“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.”

5:30 is far too early to be awake unless I’m hurrying to catch a plane. My papers weren’t and still aren’t even here. Gracie has gone back to sleep. It is an ugly morning with dark skies and a cold wind. Rain is predicted for the whole day, even heavy at times; of course, that would be the prediction with my friends arriving later. I had planned a lovely Cape Cod ride by the ocean today.

I should be eating my Rice Crispies and watching cartoons instead of the early news. I guess this is one of the by-products of adulthood. Crusader Rabbit gets replaced by news, sports and weather.

With the rain coming, Ms. Flamingo and Mr. Gnome didn’t make it outside. They are still safe and warm in their winter home here in the den. They can both oversee the weekend festivities.

My friends want one of my famous dinners. I gave it some thought and figured I’d make my curry. I then called my friend Jay, a friend for over thirty years who has partaken often of my cooking. I asked him what dinner he’d asked for if he could choose. Lo and behold he chose curry so curry it is!

The first time I ate curry was in Africa. A doctor and his wife from Fez, Morocco lived in my town my first year. He was a doctor at the local hospital. They came over to my house, introduced themselves and invited me to dinner. I went and they served curry. I’ll never forget that meal. My hosts were amazing telling me all about Morocco and Fez and then they served dinner. It was like manna from heaven, a taste treat I have never forgotten, and one I have made many times since which just about the same reaction every time I eat it.

The first time I served my curry was close to forty years ago, and I invited a houseful of people. They were, at first, tentative. Their eyes and the unfamiliar smell of the curry meant they put very little on their plates, only enough to be courteous. I told them to add the toppings then the chicken. They did then sat down and took their first bites. The room went silent. The only sound was forks on plates. The food disappeared quickly and all of them went for second helpings, generous helpings, plate filling helpings. They were now curry fans.

I love watching first time curry eaters. They are amazed by the odd combination of tastes and the heat of the curry then the coolness of the fruit. I expect most of the meal will be silent. I can hear those forks now!

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31 Comments on ““Food is our common ground, a universal experience.””

  1. Hedley Says:

    And the report from my Uncle Pauly is that Ashtead and Epsom have strings of Union Jacks welcoming the Diamond Jubilee and the arrival of HRH this afternoon for the running of the Derby. Too busy for him to do his usual Saturday morning shopping in Epsom. Hasn’t got his usual 50p each way on a gee-gee, the bookies are very relieved.

    The Queen is very busy, says my Uncle and then moves on to the Murdoch case.

    Now where is my flag of St George ? Have to start getting ready for the Flotilla party.

    • im6 Says:

      Any TV coverage here? I checked BBC America and it’s a day-long ‘Top Gear’ marathon.

      • Hedley Says:

        The main networks are in and out of the Saturday activities . For example CBS is talking to a lady in Chlesea who has set up a street party. this lady is way too random!
        Really today is all about the Derby in Epsom, which, of course, is where I grew up (in the next village,Ashtead)
        Sunday is the flotilla, Monday the concert and Tuesday the St Paul’s service.
        come on up from Columbus and bring Adam and Jim, we are offering Boddingtons Ale tomorrow with a traditional English Breakfast as the 7 miles of boats head down the river. I promise I will play the Kinks when they hit Waterloo Bridge
        Best Hedley

    • Kat Says:

      My Dear Hedley,
      I will be seeing parts of it live, the rest recorded. I’ll bring my waving Queen in here so she can watch her counterpart.

      I do wish I was in England for this.

  2. Hedley Says:

    WOW ! The Today Show is in Epsom. what coverage what excitement. Looks a bit cold on the Downs πŸ™‚

    • Hedley Says:

      From today’s Wall Street Journal “Reasons for Americans to Hail the Queen”
      A very considered piece of analysis from the Review section of today’s WSJ


      hope that it posts ok, otherwise it is well worth seeking out

      • Kat Says:

        Love this line: “Muskrat Love,” a court official confided to a table of Brits that “H.M. didn’t much like the song about copulating rodents.”

        The post was excellent.

      • Bob Says:

        That’s a nice article, however we must remember that the WSJ is owned by News Corps. Rupert Murdoch, the owner, is a conservative ideologue who would love to have this country ruled by a monarchy that would provide for the welfare of only the wealthy and the well healed and rely on trickle down economics for everyone else. Monarchs and banana republics go hand in hand.

        I wish the queen a long life, a long reign and no real power. If the Brits want to spend their tax dollars on this fantasy, that’s fine with me.

