Roland Parker's Profile

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New dining options in Bmore?

Hello Kukubura, I do remember you well. I had wondered what happened to you. Like you I no longer live in Baltimore but still have family in town and return almost every summer and Christmas.

We have scores of British relatives and friends and the one restaurant they always love in Baltimore is LP Steamers in Locust Point. They love the old fashioned "Baltimore" atmosphere and if the weather is nice, sitting outside on the rooftop deck. They will claim to enjoy the crab but being British I can tell that they're not overly fond of using their fingers and mallets to tear apart the crab, but they will happily chow down on the steamed shrimps, oysters, crabcakes and the seasoned fries.

If you are still in Baltimore and have your British coworkers with you, I would head down to LP Steamers with them. Your London coworkers will likely already be familiar with restaurants of Parts & Labour and Woodberry Kitchen calibre, but LP Steamers is different and the style and seasoning of the food is not easily found in Britain.

Would you buy dessert sauces at a farmers market?

I've seen them for sale in markets in the UK, along with the jams and relishes.

Good quality chocolate sauce to heat up and pour over vanilla ice cream would probably be a nice hit. I'd buy it.

Washington Post: Eating healthy through Ramadan

You should see Ramadan in the UAE.

Iftar buffets every night in fancy hotels for affluent Muslims, groaning with huge platters of rich food and much of it is wasted and thrown away each night, while poor labourers subsist on rice and daal after spending all day hard at work with no water or food in 110+ degree heat.

I find the whole tradition peculiar. So many Muslims take long naps during the afternoons and then stay up very late. It really affects the body metabolism. And others who have health issues, including diabetes, persist in fasting despite the dangers it presents (Saudi is expected to have as much as 50% of its population diabetic in the next few decades). And all for what?

Map: The most uniquely popular cuisine in every state

I seem to remember a thread on this topic not long ago?

I think people pointed out there was an overlap between an higher than average numbers of certain immigrant groups and the state's uniquely popular cuisine. Such as Filipino food in Nevada, despite that Hispanic immigrants would greatly outnumber the Filipino. The same is true for Peruvian for both DC and Maryland, which is due to the higher than normal numbers of immigrants from certain Central American/South American countries, but it doesn't mean that Peruvian is commonplace. At all.

One way or another, it is a silly map.

origin of Cracker Pie

I was intrigued as I do have some knowledge of food history as well as rationing during WWII.

I suspect the articles confused rationing in the UK with what occurred in the US during WWII. Apples were not one of the rationed foodstuff and given the sheer commonality of apple trees and orchards across much of the United States, something that was not in short supply. Quite a few "war recipes" called for apples. Canada even rebranded apples as a patriotic food because the war disrupted international trade, including Canada's apple export market, so the government encouraged Canadians to support their farmers by buying as much Canadian produce, including apples.

It is possible that in parts of the US without an orchard culture, such as the southwest, fruits including apples that were normally imported over large distances may have become more expensive as a consequence of the war, but it would not have been nationwide.

As you pointed out, the extant articles claiming the origins of mock apple pie on WWII rationing seem dubious given the pie's much longer history and I also suspect it's a case of one speculative writer's theory being taken as gospel by other bloggers or those anonymous internet articles and restated over and over again without much validity.

Jun 14, 2015
Roland Parker in General Topics

origin of Cracker Pie

Apples were not one of the rationed food items during WWII. Apples were so commonplace so I doubt they were really that rare or expensive. Sugar was rationed and that would have had a greater impact on the evolution of pies to suit rationing purposes.

Mock apple pie recipes have been around in the US for a long time, well before the war. Pioneers would make it when they arrived in a raw new part of the country where apple trees were in short supply and were missing a taste of home. The origins of the pie doubtlessly stretches long before even the Civil War.

Jun 12, 2015
Roland Parker in General Topics

Store-bought vs. homemade grated Parmesiano Reggiano

It's possible that the store's cheese grater wasn't fully cleaned of another cheese before grating the parmesan, and it was that cheese that went moldy.

It's one reason why I won't buy pre grated parmesan from my local Carrefour because I once opened a package and there were bits of mozzarella mixed in with the parmesan!

May 29, 2015
Roland Parker in Cheese

Mrs. Alfred Hitchcock in the kitchen

Actually you are right. I wrote in haste. Suet, not lard, was used for the puddings and fruitcakes.

May 28, 2015
Roland Parker in Home Cooking

Mrs. Alfred Hitchcock in the kitchen

Many old British steamed pudding and fruit cake recipes included lard for the fat. A once very popular dessert was jam roly poly, which is little more than a dough made of flour and lard rolled out, filled with jam, and then rolled like a Swiss roll, and steamed for hours.

The concept of the pork cake wouldn't have been so atrocious.

May 28, 2015
Roland Parker in Home Cooking

Store-bought vs. homemade grated Parmesiano Reggiano

I use a lot of reggiano in salads, pasta, baking.

I prefer to buy by the block and process it in my cuisnart rather than buying it pregrated.

