Giving thanks for American food
August 17 2001 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Giving thanks for American food | Friday, Aug. 17, 2001

Friday, Aug. 17, 2001

Giving thanks for American food

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor As a long time fan of Asian food, I had looked forward to exciting culinary adventures during a recent swing through Southeast Asia. It turned out to be a case of the good, the bad and the ugly. Most of the food was good, starting with shrimp and fish cake over egg and rice noodles in fish broth, which I had for breakfast at a Malay food stall in Singapore. There was excellent chicken satay with peanut sauce in Jakarta, authentic pad Thai and banana roti in Chiang Mai, and a first-class meal of dim sum and lemon duck in Hong Kong.

Some of the food was simply bad - like the gule kambing I ordered from a Padang stall in Jakarta, Indonesia. I knew that kambing meant "goat" and thought that would be fun, but I didn't realize that the goat parts in that particular dish came from inside the rib cage.

At an open-air restaurant that hung over the bay near Songhkla, Thailand, we had a mango salad that smelled (and tasted) just like the open-air market where piles of fish and squid rub shoulders with tables filled with local fruit and vegetables. The same place served steamed sea bass with garlic and lime - and most of the fish's internal organs intact.

The worst by far, however, was a fruit called durian. A church we visited fed us fresh fruit, and I enjoyed trying rambutan and mangosteen, along with some outstanding pineapple. But that left the durian - a big, yellow fruit with a thorny exterior that smells so bad there were signs in the hotel lobby prohibiting it from the building. I honored our hosts by choking down a bite of the stinky, slimy stuff, and felt sick for the rest of the day.

Other food tasted fine, but lacked something in visual appeal. Order fried chicken at Suharti's in Bandung, Indonesia, and you get the whole thing, complete with the head and neck. You won't overeat, however, because the yardbirds are so scrawny that there are not 10 good bites on them, and much of that is in the neck.

Order fish in Indonesia and it will invariably come whole. At a roadside place near Bandung, I ordered grilled fish with ginger sauce that would have been easier to eat if it hadn't kept looking at me - and if it hadn't been such a spitting image of the big goldfish swimming in the muddy pond beside our table.

My first stop on American soil was an airport Burger King in Los Angeles. When I said thanks, it was with a whole new feeling.

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8/17/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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