Thursday, June 11, 2009

Regular gourmet top 100, versus the Cretan version, versus the Canadian version!

1. Greek spring lamb slaughtered just before Easter. (To make this Frederictonian, I would actually go back to the original venison. Or maybe moose.)
2. malotira from the Lefka Ori (White Mountains). (I don't know about the Lefka Ori, but I've certainly had it. A Canadian equivalent...well, we have all sorts of herbal teas, but I would have to go with peppermint tea here, because it's my favorite.)
3. strapatsada - (I've made this at home, but I don't think I'm any good at it. My equivalent would be my famous scrambled eggs - oregano, a dash of tobasco, and a slice or two of processed cheese. Yum.)
4. Steak tartare - in Greece, meat is never eaten raw; there is no equivalent. (I would have to go with a rare steak here...because we don't eat raw meat either! Unless you're the governor-general eating raw seal heart up in the arctic. There, I guess I'll take this list a bit farther afield and throw in an arctic delicacy.)
5. Crocodile - Cretan ibex, locally called kri-kri, an endangered species, often hunted by poachers (Andrew received negative comments concerning his inclusion of endangered species; the fact that they are endangered does not detract from how good they taste) - (never had crocodile or kri-kri, but the equivalent endangered food here would have to be a wild salmon.)
6. Black pudding - splinogardoumo: the Greek equivalent of blood sausage (we don't do anything like this here. I'll say a soft, smoky sausage from one of the German vendors at the farmer's market will have to do!)
7. Cheese fondue - kalitsounia (traditional Cretan cheese pasties) made with malaka cheese (we do have cheese fondue here, which has been trendy the last few years, but I've only tried the chocolate fondue. So fondue will stand.)
8. Carp - fried red mullet; it doesn't look like a pet, so it will be more edibly desirable (hmm, local fish would have to be a yellow perch, not that it's any great delicacy.)
9. Borscht - avgolemono (egg and lemon) soup is the Cretan signature equivalent. (Never had borscht, but I love avgolemono so I'll let it stand.)
10. Baba ghanoush - melitzanosalata is just about the same thing. (...except you'll always find baba ghanoush here, and not melitzanosalata. So the former, not the latter).
11. Calamari - we find ourselves at the source (Delicious if done properly, fried kalamari rings are a pub staple in Fredericton).
12. Pho - this sounds about as boring as my husband's family's recipe for kreatosoupa (meat soup, made with beef, using the same ingredients as fish soup, with fish replaced by Greek stringy beef); eat at your own pleasure. (I had pho in Londontario at a restaurant called Ben Thanh, and it was...ok. I really shouldn't have gone with my friend's suggestion to get the ultra-authentic version with tripe and tendon and was a boring broth with rubber bands in it, essentially. Tendon means fat, basically, and tripe is just rubbery bits with spiky offshoots. Apparently I like my offal grilled...anyways, somewhere in Freddy does serve this (Racine's?), but I wouldn't get it again. Here I would suggest instead some good chili.)
13. PB&J sandwich - Greeks don't commonly mix their sweet with their savoury; a BLT is much more preferable to Andrew's choice. (People in Fredericton do eat PB&J sandwiches, but I was never big on them. My mom grew up eating fluffernutters though, so I'll add them instead - peanut butter and marshmellow fluff, on white bread. Classic.)
14. Aloo gobi - there is no substitute for a curry in Greece, and as a curry fan, I would have to agree with Andrew. (We have this here now, but only in the last five or so years. I prefer chana masala, myself.)
15. Hot dog from a street cart - souvlaki, indisputably. (I love both hot dogs and souvlakis! Don't make me choose! But to be a local, and true to my blog name, I'd have to suggest a donair (local name for a gyro), from my dad's stall (Pano's) at the market. I prefer tzatziki sauce on mine, but many locals, especially those with ties to Halifax, prefer "sweet sauce". To each their own.)
