Monday, December 08, 2008

Silver Dragon, Calgary

Silver Dragon, Calgary
Originally uploaded by Suzi Edwards
Which foods do you hate?

It’s one of my questions. Whenever I’m eating with new people, I love finding out what they don’t eat.

The first answer is generally the same. “Oh, I eat most things.”

But when you probe further, there’s always something.

Raisins. Peas. Butter. Red pasta sauce. Garlic. Lamb. Tongue. I’ve heard all of these in the past three weeks.

Me? I joke that I’ll eat anything as long as it's not endangered. And okra and bananas.

I’ve been trying really hard to eat anything that’s put in front of me. Guided by Jeffrey Steingarten, the former food editor of Vogue, who, when he took the commission, started a process of culinary self-modification to train himself to eat all of the things he had previously avoided. He wrote a book about it “The Man Who Ate Everything”, which you really ought to read if you haven’t.

I’m still working on the bananas and okra. Bananas, to me, taste like they are rotting. Okra provokes a visceral response, the kind that I am lead to believe many have to oysters. In the same way that I don’t understand how someone can’t eat peas, people are stunned when I tell them I don’t eat bananas. Blank stares of amazement. As one person said recently “You’ve eaten squirrel. How can you not eat a banana?”

Of course they are right. I think it’s essential to try new things, and attempt to re-educate your palate around things that you don’t think you like. I remember being told to have the turnip cake at Hakkasan in London, by a foodie friend that I really respected. When it was served, I assumed he was playing some sort of joke on me. What on earth is this flavourless, slithery, lumpy thing? I actually gagged. Given that Hakkasan serves some of the finest dim sum in London, I’d assumed that turnip cake was not for me.

So I had a bit of shock when I tried it again and discovered that I actually liked it. Maybe it was the passage of time. Maybe I’m a slitherier kinda gal these days. Maybe I learned that Chinese food is as much about texture as flavour and love it for that. Maybe Hakkasan’s turnip cake was having a bad day. Now it’s something I would always order.

A recent yum cha foray to Silver Dragon in Calgary gave me the chance to have some more turnip cake. I think some of the people round the table might have been having the same response as I first had…but this was a pretty good example of the dish. Best of all here were the egg tarts, warm and wobbly from the oven and we managed three serves. The har gao are well worthy of investigation too, and I was intrigued to notice that you get two prawns in them here, rather than the measly London one. Less interesting were the roasted meats, but a squeaky-fresh serve of gai lan (pictured) more than made up for that.

So tell me. Which foods do you hate?

Silver Dragon is at 106 3 Avenue SE Calgary (403) 264-5326. You will definitely need a reservation for weekend yum cha.

Hakksan is at 8 Hanway Place, London, W1T 1HD. They serve the best xiao long bao I have ever eaten and the place cannot fail to make you feel like a Bond Girl.

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Anonymous John Scott said...

Meat, fish, whole bananas, whole pears, okra on occasion. And crap coffee!

12:30 AM  
Blogger Mike Czyzewski said...

i refuse to eat cantaloupe and bananas.

11:05 AM  

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