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I admit to occasionally eating, and enjoying, both the diet (Lean Cuisine) and the regular Stouffer's version of cheese manicotti. It actually tastes like there's real ricotta in there. More so for the non-diet version, though -- obviously.

And sometimes you really only have 10 minutes to both prepare and eat your meal.

Nov 02, 2006
tulipano in Features

Catch 'Em Early

I got my interest in food basically because I moved to another country where the things that I liked from home weren't available. That meant I had to:

a. try new things, because otherwise my diet would have been severely limited
b. learn how to cook in order to be able to cook the foods I was nostalgic for.

I've never been that much of a picky eater, with the exception of things with tentacles and offal, I don't really say no to anything. But if you asked me five years ago if raw bacon would be a regular part of my diet and that I would know how to and even enjoy baking, I would have thought you were crazy.

crlyhead, that's an interesting question. Here in Italy, half of the people I know won't even eat Chinese food, which is basically the only non-Italian food you can find. And when they travel, they look for Italian restaurants. The general (although not unanimous) opinion is that their food is the best, and so it's a waste of time to try out other things.

Oct 25, 2006
tulipano in Features

Full Moon Punch

Perhaps the author was drinking a bit too much of this concoction? Or are there really 6! bottles of white rum and 4 cups of applejack in this recipe?

Oct 24, 2006
tulipano in Recipes

Grim Reaper in a Rice Krispies Box

I hate these kinds of articles. They always come off to me like the guy who used to love some obscure band but when they made it big he decided that they'd sold out and aren't any good anymore.

It may be true that Kellogg's doesn't give a rat's ass about ethics and/or the health of the planet, but I'm pretty sure they buy a whole lot of rice to make their Rice Krispies. And if those thousands and thousands of acres of rice are grown without pesticides, that's not a bad thing -- it's a good thing. People who are really really really into organics probably don't buy Rice Krispies to begin with, while the millions who aren't might be willing to pay an extra .50 for their Rice Krispies without pesticides. Which in the long run probably affects the planet a whole lot more than the much more limited market of people who refuse to buy any food product that is not produced locally and in an ethical manner. Most Americans aren't willing to give up strawberries in December, nor do I think they are willing to give up their Rice Krispies simply because there are no rice patties in the surrounding areas. Actually, is rice even grown in the US?

I wonder if Mr. Morford seriously only purchases food that is "local, sustainable, ethical, connected to source, and pesticide and hormone free." Because if not, I don't know why he would insist that a product that is two out of six is worse than zero out of six.

Oct 15, 2006
tulipano in Features

Experiments in Eating

One of the best tips I've ever heard for easily reducing your food intake (and which is repeated in this article) is to never eat directly from a bag. Always put your food on a plate first.

Something about having to stop and think about the fact of exactly how much you're eating (like going back to the kitchen to get the bag) makes you realize that you're already full.

Oct 11, 2006
tulipano in Features

Is there an acceptable substitute for sour cream?

thanks so much for all these great ideas...

Quark sounds like something I might be able to find if I lived in Milan, but not so much here in the South.

The area I live in has spectacular local stuff, but (maybe because of that) they're not real big on trying new things.

Oct 06, 2006
tulipano in General Topics

Driving through Puglia (Apulia)

One other thing re: tipping. It's not really done here, at all. If you leave even an extra 50 cents they'll be appreciative, but it's not necessary, nor expected.

However, bear in mind that most waiters/waitresses here get paid a straight salary of about E30 a night, and it's under the table, with no benefits to boot. The service (coperta) charge on your bill does NOT go to your waiter/waitress. And the cost of living (at least in Bari) is more or less what you find in a mid-size American city.

So you don't have to tip, but if you do, you make your server's night MUCH better.

Oct 05, 2006
tulipano in Italy

Is there an acceptable substitute for sour cream?

I'm in southern Italy.

