16 April 2009

Cuisines of the Axis of Evil


I admit it. I own about 200 French cookbooks.

I admit it. If you took every clafouti recipe from every French cookbook I own, they would all be roughly the same.

I admit it. There are about 12 French cookbooks on my wish list. What’s a girl to do?

Clearly, I need to branch out. But where does one look for new inspiration?

How about the Axis of Evil! Yes. Iran, Iraq, North Korea. But why stop there? How about Israel, India or Pakistan? How about Cuba or Burma or China? If only someone would write such a cookbook.

They did.

Chris Fair wrote one of the most inventive, fun and actually really good cookbooks of the last year. Appropriately entitled, Cuisines of the Axis of Evil and Other Irritating States: A Dinner Party Approach to International Relations, Fair looked at countries which at present are foreign policy quagmires for the good old U. S. of A.

Chris Fair did not go to culinary school, nor did she sous chef with the great chefs of Europe. She has a Ph. D. in South Asian languages from the University of Chicago.

Chris Fair writes about counterinsurgency, religious Islam in Iran, Indo-Pakistani relationships, and militant recruitment. Let’s see Bobby Flay “throwdown” with that!

Fair admits that before her marriage her…
“dating list resembled the roll call of the U.N. General Assembly. I’ve had to abandon relationships with men who were Jewish, Muslim, or Hindu simply because of their eating rules. I eat pork, drink booze, and think vegetarian cuisine is best left for ruminates.”
In the arena of personal as well as global conflict, I have always felt it would be infinitely harder to kill someone who ate grits than, say, some infidel who ate oatmeal. I would cap your oatmeal-eating ass quicker than… I digress.

To put it eloquently, Chris Fair states:

“Only the foolish would underestimate the social and political importance of food when, in fact, every aspect of what we put into our mouths is burdened with social, political, religious, and even militarized baggage even though most of us remain woefully unaware of the same.”


The above may be the best sentence written about food in years!

Many of the dishes in this book require multiple ingredients and a large international market. Here is Iranian dessert that can be had in even the smallest market.

Cucumbers and Tangerines

You will want about 2 pounds of each. Be sure to buy the small cucumbers, not the huge monster ones. Chill them overnight to make sure they are as crispy and delightful as possible. This may sound like a strange combination, but the flavors of the tart tangerine and cold, mellow, crunchy cucumber actually compliment each other beautifully. This combination isn’t so odd in some corners of the United States. My massage parlor in Los Angles always had pitchers of cool filtered water with slices of cucumber and oranges, and it was utterly refreshing. Tangerines and cucumbers tend to lighten the meal, which is rather heavy. *

To get ready for your guests, remover your chilled cucumbers and tangerines from the fridge, and arrange them nicely on a serving dish of your choice.
I like the colors of these two items and thus put them in the same dish together, but they can be served separately.

Now get out there and make peace with someone. If they try to feed you oatmeal...SHOOT 'EM.

* This dessert is suggested to end a meal comprised of various heavy meat stews.

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