by Kate Heyhoe
As the Global Gourmet, I delight in the creative pairing of foods and spices from 'round the world. I'm not a huge fan of fusion for fusion sake—in which outrageous concoctions take precedence over good taste. But seemingly disparate ingredients can meld dramatically well with others, as in the sublime marriage of Italian prosciutto and melon (a fruit originally from Persia), or the vibrancy of Syrian sumac on Alaskan salmon.
When creating recipes, I generally pay no heed as to the food's origins. If it makes a dish taste good, I will eagerly pair an ingredient from Cambodia with another from Caracas. After all, as the world grew smaller throughout history—either by trade or conquest—cooks acquired prized flavorings from distant lands, and new "traditional dishes" emerged.
The holiday table is rich in foreign seasonings. We forget that allspice comes from Jamaica, and Portuguese and Dutch traders first brought cinnamon to the west from its native Sri Lanka. The Spice Islands off Indonesia's shores yielded other culinary gems, including cloves and nutmeg. Gingerbread owes its namesake's flavoring to China, and what kitchen would be complete without the dreaminess of Mexico's generous gifts: vanilla and chocolate.
This month, in preparation for Thanksgiving, the Global Gourmet is inspired by the many world flavors that can complement the standard Thanksgiving menu. And since I know no better way to give thanks than by actually giving food, I've put together a month of packable, portable side dishes to make you the perfect guest. Or, for the harried host, you'll find that these dishes are simple to make in advance, freeing you up for important things—like spending more time with family. Furthermore, the side dishes this month are completely meatless, suitable for vegetarian diners as well as carnivores.
I begin with a recipe from our own backyard: cornbread, made from a grain that began in the Americas, and later was welcomed in kitchens around the globe. But this just ain't your mama's cornbread: it's stuffed with creamy goat cheese and spiced with roasted green chiles. I also sample other breads of the Americas, captured by noted chef Mark Miller.
Previews of the coming Thanksgiving recipes are listed below, and for those of you looking to create the entire meal, take a look at the Thanksgiving No-Brainer and the Perfect Turkey Handbook links.
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Copyright © 1998, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page created 1998. Modified November 2006.
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