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Om curry with dill from LAcha Somtum in Thai Town.

I attended a highly educational and also highly entertaining Zocalo Public Square lecture about food fads on Monday, with journalist David Sax of The Tastemakers: Why We’re Crazy for Cupcakes but Fed Up with Fondue, and it got me thinking about foods that could easily become trendy. My fellow home-cook brother and I exchanged a few emails about it, and here’s my list.

My brother and I are both a little obsessed. Miso, MSG, and fish sauce have all had their moments in the food media spotlight as ways to add flavor, umami, and saltiness to food, so, we wondered, why not one of the most ubiquitous of Korean condiments? Among foodies, it’s not for lack of trying. Gochujang — also known as hot pepper paste or red chili paste or some combination thereof — is a thick, sticky paste of red chilis, sweet rice, fermented soybeans, and salt. It’s been in (near constant) use in Korea for about 500 years, since trade routes opened up in the far east, and it is traditionally fermented in the sun. To me, it’s equal parts sweet, salty, and spicy, felt in that order. Some ascribe a fermented stink to it, but I don’t get it. It’s no kimchee. Read the rest of this entry »

(Iceland posts to resume soon. I just need another Christmas vacation at home to finish them, or a similar situation where I have no responsibilities for two weeks. So, basically, next Christmas.)

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I’m not a perfect foodie. For as much as I cook and dine out, and research restaurants and recipes, and read chefs’ memoirs and food magazines, and bore and offend people with my meat small talk, and fall asleep in the middle of food history books and glasses of wine, there’s a lot out there I don’t know, don’t like, and don’t want to do. And a few things that I don’t care about, too. Here is a modest list. Read the rest of this entry »

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