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Authentically Inauthentic

Season Five, Summer 2008

Authentically Inauthentic

Cooking Show Video

This dish is our version of Drunken Thai Noodles, otherwise known as Pad Kee Mao. Drunken Noodles are usually made with holy basil, which has a much different taste than our basil. But since it is summertime, and basil is abundant, we use it anyway. They are also made with a much wider noodle than the rice sticks that are available in most supermarkets. We thought we would keep it easy for ourselves, and make the dish using what is local and available to us in the summer. It is an easy dish that can feed 4.

Recipe

We thought that it would be difficult to find Thai basil, so we used Sweet Basil in our Drunken Thai Noodle dish. We ended up having to rename them Not Really Thai Thai Noodles. However, we have found Thai basil at the New York City Greenmarkets, putting us to shame. This is our answer, Not Really Italian- Italian Pasta with Thai Basil!

¼ cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, lightly crushed
1 Pasilla chile pepper, dry toasted and soaked in warm water for 10 minutes
1 handful of fresh Thai basil from the farmers market, thinly sliced
2 heaping tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
200 g of gemelli pasta (or fusilli)

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil with some salt.
In a small skillet heat the olive oil on medium-low heat along with the garlic. Let the garlic infuse the oil slowly for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, drain the chile pepper of its soaking liquid, and open up along the side lengthwise. Remove the seeds. Chop up about 1 heaping tablespoon worth of pepper, to be roughly the same size as red chile pepper flakes.
Add the chile peppers to the olive oil, and continue to cook for about 5 more minutes, being careful not to fry the chile peppers. Turn off the heat and remove the garlic.
Cook the pasta according the instructions on the package and drain, reserving about ¼ cup of the cooking water.
Transfer the pasta back to the pot with the reserved water, and pour in the chile oil. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and Thai basil.
Serves 2.

We thought that it would be difficult to find Thai basil, so we used Sweet Basil in our Drunken Thai Noodle dish. We ended up having to rename them Not Really Thai Thai Noodles. However, we have found Thai basil at the New York City Greenmarkets, putting us to shame. This is our answer, Not Really Italian- Italian Pasta with Thai Basil!
Food for Thought

By Anastasia Dyakovskaya

As modern society advances, social paradigms have been steadily shifting. Today’s people have amassed such an incredible amount of material goods, cutting-edge technologies, services, and understandings that we have reached a point where we want something new and different, something intangible. Within the realm of travel, the well-off tourist has a multitude of luxuries at his fingertips – first class flights, lavish resorts, courses upon courses of gourmet foods - but this is no longer enough. Nowadays people are more concerned with the experience they can obtain, rather than another souvenir to add to their collection.

Because of all of these things, as of late we have been preoccupied with a new objective: the search for authenticity. And, as with most of the other factors that influence our lives, this new and controversial quest comes with it’s own positives and negatives. The interest in authenticity alone has stimulated academic debate on novel ways of travel, such as ecotourism and geotourism. The latter refers to the practice of having tourists contribute to vacation spots by fostering a cultural, economical, and personal exchange.

Geotourism strives to enrich tourist destinations by putting special emphasis on what makes each place unique. In this way, local residents are meant to gain a higher level of respect and admiration for their own cultures, while tourists keep coming back for more in their relentless hunt for new and different realities. Both parties are meant to benefit, and often they do.

Unfortunately, though, much of the time they don’t. In fact, this new demand for authentic experiences can often take away from indigenous cultures and destroy native communities. Just this week, for example, the New York Times ran an article concerning Beijing’s preparations for the 2008 summer Olympics.* Although those currently traveling to Beijing are there for different reasons than, say, tourists who travel to Australia to gain a first hand understanding of the Aboriginal songlines, most must still have an underlying desire to see China in it’s truest form – after all, when would we ever want to experience something false, unless we didn’t know any better? Along these lines, what is currently occurring in China is preposterous. The New York Times article focuses on the outrageously unjust dilemma now facing many of Beijing’s poorer inhabitants:

"A veil of green plastic netting now cover Ms. Sun’s restaurant. Mr. Song’s house and several shops that he rents to migrant families were surrounded by a 10-foot-tall brick wall, part of a last minute beautification campaign. The authorities deemed his little block of commerce an eyesore."