16. Epoisses - there are plenty of excellent Cretan cheeses widely available all over the island. (Oka, a cheese which was invented in the province next door, Quebec.)
17. Black truffle - local varieties of these can be picked in our forests. (We have morrels in the woods here, but I don't know if anyone eats them.)
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes - I've had koumara wine (made from the arbute berry); give me grape wine any day. (They make regular grape wine at Kings Landing, but I've also seen strawberry wine, dandelion uncle makes blackberry wine too.)
19. Steamed pork buns - steamed bread is not a Greek comestible, but if I were to choose my own favorite meat-in-bread food, it would have to a Kiwi sausage roll. (Another Fredericton favorite? SAMOSAS. There used to be only two real options: Patel's or Samosa Delite. Now that Patel has retired (heart attack), the market has been flooded with imitations, including frozen ones at the supermarket. I like the veggie, lamb, pork or hot beef or hot chicken from Patel's, or the hot turkey or hot beef from Samosa Delite. At least the quality of the latter has improved from the early days (chopped chicken with paprika instead of curried ground chicken? Seriously?)
20. Pistachio ice cream - good ice-cream is expensive in Greece, but it does exist: my favorite in Hania is banana ice-cream from Klimatsakis. (To be a good little local, probably something with maple in it. My favorite growing up was always "Death by Chocolate", and I'd get it at Corburn's on the way home from camping; I guess the equivalent now would have to come from Skinny's Scoop, out on Keswick Ridge. And yes, I do like pistachio ice cream!)
21. Heirloom tomatoes - they grow in our garden. (We have these, I guess, but they seem more trendy than traditional. We have all sorts of heritage vegitables at Kings Landing though, so perhaps a rat-tail radish, some golden beets or one of our many, many rare breeds of apples can substitute?)
22. Fresh wild berries - wild blackberries in Fournes; to date, I don't know anyone else who picks them apart from myself. (We have wild blueberries, raspberries and blackberries here; I've also been known to pick teeny tiny wild strawberries.)
23. Foie gras - offal is eaten in various forms in Crete, and there is plenty of variety available. (I love fried liver, but you'll be more likely to find liverwurst here.)
24. Rice and beans - Cretan pilafi, especially that which is served at a Cretan wedding, is simply heaven. (I'll go the opposite direction from Maria here, and pick baked beans in the New England or Quebec style, with maple syrup and bacon.)
25. Brawn, or head cheese (there's just no getting around this one. We don't do it, and my introduction to the concept was while reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House in the Big Woods" as a child...). The closest we come would probably be "cretons", a quebecois treat I only discovered this year but still have not sampled.)
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper - Greeks don't eat overly hot peppers; piperonia (bud-size hot red peppers) are grown as ornamentals and are added to soups - we grow them ourselves. (Canadians aren't big on peppers - they're at the grocery store, and we do use some of them, but they aren't really typical. I'd have to go with some grilled rainbow bell peppers here, that's more our style.)
27. Dulce de leche - try a good Greek rizogalo; tasty, and very good for the stomach. (I love ryzogalo more than dulche de leche - for something Canadian that you just won't get in Greece, try some maple syrup, or better yet snow candy, maple syrup that has been poured over clean snow, then rolled up onto a stick, making a sweet, sticky, smoky, caramelly treat!)
28. Oysters - preferably from Bluff, New Zealand; my parents often served these in our shop - in their raw form, they are pure ambrosia. (I'm not much for raw oysters, even though Malpeque oysters from PEI (another neighboring province) are some of the best in the world. I love PEI mussels though, so that's my substitution.)
29. Baklava - we find ourselves at the source. (I love namoura (sammali) from the Lebanese vendor at the market, but for something original, a cheesecake lollipop from my cousin Renna's stand at the market (cheesecake in a chocolate shell and rolled in something sweet like crushed toffee or toasted coconut, on a stick? Yes please!)
