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Roland Parker's Profile

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Please suggest a wedding gift

Not everyone likes breakfast in bed....

I've done it and contrary to what we may see on Downton Abbey it's very awkward and there's the risk of making a mess on the bed. The last time I did it we were staying in a fancy hotel and I knocked the coffee over and stained the sheets.

Apr 13, 2014
Roland Parker in Cookware
2

How often do you drink alcoholic drinks?

Rarely. I'll have a glass of wine when we go out to dinner, or when we entertain at home I may have two or three small glasses. Once in a while I enjoy a nice Pimms or G&T. When we travel to Europe I do drink a lot more with the meals, practically every day, for it seems to be part of the travel experience, but at home on a day to day basis almost never.

We live in the UAE where there are very strict anti-drinking and driving laws so we quickly fell into a routine when one of us won't drink so we can drive to a friend's house for a dinner, or to a restaurant. But as it turned out both of us ended up not drinking often (alcohol is very expensive).

Ironically, we have about two dozen bottles of wine and a couple bottles of excellent gin and whisky, all courtesy of visitors who stop at the duty free at the airport to buy us booze as a hostess gift.

I don't crave alcohol. It seems to be a family trait as neither of my parents are regular drinkers nor are my siblings. My sons have disdained interest in alcohol as well, although I'm sure that'll change when they go to college ;)

The one drink I do love and look forward to very much is madeira but we only buy it at Christmas. Good quality madeira is not cheap.

Apr 09, 2014
Roland Parker in General Topics

Baked Goods as Gifts For Teachers, Etc.

I found the thread interesting because I went to private schools and we rarely ever gave gifts to the teachers. The same is true for the prep school my sons attend. What we do have is the Parent's Association funding a staff luncheon via donations, both at Christmas and at the end of the school year. But individual gifts from everyone? No.

However, my mother's best friend taught in Catholic schools for decades and I remember her talking about all the gifts she received. And yes, most of it went into the trash. Cheesy candles, mugs and christmas ornaments seemed to be common. But she loved the thank you cards.

Even if my sons wanted me to bake cookies or a cake for the teachers, I'd still say no because I know people's appreciation for food widely varies and I'm not going to waste time on something that may very well be thrown away. A class party is different, as kids will eat anything!

Apr 09, 2014
Roland Parker in General Topics

What a Week's Worth of Groceries Look Like in Different Parts of the World

The British family is oddly archaic. I wonder how they were found, out of all the people in Britain? The parents don't even look very British to me.

I liked that the Kuwaiti family included their two housemaids in the background. The only missing food in their picture is fast food. Gulf Arabs love American fast food.

I think the Australian family is mixed-race, with maybe some Aboriginal heritage but not fully so or possibly immigrants from the South Pacific islands (Maoris are New Zealanders). If they were Aborigine their skin color would be much darker.

Apr 08, 2014
Roland Parker in Food Media & News

What are you baking these days? April 2014 edition!

Just made Bakewell tart from Smitten Kitchen.

I love Bakewell tart and have had it many times in the UK but this recipe was perhaps too sweet. I will try a different tart recipe next time. Oh, don't get me wrong, we were still happy to eat this one!

Apr 05, 2014
Roland Parker in Home Cooking
1

9 People Who Will Throw A Wrench In Your Dinner Party

There's one more category I'd add to the list:

The selfish eater: the stick-thin person who happily fixes herself (it's always a woman) a *full* plate of food but only eats a quarter of it.

I'm thinking of one dear friend of mine who does this all the time and always talks about how wonderful the food but always leaves most of it uneaten on the plate.

*this differs from the person who eats like a bird in that the selfish eater fixes her own plate and should know the limits of what she's able to eat at a meal.

Apr 05, 2014
Roland Parker in Food Media & News

Eggs - What a Beautiful Thing!

Hardboiled eggs baked in a béchamel sauce is a very old recipe. You'll find it in many 19th and early 20th century cookbooks.

Given the surfeit of eggs at a time when so many people kept their own chickens, there are scores and scores of egg recipes in older cookbooks. It's quite fascinating reading through all the possibilities for preparing eggs.

Apr 04, 2014
Roland Parker in General Topics

Real US-style hash browns in London?

Waitrose sells bags of frozen "rosti" patties under its label. Rostis are the German equivalent of hash browns and they taste pretty similar. Same slightly greasy texture.

Apr 04, 2014
Roland Parker in U.K./Ireland

Study: Vegetarians Less Healthy, Lower Quality Of Life Than Meat-Eaters

A vegetarian is someone who does not eat meat. That's all the term means. It does not mean you automatically live a healthier lifestyle (thinking of all the vegetarians who smoked that I knew in college).

