, 2012

100 Foods To Eat Before You Die

If you're on Facebook, chances are high that you've seen the Food List Challenge being passed around. The makers of the app say, "We think most people will have tried fewer than 20 of these 100 foods to eat before you die." Which I'm sure is just a ploy to get people to click on something that will allow a third party to read their personal information. Being the ornery person I am, I found the list floating around the internet instead, which I present to you below in all its glory.

SquirrelWhat I've seen is that most people have actually eaten around 30-50 of the items on the list, not 20. Like any good overachiever, I come in at 91/100 - only good for a lowly A- that would earn the ire of my Asian parents. (Just kidding. We're grading on a curve here, right?)

Here's the list - post how you did in the comments!

1. Abalone
2. Absinthe
3. Alligator
4. Baba Ghanoush
5. Bagel & Lox
6. Baklava
7. BBQ Ribs
8. Bellini
9. Birds Nest Soup
10. Biscuits & Gravy
11. Black Pudding
12. Black Truffle (I have, however, been obsessed lately with white truffle salt.)
13. Borscht
14. Calamari
15. Carp
16. Caviar
17. Cheese Fondue
18. Chicken & Waffles
19. Chicken Tikka Masala
20. Chile Relleno
21. Chitlins
22. Churros
23. Clam Chowder
24. Cognac
25. Crab Cakes
26. Crickets (I'm adventurous, but I draw the line at insects. I don't even want to look at them, much less put them into my mouth.)
27. Currywurst
28. Dandelion Wine
29. Dulce De Leche
30. Durian (This also happens to be one of my favorite things in the world.)
31. Eel
32. Eggs Benedict
33. Fish Tacos
34. Foie Gras
35. Fresh Spring Rolls
36. Fried Catfish
37. Fried Green Tomatoes
38. Fried Plantain
39. Frito Pie
40. Frogs' Legs
41. Fugu
42. Funnel Cake
43. Gazpacho
44. Goat
45. Goat's Milk
46. Goulash
47. Gumbo
48. Haggis
49. Head Cheese
50. Heirloom Tomatoes
51. Honeycomb
52. Hostess Fruit Pie
53. Huevos Rancheros
54. Jerk Chicken
55. Kangaroo (Granted, this was in jerky form - I'd love to try fresh kangaroo, though they're so cute you have to feel kind of bad eating them.)
56. Key Lime Pie
57. Kobe Beef
58. Lassi
59. Lobster
60. Mimosa
61. Moon Pie
62. Morel Mushrooms
63. Nettle Tea
64. Octopus
65. Oxtail Soup
66. Paella
67. Paneer
68. Pastrami on Rye
69. Pavlova
70. Phaal
71. Philly Cheese Steak
72. Pho
73. Pineapple & Cottage Cheese (I'm counting this because I've had both separately on countless occasions. Putting them together doesn't seem terribly different.)
74. Pistachio Ice Cream
75. Po' Boy
76. Pocky
77. Polenta
78. Prickly Pear
79. Rabbit Stew
80. Raw Oysters
81. Root Beer Float
82. S'mores
83. Sauerkraut
84. Sea Urchin
85. Shark
86. Snail
87. Snake
88. Soft Shell Crab
89. Som Tam
90. Spaetzle
91. Spam
92. Squirrel
93. Steak Tartare
94. Sweet Potato Fries
95. Sweetbreads
96. Tom Yum
97. Umeboshi
98. Venison
99. Wasabi Peas
100. Zucchini Flowers

Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy Chinese New Year!

Kung Hei Fat Choi! May the Year of the Dragon bring you many culinary adventures.

Happy Chinese New Year - Dragon Bento

This adorable bento box is brought to you by Bento, Monsters - can you believe that Ming wasn't happy with how he turned out? I think he's incredibly cute. Happy New Year!

Thursday, January 19, 2012


This is a non-food related post.