    • Kat Says:

      You seem to be able to find the coverage! I should sit here channel surfing just in case!!

      • Hedley Says:

        Kat, strangely I actually saw America do Muskrat Love in concert..ok they were early on the bill at the Concert for Bangledesh at the Oval and I was there for Rod and The Faces, followed by The Who.
        I thought it a very considered and worthwhile piece on HRH during these special celebrations
        Camelot won the Derby and I am taking a brief break from the festivities to watch England and Belgium from Wembley stadium. It’s the last friendly before they head for the Euros and a date with our friend Christer.

  3. Bill S. Says:

    In reply to your previous post: Michelle was in bed under a ceiling fan? Where was this?? Not in our house in Bolga.

    I can remember taking several showers a day, especially during the dry season. It sort of cooled us off for a few minutes. When we lived in Tafo we had bucket baths, and since I had to haul the water from down the road, those were limited.

    Greetings to Michelle from us–I hope she remembers us. Enjoy your curry meal.

    • Kat Says:

      It was at the Hotel d’Bull, and you hadn’t moved to Bolga yet. It was when we had gone back home as I also missed her.

      I’ll give her your best!

      I toobelieved that I was cooled by the many showers I took during the dry season-especially the cold ones. It was like running over the sprinkler!

      • Bill S. Says:

        Bob’s reply about hot going in and hot coming out reminds me of the story of Ananse and the Red Anus. Everytime Peg and I eat especially hot foods (which is quite often), we both remark that we will be Ananse the next day.

  4. Bob Says:

    One of the few things I don’t eat is curry. I don’t like the flavor, nor the heat since I was raised by a woman who thought that paprika was an exotic spice. Whenever I visit Toronto one of my coworkers is always trying to get me to join him for lunch in one of the numerous south asian restaurants that serve the vast immigrant population around the Pearson International Airport. On a couple of occasions I have tried the mild version of curry and it’s just not my dish. One of the neighborhoods bordering the airport is affectionately called Brampton-stan by one of our instructors.

    The minor bureaucrats and merchants of the British empire were the Indians. Dot not feather. The British exported them to help run their colonies in Africa and the Caribbean where they spread their style of cooking. Although the empire is long gone, it’s remnants still survive in the commonwealth which makes it easy for former British colonial subjects to move to places like Canada. I am surprised that people from Morocco also eat curry dishes. I think that people who live in very hot climates like eating very spicy hot food because it makes them sweat which acts to cool the body when it evaporates and makes prehistoric air-conditioning.

    What is purpose of the dot on an Indian woman’s forehead?
    The husband rubs it off on the wedding night and discovers if he has won a motel or a connivence store in Florida. πŸ™‚

    • Kat Says:

      I really love curry. I never had it in Morocco as it is not a traditional dish there. They serve meat and vegetables in a targine. They do have a “winter” as they call it. The days are cool, in the low 60’s. I was in long sleeves; they were in winter jackets.

      The Ghanaians eat really hot food with red pepper added to just about everything. Some foods were too hot for me, and I like spicy foods. I had to order meals without the pepper, especially the roasted Guinea fowl. Not only does it make them sweat but it also keeps their systems clean is what I was told.

      Everywhere I travel, I love tasting new foods.

      • Bob Says:

        So what they mean is that the hot pepper kills the bad bacteria in their alimentary canal. I do know that hot food burns at both ends. It burns going down and coming out.

  5. olof1 Says:

    We had frost here during the night but everything seems to have survived the night. I also put the new fish I bought yesterday in the pond and so far so good, no dead fish is floating around in there yet πŸ™‚

    I think it was at my grandmother’s I first tasted curry, when I was very young. Strange really because she usually thought it was enough with salt and pepper πŸ™‚ I’ve always loved it and I don’t think anyone over here doesn’t know how it taste.
    But I was surprised over how many varieties of curry there is and they all taste like curry but slightly different anyway πŸ™‚

    I have to say that I think Bobs joke is a bit distasteful.

    Have a great day!

    • Kat Says:

      I’m glad everything has survived. I love all your pictures of flowers and plants growing and would hate to see them wilted by the frost.

      You are so right about the varieties of curry. It has to do with the part of India and other countries in the same area where you try it.

      I agree about the joke. I am never amused by ethnic jokes.

  6. Kat Says:

    That’s exactly what they mean!

  7. Kat Says:

    When I was in Ghana last summer, the Guinea fowl I bought on the street in Bolga was so hot the tips of my fingers hurt. I had the hotel make me some without the pepper as I really love Guinea Fowl. It was as good as I remember.

