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
Arab Mint Tea Arabia/North Africa 01-2006
Benne Wafers America 05-2006
(Bulgarian Cucumber and Yogurt Soup with Walnuts)
Bulgaria 07-2005
Bulgur Pilavi Turkey 08-2004
Cheese Soufflé Europe 04-1998
Chinese Steamed Eggs China 10-2001
Cha Yeh Tan
(Chinese Tea Eggs)
China 12-2007
Café Brulot International 03-2002
Coffee Liqueur International 03-2002
Curry Paste Cambodian 05-2004
Huevos en Chile Verde
(Eggs in Green Chili Sauce)
Mexico 09-1999
(Eggs in Green Chili Sauce)
India 06-1997
Ajo Blanco con Uvas
(Garlic and Almond Soup with Grapes)
Spain 07-2000
Khing Chuam
(Ginger Syrup)
Thailand 06-2002
Hot Buttered Rum New England/America 02-2007
(Hungarian Sour Cherry Soup)
Hungary 05-2005
Hindi Chai
(Indian Spiced Tea)
India 10-2003
(Mango Chutney)
India 06-2004
Mayonnaise France 03-2003
(Mediterranean Egg Dish)
Mediterranean 07-2002
Mulled Wine America 03-2005
Ethiopia 09-1997
Pasta Puttanesca Italy 11-2006
(Pepper Sauce)
Ethiopia 09-1997
Pesto alla Genovese Italy 11-2008
Preserved Lemons Morocco 09-2000
Salsa Fresca Aspic Cynthia's Own 04-2008
Scottish Oatcakes Scotland 09-2003
Spiced Pecans America 11-2004
Stilton Panna Cotta   05-2009
Datiles con Tocino
(Stuffed Dates in Bacon)
Spain 08-2005
(Swedish Rye Bread)
Sweden 12-2005
Swiss Cheese Fondue Switzerland 11-1999
Thai Ginger Soda Thailand 06-2002
Welsh Eggs England 10-2007
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