I'm of the opinion that the best flavor comes from when the cheese is grated into something akin to crumbly, hard breadcrumbs that still has texture, rather than the fine powder you associate with the generic Kraft brand. You're not going to get this grating the cheese on a regular grater. The cuisinart is wonderful for doing this, really, just about perfect.

Too often I find prepackaged grated reggiano grated into long straws (at least one Whole Foods in Maryland was guilty of doing this for ages), or into a powder, and neither brings out the best of the flavor. Quite often the store will grind a good portion of the rind along with the cheese, which dilutes the strength and flavor of the overall package.

Last but not least, I've come across grated Grana Padana labelled as reggiano!

May 25, 2015
Roland Parker in Cheese

Best type of pan for caramelizing mushrooms?

I remember reading Julia Child and she observed that the trick to browning mushrooms was not to cook too many mushrooms at one time.

If you have too many mushrooms, it releases too much moisture and while the mushrooms do cook, they become soggy in the liquid and remain gray in color.

As long as I don't crowd the pan I do successfuly brown mushrooms to a wonderful brown color and the flavor is excellent.

May 22, 2015
Roland Parker in Cookware

What's your absolute favorite/best apple dessert?

Apple desserts are perhaps my most favorite dishes to eat. It doesn't matter what kind of dessert it is, pies, crumble, cake, kuchen, charlotte, torte, tatins, pastries, if it has apples in it I'm in pig heaven.

Do I have a single most favorite apple dessert? Apple pie with a good homemade crust.

That aside, what is perhaps more important than the dessert mode is the apple itself. Apples do vary widely in tartness and texture. I love Jonagold apples for baking. Winesapp and Stayman apples for purees such as apple charlottes. Quite often I will mix apple varieties to have a blend of flavor and texture.

Hmm.... must make an apple dessert this weekend.

La Cuchara in Lower Hampden (Baltimore): A good meal had by all.

Thank you for the lovely feedback. Despite being a globe trotting expat I still remember my hometown with fondness and will be visiting for a month this summer. This restaurant is now firmly on the list as I have found your reviews of Parisian restaurants very valuable for our visits to France.

And is "LoHa" now a new buzzword for that area? My, how times have changed. I well remember Hampden of old. Who would have ever thought?

Time to get rid of the microwave?

My grandparents were among the first people to buy a microwave for home consumption, either in the late 1960s or early 1970s. They also lived well into their 90s despite using a microwave regularly for the last third of their lives. As far as I can tell it's had no effect on their health.

Likewise, my parents, who are now in their 70s, have been using microwaves since the 1970s and it doesn't seem to affect their excellent health one way or another, although my mother only uses microwave safe corningware dishes and other ceramic dishes, not plastic containers, but that's only because she doesn't like the asthetics of plastic containers.

May 06, 2015
Roland Parker in Cookware

Time to get rid of the microwave?

Since we're talking about debunking myths, can you verify your statement: "usage of microwave ovens is down among cookware nerds and all food hobbyists."

Is it true? Only curious as I consider myself an excellent cook and someone who is interested in food and I happily use my microwave daily for a variety of purposes.

May 05, 2015
Roland Parker in Cookware

Dinner Disaster!

We all have cooking accidents periodically. Even the best cooks. We know the pain!

But I am curious as to why you elected to use the "best" olive oil for what looks like a standard bolognese/meat sauce recipe? Does it normally improve the flavors as opposed to generic olive oil? I use my "best" oils for salads but not for sautéing.

May 01, 2015
Roland Parker in Home Cooking

Visiting Hong Kong and Chengdu with an 8-year old

We went to Luk Yu on our last trip to Hong Kong, dragged there by friends of ours. It does have an older atmosphere but we didn't find it special. And the dim sum was very ordinary, it's certainly "old school" heavy and greasy, and also the most expensive we had on the trip. Plus they charged us for dishes we never ordered, nor were brought to the table! We tried to argue it but the staff refused to back down.

One Dim Sum in Kowloon was easily our most favorite dim sum place, balancing price and quality. It was absolutely wonderful. And so wonderfully inexpensive too.

Dim Sum Square in Sheung Wan (my favorite neighborhood in HK) was also excellent with its slightly different twist on dim sum.

Toy Kitchen Renovation: High-End Appliances, Gourmet Food

No, that would be the NYTimes.

It's just one of their periodic filler articles on people with more money than most Americans.

best website to order braunschweiger/liverwurst (organ meat sausages, etc.) from?

There's Binkerts in Baltimore:


Wonderful sausages and lunch meat. They supply the German and Austrian embassies in Washington (or at least they used to a few years ago).

Mar 28, 2015
Roland Parker in General Topics

Need advice for tipping a wedding caterer

I think you are missing the reason behind the OP's thread as well as that there is a key difference between a private catered event and a restaurant.

Restaurant wait staff are allowed to be paid well below the minimum wage because it is assumed they are going to be tipped. That is pretty much the only reason why tipping persists in America, certainly at the level of tipping that has become customary. It went from rounding up the bill to 10% to 15% and now 20% and doubtlessly will reach 25% at some point.