I've known quite a few vegetarians over the years (and came pretty close to being one myself) and there's enormous variations in the vegetarian diet. I remember going to a Thanksgiving dinner at a college friend's house and her much older sister, who'd been a vegetarian for over twenty years, came with her vegetarian husband. Not fond of turkey, I was looking forward to their vegetarian main dish, which turned out to be a baked spinach pasta dish that had so much cheese that one might as well have called it baked cheese instead. The hostess/mother glanced at me and saw my expression and wryly said, "they're not really vegetarians. They're pastafarians." As you would expect the daughter and her husband were quite heavy people in contrast to the rest of the family.

Apr 03, 2014
Roland Parker in Food Media & News

Breakfast and Early AM Pastry in London

I like Gail's bakery. Wonderful breakfast pastries including fabulous cinnamon rolls (very Swedish, not like what you might find in the US). The Gail's locations I've been to are in Bloomsbury and Clerkenwell and the Bloomsbury location is very close to the British Museum, just off the lovely Bedford Square.

If you're staying "south" of Central London, does that mean south of the river?

Two other good local bakeries are Konditor & Cook and Euphorium. They have several locations across the city.

This will probably be quite off the beaten path for you but have you considered trying Ottolenghi? Their main restaurant is in Islington and they do breakfast pastries as well. I think they have a small place in Kensington too.

Apr 02, 2014
Roland Parker in U.K./Ireland

Recipe ideas for picky husband?

I agree.

As the family cook I do compromise a bit as there are a few things my husband and boys don't care for so I don't go out of my way to make them often. But their dislikes are nowhere nearly as demanding and restrictive as the OP's husband. If I were the OP, I'd be saying, "darling, I love you very much but here's a cookbook. Learn to cook your own meals if you won't eat mine." He really is taking all the fun out of cooking by being so restrictive.

Mar 31, 2014
Roland Parker in Home Cooking
2

Childhood memories

We didn't eat out at a wide range of places as a child, but the one restaurant from the past that I do remember very well is the old Morgan Millards in Roland Park. Friday night dinner there was routine for years. I was sad when they closed although the replacement, Petit Louis Bistro, is hardly a bad replacement.

My mother, by the way, still remembers the original Morgan Millards lunch counter.

We also had lunches at the Cross Keys deli.

Swallow at the Hollow on York Road and Northern Parkway is another old north Baltimore staple. It's still there but I haven't been there in ages. I also remember the original Alonzos.

I do remember going to the old Chesapeake Restaurant with my grandparents. And Marconi's. Those two places really belonged to a different generation that appreciated the formality of dining out.

There was a well known crab house by the Inner Harbor. I vaguely remember eating there a few times. It was pretty much a white shanty and was torn down for the construction of, I think, a hotel. Anyone remember what it might have been?

Mar 30, 2014
Roland Parker in Washington DC & Baltimore

Baking Cakes & Bread In the Crock Pot. Have You Tried It?

Your recipe looks like it's more complicated and requires more work than baking cakes in the oven. And it also requires more time.

Mixing the batter is simple enough. Buttering/flouring the pans is simple enough. If it's layer cakes, 20 minutes in the oven is usually sufficient. If it's a bundt/pound cake, then a hour is usually sufficient.

But I get your point about not wanting to heat the oven on a hot day, so thank goodness I have central air conditioning.

Mar 29, 2014
Roland Parker in Home Cooking

What is the worst wedding reception dinner you've ever had?

Sounds like someone with an agenda (first post!). Or a little clueless....you aren't supposed to eat lemongrass, I think. I'm guessing there's more to the story than we're being told (the aunt and uncle being seated so far from the rest of the family and being treated like "garbage.")

Mar 29, 2014
Roland Parker in Not About Food

Addressing people by gender at a restaurant

In Dubai, many of the Filipino service workers have resorted to addressing everyone as Maamsir.

It causes no end of amusement.

Mar 26, 2014
Roland Parker in Not About Food
2

Which cuisines don't use garlic?

And even up through the 60s-70s garlic was still considered pretty exotic in many if not most American households. I think it was the 80s when garlic started being embraced on a large scale.

Mar 18, 2014
Roland Parker in General Topics

Which cuisines don't use garlic?

Everything my grandmothers cooked. Traditional American food with its roots in British and German cooking.

As a child my mother only used garlic in her homemade tomato sauce, which called for *1* garlic clove. Since she made the sauce maybe four times a year, the rest of the clove would molder in the fridge till it turned into a soft brown mess and was thrown away.