30. Bagna cauda - here's a regional alternative: grate a clove of garlic into some seasoned grated fresh Cretan sun-kissed tomato; add chili if desired, and enjoy with good quality sourdough bread (not sure what to substitute here...but an old favorite is molasses on bread.)
31. Wasabi peas - try salted chickpeas (we call them (a)stragali, the Greek word for "ankle", as they are shaped) with a nip of tsikoudia home brew. (We have wasabi peas...but they make your mouth sting after a while. I prefer to stick with mixed nuts, thanks.)
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl - we have nothing like it, and I can't wait to try it. (Mmmmm, clam chowder! I love clam chowder. Doesn't need a bread bowl, though.)
33. Salted lassi - Greek strained yoghurt with drizzling honey. (I tried a salted lassi at the new Indian restaurant here in town, was plain yogurt, watered down, with pepper sprinkled on top. It was too tangy to really enjoy, and although it did cut the heat of my food, it was too tangy and yogurty to drink straight - I think I only got through half of it. I really wanted to switch with my bf, who had a mango milkshake! The local creamy drink would have to be a Tim Horton's iced cappuccino.)
34. Sauerkraut - stamnagathi; there is no salad quite like it. (Sauerkraut is sauerkraut...I think I had it, once, on a German sausage at the market. I don't think I particularly cared for it.)
35. Root beer float - I've had a spider, but this has nothing to do with Cretan cuisine. (Root beer floats were once common here, and are sometimes resurrected (the fast food chain Wendy's - or maybe it was McDonalds - did them for a while, and I had my first and only one there. There is a soda fountain in an old drug store downtown that does them, but nobody ever seems to be at the counter when I'm in there. I'd rather have a gazoza in Crete, thanks!)
36. Cognac with a fat cigar - salata zonianon is supposedly the best kind of smoked greens you can get, according to the Dutch...(I think my bf would substitute scotch for the cognac, and beg me for the cigar (he wouldn't get it!))
37. Clotted cream tea - staka dip (with fried eggs) (OMG staka is so good! But you won't get it here. If we're talking creamy teas, though, I'd have to go with a masala chai...made on the stovetop with real whole spices and real milk! Yum!)
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O - try a Yiotis cake, if you're inclined towards cake mixes and the like. (I've never had either or these. I have a soft spot for Nescafe frappes with Baileys Irish cream liqueur, though.)
39. Gumbo - we find ourselves at the source. (Gumbo is a "Cajun" dish, and since I live in the original Acadie, I will offer instead the much milder - but still delicious - Acadian "fricot".)
40. Oxtail - surely it can't be more exciting than goat's or sheep's balls. (I don't know anyone who eats oxtail maybe the Newfie treat which is "flipper pie"? - I don't eat that, either.)
41. Curried goat - we eat plenty of goat in Crete, so this could be replicated. (We don't have curried goat here, but we do have curried lamb, if you know where to ask.)
42. Whole insects - cats, dogs and hedgehogs were eaten during the war, but insects were definitely not. (I have no alternative...and no desire to eat any insects!)
43. Phaal - only if you're into self-flagellation; the closest equivalent in Crete would be super-strength tsikoudia. (Nobody here serves phaal, but I make a pretty mean vindaloo!)
44. Goat’s milk - my grandmother gave me fresh goat's milk to drink as soon as she'd milked the goats without boiling it, and I remember it was the best milk I'd ever had to drink. (I love goat's milk, but it's a specialty item here, in the heath section. I suppose full milk, down on the farm would be the equivalent.)
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more - barrel-aged wine. (Two words: "ice wine".)
46. Fugu - one's man food is another man's poison; Cretans eat stifno and avronies, both of which are considered toxic in other cultures. (We eat fiddleheads, specifically Matteuccia struthiopteris, which can give you food poisoning if improperly cooked...)
