i love to eat. not really like just eat (although i do partake of emotional eating :/) but i wholeheartedly enjoy food. i love to cook most nights, unless i have a really bad day. and i'm guilty of spending money on shitty food but i do love food. like, okay, i'll spend $10 on the 'steak' at outback, but i know that's not really steak. i go to outback to get the salad and a sweet potato and sidney's sinful sundae. outback 'steak' is a means to an end. i will go to chili's and eat the fuck out of quesadillas and black beans and rice, but i know it's not mexican really. it's like sort of tex-mex-inspired.
not that i'm the best cook in the world. or some kind of food connoisseur, but i know what i like. and if i can't find it, i try to make it. like colombian empanadas. we used to get these killer empanadas when we lived in new york. there was a shitty colombian restaurant that served lunch for $5 that was a plate of beans, rice, and chicken - enough to fill awesome husband for the day. and they had these empanadas that he used to buy and bring home for me. delicious. but they don't have empanadas like that here in the FLA. i guess there's too much of a cuban influence in florida? maybe. but i had to take matters into my own hands and MAKE my own recipe by searching online, remembering what i ate, and trial/error. and it took some time, but i finally got a decent colombian-inspired empanada that i'm super happy with.
and my arroz con pollo... that was harder. back in the days that i worked at boston market, i worked with a bunch of puerto rican guys and gals who taught me some super rudimentary spanish and shared some good food with me. i remember one day, one of the girls took some pulled chicken in a bowl, and topped it with the rice pilaf and marinara sauce that we had. i was like, really? that's an interesting combination. (mind you, at this point the closest i'd gotten to any latin food was taco bell.) she told me it was kind of like a quick arroz con pollo, and my interest was piqued. yummy chicken? starchy rice? red sauce? i love these things: tell me more! she did one better: she brought in her mom's arroz con pollo one day, and i was smitten.
i was also a kid and not paying attention. life went on, and ten years later i realized i had never had arroz con pollo like that. so i set off to create my own version. the problems mounted quickly: i am not spanish, puerto rican, colombian, mexican, or any other latinish that would make someone in my family have a great hand me down recipe for arroz con pollo (or even rice and beans.. grr). we have things like 'stay in bed stew' that my drunk irish great aunt concocted, and boiled meats and potatoes, since we're mostly irish. so i set off to the interwebs. i found lots of recipes, none of which were right. so i tried, and tried, and tried again.
and finally i was able to figure out something close to what i was fed all those years ago. is it authentic? i would say 'no fucking way'. are my empanadas authentic? probably not. but they remind me of these delicous things i was fed all those years ago that make my mouth water and my tummy happy. and i really think that ultimately, that's what matters. now if only i could master souvlaki. no matter what recipe i've tried, or what combination i've come up with, it's never as good as from a decent greek place. i'm going to try avgolemono soup next. i am determined but not confident that i will be successful. but at least i'll always have my empanadas and arroz con pollo. and real steak from pace's when i visit new york.