Can Cook, Must Cook

The food adventures of Franka P, a Trinidadian journalist living in London, UK. I'll write about my forays into all types of food and cooking, particularly Caribbean food. I'll also review books and recipes by the leading food writers and talk about the issues making headlines in the gastronomic world.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Not a doubles in sight!

Everybody asked me if I got any doubles in Germany, well for the record, I didn't see any doubles vendors in Nuremberg. In fact, I didn't see any Trini food on display.
I went to the Tourism Board's booth after the game but I didn't see any trace of any Trini food. I heard there was Trini food in Dortmund, but those reports are yet to be confirmed.
Frankly, I believe a lot of Trinidadian companies missed a trick, especially companies like Angostura.

Imagine that Trinidad and Tobago is getting the most press it has ever gotten in the United Kingdom yet no one felt it was right or even sensible to organise a trade event here?
Angostura could have taken advantage of the opportunity to push its rums to pubs in London or even in Scotland where there was a huge Trinidad and Tobago support base.
What did Angostura do? They concentrated on satisfying the converted and they are probably thinking they were so successful because all the Trinis came out to their free soca concerts.
Now I have no problems with hosting soca concerts in Germany, not at all. But what about the week before the World Cup when all eyes were on Trinidad and Tobago? A well organised Trini music show supplemented by some UK acts in London might have gone down a storm at a venue like the Barbican.
I feel like I'm peeing in the wind but the fact that I didn't get a doubles isn't about me and it certainly isn't about doubles. It's about yet another missed opportunity by Trinidad and Tobago to show the world what we're about.

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Sunday, June 25, 2006

Food and Football - Part Two

What is it with Germans and salt??
Don't they understand how to use herbs and spices to add flavour to their food? Almost everything I ate in Germany tasted like a Saxa table salt overdose.
I wonder if this is a new phenomena because when I last visited Germany some seven years ago, I didn't have this problem. Maybe my taste buds have matured?
That said, it was really hit and miss time with food on my visit for the World Cup.
My first meal, a burger in the Lindner Congress Hotel bistro wasn't bad. It was a pretty hefty burger with bacon, cheese, salad and chips and priced at a very reasonable €14 but it was a bit salty.
I thought I was being picky, but then Stefan, another Trini I met in the bistro said his pork ribs were also salty. As Stefan touted his solution of drinking a half litre of beer, I wondered if the salty food thing was an insidious plot to make sure beer sales escalate during the World Cup.

But the Germans don't need to do anything to sell their beer because it's top class stuff. I love their dark beer which I had at every opportunity.
In fact, I had so much of it that I had to make an effort to drink water to give my kidneys a fair chance!
The other thing that Germany is known for is great sausages and Nuremberg (where the epic TT v England clash took place) is known as the sausage capital of Europe.
I had two 'hot dogs' on the streets in Nuremberg and the sausages were excellent, as was the bread. The sausages weren't salty at all, in fact they were quite tasty and went well with piquant mustard and caramelised onions.
We used our last day in Germany to explore the delights of Frankfurt and our first stop was a bakery with an eye catching array of breads and cakes.
I bought a
Stollen cake to share with my colleagues in the office. Stollen cake is a traditional German cake that's usually eaten at Christmas. It's got a rich, fruity dough that's usually filled with marzipan.
Some Stollen cakes can be sickly sweet and claggy because of the liberal use of marzipan but this bakery found the perfect balance and the result was light, moist and extremely tasty.
I found an interesting mix of eateries in the bit of Frankfurt we explored, there were some sandwich bars, sushi takeaways and a few Italian-styled restaurants. But we wanted traditional German food.
Eventually, we found a gastropub/beer garden - don't ask me the name - with an interesting looking menu. One of the specials for the day was roast turkey, an odd choice for a hot summer day I thought.
Paul and Lisa started with the soup of the day, a sumptuous looking, silkily textured carrot soup which was spoilt by too much salt. Did the chef not realise that a bit of coriander and cumin would have done more to enhance the flavour than a ladle of salt?
I opted not to have a starter, and went for the most traditional looking main on the menu, the Frankfurt Plate. An original Gref-Volsings boiled beef sausage, a pair of boiled pork sausages and a fried slice of pork sausage with potato salad, complemented with a dollop of tangy mustard and a julienned gherkin.
The sausages were spot on and I was quite taken by the way the contrasting texture of the sausages worked with the creamy potato salad and the tangy mustard.
As we were finishing our meal, we noticed a flurry of activity in the street and a host of police officers heading to a nearby shop. In a flash, the street was cleared and the police tape was drawn but no one seemed fussed in the restaurant, even though it looked like the police were acting on a bomb threat. That was our cue to pay up and look for a deli where we could find some charcuterie cuts.
I bought about four types of meat, including some yummy South African ham and some serano ham for which I paid €8.33. I was laughing because if I'd bought this in London, I would have paid something like £20.
My culinary experience in Germany this time was markedly different than the last, mainly because I was a vegetarian. I went to several top notch restaurants and my memories are of asparagus and potatoes in every conceivable form - Germany is not a good place for vegetarians.
This time, I think that having to eat on the run meant that I got some excellent street food and a lot of great beer quite cheaply. I hope one day, I'll return to Germany and have a magical culinary experience but believe me, I'm not holding my breath.
Check the
photos of food in Germany.

