Culinary Anthropologist

Author Archives: matt

  1. Beetroot crispbreads

    Leave a Comment

    Add dried spices to the dough for more flavours.  To stay within the flavours of Nordic cuisine, try caraway seeds, dried dill, dried lemon balm or even small pieces of roasted bacon.  Serve these crispbreads with an assortment of cheeses, a fresh herb pesto or with pickled herring, like they do in Sweden.

    IMG_0352.JPGRecipe from Mia Kristensen of CPH Good Food.


  2. Mackerel escabeche

    Leave a Comment

    This recipe is adapted from one by Thomasina Miers. Escabeche usually refers to a technique of frying fish and then marinating it in a vinegary liquid with onions, spices and herbs. Flavourings vary enormously from country to country; escabeche is popular in Italy, Spain, Latin America and the Philippines.

    smmackerelescabeche0009.jpgThis dish is a relative of good old fish and chips, which is not as British as one might think. They share origins in a dish beloved of the Shahs of Persia some 1500 years ago – sikbāj – sweet and sour stewed beef. This later made its way around the Arabic world, with fish replacing beef in Christian parts. The amazing history is told by Prof Dan Jurafsky on his blog, ‘The Language of Food’.

    Dan writes: “The word escabeche came to Spanish from Catalan, which acquired it from its neighbour, Occitan, who got it from the Genoese, who stole it from the Neapolitans, and so on, back eventually east to the Arabic of Baghdad and the Persian of Ctesiphon.” And the story continues with the Jews being expelled from Spain and Portugal and going to northern Europe, taking their fish dishes with them. Finally, in England, Belgian frites were married with battered and fried fish doused with vinegar: fish and chips.


  3. Persian cooking classes: Sep-Nov 2009

    1 Comment

    Jamileh.jpgSat 26th September, Sat 24th October and Sat 21st November 2009 – 12 noon to 6pm.

    This autumn Jamileh Hinrichs, an expert in Persian cuisine, is offering a special series of cooking classes. Class sizes will be kept very small so everyone can join in and learn directly from Jamileh’s extensive culinary experience. You can book the whole course, or pick one date. Feel free to spread the word and invite friends and family.

    Persian cuisine is one of the oldest and most sophisticated in the world. The sheer length and breath of the Old Persian Empire (encompassing today’s Iran and parts of Turkey, Greece, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, the Arabian Peninsula and Egypt) has been the cradle of many distinct flavours and cooking ideas.


  4. End of the road (for now)

    Leave a Comment

    Smghanaborder.JPGAnother day, another border crossing.  More friendly and efficient people doing our paperwork with the minimum of fuss and a welcoming smile.  We were used to this by now – but this one was different.  This was the last border we’d cross – Ghana was the end of the trip.  We were running late, too: due at our friends’ house on the coast for Christmas, and only a couple of days to get there.

    Smwhitebread.jpgWe’d only come a couple of hours from Ouagadougou – but somehow crossing the border really did seem to change things.  There were private cars on the roads, not just scooters and buses.  Villages were full of modern-looking buildings made of cinder blocks and tin rather than mud and straw.  People’s clothes were different – those Francophone West Africans really know how to dress.  The bread was suddenly square, white and sliced rather than long, thin and pointy.  And strangest of all, they seemed to be speaking some funny language we didn’t quite recognise – although it certainly did seem familiar …


  5. Eggs that can’t be beaten

    Leave a Comment

    Smbarnabystreetegg0001.jpgLast night Barnaby stayed up quite late touring the bars of Takoradi, so when he got up this morning he was ready for a hearty breakfast.  And when he went out into the street he realized that he wasn’t going to have much trouble finding one – every street corner was filled with little stalls, and every other stall was run by a friendly lady selling some kind of delicious-looking food.

    So it didn’t take long to find what he was looking for: street egg.  A big herby peppery omelette cooked fresh right in front of him – then stuffed into a big wodge of sweet doughy bread and cooked some more.  Yum.  Just the thing to get you ready for a hot day in the market – especially when you wash it down with a great big mug of hot condensed milk and sugar (or as it’s known round here, “coffee”).

    And as he chewed thoughtfully (for him) on his egg sandwich, he thought back to some of his favourite parts of the journey.  Smtakoradicorner0001.JPGChermoula sardines in Morocco, deep-fried fataya in Senegal, rice galettes in Mali, porc au four in Burkina Faso … and last night’s goat kebabs and spicy octopus, of course … they’d all been delicious, and they’d all been made and eaten on the street. 

    Perhaps this was no coincidence?  The only disappointing food he’d had on the whole trip had been in restaurants and hotels.  Street food must be where it’s at, he decided.  And went up the road for some keliweli and spicy yam chips.