Oct 05, 2006
tulipano in General Topics

Is there an acceptable substitute for sour cream?

I want to have a Mexican themed party, and tacos are really not the same without sour cream. Where I live sour cream simply doesn't exist. Neither does buttermilk.

Greek yogurt, and all other forms of dairy goodness are easily findable.

Oct 04, 2006
tulipano in General Topics

Driving through Puglia (Apulia)

I've lived in Bari for three years, and while I don't really have the budget for the high price places, luckily it's a city where you can eat exceptionally well even for cheap.

da Donata in via Lattanzia is excellent to try antipasto alla Barese, which basically means super-abundant mixed appetizers. Just ask for the antipasto della casa, and they'll bring you plate after plate after plate of different appetizers. It's in theory a pizzeria, and the pizza is pretty good as well, but everyone goes there for the antipasto. The one negative thing is that it's the only place I've ever been in Italy that has tried a bit to rush me out. There's always a big line outside, so they kind of try to keep the tables moving. (nothing exaggerated or anything, you just can't sit and talk for two hours like in most places)

Le Travi in Bari Vecchia (the old part of the city) is excellent authentic traditional food, and is a huge bargain as well. (i.e.- antipasto, primo, secondo, dolce, vino E25 a person...and it's all excellent) Make sure you include the self-service style antipasto, which has the best zucchini sott'aceto I've ever tasted.

For pizza, there's Bari-Napoli in via Piccinni, which has both pizza napoletano (a thicker style crust, more similar to what we get in America) and pizza barese (much thinner crust). Also order the patatine fritte, which are home-made potato chips.

This has nothing to do with eating, but stop in Ostuni and in Polignano al Mare, which are both incredibly beautiful towns, that are not particularly touristy (outside of Puglians themselves). Everyone who has come to visit me has insisted on seeing Alberobello and been disappointed, and then thrilled by Ostuni and Polignano. There's a famous restaurant in Polignano la Grotta Palazzese, but the prices are a bit out of my reach. http://www.grottapalazzese.it/english... In any case it's supposed to be amazing.

Hope that helps!

Edited to add...one more thing. Don't go to Vini e Cucina which is recommended in quite a few guidebooks. It WAS really good, but is now dreadful.

Oct 04, 2006
tulipano in Italy

Ephron Eaten for Breakfast

I didn't like the piece, either, although it didn't spur to write a scathing critique or anything. I think the bit that grates about it is that a woman who has access to the "finer things in life" is complaining that while there she's not also getting the regular middle-class things. If you want to eat at a "fancy" restaurant then you should expect to eat in a fancy way. If you want mom and pop quality food, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, but don't go to Le Cirque hoping to find it. It's like she went to a black-tie event wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and then decided it was appropriate to make fun of all the other women for wearing uncomfortable heels and ball gowns. It's reverse snobbism.

Oct 04, 2006
tulipano in Features

CHOW Ginger Beer

What does six inches of ginger mean?

Sep 29, 2006
tulipano in Recipes

The Sommelier as Shaman

I never really imagined that people thought pairings were the *only* possible combination that would be good...
This argument is convincing, but it's also fairly obvious...with hundreds of kinds of wines and thousands of variations within them, it seems more than clear that there's not only one wine in the world that would go well with your meal.
That said, I think that Kramer offers the best justification for pairings in his own critique of them -- that the recommendations will often give people new ideas and introduce them to new wines that they might not otherwise have known about.

Sep 16, 2006
tulipano in Features

Food Network: The Blog

Brioche is bread -- it doesn't usually "flow." Other than that, though, this is a nice, thorough review.

Sep 16, 2006
tulipano in Features

Your Morning Spray

the name actually makes sense in Italian -- "spesso" means thick.

Sep 12, 2006
tulipano in Features

Down-Home Prosciutto

this is a great article except that it doesn't answer the central premise...can you eat it raw and if so is it good?

Sep 03, 2006
tulipano in Features