It was a lunch portion of Jaëgerschnitzel, but holding a fork-load of Sweet Sour Red Cabbage to my mouth, I had to admit that perhaps my Eastern European heritage is more a part of me than I might have wanted to admit. And when we’re traveling I suspect the reason I keep seeking out Chinese restaurants has to do with the fact that I haven’t been able indulge my urges for spaëtzle and red cabbage and dumplings and sausages. At least at a Chinese resto I can get some version of sweet sour tang, or hot and sour soup — or both.
So you can say, I’ve been mesmerized by those sirens of yore who would lure sailors to their death with their intriguing, captivating song. I’m powerless to resist. When those aromas waft past my nose I’m lost!
Perhaps in the longterm search for a more permanent hangout I may never be satisfied if there aren’t German and Polish and Czech and Hungarian restaurants around.
When Kathryn was growing up the biggest issue we ever had over food happened to center on a bowl of beet soup. Otherwise known as borscht, it’s a pretty basic part of Polish tradition and I wanted her to have at least a passing relationship to her roots. We won’t go into how ugly that confrontation was — even today she’s not a fan of beets.
Stuffed cabbage rolls, too, are part of what make me who I am. It’s peasant food — actually — all of what I grew up with. When we were feeling well healed there was the addition of CREAM, but the rest of the ingredients never changed very much.
Perhaps the most luxurious thing I remember from my youth was simple. Pierogi — the Polish version of wantons — are also really peasant food. Made with egg, smashed boiled potatoes and a minimum of flour — this is farm food. It’s a staple. It’s stick to the ribs food when stuffed with any number of savory ingredients: meat, cheese, potatoes, potatoes & onions, etc..
But my paternal grandmother had a brother living in South Haven MI. On rare occasions she and her three boys would make the trip to visit my dad’s uncle and bring home peaches and grapes (he grew grapes for Welch’s) and sometimes even cherries. And so it was that the entire family became addicted — and I mean ADDICTED to cherry pierogi served with clotted cream straight from my uncle’s cows.
I wasn’t even a glimmer in anyone’s eyes during those days, but the dish became that ONE THING that everyone in the family always wanted and only rarely ate. After I came along the three sons would bring home cherries and we’d all gather in the kitchen and participate in the process of making pierogi together. All the savoy ones, and then a few — a rare few — cherry pierogi. And when we all sat down to eat, it was heaven to drizzle a little of that clotted cream on top and eat up every little bit — perhaps even licking the bowl clean!
Learning can sometimes be remembering
Part of our RV adventure goal was to learn — to continue learning — to grow in our retirement. Well, if you’re like I am, sometimes we have to re-learn things we’ve forgotten. Sometimes the things we have forgotten are about ourselves. And I think that for me an appreciation of just how much that food is a part of me was not as front and center in my mind as it is in my life.
We won’t stop traveling just because we had a great plate of food. But I’m sure this will skew how I look at where we are (at the moment) and where we want to go (in the future) differently. I always look for ethnic restos when we travel. We eat most of our meals at home, but we do go out once or twice a week on average. I’ve don’e Ethiopian in Tucson and Italian in Seattle. Georgian in San Diego and Indian in…. well, a few places. We like to experiment with our food — perhaps partly to see what else we can find that’s as wonderful as what we grew up with. Isn’t that the purpose of travel? To have new experiences?
Of course if we’re in a ‘small area’ — meaning that area might be large but the food options are few — we can be happy with what’s there for a while: days, weeks, months. But do think that I’ll always be yearning for the food of my childhood.
If there is one thing that frustrates me about RV’ing it’s the minuscule kitchen and limited cooking resources we have here. We do well with what we have, but some things are more work in the coach than I want to expend. I’m looking forward to having our convection oven again — pizza, and baking, and lots of good things that we haven’t been able to do for a couple months.
As you know we have chosen to limit ourselves to the single burner induction burner that we bought when we started RV’ing. I have been looking at an upgrade from that. There are now some dual burner induction hobs. They still use only the same amount of power — splitting 1800 watts between to burners dynamically. But they would offer a little more flexibility than what I have now. I’m not sure if I’ll make a change, but it’s back there in the back recesses of my mind.
When the time comes to settle down and get off the road we’ll be looking for taste treats for sure.
Thanks for stopping by. I’ll talk with you tomorrow.