My son, Nathan Taxel, enjoys cooking and eating as much as I do. After living in various places around the country, he’s come back and settled in his hometown and I’ve invited him to post here about his Cleveland ethnic eating and shopping adventures whenever the spirit moves him. This his first contribution:
As a foodie, who grew up in a house of foodies, I am excited and turned on by trying new things. But as it turns out, after 24 years of eating there isn’t a whole lot of typical or “normal” foods left to try. In order to experience the rush of an unknown ingredient or combination I am forced into a realm of things that might well find themselves on some TV show about “bizarre” foods. However I find the Travel Channel’s Bizzare Foods with Andrew Zimmern to be somewhat offensive. What gives us the right to call the foods of other cultures “bizarre” just because they are not something we eat here? I’m sure some traditional North American dishes would seem just as weird to someone from the other side of the world. I enter into the world of unkown mouthfulls in a spirit of adventure rather than as some kind of side show freak looking to shock an audience.
My latest foray into the unknown came recently at a non-descript little Chinese restaurant called Wonton Gourmet and BBQ at East 32nd and Payne Ave – a true diamond in the rough. It is one of the most authentic Chinese restaurants in the area. On my last visit I had their cold jellyfish salad. I ordered it having no idea what to expect and was thrilled with the outcome. It looked like a plate of rice noodles with sesame seeds, flecked with bright green herbs. The taste was sweet and tangy with just the mildest hint of the ocean. The only indication that I was not just eating noodles came from the slight chewyness of the jellyfish. It is a light summery appetizer that I will definitely be eating again.
Just as an athlete looks to push their limits and get to the next level, I am always looking for something new to try. I don’t eat for the challenge or the glory, just the hope of a great new taste.