Archives for: January 2007
This category shall address the standard offerings of a Greek/Turkish/Middle Eastern-Levantine/N.African sort of eatery (The provençal/mediterranean region of France shall be treated elsewhere). I don't claim to have covered all subregions, but I do think there's enough information here to assist you with most menus.
By now you are growing accustomed to approach any cuisine with the question, "What are its staple grains(s) and fat(s)?" In the Mediterranean region, we B's are blessed: Yes, we must stay away from most standard meze/appetizer platters (tabbouleh, falafel, baba ghanoush, tahini sauce/dressing, tomato salads), but a choice of beneficials-only meals is usually a possibility.
Grains: Rice is abundantly available. In the Western Mediterranean, a form of semolina called "couscous" is a specialty (not to be confused with "bulghur", which is an Eastern Mediterranean cracked wheat product, to be avoided). In the Eastern Mediterranean, pita bread is often served. Some restaurants offer Whole Wheat Pita, in addition to the white flour kind: Stick with the latter, if you're a wheat eater: Some B's avoid wheat, too, especially if overweight. ("Too much weight? Too much wheat!")
Fat: Ah, the Mediterranean: Home of the golden green elixir so dear to B's. We're on home turf now, when it comes to oils; don't worry about sautéed dishes here, where Olive Oil reigns.
Protein: Lamb, goat, mutton, sardines, mackerel, other fishes.
Dairy: Yogurt (in tsatsiki, etc.)( and called "labnah" in the Levant), Feta (in greek salad, spanakopita, etc.), cottage cheese
Oil: Olive Oil
Vegetables: Eggplant, Bell Peppers, Hot Pepper sauce (harissa), Carrots, Parsley.
Protein: Beef, Fishes (?carp roe? "Taramasalata")
Grain: Rice, couscous (semolina), white pita bread
Nuts/Seeds: Walnuts, almonds
Vegetables: Salads, spinach, onions, cucumbers, fennel, green beans, garlic, zucchini, herbs (thyme, oregano, marjoram, mint, etc.)
Fruits: Orange, lemon, figs, quince, dates, apricots
Beverages: Mint tea, wine, coffee, tea
Protein: Chicken/pigeon (and chicken broth in Avgolemono Soup, for example), Anchovy
Grain: Bulghur ("tabbouleh")
Beans/legumes: Chick peas ("Hummous", "Falafel", "Baba Ghanoush"); Lentils (watch out: sometimes mixed with rice in a "pilaf": Ask for Plain Rice)
Nuts/Seeds: Pistachio ("Baklava"), Pine nuts (sometimes hiding in a "Pilaf"); Poppy seeds, Sesame seeds ("Tahini" sauce/dressing, "halvah" dessert")
Ajvar (Balkan eggplant/pepper spread/relish)
Skordalia (garlic dip served with fried eggplant)
Lamb! Shish-kabob: Broiled, grilled. And if you can watch for hidden tomato and/or olives in a sauce, a Lamb Tagine! mmmm
Fishes: in a "charmoula" herb sauce, with plain rice and grilled eggplant
Spanakopita (filo appetizer stuffed with spinach and feta)
TsaTsiki: Yogurt/cucumber/parsley appetizer
Eggplant salad or grilled (NOT "baba ghanoush", which usually has a chick pea base)
Stuffed Grape Leaves (rice stuffing)
"Greek Salad" with no tomatoes or olives (Ask for lettuce, peppers, cucumber, onions and a chunk of feta cheese: A simple pleasure)
Baklava dessert if Walnuts are the only nut used
Bee Healthy, B's.
I was going to present, simply, "Deli", but the term encompasses any number of cuisines in different regions, especially both Jewish (sometimes "Kosher") and the more generic sandwich bar.
Here we B's have loads of choices, but there's good news and there's bad news, staple-wise.
