Melissa of The Traveller's Lunchbox has written in her latest post about a not -quite-meme, to make a list of things to eat before you die and the fuzzy brain started ticking immediately. It turned out to be a tough choice because there are so many, many foods I have never tasted and would love to try. There are also things I want to eat again at least once before I faff off into the great beyond, but I went with the following which were the ones that came to mind right away.
Mussels / Tisri Masala
Mussels have always been a bit iffy for me ever since I heard they can be worse than fugu when gathered in the polluted seas along the coastline of Bombay. But I really do want to taste them at least once, even though I gave them a wide berth in France where it seemed to be a huuge favourite and a lot more trouble than it was worth, for the unappetising little bits that emerged from those big black shells. The ceremony of serving it with a flourish in big enamel pans made the diner feel like a king I am sure. The local tisri masala looks a lot tastier. I think I'd like it cooked in a coconut milk gravy with a hint of green chilli and sea salt.
"Adele Pidou's Soup" as described by Marcel Rouff:
"Very complex, of lengthy preparation, it had a slightly old fashioned, Greuze-like charm; but also certain Ribera brutalities, and some unforeseen Da Vinci tenderness. Broadly speaking it was reminiscent of a sonata's development, in which each theme retains its own life and its own individual flavour within the blended power and harmony of the whole. There was one single taste, but each part of this taste kept its own personal and natural quality. The basis was of two superimposed stocks, both very strong and concentrated, the one of the large skirt of beef, and the other of the juice of several pounds of fresh vegetables, cooked in a very little water to which a suspicion of champagne had been added to give it body. To this quintessence a light mixture of mushroom and white asparagus in equal parts had been added; an alert palate could also distinguish a few cups of chicken broth in which several egg yolks with a generous dose of nutmeg had been beaten up for additional smoothness.Upon this divine and odoriferous liquid, like treasure islands, swam parboiled artichoke bottoms laden with a butter-fried stuffing in which carps roes and mushrooms were mashed up together with cream; under the smoking surface, diving into the mirror like depths, pearls heavy with beauty, were small rissoles of shrimp-tails laced in melted cheese."
One dinner at El Bulli , Girona, Spain
Just for Ferran Adria's aspirations for food and cooking and the way they describe their interpretations : " There are two main paths towards attaining harmony of products and flavours: through memory (connection with regional cooking traditions, adaptation, deconstruction, former modern recipes), or through new combinations. A culinary language is being created which is becoming more and more ordered, that on some occasions establishes a relationship with the world and language of art."
Huzarensla/ Hussar Salad the way my mother made it
A hearty combination of chopped tart apples, boiled potatoes,red beetroot, hard boiled eggs, cubed veal mixed in a delicious, freshly made mayonnaise with a good dollop of vinegar, served really chilled. On a hot day, when nothing seemed remotely edible, there was nothing like this Huzaresla to beat a child's lack of appetite.
Bater / Quail at the Moti Mahal In Delhi
The most delicate of birds, cooked tandoori style, with a delicious gravy on the side mopped up with hot fluffy fresh naan. Nobody can make this the way they did at Moti Mahal in Old Delhi.
My mouth is watering even as I write this list and it reminds me of the jolly way Gabriel Garcia Marquez describes the old uncle in "Love in the time of Cholera" . The man exclaims "Oh God let me finish this meal before I die" and carries on to do both.
For those who think this an anti-gastronomic idea let me add a new one...just think of the foods to be had in heaven.
If you were the 18h century author Sidney Smith you'd be eating pate de foie gras to the sound of trumpets!
Do add your own list of heavenly foods .