Continental Drift

2008.Oct.30 Thursday · 3 comments

in Casa SaltShaker, Food & Recipes

“Under the… new hypothesis [of Continental Drift] certain geological concepts come to acquire a new significance amounting in a few cases to a complete inversion of principles, and the inquirer will find it necessary to re-orient his ideas. For the first time he will get glimpses… of a pulsating restless earth, all parts of which are in greater or less degree of movement in respect to the axis of rotation, having been so, moreover, throughout geological time. He will have to leave behind him—perhaps reluctantly—the dumbfounding spectacle of the present continental masses, firmly anchored to a plastic foundation yet remaining fixed in space; set thousands of kilometres apart, it may be, yet behaving in almost identical fashion from epoch to epoch and stage to stage like soldiers, at drill; widely stretched in some quarters at various times and astoundingly compressed in others, yet retaining their general shapes, positions and orientations; remote from one another through history, yet showing in their fossil remains common or allied forms of terrestrial life; possessed during certain epochs of climates that may have ranged from glacial to torrid or pluvial to arid, though contrary to meteorological principles when their existing geographical positions are considered -to mention but a few such paradoxes!”

– Alexander Logie Du Toit, Our Wandering Continents: An Hypothesis of Continental Drifting

Buenos Aires – With United Nations Day upon us, the simplest approach to a Casa SaltShaker dinner was to offer up one dish from each of the five continents. Now, yes, I know there are more than five – but we’ll start by eliminating any conversations about the Arctic or Antarctic as not having any particularly appealing cuisine for me to undertake preparing, and then Africa because, well, because I had to eliminate one more. In terms of various other versions of what constitute the official continents, I’m sticking with the five I learned growing up many decades ago, and I’m not budging. As to the dishes, I decided to pick from past favorites – with one exception, which I’ll focus on.

We began here in South America with a causa de atún from Peru. Regular readers have seen this one pulled out of the hat many a time, it’s a delicious yet simple dish to prepare and tends to be a crowd pleaser. From there, we moved to North America, and my twist on a classic creamy tomato soup, which some might recall involved a tad of gin…

Spaghetti with chicory, pistachios, and bottarga
Here’s the one that doesn’t come from a past menu, but in a way, from my recent NYC trip. I was out wandering trying to lose a few calories after our Katz’s deli adventure and there we were, stuffed to the gills, and staring at DiPalo’s, which any true Italophile foodie from Manhattan knows is THE place to buy quality special Italian ingredients. One of my favorite little gems is bottarga, sometimes referred to as Sicilian caviar. It’s the roe of, generally, a mullet, salted, dried, and pressed, then, these days, vacuum-packed and kept in the refrigerator where it will pretty much last until the continents drift back together. It’s really a special flavor and something worth seeking out. So this dish is a quite simple one – fresh, homemade spaghetti using an egg yolk based pasta dough, tossed with sauteed chicory leaves and pistachios, seasoned with just a little salt and pepper, and then bottarga grated over the top. Really, when it comes to pasta, it’s one of those hard-to-beat combinations.

From there, we headed to Asia, in particular Pakistan, and shahi chicken, which is a dish that ended with almost everyone who attended the trio of dinners asking for the recipe. And, finally off to Australia and my version of inside-out lamingtons.

Now, hmm… I picked up half a kilo of bottarga while I was in Manhattan… I’ve now used… oh, about 2 ounces, if that… where do we go from here? Look for more upcoming fun!


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Wembley October 31, 2008 at 18:25

Sorry – N America and S America – separate continents??? And where’s Africa gone?

A European

dan October 31, 2008 at 18:57

North and South America are on completely different tectonic plates, so yes, separate continents. Africa, as noted, I eliminated simply because I had to eliminate one more… and we have an African dinner coming up very soon… it was more or less a random choice – but, I probably should have ignored Europe, after all – cuisine???!

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