Staples: Bad News:
1. Grains: You'll find rye flour in your favorite breads for those famous sandwiches, and both buckwheat and barley could make their appearances. Just say No.
2. Fats: Lots of questionable oils: Watch out for shortenings in doughs of breads, cakes, strudels, knishes, pie crusts, and some blintzes, as well as for Chicken Fat in meat/other dishes. This Oil-Issue can cause some scrupulous B's to avoid mayonnaises, in which case one may request that sandwiches not be smeared with it. However, various composed salads are held together with mayo, so I've placed an asterisk (*) beside those offerings for your convenience.
Staples: Good News:
1. Grains: If you're not avoiding wheat for, perhaps, weight control reasons, you may order white, sourdough or egg breads, or bagels. More likely to be appropriate for the shortening-wary: Scones, coffee cakes, crumpets and english muffins, brioches and croissants, popovers, muffins, some pancakes/blintzes using butter.
2. Oils: If it's a Kosher Deli, you will benefit from the long tradition of "Dairy" cuisine. This means that fish and other non-meat dishes will not be using a favorite Jewish oil: Chicken Fat.
Proteins: Fishes: Pike (dominant or exclusive fish in Gefulte fish), Sardines
Dairy: Cottage cheese (served with fresh fruit salad or in Blintzes: Fine if composed/fried in butter). Ricotta may rear its head in those blintzes (and in a certain dessert...).
Beans: Sometimes: Lima beans, in soups or dishes
Vegetables: Eggplant (salad/spread, not to be confused with Mediterranean "Baba Ghanoush", which is "Avoid" and not available in Deli's, usually). Also: Brussels Sprouts may accompany a winter Hot Turkey Platter (wishful thinking?). Cabbage, usually in Slaw*, also in Sauerkraut. Beets, especially in "Borscht", but be careful: Some Borscht contains tomatoes, some is based upon a chicken, rather than a beef or vegetable, stock. There's also a Jewish dish called "Tzimmes", which is composed of long-stewed vegetables: Often includes Carrots, maybe even Sweet Potatoes, as well as raisins/prunes.
Fruits: Fruit salads may contain Grapes and/or Bananas. Also: Bananas may be requested over Blintzes or French Toast.
Condiments: Horseradish (If it's in a creamy spread or sauce, however, it might contain CORN syrup: Read the label), Cranberry Sauce/Relish
Beverages: Green Tea? (Even Lipton and Snapple market it, in one form or another)
Protein: Turkey, Beef (corned beef, pastrami, sliced roast beef, "flanken", tongue, liver, nitrate-free Salami and Frankfurters); If this is a sandwich bar, and you're following Tier One, Ham might be an option; Bacon likewise, as in "Club" sandwich. Neutral Fishes, often in composed salads (and bear in mind these are usually Smoked, which feature you may or may not want to be avoiding. Salmon, Halibut and Sturgeon, though "Beneficial" when NOT smoked, show up here). The above fishes, along with whitefish and herring. Tuna Salad* and Egg salad*. Carp (in some Gefulte Fish recipes)
Omelets/scrambled eggs, in butter only. Hardboiled eggs.
Dairy: Cheeses, incl. Cream cheese (again, present in a favorite Deli dessert...), as well as Swiss, etc. Sour Cream. Butter. Cream.
Grains: Breads and bread stuffing and pudding. Rice and rice pudding.
Beans/Legumes: Split peas (in a Kosher deli, a Split Pea Soup will not contain Ham)
Vegetables: The usual. Also, potatoes (in pancakes, in potato salad*, as well as mashed when served with hot entrée). Pickles. Onion, Lettuce, String Beans, etc.
Fruit: Apple (sauce), raisins and dates, blueberries
Beverages: Coffee and iced; Tea and iced; Herb tea; Beer.
Protein: Chicken, Chicken Fat, Chicken Broth, Chicken Livers. Beef Brisket (usually seared in chicken fat and/or stewed for hours in tomatoes). Ham/Bacon if you're following Tier Two. Lox likewise.
