Monday, June 27, 2011


The real trick to it is figuring out what is crucial in getting a flavor or cuisine "feel" right and what really isn't.

Some things are also simpler than you'd think. Like pie crust. No, really, it just takes some practice.

Like most Americans, I grew up buying pies of all sorts from the store. No one made apple pie, or pumpkin pie, or even chicken pot pie. I do now. There's a reason they say "American as apple pie" -- because finding a real apple pie in Asia is darn hard! I learned to make my own in China, where apples were plentiful and cheap but pies were nonexistent. Pies are a western thing. Although they're being adapted in, they're being adapted in willy-nilly and often you get weird admixtures of things accordingly.

Mind you, I don't MIND mixing cuisines or cultures, but frankly I want my apple pies with simple pie crust and not really buttery pastry crust (which is how the pies are made where I live in Japan)... oh, and they're insanely expensive. [Special note: cooking outside the "local cuisine" can be a pain, and expensive, but trying to buy the same food out can be nightmarishly expensive, especially if you live in boonies, Japan, which I do.]

Learning to make pie crust myself THE FIRST TIME was a real adventure, but the trick really is some practice. I do plan as one of my first posts to post up the apple pie recipe I scoured from the Internet several years ago, from someone whose page has since gone down, with my own comments about how I had to tweak the recipe to deal with the OMGsweet apples of Asia. (You think American-grown Fuji apples are sweet? They've got nothing on the actual Japanese original. Oh boy.)

[My husband likes me to make pies because I make "po'boy cookies" afterward with the extra pie crust.]

Next time I actually make the pie, I'll put up pictures. My pies still aren't "pretty" -- but they're pretty tasty, our friends really like them. And homemade pie is MUCH better than that store-bought stuff in the U.S. And scratch-made pumpkin pies can be awesome. And I "pie" a lot of things just like my (European) ancestors did... leftover beef stew? PIE! Kid loves it. Pie crust + darn near anything, my three-year-old will eat it.

Anyway, I've gone off track here. I'll be explaining how I do all the weird cooking things I do in this blog. For expat Americans, this may help you make some of your old favorites IN SPITE of where you are and what you've got. For people looking to cook food from all over the world -- well, I cook American, French, German, Italian, Mexican (a little), Pakistani/northern Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean food. Give or take. With some odd things here and there. Sometimes very odd.

My latest "conquest" was figuring out how to make good-tasting, properly "textured" cheese lasagne when ricotta is either 1) unavailable or 2) outrageously expensive. I'll put that up soon, especially if I get interest in the blog.

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