Fun Foods with Cool Names
That we first eat with our eyes is an old adage that is easy to follow, but while our noses and mouths follow our gaze, few consider just how important our ears are to fine dining.
“That sounds wonderful, my mouth is already watering “ your guests may comment, when you read them a menu full of exotic dishes, at least once you tell them what they are. How exotic the dish itself is may not matter if the name is cool enough.
A favorite example is one of the national dishes of Hungary. Calling it a chicken crêpe with a paprika cream sauce hardly evokes the same reaction as proclaiming “tonight we eat Hortobágyi”! Simple to make, easy to enjoy, hard to spell. The perfect combination.
Some exotic sounding foods are simple twists on old favorites. Roll a pizza up, and serve the sauce on the side, and you have a Stromboli. Add hot pepper flakes to pineapple (I like to serve it over shrimp) and you may declare that you have made Pili Pili - a variation on an African sauce.
Other great names are regional variations on foods you and your dinner guests may already be familiar with. Fried rice hails from throughout Asia, but the Indonesian/Malaysian version is called Nasi Goreng. It often contains chicken, some seafood, sausage and whatever else you can dream up. What makes it special (besides the ubiquitous fried egg) is that it is seasoned with Kecap Manís (pronounced catch-up and where the word comes from). Kecap Manis may be bought, or simply reduce low salt soy sauce and add brown sugar.
Pastitsio is far from a commonly known dish in the English speaking world, but it is basically just an elbow macaroni casserole that hails from Greece. Also from that ancient part of the world Baklava is surprisingly easy to make, and since it improves with a few days of sitting, can be made well in advance.
I am finally going to leave with you with an idea that originates not from any country or even universe you will find yourself in, at least not physically. The writer Modesitt often peppers his books with descriptions of the food, and while I may someday prepare an entire feast based on his works, I have played around with one of his creations. Burkha sounds much more exotic than it is. Meat in a a spicy and creamy brown sauce over peppered noodles is what it basically comes down to.
Even the most trivial dish will take on a new life, given an exotic name. Next time you serve a meal, go out of your way to find a name for your food that will add one more facet to everyone’s enjoyment.