If you visited Kitchen Lore yesterday, you saw that we were participating in the SOPA Strike along with 75,000 other websites (update: make that 115,000 websites) including Google, Wikipedia, Mozilla, Craigslist, and Wordpress. The SOPA Strike is over and Congress has been continuing to drop its support of the bills, though the numbers are still pretty close (67 supporters, 72 opponents). It looks like we made a difference, though the fight's not over just yet.

If you still don't understand what the fuss is about after all the internet craziness that happened yesterday, here's a succinct post about why both acts are bad for the internet and fail to accomplish their stated goal of addressing piracy.

This is important - contact your Congressional representatives if you haven't already (if you did - thanks!).

And now we head back to our regularly scheduled posts.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Alien Sculpted in Banana

Alien banana

At least it's not bursting out of your chest. Did you realize the first movie came out in 1979? Anyone feel old yet?

Photo courtesy of Imgur.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Pepsi Says Mountain Dew Can Dissolve Dead Mice

Exploding Mountain Dew

In a bizarre legal move, Pepsi Co. is claiming that Mountain Dew is capable of dissolving dead mice. A man in Madison County, Ill. "claims that after opening and beginning to drink soda he purchased from a vending machine at work, he tasted something foul. He claims he spat out the soda to reveal a dead mouse." I'm not sure how you can drink such a large gulp of soda that a mouse carcass would escape notice at first, but that's beside the point. In November 2009, Ronald Ball filed a suit against Pepsi Co. for over $50,000 in damages, and the case is going to court next week.

In an affidavit, Pepsi's expert witness testified that Ball's claim is false, writing that the mouse would have turned into a "a jelly-like substance" by the time he opened his can of pop 74 days after its bottling:
By 30 days of exposure to the fluid, all of the mouse's structures will have disintegrated to the point the structures (excepting possibly a portion of the tail) will not be recognizable and, therefore, the animal itself will not be recognizable. Instead, after 30 days in the fluid, the mouse will have been transformed into a "jelly-like" substance.
Even if Pepsi wins the case, I'm not sure that you can actually count this as a win overall. A can of mouse-dissolving acid to go with your fries, anyone?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Recipe: Spaghetti Squash Cacio e Pepe

Cacio e Pepe is a classic Roman dish. It's usually prepared with spaghetti, so when I bought my first spaghetti squash and was wondering what to do with it, I thought the vegetable would work nicely in place of pasta in that recipe. Kitchen experiments! As it turns out, spaghetti squash works quite well with a few modifications to the original recipe (real cacio e pepe omits the garlic and salt, and there's great debate as to whether butter belongs in the recipe).

Since there are so few ingredients, use the best quality pepper and cheese that you can find - it makes a huge difference. Ground black pepper that's been sitting on the shelf for a year won't allow you to experience the full flavors of this dish.

Spaghetti Squash Cacio e Pepe

Servings: 3 as a main dish, 5-6 as a side
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes


  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup freshly shredded Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Microwave the spaghetti squash for 1 minute.

Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and membranes. Place cut side down in a baking dish with water. Bake for 25 minutes or until the inside of the squash is fork tender.

When the squash is cool enough to touch but still nicely warm, use a large fork to remove pasta-like strands. Combine with butter and garlic (the heat of the squash should melt the butter) in a medium-sized bowl and toss with salt, pepper and cheese. Serve warm.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Ten Best Things I Ate (2011)

Belgian Liege Waffles, Taste of Belgium

There's a law somewhere in the writing universe that requires bloggers to create end of the year lists. So here's mine, with the following ground rules: 1. No food from Asia (the continent) appears on the list, even though Singapore could easily fill half the list on its own - unfortunately, I started this blog after my last trip to Asia and I didn't document my restaurant visits very well. Even though they were quite delicious. 2. For obvious reasons, home-cooked items aren't on this list either. 3. Every item was eaten for the first time in the last year.

