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
(African Fried Beans)
Central Africa 09-1996
African Groundnut Soup Africa 02-1997
Mousse de Aguacate
(Avocado Mousse)
Costa Rica 10-2002
Azuki Rice Japan 06-1999
Frijoles Negros con Epazote
(Black Beans with Epazote)
Mexico 09-2005
Arroz con Frijoles
(Black Beans with Rice)
Cuba 05-1996
“Caviar” d'Aubergines France 02-2001
“Caviar” Crillo Venezuela 02-2001
(Chilean Sauce)
Chile 10-1997
Chole, Saag, & Garam Masala India 03-1997
Corn and Black Bean Salad Cynthia's Own 07-2001
Porotos Granados
(Cranberry Beans)
Chile 10-1997
(Egyptian Lentils)
Egypt 05-1997
(Equadorian Stuffed Potato Patties)
Equador 12-1998
Kraut Salat
(German Cabbage Salad)
Austria 10-2006
Plat National
(Haitian Beans and Rice)
Haiti 05-2003
Hopping John America 01-2002
Humita Mendocina Argentina 07-1996
(Indian Lentils)
India 06-1996
Brotchán Foltchep
(Irish Leek and Oatmeal Soup)
Ireland 06-2008
(Lentils Cooked with Spice)
India 05-2001
Mexican Corn Stew Mexico 05-1998
(Mexican Corn on the Cob)
Mexico 06-2005
Borsch Muskovskaia
(Moscow-style beet soup)
Russia 03-2004
Tagen Bamya
(Okra Casserole)
Egypt 08-2008
Pease Porridge England 01-2003
Papas Arequipeña
(Peruvian Spicy Cheesy Potatoes)
Peru 10-1996
Rajas con Crema
(Poblano Chiles in Cream)
Mexico 09-2004
Pumpkin Stew with Chilies and Cheese Peru 10-1998
Risi e Bisi
(Rice and Peas)
Italy 02-2009
Sauerkraut Soup Austria-Hungary 12-2008
Spicy Bean Curd China 10-2000
(Spicy Millet and Chickpea Pancakes)
India 10-2004
Spinach Casserole Cynthia's Own 03-2008
(Stuffed Grape Leaves)
Greece 12-1999
Salade de Patates Douces
(Sweet Potato Salad)
Chad 10-1999
Yum Med Mamuang
(Thai Cashew Salad)
Thailand 05-2007
Shalada bil Matesha Basila w'l'Hamad m'Rakad
(Tomato, Onion, and Preserved Lemon Salad)
Morocco 08-2001
Tortilla Española Spain 08-1998
Vietnamese Steamed Tofu Vietnam 01-1998
Yellow Coconut Rice Tanzania 06-2007
Zupa Grochówka
(Yellow Pea Soup)
Poland 03-2009
Cebollas Encuridas
(Yucatecan Pickled Onions)
Mexico 04-2007
Home Join Contact Members