It wasn't until I was 14-15 when we started including more garlic in other dishes.

Mar 18, 2014
Roland Parker in General Topics

Indian Restaurants: UK vs. US

I've spent a fair amount of time in Britain and I've found that British Indian tends to be sweeter (thanks to the infamous brit balti dishes) whereas American Indian tends to be milder, although both British and American Indian are still milder than the typical Indian food in India.

In Dubai where I now live, there are "British Indian" restaurants that are hugely popular with the British expat community. The food from there is definitely sweeter than what I've found in American Indian restaurants and much, much sweeter than anything in India (save the cloyingly sweet Indian desserts) or the bulk of the Dubai Indian restaurants catering to the Indian expatriate community.

Mar 16, 2014
Roland Parker in General Topics
2

Smoking Laws in Europe, So. America and Canada?

Austria still allows smoking indoors in restaurants, bars and cafes, but many places have elected to go smoke free. So it varies.

East of Austria (Hungary, Romania, Poland and the other countries between the EU and Russia) are more likely than not to allow smoking. The further east you go, the more smoking is regarded as a fundamental human right and essential to life.

UK has very strict anti-smoking laws.

The Middle East is primarily pro-smoking. Where I live in the UAE, smoking is banned in restaurants but not bars, although a few bars have banned smoking. Pretty much all outdoor seating areas are treated as smoking areas. But the Mediterranean Middle East is very pro smoking, especially Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

I have to say that although I'm not a smoker and I dislike the smell of smoke, I've been in upmarket bars that have excellent ventilation systems and rarely ever noticed the smoke.

Mar 14, 2014
Roland Parker in Not About Food

"Sundays are the Worst"

The blog/link was specifically about people having their post-church meal at the server's restaurant and how their behavior is in contraction to Christian teaching.

I have to admit I was wondering how she knew that all these people were just out of church. The Sunday brunch was pretty popular where I grew up and it had nothing to do with whether you attended church or not, actually, the brunch crowd was less likely to be churchgoers given that most churchgoers are in church on Sunday mornings.

A lot of brunch places are buffets, which does complicate the tipping issue. I can see why many people won't feel the need to tip 15 or 20% of the meal value if they only see the server bringing them drinks, not the meal itself. Brunches are also popular with families and large mixed groups, who can be more demanding.

Mar 14, 2014
Roland Parker in Not About Food

Lexington Market redevelopment survey

Apparently there's plans to redevelop Lexington Market. I'm aware of the varying opinions that have been expressed on here about Lexington Market but the one thing I'm sure we all can agree to is that it's woefully underutilized.

The city agency that runs Lexington Market has created an online survey, soliciting feedback from the public about perceptions of the market and what they'd like to see change. I'm not sure if we're allowed to post a link to a survey but here it is, if you're interested in participating:

http://technical.ly/baltimore/2014/03...

Apologies in advance If I wasn't allowed to post the link to the survey and it's removed by the moderators, and in that case you can easily find it by googling.

But what would you like to see change at Lexington? Would you like to see it become another Reading Terminal Market or something different? What would be your ideal Lexington Market?

Mar 09, 2014
Roland Parker in Washington DC & Baltimore

If I could only keep the cookbooks of one author/chef/cook that author would be:

I have to vote for Ina Garten too.

She's not my favorite cook and I have scores of wonderful cookbooks by other cooks I prefer, but if I had to pick only one author and her cookbooks, it would have to be she. Not only do her cookbooks offer an excellent range of dishes that I could eat every day, the recipes are so perfectly tested and the results are excellent and there's enough variations to keep me satisfied and interested. In short, I could only cook from Ina Garten and never get bored of either the food or recipes.

Mar 09, 2014
Roland Parker in Home Cooking

Are there such things as greengrocers, butcher shops and fish shops in the States?

You don't have to go to a butcher's or a fishmonger's to get the best meat or seafood. While America has all the usual supermarket chains, there are excellent boutique and upscale supermarkets that will have a first rate butcher's counter or fish counter. That's where people are more likely to get their prime meat and seafood, rather than in specialist shops.

Mar 04, 2014
Roland Parker in General Topics
2

What are you baking these days? March 2014 edition! [through March 31, 2014]

I came across quince in my local supermarket, which is very unusual, especially given that we live in Dubai. They were imported from Turkey.

I grabbed a bunch without thinking what I'd make with them but later remembered that I'd had a wonderful quince tarte tatin in France once.