Grain: Buckwheat (Kasha), Rye (bread), Barley (soups etc.) Corn (cornmeal in macaroons, cornstarch in "chiffon" and some other pie fillings).
Vegetables: Tomatoes (watch for hidden in soups and sauces, including brisket soups/sauces, stuffed cabbage, tomato sauces, ketchup, Russian/1000-island dressing)
Spices: Cinnamon (in many pastries)
Nuts/Seeds: Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds.
-Gefulte Fish with Horseradish condiment
-Beet Borscht (if tomato- and chicken broth-free)
-Neutral Sandwich on unseeded bread/roll, with lettuce, onion, pickle, mustard, even cole slaw or cranberry relish. "Club Sandwich", if on Tier One
-Reuben, Patty- or Tuna- melt (Not on Rye), with cole slaw/sauerkraut (no Russian/Thousand Island dressing)
-Roast Turkey Dinner, with Baked or mashed potato or, better, yams; cranberry sauce (brussels sprouts?)
-Nitrate-free Beef Frank with Mustard and Sauerkraut
-Brioche or Challah French Toast (say, "No Cinnamon, please")
-Cottage or Ricotta Cheese Blintzes with Bananas (butter-fried)(Ditto re: Cinnamon)
-Eggplant Salad/spread, if tomato-free
- Chef Salad without tomatoes (Tier One can have the ham, or even Bacon in a Cobb Salad, in which Tier Two adherents must request a substitution for this as well as for the Blue Cheese)
-Fruit Salad with Cottage Cheese
-Condiments: Mustard, mayonnaise*, Horseradish (see "Beneficial" above)
-Serious New York Cheesecake.
Live and Be Well.
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This week in the News (Bear with me, youngsters):
As Americans celebrate the promotion of my US district's congresswoman to Speaker of the House, here's a cute response to a line I heard on the News last night:
"...the new Speaker is expected to anounce plans for the make-up of the Congress..."
Reply: "I'm thinking Maybelline's Great Lash Mascara in assorted shades"...
Hyuk hyuk. Nancy will forgive it: With the right inflection, it's a distinctly San Francisco-friendly chuckle!
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My own milestone: One year of blogging here.
Here we shall plunge into the matter of so-called "BBQ", a type of restaurant one comes across in the USA, one posing a particularly knotty problem for B's, for reasons that shall be quite obvious. "Beneficials" are usually very limited, and "Avoids" abound. Use this guide especially if you're dining with others who have their hearts set on BBQ fare, unless you've found one that allows you to order more liberally. Note that sometimes we accidentally stumble upon a "wrong"-cuisine restaurant that makes the perfect broiled beefburger or salmon sandwich!
At most BBQ restaurants, your staple starch is Corn. Cornbread is the usual mopper-up of (tomato/ketchup-based) sauce (and Corn-on-the-cob is the usual "vegetable"). Because the meat supplies its own fat, even if the sauce is tomato-free, that meat has got to be, at the very least, "neutral", which it often is not. The following is the best we B's can do at MOST Barbecue-type eateries. Do order an especially good dessert if you like.
Proteins: Salmon, if available
Vegetables: Cabbage (slaw), carrots
Fruit: Maybe pineapple?
Protein: Beef (only if NOT cooked in tomato-based sauce!), Pork, likewise, and only on Tier One
Veg: Compliant salad and/or vegetable(s)
Beverage: Beer, wine, coffee, tea; Liquor (if Tier One only)
Protein: Chicken; Pork (if on Tier Two)
Veg: Tomato BBQ sauce/ketchup
Grain: Corn (on the cob and in bread)
Broiled or Grilled Burger/Steak/Fish, probably with baked potato (sour cream fine) or steamed rice, and compliant vegetable and/or salad.
Key Lime Pie?
Glad the series is being appreciated; More to come, and Happy 2007.