Very bad, very sad news coming out of Thailand this week. So it seemed like just the right time to post something positive related to this country. And with the sun actually shining on a weekend, I’m thinking about cooking outside. That leads me to a happy thought- I have some Thai sausage from Mister Brisket in my freezer. They make it themselves and it’s really wonderful done on the grill.
Curious about the why and what, I called Sanford Herskovitz, the real Mr. B, to get the story of how the sausages ended up on his product list, the only Asian inspired meat in the mix . He told me that he first tasted them a Z’s, the innovative restaurant Zack Bruell opened back in the ’80’s. And Herskovitz ate many more in Bangkok on a trip to the southeast Asian nation he made with his wife Frances. Intrigued with their unqiue flavor, he decided to recreate them for his Cleveland Heights store.
His version is made with ground veal, soy sauce, cilantro, a lot of garlic and hint of sweetness from brown sugar. At just $5.99 a pound, these links are a bargain. I like mine with jasmine rice and stir fried vegetables or soba (buckwheat) noodles tossed with scallions, sesame seeds and peanut sauce. Sanford says they’re good on a bun with honey mustard. I’m definitely going to have to put that on my To Try list.
The geo-political world is all about borders and boundaries. It’s always a question of what belongs to whom, where territory begins and ends, and which group holds the power over it.
The food world is different. It is a natural, living and generally friendly forum for exchange, integration, blending, melding and mingling. That’s what I love about it. And the result of all this culinary camaraderie is usually something good to eat.
I had a hands-on encounter with that just the other day at the West Side Market. Arriving hungry, I headed to Maha’s for a falafel. This Middle Eastern staple, made from ground and seasoned chickpeas that are formed into patties and fried, are served in a pita bread pouch stuffed with fresh and pickled vegetables. And sauce. Sauce is key. There’s a sesame based tahini version, or the red stuff that adds heat to the mix. The young woman behind the counter always asks if you want mild or hot when you place your order. Those that go for some burn get a liberal squeeze of Rooster sauce, so-called because the bird is the brand’s logo. The Thai equivalent of ketchup, its proper name is sricacha and the intense red juice is made from chile paste and vinegar. The marriage of Middle Eastern and Thai seems like a truly American mix and makes for a really tasty sandwich.
What other tasty cross-cultural dishes are worth a shout-out?