47. Chicken tikka masala - if the English can invent a dish and christen it Indian, they can invent a Greek dish too: the BBC has a recipe for vegetarian moussaka using lentils instead of mince; eat at your pleasure. (The Halifax-style donair would have to be the equivalent...)
48. Eel - moray eel; one of the tastiest fish I have ever had, eaten within hours of being caught in the region of Sfakia in southern Hania. (We have eels here, but we don't really eat them...sometimes it shows up in grocery-store sushi, in a smoked state.)
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut - Yotis millefeuille is considered the culinary climax in terms of boxed cake mixes. (A Boston Cream doughnut from Tim Horton's!)
50. Sea urchin - we find ourselves at the source. (We don't have them, don't eat them, and there's no substitute, although lobsters are similarly prickly.)
51. Prickly pear - we find ourselves at the source. (I think they occasionally appear in grocery stores, but not often.)
52. Umeboshi - as a salted dried fruit, I found it quite revolting; similar prunes from different varieties are also sold all over Greece. (We don't have this, or anything like it. Eww.)
53. Abalone - as I have tasted the real thing in New Zealand (which we call paua), I won't replace it; it is simply divine. (Again, not something we have here, except in the form of jewelry. I'd substitute scallops, since we already did mussels.)
54. Paneer - Cretan mizithra is much the same kind of thing as this Indian cheese. (Plain old cottage cheese...which I don't like.)
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal - Goody's Junior meal (it's just as plasticky, tasteless and fast). (Big Macs are common enough here, but I have eaten at Goody's...can't remember what I chose, though.)
56. Spaetzle - Cretan hilopites are just as gooey. (I submit another Acadian delicacy: poutine râpée.)
57. Dirty gin martini - tsikoudia, especially the night it is distilled, straight from the spout. (I guess Screech maybe?)
58. Beer above 8% ABV - beer is produced in Greece according to non-Greek traditions; one could instead try home-brewed Cretan rose wine, after it has been left to mature for five years; we are still drinking from my late father's barrels. (mmmm...give me anything from Picaroon's, anytime.)
59. Poutine - fry some potatoes on a gas element (not an electric ring) and sprinkle some mizithra cheese over them - they'll look more healthy rather than cheap and nasty. (Poutine can be amazing! Especially with real cheese curds! Mmmmmmmm!)
60. Carob chips - haroupia (carob pods); they remind you of chocolate, but aren't eaten any more, except by goats; my father remembers them as his first candy bar. (Can't say as I've ever had carob...)
61. S’mores - such processed culinary wonders are unheard of in Crete. (There's nothing like S'mores straight from the campfire!)
62. Sweetbreads - although sweetbreads are eaten in Crete as part of a dish containing offal, the guts, heart, spleen, liver, kidneys and sweetbread cooked 'ofto'-style - thrown onto burning coals - are a more original version of offal, often eaten this way by hunters overnighting on mountains. (I can't remember the last time I had sweetbreads, but they are delicious.)
63. Kaolin - try sea salt by the teaspoon if you desire that much to eat something that is generally speaking considered edible; it's especially tasty when you have collected it yourself from a salty beach and added it to your Greek salad. (...apparently my mother found me with rocks in my mouth once as a child...)
64. Currywurst - sounds very much like a melting pot culture's meal; try making a moussaka which is completely unrelated to what the average Greek will consider is moussaka - again the BBC is an expert on such concoctions; or maybe a Greek salad with the wrong type of tomato. (A tuna fish salad with curried mayonnaise!)
65. Durian - no such thing as stinky fruit in Greece, or any kind of fruit that needs to be banned from hotels and public transport systems, for that matter. (I once turned down the chance to try to a durian milkshake at a Vietnamese restaurant. I don't need to try something that smelly!)
66. Frogs’ legs - spicy chicken wings can be just as tasty; far less troublesome, more easy to find. (I once went to a Chinese buffet in Montreal where the fried frogs' legs were the only thing worth loading up on...but yes, in Freddy beach, chicken wings are much more common and delicious.)
