Cheap Eats: An Introduction

My mother always told me that, when I die, my tombstone should read, "You've gotta try this." Indeed, I have spent a great deal of my life shoving books, forks, flowers, radios toward friends and family, declaring, "You've gotta read this," "You've gotta taste this," "You've gotta smell, hear, feel, try..." If I like something, I want to share it. Writing gives me an opportunity to share with even more people what I've done and seen—and tasted.

I've done and seen quite a bit. My father was with the airlines, so I grew up flying, and I have carried the love of travel into adulthood. Our family also loved to cook, and eat. Trying local delicacies was always a big part of the travel experience, and we brought recipes and food ideas back from wherever we went. This is another tradition that I have carried with me throughout my life.

Food and food history fascinate me for a lot of reasons. Sharing food is an easy way of connecting with a culture, a way of experiencing things on a different level than just looking. But food is more than that, it is tied up with our humanity, since we all eat, and with the world's history, since we all want to eat well (the Gauls, when they were holding Rome for ransom, included 3000 pounds of black pepper among their demands).

These days, we are learning more about what food can do for us from the standpoint of health, as well as pleasure. Of course, some of this knowledge is simply being rediscovered, as scientists look to the legends to find out what is true and what is merely wishful thinking. This connection between food and wellness is another area of serious interest for me. Happily, it has been discovered that variety is one of the keys to healthful eating — the spice of life, indeed!

I could imagine nowhere better than Mensa to share what I have learned of food as it relates to history, travel, language, and healing, and so was born the column, Cheap Eats.

The recipes in Cheap Eats have been adapted for American kitchens, and guidelines have been added for people unfamiliar with certain foods or ingredients. Otherwise, the tastes are as close as possible to what I have experienced during my long culinary odyssey. I freely admit that I have not visited every country represented by a recipe in the column, but friends, restaurants, and a small amount of formal training have contributed considerably to my culinary experience, even in cuisines that I have not experienced in situ. There is a lot of delicious food out there, and this is just my way of saying, You've gotta try this. I hope you enjoy the stories and recipes in Cheap Eats. Bon appétit!

NOTE: All the terms and measures employed in Cheap Eats are standard American. For those of you who might be accessing Cheap Eats from places where these terms and measures are not used, some explanations and conversions are available here.

ChiMe Issue
Anzac Biscuits Australia 08-2000
Meshgengouz Gargantag
(Armenian Nutmeg Cake)
Armenia 02-2005
Carrot Pudding India 03-2001
Chocolate Almond Torte America 04-2001
Truffes au chocolat
(Chocolate Truffles)
France 11-2003
English Summer Pudding England 08-2006
Malaysian Baked Bananas Malaysia 07-2004
Shalada Bortukal
(Orange Salad)
Morocco 09-2006
Pavlova Australia 09-2007
Pineapple Cake America 04-2001
(Pistachio Cookies)
Jordan 09-2008
Pumpkin Chiffon Pie America 11-2001
Sheilah’s Pumpkin Empanadas America 12-2006
Quebec Sugar Pie Canada 04-2004
Swedish Almond Toast Sweden 07-2003
Swedish Almond Toast (2008) Sweden 02-2008
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