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Where my research takes me

I have always been interested in the transfer of food culture. I have often equated it with my default creative outlet; the place that I can go when I don't have studio time. I am researching and writing about tea culture between the imperial posturing of the Tang and the British Empires. In that mix of tangible and intangible cultures there are a lot of distractions, one of them is foodways. The food culture of the XingJiang region of China is in consciousness of mind lately. A sad, but interesting tangent is the Uighur foodways that are often debated, contested, and most often secretly enjoyed.

Fast forward to dinner tonight. The recipe of the day yesterday in the New York Times was for Hetty McKinnon's "Dumpling Tomato Salad With Chili Crisp Vinaigrette." I can't stop thinking about it, even envisioned it for dinner tonight honestly. However, looking at the recipe, I understood that there were things we didn't have on hand, namely chili-crisp. While I could make my own, , despite our vast spice cabinet, we also didn't have all of the ingredients for that either. I didn't loose the thought of the incredible sounding tomato dressing though.

Tonight's menu: spaghetti squash, green beans and okra, and frog legs. The frogs legs are seasoned with a homemade cajun blend and grilled on charcoal with a healthy helping of pecan wood. The green beans steamed with garlic and seasoned with salt and pepper. The squash was baked and topped with a fresh tomato dressing. I used the a combination of a Uighur influence found on page 140 in Caroline Eden and Eleanor Ford's Samarkand: Recipes and Stories from Central Asia and the Caucasus, (London: Kyle Books, 2016) and the Hetty McKinnon's recipe. Subconsciously however, there was also the experience of the Tunisian fresh tomato dipping sauce found at Chirping Chicken. The main event for me tonight was the sauce:


  • two cloves of garlic,

  • 2 tbs of onion,

  • 1/4 in of ginger in a neutral oil

add in:

  • tsp or so of seven spice blend (see Samarkand: Recipes and Stories from Central Asia and the Caucasus, (London: Kyle Books, 2016, page 140) essentially its a mix of cumin, black pepper, Sichuan pepper, cinnamon, cardamon, cloves, and anise.

  • 1/2 tsp or so of Kashmiri pepper


  • 1 large tomato

Mix all of it together and salt to taste. Let sit for several hours before serving.

It did not disappoint!

On a side note: while this post was about my individual thought process surrounding tomatoes and chili crisp, the rest of the meal was equally incredible. There is this way that Joey knows how to cook frogs legs that make them so succulent.

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