But when I got home I realized I didn't have the proper pans for making a tarte tatin and my beloved cast iron pans are still in storage back in the US. So I followed David Lebovitz's recipe for poaching quince in a sugar syrup, and pre baked a tart shell. I layered the poached quince in the tart, took about two cups of the syrup and boiled it down to about 3/4 cup and swirled in a stick of butter, which helped thicken the syrup, poured it over the quinces and baked the tart in the oven for another half hour.

We served it with dollops of creme fraiche.

Wonderful. And ever so lovely to look at as poached quince turns a glorious orange-pink color.

Mar 03, 2014
Roland Parker in Home Cooking
2

What are you baking these days? March 2014 edition! [through March 31, 2014]

Sour cherries!

I love sour cherry pies. My father is from a part of Pennsylvania that is lousy with orchards, including sour cherries, so the pies were always on our summer menus as a child.

We live overseas and when we return to the US, for our first meal home my mother always makes her fried chicken and pulls out a sour cherry pie from the freezer. Good minds think alike :)

Mar 03, 2014
Roland Parker in Home Cooking
1

Leftover Pie Dough

My grandmother would roll out the dough and spread jam over it, and roll it up like a jelly roll, slice and bake as if they were cookies.

Because pie dough doesn't roll up easily the "roll" was folded over and over again and the resulting cookies had more of a biscotti shape.

I don't ever recalled being wowed by them. The jam would melt out and burn slightly, giving the cookies a burnt flavor. My father, however, loved them dunked in milk.

Mar 02, 2014
Roland Parker in Home Cooking

Catering to relatives who don't want "exotic" food

Family is family.

If the grandparents are important figures and you otherwise have a great relationship with them, then don't let food turn into a dividing point. We all have to make compromises when it comes to family and I do remember as a child being told that we weren't going to X restaurant or having Y for dinner because the grandparents or aunts/uncles were going to be with us. I was never disappointed or upset because I always understood it was more important for all of us to be together than the menu.

As for your son, perhaps you could take him and his friends to his preferred restaurant for a birthday lunch, and then go with the grandparents to a more traditional restaurant. Actually, based on my experiences with my sons, as long as he has his favorite birthday cake or dessert, I don't think he'll be too disappointed wherever you go out to dinner.

Mar 01, 2014
Roland Parker in Not About Food

LA Times: What's the right way to tax sugary drinks?

I never claimed too much sugar wasn't bad for you.

But obesity is a consequence of a much larger problem. Sugar is just one small component of it. Focusing solely on sugar is too easy and conveniently ignores things like too much carbohydrates, too much salt, too much food in general and sedentary lifestyles.

People who are very physically active can still consume large quantities of sugar and still not be overweight or unhealthy.

Feb 27, 2014
Roland Parker in Food Media & News
1

LA Times: What's the right way to tax sugary drinks?

You may want to consider this.

The average British today consumes fewer calories than the average British did in the 1970s.

But the average British today is heavier than his 1970s equivalent.

Why? Because the average British today is much more sedentary than the 1970s equivalent. More people own cars and drive instead of walking.

You could impose a supertax on sugary drinks, which would probably reduce the consumption of sugary drinks. But will it have any impact on the overall consumption levels for all food products? Will the calorie intakes actually go down due to a higher tax on sugary drinks or sugary products?

It's fashionable to lay the blame for obesity on high fructose corn syrup, but we're ignoring that people simply consume far more food than they did in the past. Food portions are bigger, both at home and in restaurants. People consume lots of unsweetened junk food - pizza comes to mind and pizza is very high in calories. Pasta is another great example. People eat a lot more pasta today than 30 years ago.

There's two ways to reduce food consumption: education and a broad tax on all foodstuff. With food costing much more, people will naturally reduce their consumption of food.

Feb 27, 2014
Roland Parker in Food Media & News

Gross Food From the 1950s

Chipped beef in a cream sauce served on toast was popular for quite some time, even before the 1950s. It was a common dish served in the US army during WWII and probably carried over from that, although it goes back well before the fifties.

Dishes like Chicken a la King were popular means for using up leftover roast chicken and were served on rice or toast. Sherried cream sauces were also popular. What you would find with fifties cooking is that in addition to the main meals people were practical in using up leftovers for subsequent meals, hence the stews, soups and dishes like chipped beef or chicken a la king. Some of the extremities in fifties cooking (and which contributed to the perpetuating stereotypes of bad cooking) actually stemmed from an attempt at being frugal by combining what would be commonly found leftovers into a casserole dish.

Feb 27, 2014
Roland Parker in General Topics