I’ve been picking up some of the idioms while I’ve been here. I have a lot of fun with idioms; especially when translating them! “Chicharrones de cien patas” means “a big problem,” but it literally translates as “Fried pork belly with one hundred legs.” Sounds like a big problem to me!!! I wonder if it’s edible…?
There are some unique rules for food preparation and consumption in each culture. One of my favorite examples is that the Japanese always eat both pickled ginger and wasabi with their sushi. Of course, we now know that the bacteria in raw fish is potentially deadly, but that the particular bacteria in pickled ginger neutralizes the bacteria in the raw fish. How did the ancient Japanese discover that? Probably the same way we humans discover anything: blind luck.
Years ago, it must have seemed odd to travelers to see them eating raw fish; especially since it’s unique to the Japanese. My guess is that most travelers were somewhat protected from ignoring the rules of a culture by their own upbringing. “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” This simple rule protected travelers to Japan from getting sick from eating the raw fish. Simply eat the ginger, like the locals do, and you’ll be just fine.
Colombian Raw Vegetable Food Culture
I have always wondered why none of the restaurants in Mexico had a “Salad” section of their menu. In fact, relatively new authentic South American restaurants in New York City usually have no Salad section either. You can tell when a restaurant is settling in when they add the Salad section. Is it uniquely American to eat raw vegetables?
I was wondering that out loud today, and some locals told me that they were never served raw vegetables as children. They ate plenty of vegetables, but none of it was raw; always cooked. They also noticed that “Tourist” restaurants are starting to add a salad section here in Medellin too. But only the tourist restaurants.
“How would you prepare a raw salad, if you were going to eat one?
I had to ask. And here is how to do it.
1. When you go shopping, buy white vinegar (or any, but white is cheapest).
2. Prepare a vinegar bath in a large mixing bowl of 3 parts water with 1 part vinegar. In other words: your vinegar bath should be about 25% vinegar and the rest water.
3. Chop your vegetables one vegetable at a time. Each vegetable needs to be soaked in the vinegar bath for approximately 5 minutes. Stir every minute or so.
4. Once the salad is prepared, squeeze lime (or lemon, but I like limes better) over everything.
5. Let the salad sit with the fresh squeezed lime juice for at least 5 minutes. Again, stir every minute or so.
6. Add the olive oil to the salad just before serving the salad.
I wonder if this is food culture, protecting the locals from the bacteria? Probably. I guess we’ll see!