    The last time I made curry I didn’t make it as hot as usual as I didn’t know how much heat my friends could abide. They told me hotter the next time. I will tomorrow!

    • Bill S. Says:

      I remember the time we bought some chicken from a Bolga street vendor, and there was so much red pepper on it that we could hardly eat it. The woman seller offered to give us our money back, but we declined.

      There is a family up the street from us here that has some guniea fowl, some white and some grey. They are free-range, and it is only a matter of time before they are roadkill.

      • Kat Says:

        The fowl I bought came from Exotic Farms on-line. They offer so many weird meats I’m tempted to try a few.

  8. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    My first taste of curry was 44 years ago in a little Indian restaurant on the second floor of a house somewhere near Harvard Square. It was really, really hot curry. My lips were red for a day or so.
    When I recovered, I decided that I loved curry and would learn to cook it. Fortunately, one of my friends used to live in Sri Lanka and had family in India. She would get “care packages” of Indian foods from them every few months or so. She gave me a 1 pound coffee can of garam masala that her relative had made and sent. I can’t imagine how much she had received if she could bestow a pound of it upon me or maybe she didn’t like garam masala. She also gave me some lethally hot chili powder and some very nice curry powder. With these in hand I set out to make curry. Eventually I learned to make my own curry powder as well as garam masala and coconut cream and milk. I made some good curries if I don’t say so myself. Unfortunately, my youngest brother and I were the only people in my family who would eat it. Everyone else was too weirded out by it all. My mother never got the hang of foreign food other than that which was served in the China Moon. πŸ™‚
    I’m having the same ugly weather up here. It’s a good day to go to Benson’s and have ice cream.
    Enjoy the surf!

    • Kat Says:

      I remember giving you the recipe so you could serve your daughter and son-in-law who, I think, ate all the leftovers. I’m glad you’re still enjoying it. You’re right about the coconut!

    • Kat Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      We had a great ride even though it rained on and off. The water was churned and white caps were all across the ocean side. I went down 6A to Chatham light then went back 28 to Dennis. We saw some of the oldest houses around. My friends enjoyed the ride.

      When I was growing up, Chinese food was considered exotic. Italian food too was foreign. It wasn’t until Africa that I started tasting all sorts of food. There were lots of Lebanese restaurants there, and I ate hummos and tabouleh and so many other foods. I also ate in an Indian restuarant for the first time. We had to sit on pillows. It was in Accra. Then there was Africabn food!

      • Caryn Says:

        Where I grew up Italian food was what everyone in the neighborhood ate every day except us. My mother shopped in the neighborhood Italian markets but she never bought anything more exotic than mortadella. πŸ™‚

  9. Zoey & Me Says:

    I have your recipe and we enjoy it at least once a month. It has spread across the U.S. Even better if you can get real coconut.

  10. Birgit Says:

    Is it possible to spread this recipe to Europe too ?
    I love curry ! πŸ™‚

    • Kat Says:

      Of course!

      This serves 6:

      2 pounds of chicken
      2 1/2 teas salt
      1/2 teas freshly ground pepper
      1 1 inch piece of cinnamon
      1 tables. vinegar
      3 tablespoons curry powder (or more depending upon your taste)
      2 cloves garlic, crushed
      1 teas fresh ginger chopped
      (cayenne pepper to taste, optional addition)
      3 bay leaves
      2 cardamom seeds
      3 table. butter
      2 chopped onions
      1 green pepper, seeded and sliced
      1 cup of coconut milk
      1 tab lemon juice

      1. Cut chicken into small chunks and add the salt, vinegar, pepper, cinnamon, curry powder, garlic, ginger, 2 bay leaves (chopped), one cardamom seed and cayenne. Mix well. Let sit two hours.

      2. Heat butter in pan and add onion, remaining bay leaf and cardamom seed and the green papper. Cook briefly, stirring, over medium heat, then add the seasoned meat. Cook, stirring, until the liuid is partly absorbed. Cover and cook about 35-45 minutes over low heat. When the meat is tender, add the milk and simmer 10-15 minutes. Add the lemon juice just before taking the saucepan off the heat but keep stirring until it is removed.

      I serve this over rice and offer all different topppings like banana, oranges, apples, raisins, dried peanuts, watermelon-you get the idea. All of these cut the heat of the curry and the combines flavors are amazing!


      • Birgit Says:

        Thank you !!! – It sounds delicious !
        I will try (and perhaps use for my birthday this month?)

  11. Kat Says:

    If you use it for your birthday, give a copy to a good friend who will make it for you!

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