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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Food and Football - Part One

For the last month my life has been dominated by the 2006 World Cup and Trinidad and Tobago's participation in that esteemed tournament.
I was consumed by writing articles, doing interviews and making radio features about the saga of the
Soca Warriors, but that's not to say my mind wasn't on things gastronomic.
Since Trinidad and Tobago qualified for the World Cup last year, the crew's been planning to party hard in Germany - how could we be living in England and not hop over to Germany to wave the red, white and black?
I didn't think it would be right for the crew to head over to Germany without a warm-up so I got the ball rolling with a small bram a couple of days before football's biggest party kicked off.

A nice bunch turned up at my place for the lime, including a few honorary Trinis. It was really great to see the folks who came from Trinidad, excited to be going to the World Cup and bearing gifts of rum and homemade pepper sauce.

I had a really hard time deciding what to cook for the evening. Initially I thought about doing something elaborate like baking a whole salmon and cooking chicken with tequila, but as the day drew closer, I started to scale down my ambitions.
It wasn't until the day before that I decided to go with the theme Trinidad and Tobago versus England, a nod to the football clash that we Trinis were eagerly waiting for.
I cooked Soya Pelau, Toad in the Hole and Roast Beef which was complemented by a mighty tasty Pasta salad from Carrianne and her mom. Lisa and Wendy provided the chocolates, cheese and crackers for dessert.
Everyone loved the pelau but no one could figure out what kind of pelau it was, they were really surprised to hear it was made with soya which usually tastes quite bland.
I told them the secret to making soya taste so nice is to season it as you would meat. I used a basic marinade of parsley, coriander, garlic, lemon juice and a bit of salt.
The soya pelau was actually a good match for the Toad in the Hole, a traditional British dish based on a batter that's also used for
Yorkshire Puddings. The 'Toad' is sausage and I used the most traditional of British sausages, the Cumberland sausage.
I got the recipe for Toad in the Hole from Gary Rhodes'
New British Classics, an excellent cookbook that clearly debunks the myth about the paucity of British cuisine.
It was a lovely evening, great food and generous lashings of premium rum. I was wearing my red Trinidad and Tobago t-shirt and my
Trinidad and Tobago Patriot cap (designed by the charming Jay Mahabir) with a glass of Angostura 1919 singing 'I am a Soca Warrior!' priming up for the real party in Germany!

Check out the photos from the lime.

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Monday, June 12, 2006

Somebody's reading!

I was rather surprised to receive an email last week congratulating Can Cook, Must Cook on being one of the top ten food blogs on the web.
It's good to see that my random musings about food are interesting to so many other people.
The email came from Sabah Karimi of the Associate Content website.

Have a look at Sabah's article: The Top Ten Foodie Blogs on the Web and you'll see that we're in some pretty good company!

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