I wouldn’t trust Lloyd Grossman as far as I could chuck him, but I guess he merely adds his face to some the apparently ubiquitous sauce bottles that have sparked some lively debate about the cooking habits of the British. OK, I exaggerate. That sparked an article on the four staple meals the British public resorts to by Zoe Williams, whose witty writing we enjoy in our household.
Now under the impression that my little household must also be stuck in the same rut, I felt quite determined to log our weekly diet. Like the state of Schrodinger’s cat, the very act of observing one’s diet can change one’s eating habits. Under normal circumstances, that is. Like all serendipitous findings in the laboratory, our unique circumstances of not having much control over what time we get home, and hence when we eat our single cooked meal of the day, allowed me to log our weeks eating blind since I completely forgot that was what I was going to do anyway. (And you naive folk out there really think I know what’s going on when I’m doing my experiments… I ALWAYS do them blind.)
So for what it’s worth, and to qualify this as a sometime-food blog, in all its ugliness, this is what D+P ate this week for dinner (breakfast is almost always cereal unless I’ve baked bread, and lunch is always something leftover or from the canteen or me starving hoping to get finished earlier and thus eat a nicer dinner. ha!):
Sunday: BBQ (friends invited over to christen the pit’s new home). Prawns smoked on cedar planks, garnished with garlic and lime. Grilled aubergines: large globes sliced and grilled, then layered up again with mozarella inbetween and oven-baked; chinese eggplant and mediterranean aubergine just plain grilled. Swordfish and mahi-mahi marinated in soya sauce and ginger, cubed and skewered up with a cherry tomatoes and lime slices. Fillet of wild-caught salmon smoked on an alder plank with lemon juice, lemon thyme (from garden) and salt and pepper. Couscous. Sour mango salad (Corrine Trang recipe).
Monday: Bad start to week. D in lab waiting for a 10pm experiment. Leftover breaded chicken from canteen lunch. Yoghurt. Mango juice. P, on the other hand, conveniently FORGOT to pack BBQ leftovers for lunch, and hence dined like a f-ing king while I starved in the lab. Dagnabit.
Tuesday: More BBQ leftovers. And lots of green salad. Dang, I should BBQ more often. Cook for an army, eat for three days…
Wednesday: Chicken wings baked in five spice powder. Steamed broccoli with oyster sauce. Steamed Thai rice.
Thursday: Roasted beef ribs in a pseudo-Galbi sauce. You know, the roasted beef ribs was another serendipitous finding. We left the ribs covered in foil in the oven at 300degF (dammit, I’m even using degF without thinking now; I’m screwed for returning to metric EU), went for a walk with the dog, stayed out longer than we planned (1.5h), and found the ribs cooked to tender perfection. Normally, I guess we’d have them bloodier, but the slow cook helped the tougher fatty and tendonous bits breakdown somewhat.
Friday: Thai takeaway. And no, I’m not proud of this one. In fact, we both acknowledged that we could have easily cooked something from the store cupboard even though the fridge was more or less empty and we left the lab after 9pm. In fact, we could even have had some of the frozen psuedo-siew mai (Japanese style with edamame), or thawed out some squid to fry in Szechuan pepper, or just had couscous and olives. But no, we thought we were desperate enough for takeaway. We didn’t even enjoy it. Dog’s tummy was bad all week, and cleaning up indoor **** really puts one off a curry. Dangitalltoheck.
Saturday: Post-ballet dinner at En Sushi on Santa Monica Blvd + Barry. Sushi (traditional): hamachi (yellowtail), raw scallops, octopus, snow crab. Agedashi tofu. Veggie tempura. Spinach+enoki cold appetizer. We’d driven all the way back from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion along Olympic in hope that we’d see some all-night Korean BBQ restau with lights blazing and a neon “Open” sign. Which we did. Only to find after parking that they were closed. Even Zankou Chicken on Sepulveda was closed. But En Sushi’s kitchen doesn’t shut till “late” on Saturdays. 11.30pm on this particular Saturday. It’s one of these places we’ve avoided because it looks too trendy for us. The cheap and cheerful yakitori place half a block down is more our style when eating out in our neighbourhood. Or when we’re feeling fancy, SaSaYa, the small-dish (can’t remember the Japanese name) is our fave. It’s not to knock En Sushi really. The food was great, the service ever so accommodating despite the late hour. It’s the fact that every time I’ve crossed Barry, either to get to the DVD store or the other less trendy restaus, I very nearly get run over by some fancy SUV or noisy sports car leaving the valet parking for En Sushi. I have little charity for such folk, and avoid their company as much as possible. Which has till now deprived us of the very competent sushi chef at En.
Sunday: Dinner at the ex-neighbours’ in thanks for looking after their dog while they were away. Some fabby Indian cooking. Rice+cardamon+sultanas. Chickpeas+spinach. Aloo ghobi. Eggplant curry. And some lovely double-fried sweets from the Sweet Shop (name?) on Pico + Fairfax.
So. In a blind study of the eating habits of some ex-UK inhabitants, we find no evidence for any spag bol (we probably eat that once or twice a year), tikka masala (D is not keen on sweet curries, Brummie or otherwise), chilli con carne (put off that during undergrad years; now have irrational hate of kidney beans) or bangers and mash (have to admit to eating that monthly in Edinburgh thanks to the venison and boar stalls at the fortnightly Farmers’ Market in the West End). I think our rut comes more from not trying many new recipes or styles, rather than having staple set meals. Our cultural influences, while many, have grown stale. Sadly, without my library of cookbooks and their ideas or not reading the broadsheets’ lifestyle sections or not having the time to browse Flickr quite so much, we’ve lost the will to try out more complicated dishes or experiment with the ones we know and love.
So, in the spirit Schrody’s cat, or rather, in tribute to the spirit of Schrody’s cat, we will attempt to change the diet by the very act of observation, thus leading to experimentation.