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
Fabada Asturiana
(Asturian Bean and Meat Stew)
Spain 01-2004
(Beef and Onion with Rice)
Japan 06-2006
Boeuf et Crevettes avec des Epinards
(Beef and Shrimp with Spinach)
West Africa 07-1999
Bulgarian Kebap Bulgaria 02-1998
Carne Picada South America 04-1997
Curry Caramel Bacon Cynthia's Own 07-2008
Vlaams Rundvlees en Bier Casserole
(Flemish Beef and Beer Casserole)
Belgium 02-2002
Steak au Poivre
(French Pepper Steak)
France 04-2006
(Ground Meat and Custard Casserole)
South Africa 08-2003
(Guinean Stew)
West Africa 04-1996
Gumbo Z’Herbes America - New Orleans 10-2008
Pozole Rojo
(Hominy and Pork Soup)
Mexico 09-2018
Agnello Arrosto
(Italian-style Roast Leg of Lamb)
Italy 12-2004
(Korean Beef)
Korea 02-2000
Khoresh Karafs
(Lamb and Celery Stew)
Iran 04-1999
Avya Yahnisi
(Lamb and Quince Stew)
Turkey 12-2001
Afghan Pelau
(Lamb and Rice)
Afghanistan 05-2002
(Mongolian Fried Meat-Filled Pastries)
Mongolia 09-2002
Nigerian Pepper Soup Nigeria 02-1999
Noodles with Pork Sauce China 07-1997
Cabrito Asado
(Oven-Roasted Young Goat)
Mexico 02-2004
(Plantain Stew)
East Africa 11-2000
(Polish Barley Vegetable Soup with Mushrooms)
Poland 01-2005
Pork Adobo Philippines 03-1998
Spaghetti alla Carbonara Italy 12-1997
Larb Nua
(Spicy Thai Beef Salad/Appetizer)
Thailand 10-2005
Seekumche Kuk
(Spinach with Pork)
Korea 09-1998
Tibetan Lamb Stew Tibet 12-2000
Warm Beef and Watercress Salad Vietnam 05-2000
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