Thursday, April 06, 2006

European Food Roundup

A few thoughts on my European food experiences. I think food may be my favorite part about travel. Except when a duck confit forces you to replace Picasso Museum with Day on Toilet. Anyhoo:

Positive Spanish and French Food Discoveries:

1. Principes - two Maria-esque wafer cookies with chocolate fudge in between. The doublestuff version is also quite nice.
2. The "Menu" concept: A starter, main course, dessert, and wine for a set price at lunch. More satisfying than a combo meal, plus the included jug of wine makes the menu (pronounced Men-oo) superawesome.
3. Bread with stuff and melted cheese on top, often involving ham. This popped up in Catalonia and France with great frequency and with much appreciation.
4. Large size sugar packets: Essentially a double-the-size-than-American sugar packet, perfect for sweetening a strong cup of coffee without the guilt of having put in more than one packet in your drink and feeling like a wuss.
5. Nescafe - quite good with soy milk! Who knew?
6. Unsliced Bread - Whether it's "Pan" or "Pain" it's mmm mmm yummy. Atkins is a dick.
7. Cheap Wine. A bottle for under 10 bucks at a restaurant, and a box of wine (Don Tinto) in for 1 euro. Thank you, Spain.
8. "Chuches"[corrected] - This was a Mark fave, essentially pick n mix candies available at most corner stores and select "frutas secas" shops. (Fruta seca, also means gay man in danger of chafing.) They give you tongs and a debatably sanitary plate to select your deliciousness. I particularly liked the wacy, red long ropes filled with something white in it.
9. The chocolate and banana crepe.
10. Creme Catalan - suspiciously similar to Creme Brulee, and equally delicious.
11. Digestifs - a solid ending to a meal.
12. Good street food - such as paninis, baguette sandwiches, and the aforementioned chocolate and banana crepe.
13. Shweppes Naranja and Fanta - Bring it to the states Schweppes! And why is the Fanta better outside of the US?
14. Spanish Olives - Oh my fucking God I fell in love with olives again for the first time.

Spanish and French Food Disappointments

1. Gambas. aka shrimp. Be advised that if you order "Gambas" as your main course in a Spanish restaurant, you may receive a plate of shrimp. And nothing else. Shrimp are nowhere nearly as delicious when you have to remove the entire exoskeleton, including head and feelers, yourself. Especially when you have no idea how exactly to best remove a shrimp exoskeletion (like me.) The 1 minute effort for what is essentially one bite of food, not to mention the carcass pile you have to heap on your plate, makes this main course, 14 Euro entree, a terrible terrible start to an evening.
2. Vegetarian "sushi" and dumpling variety plate at a Madrid vegetarian restaurant: grains and a dash of vegetables made to look like various meat dumplings never quite reaches the same level of taste as a real meat dumpling. I hate having the worst plate.
3. "Martinis" at the top of Centre Pompidou. And, perhaps, cocktails in general in Europe - The most revolting martini I have ever had. I'm not sure what was in it, but I don't think it was vodka or dry vermouth. I had to drink it all, too, because it cost 15 Euros. And the waiter was a total dick. Stick to beer, wine, or alcohol with a single easily identifiable mixer.
4. French size portions at a Chinese Restaurant - Seriously, I could have fit all of the fried rice they gave us in one hand.
5. European Trident - It turns to paste after a minute if you have an acidic mouth.
6. Dry Vanilla "cake" with sour cream - I would hope even the French would agree that this is gross. Cake is not Europe's strong suit. Stick to things with flakey crusts.

I'm hungry now.


Blogger Pedro said...

Quick comments:

-Atkins is dead R.I.P.
-Is "chuche" (from "chuchería"). Ask the chuche addict you have at home, I´m sure he understands ;-)
-Olives... yeah, all the "guiris" I know have had the same problem: Allison, Collin, Claudia, Peter... What kind of shitty olives do you have there?
-"Gambas", next time try "gambas al ajillo", ready to eat

2:49 AM  
Blogger Enrique Urueta said...

Speaking of chocolate and banana crepes, if you're ever out late on a Friday or Saturday night in SOMA (cuz I know I've seen you leaving The Eagle...don't deny it!), there's this crepe trailer (yes, trailer) on 11th between Folsom and Harrison. Nutella and banana crepes after a night of drinking yourself retarded makes the world a better place.

2:01 PM  
Blogger pnachtrieb said...

Awesome! I will have to check out the crepe trailes for the nutella and banana crepe. Of course, in the 70's, a nutella and banana crepe in SOMA was a whole different thing entirely.

11:08 AM  

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