So, in an effort to fulfill their presupposed expectations of what the foreigners now pouring into Beijing must be expecting, the Chinese government quickly chose to cover up any imperfections, by literally blocking them from sight. Many other Asian and African cultures suffer in a similar way, forced to undermine their true identities in favor of financial gain through the production of “indigenous” ceremonies, crafts, foods, events, and anything else that can bring a profit.

There are two sides to every coin, but neither side will be real if brought upon by force; it will be calculated and ingenuine. Most worthwhile experiences that add to our lives are those we come upon with open minds and hearts, free of expectations and preconceived notions. It is important to understand the differences between tourist and traveler, between the lure of the ‘exotic’ and the unadorned reality of the foreign, and to then choose what you as an individual prefer to associate yourself with. I say, if something looks good, it looks good. If something sounds good, it sounds good. If something tastes good, it tastes good. Regardless of where it comes from or what it’s supposed to be.

*Hooker, Jake. “Before Guests Arrive, Beijing Hides Some Messes.” New York Times. 29 July 2008.

August 3, 2008   |   0 comments
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Recipe

We made this simple recipe today at the Greenmarket on Cortelyou Road in Brooklyn. The ambiance there was great- full of friends and families and smiling faces. Apricots are in full season right now, so we decided to use them in a simple preparation with mint. The mint that we used was apple mint, which has full, round leaves and a fuzzy texture. Fruits combine wonderfully with herbs, which highlight their flavors very naturally.

12 ripe apricots
1 scant tablespoon succanat or organic cane sugar
6-8 mint leaves
Slice each apricot in half and remove the pit.
Slice each half into four slivers.
Toss the apricot slivers in a bowl with the succanat (or sugar) and let macerate for about 15 minutes, tossing occasionally.
Slice the mint into thin ribbons and toss with the fruit. Serve immediately or refrigerate.
Serve with yogurt or cream for dessert.

We made this simple recipe today at the Greenmarket on Cortelyou Road in Brooklyn. The ambiance there was great- full of friends and families and smiling faces. Apricots are in full season right now, so we decided to use them in a simple preparation with mint. The mint that we used was apple mint, which has full, round leaves and a fuzzy texture. Fruits combine wonderfully with herbs, which highlight their flavors very naturally.
July 27, 2008   |   1 comments
Tags: Desserts, Mediterranean
Recipe

We listed only a few of the herbs available at the farmers markets right now. Please feel free to use whatever herbs you can get your hands on, as they go perfectly with corn.

Fresh cobs of corn (about a dozen)
1 cup parsley leaves
½ cup cilantro leaves
½ cup basil leaves
¼ cup dill sprigs
¼ cup mint leaves
2 cloves garlic
½ tsp. salt (or to taste)
1 ½ cups olive oil (or blended olive oil and another light flavored oil, such as grapeseed oil)

Rinse the herbs well and pat dry.
Blend all of the herbs, garlic, salt, and oil together in a blender.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Shuck the corn cobs and remove the silk threads.
Boil the corn for about 3-5 minutes. Drain and place on a plate.
To serve: pour the oil into a deep wide plate and allow for people to dip their corn into the oil.
Serves 6 people 2 cobs each.

In addition to Apricots with Mint, we made Corn with Herb Oil for the demo at the Cortelyou Greenmarket. The recipe that we printed out uses parsley, dill, cilantro, mint, and basil, but at the market we also found Thai basil, chervil, and lemon balm. Herbs are in abundance, so do not be afraid to use them with abandon in your cooking these days.
July 27, 2008   |   0 comments
Tags: North America, Side Dishes, Summer