Most of the foods on this list are things that I daydreamed about for days and weeks (sometimes longer) after having them once. And anything in Chicago has been eaten on multiple occasions. So without further ado, I present to you the The Ten Best Things I Ate in 2011 (listed in no particular order):

1. JP Burger and Truffled Fries, Jolly Pumpkin (Ann Arbor, Mich.)

Ground grass-fed beef with melted cambozola cheese, crimini mushrooms and thick-cut Berkshire bacon on a toasted challah roll: I'm not usually one to rave about burgers, but this may be the best burger I've ever had. I'm also not usually one to rave about fries, but the truffled fries (truffle salt and rosemary) are like crack. You won't be able to stop eating them. Order a full appetizer portion of the truffled fries or pay an extra $3 to upgrade the plain fries that come with the burger. Trust me, it's worth every penny.

2. Peeky Toe Crab Benedict and Dehydrated Bacon, Longman and Eagle (Chicago, Ill.)

Brunch may be the best way to enjoy this Michelin-starred gastropub - even the menu items that sound a little strange are reliably delicious. The crab benedict comes with a few slices of dehydrated bacon, one of those strange-sounding items that I end up dreaming about at night. It's crisp, sweet, and reminds me of bak kwa, one of my favorite Singaporean snacks.

3. Tonkotsu Ramen, Wasabi (Chicago, Ill.)

Thus far, Wasabi makes the best ramen I've found outside of Japan. Their tonkotsu comes with egg noodles, berkshire pork cheeks, soft boiled eggs, marinated bamboo shoots, scallions, sesame, and kikurage mushrooms.

4. Braised Eel, Craft (New York City, NY)

Craft follows a simple philosophy that allows food to taste like it's supposed to - instead of covering dishes in spices until the actual flavor of the meat and vegetables becomes buried, what you get is something like the platonic ideal of a food. The eel is tender and served in a wonderfully rich sauce.

5. Valrhona Brownie, Floriole (Chicago, Ill.)

Speaking of platonic ideals, this may be the platonic ideal of a brownie. It's dense, rich, and packed with flavor.

6. Dark Chocolate Ice Cream, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams (Columbus, Oh.)

As a University of Michigan graduate, I have to look down on Columbus - the city, and especially the university that resides in its borders - in principle. But Jeni Britton Bauer is an ice cream making genius. And her ice cream shop has to be the best part of Columbus.

7. Belgian Liege Waffle, Taste of Belgium (Cincinnati, Oh.)

I had no idea. We Americans do not understand the true glory of an authentic Liege waffle, a creation that's simultaneously dense and light (no, I don't understand how this is possible either) and crisp with a coating of melted pearl sugar. Adding syrup or whipped cream to this beauty is a mistake. Eat it plain - it needs no adornment.

8. Salty Caramel Brownie, Juliette et Chocolat (Montreal, Qué.)

I'm an unrepentant chocoholic (amusingly, Firefox's built-in spell-checker recognizes this as a real word). And Juliette et Chocolat is a haven for all things chocolate. This intense brownie comes surrounded in a pool of salty caramel. That plus one of their signature hot chocolates will put even the most passionate chocolate lover into a sugar coma.

Ramen, Wasabi
9. Wagyu Sirloin Tip, The Purple Pig (Chicago, Ill.)

Tender and cooked to a perfect medium rare, the wagyu sirloin tip comes with fingerling potatoes, red onions, olives, and bone marrow vinaigrette. I spent my last birthday at the Purple Pig, and even though all of their dishes are served tapas-style, we might have ordered two sirloin tips between the three of us. I also highly recommend the milk-braised pork shoulder.

10. Congee with Ground Pork and Salted Egg, Me Dee Cafe (Chicago, Ill.)

You'll find Chicagoans talking about the "secret" late night congee menu at Me Dee, but if it's a secret, it's a pretty open one - just appear at the restaurant after 9pm or so, and they'll hand you the appropriate menu, no code words or hand signals required. I'm at Me Dee so often that they know my order now, which always includes this ground pork dish and the Thai crab omelette as accompaniments to plain congee. The congee - rice porridge with little flavor of its own - balances the strong saltiness of the pork and egg.

Happy New Year! May you try these and other delicious things in 2012.

Images courtesy of the Taste of Belgium and Wasabi websites.