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake - poor Andrew, you don't know the Cretan xerotigana, do you... (Beaver tails?)
68. Haggis - most cultures in the world have their own version of this Scottish specialty; in Greece it would have to be kokoretsi. (Mmm, the "haggis" (mostly just liver) at the Highland Games...)
69. Fried plantain - fried battered unripe bananas probably taste very similar; this is a popular fast food staple in New Zealand fish and chip shops. (Everybody and their dog serves sweet potato fries and spicy mayo in Fredericton. Why? Because they're awesome!)
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette - Cretan gardoumia are an Easter specialty; another way to enjoy the ingredients used in this dish is as a soup called patsas, popularly served in old-fashioned mayeiria rather than tavernas. (Seriously, Canadians don't eat much in the way of offal. So in its place I will suggest the Prairie favorite, perogies.)
71. Gazpacho - never heard of cold soup served in Crete; gazpacho salad would probably go down better. (Serving gazpacho in Fredericton would raise eyebrows. Stick to a can of Campbell's cream of tomato soup - the only thing I could eat after I had my wisdom teeth removed.)
72. Caviar and blini - fine food is recognised everywhere in the world; although I can only think of sea urchin accompanied by sourdough bread as an interesting alternative in Crete, I would also be inclined to keep this one in as is. (I'd rather have some tarama and crackers, thanks!)
73. Louche absinthe - I don't like ouzo myself, but my bet is it could safely replace this French drink; it certainly transforms its colour with the addition of water. (I agree that ouzo would be a good alternative to absinthe, based on the description of the latter.)
74. Gjetost, or brunost - we can safely say that there are plenty of Cretan cheeses available for all tastes. (I can get gjetost here, I just choose not to try it.)
75. Roadkill - I thought it was just us Cretans who did this; ask any Cretan hunter how he's caught a hare, and I'm sure this method will have been used by him at some point in his life. (No thanks, I like game and all, just don't scoop it off the side of the road!)
76. Baijiu - tsikoudia will do just fine, and probably tastes better. (I kind of like tsikoudia...better than I do ouzo.)
77. Hostess Fruit Pie - again, if mass-produced high-fat high-calorie prepared refrigerated food is something you crave, one could replace that with a Greek baker's milopita (apple pie). (Never had it, if I had to substitute a similar store-bought treat I would go with a Jos. Louis...if it's a fruit pie we really want, then a strawberry rhubarb pie, please!)
78. Snail - we find ourselves at the source. (I love Cretan snails...too bad we don't eat snails here.)
79. Lapsang souchong - Cretan teas are famous for their clear natural taste and medicinal values; try malotira and diktamo when you come here. (I guess a saskatoon berry tea would be the only Canadian-only tea I can think of...I have some packets at home a friend sent me, and I think I tried one once, but it didn't really blow me away.)
80. Bellini - this is all a matter of personal taste; limoncello can't be beat in my mind. (The essential Canadian cocktail would be a Caesar.)
81. Tom yum - I think a good kakavia (the Greek version of bouillebaisse) can easily replace it. (A good seafood chowder would work here.)
82. Eggs Benedict - I would have to agree with Andrew; we all love a cooked egg with some bread, and it can take many different forms according to culture. (Eggs Benedict from Cora's are always delicious! Bonus points for Cora being Greek!)
83. Pocky - these biscuits look similar to mass-produced chocolate coated biscuits that are sold all over the world in different forms; I doubt the Japanese version is any better than other types of biscuits of this type. (Pocky is a special treat for North American anime's the mystique and not the taste that's so appealing, but it does come in amusingly strange flavours.)
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant - a meal in a mayeirio in the Agora of Hania; nothing quite like it...(We're not known for haute-cuisine here. Try The Palate, The Blue Door, or Racine's; some of the hotel restaurants are very nice as well (is Bruno's in the Delta still open?). For adventurous quality cuisine, Carribean Flavas is hard to beat!)