However, at a private catered event such as the one described by the OP, the waiters will be making the minimum wage (at least, and assuming the caterer is honest), because it's not a restaurant. Waiters at such events usually make quite a bit more than the minimum wage as it's rarely a full time position and something people do on an "on call" basis to make money outside regular work hours. If the OP wants to leave a tip as a true gratuity, it's entirely up to her and the amount is also up to her.

If I were the OP and wanted to leave a tip as gratitude for a special event I would probably give each waiter no more than $50 and the caterer herself another $100.

Mar 23, 2015
Roland Parker in Not About Food

What's for Dinner #355 - The SPRING Edition! [Through March 24, 2015 ]

Nothing fancy tonight. Warm and dusty where we are but it turned into a pleasant sunset and the smell of the sea drifted into our garden, so we decided to dine outside.

Grilled steaks, oven roasted fries (yes, the frozen ones), salad and clementines. We haven't had steaks in eons so it was a nice change of pace. I have not been ambitious with cooking for a long time, what with one son away at school and DH now traveling much more frequently for work.

Why Are All ‘Good’ Restaurants Around the World Starting To Look the Same?

No places exist in a vacuum solely for tourists (well, perhaps except Venice). Every city or destination is a real home to its people and there's a degree of snobbery in assuming that local residents should be content with whatever passes for their local cuisine or style of dining.

There is a hypocrisy in praising the increasing diversity of the world's cities and the greater choices in food and restaurants, while decrying the homogenization or globalization that has allowed these same choices to blossom in ways that were unthinkable even a few decades ago. To be frank, when I look closely at what passed for "authentic local experience" dining options in many places in the world 30 years ago and compare to what's available today, I'd rather take today.

Why delicious Indian food is surprisingly unpopular in the U.S.

The Indian American population has also exploded.

So far Indian remains a destination cuisine rather than something casually accepted such as Mexican or Chinese. I daresay it's because it hasn't been transformed sufficiently enough to satisfy common American tastes.

Why delicious Indian food is surprisingly unpopular in the U.S.

True. A common sight in Dubai are the small framed working class Indian men, who make next to nothing and eat only at the cheapest of the Indian cafeterias usually because they have no cooking facilities where they live, and the food is incredibly basic, just rice and daal and mushy vegetables some curry dish, but they develop a distinctive pot belly because the food is dished out in very large quantities.

Why delicious Indian food is surprisingly unpopular in the U.S.

Along with increasing reliance on cars and declining walkability for the middle classes.

And in the UAE too. Combine a heavy Indian meal high in calorie and ghee with a box of donuts from Tim Horton or Krispy Kreme or ice cream from Baskin Robbins, and you get a recipe for disaster. Traditional Indian sweets is so intensely sweet that it's not surprising the Indian sweet tooth has eagerly embraced overly sugary American fast food sweets with an appetite that must make the CEOs of those companies cry with joy.

Why delicious Indian food is surprisingly unpopular in the U.S.

The rising obesity isn't only due to American style fast food, which still isn't that common in India (albeit growing). A lot of Indian cooking is high in fat and calories as well. Butter chicken, after all, is not a low fat dish. The prevalent use of ghee is also a contributing factor, such as dal makhani.

It is one of the peculiarities of India that you see both heavy people and malnourished people in the same place.

Why delicious Indian food is surprisingly unpopular in the U.S.

The other dimension to the issue is that most Mexican/Chinese found in the US are the bastardized "Americanized" version (even if it may be very good). Most of the Mexican and Chinese restaurants rarely showcase the breadth and depth of their respective cuisines and have evolved into something that's almost now peculiarly "American."

I have seen Indian do the same in the UK. The vast majority of Indian restaurants in Britain are mediocre to average, serving tamed down and often overly sweet dishes, and the most popular dishes such as chicken tikka masala and the various Brit balti dishes originated in Britain. Here in Dubai most British crave "British Indian" rather than proper Indian (whatever it may be).

While there are certainly adventurous people of all nationalities and cultures willing to try and experiment with different food, I think most people are much more conservative and are bound by deeply ingrained cultural food appreciation and desires, which is one reason for why many "ethnic" cuisines can change in the US, to adapt to the different American preferences. If Indian food becomes more popular in the US (and I don't doubt it will) it will be the toned down and creamy version.


I was wondering what the bakers do with their baked goods after the judging. Do they take them home to their families? Probably. But I'm sure the contestants are constantly tasting nibbles of each other's baked goods. That's probably why Luis put his money on Nancy, he could taste firsthand that she was able to achieve a high standard of consistency in the flavors and quality of her baked goods whereas us viewers only had to go by the judging of the day.


Me too. I was intrigued by how the oven doors could slide back into the oven once down. I imagine it has to do with European kitchens being generally smaller than American kitchens and it's a way not to clutter up the limited space if you're working in a tiny kitchen.


I loved everyone on the program. It was one of the very few, if possibly the only, cooking program where I never gravitated to a favorite cook or disliked any of the other cooks. The personalities of the people were so endearing and friendly that I wanted everyone to win!