85. Kobe beef - good Greek beef is hard to find in Greece; if you're worried about too many stringy bits in your meat, try lamb or goat instead. (I love a good piece of beef no matter where it came from!)
86. Hare - we find ourselves in the source. (Fresh wild rabbit, fried up by my dad, served with somemade Greek style fries = YUM!)
87. Goulash - fasolada and lentil soup (fa-kes) are both considered national Greek hearty soups. (I'd go for winter or summer fasolada any time, but my father ruined lentil soup for me by putting too much vinegar into it...)
88. Flowers - we find ourselves at the source. (I enjoy the odd nasturtium every now and then!)
89. Horse - like crocodile (number 5), this cannot be substituted. (The thought of this pisses people here off, as seen in the recent debate about a horse from Kings Landing that was going to be sold for just this purpose, to be consumed in Europe.)
90. Criollo chocolate - chocolate is not a Cretan product, but it doesn't have to be Criollo chocolate to taste good. (I love 85% cocoa Lindt chocolate...)
91. Spam - corned beef and canned luncheon meat used to be very popular in Greece when people were not able to keep products fresh; it'snow considered a kind of old-fashioned meat. (My father used to love canned luncheon meat, which he called "Meat for the War". Of course, we never had "Spam", that was brand name - we made do with Kam and Holiday brands, which are probably Canadian.)
92. Soft shell crab - we do this with shrimps when they are small enough, especially when they have been barbecued; ifsmall crabs were avaialble as frequently as shrimps here in Hania, I would probably eat them in this way too. (Most of the crab we eat here is actually pollack that's been artificially flavoured. Now and then you see crab legs...which I think I've had, once.)
93. Rose harissa - this complicated sauce sounds like it can be replaced by a good spicy sauce for stifado or soutzoukakia, which can be used to flavour spaghetti, potatoes and rice. (We've got nothing like it, so I guess it stands...)
94. Catfish - skate is also a very tasty fish when fried. (We have catfish too, we just don't tend to eat a lot of it. I know I've caught them before as a kid though.)
95. Mole poblano - see rose harissa (number 93). (Another sauce that's unique.)
96. Bagel and lox - these should be mentioned separately; lox is not a Cretan specialty (and quite frankly, our cuisine is too rustic for such a refined food item), while the Greek koulouri is unbeatable for taste and shape. (I love this, but I use local cold-smoked salmon, philly cream cheese or, if I don't have any, a slice of havarti, and any grocery store bagel I have around. Delish!)
97. Lobster Thermidor - this sounds as special as the Greek version of bouillebaisse (kakavia), and just as expensive. (They served some sort of dish like this at my baptismal dinner, which was put on by a well-respected local Greek chef. I, being three years old, ate bread all night and played with the waitresses.)
98. Polenta - xinohondro; an old-fashioned wheat rusk, still enjoyed by people who have developed this acquired taste. (We don't do polenta here, but we did make johnny cake at Kings Landing...which of course is more like a regular corn bread...)
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee - a cold, frothy frappe coffee, while sitting on a balcony overlooking the Mediterranean sea on a very hot summer's day. (You can get Blue Mountain coffee here at Carribean Flavas, but usually a meal there is expensive enough that I have no desire to add an expensive coffee to it.)
100. Snake - try hedgehog, another unusual meat; it was eaten during the war. (I already mentioned bear and deer, so here I'll try something that's more of a veggie: dulse.)

The rules for the game Andrew invented (from Very Good Taste) are as follows:
1) Copy his original list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at linking to your results.
5) My additional rule: Try to think of local alternatives that most of us who don't live near you will not have heard of and will be similar to something on Andrew's original list.

1 comment:

  1. i need to take a good look at this again, as it was over a year ago since i wrote it!
    some changes are noticeable in the food scene here - people are looking for lighter alternatives to the more common heavy food choices, but there is an excess of junk food available...