Thursday, 8 November 2012

And So We Meet Again: Dialoguing with a Side of Dinner

quenelles of chocolate mayo topped with crumbled beskuit
Especially if it hasn't been made evident from previous posts, I'd like to begin this one by stating that I am a strong believer that food offers a great (if not in fact the greatest) medium for sharing and revealing parts of one's identities and/or experiences. Whether a dish represents a particular memory, a gastronomic preference, or perhaps even a prompt to a story and further conversation, food has a place in the dialogic experience. Having said this, members of our Listening for a Change group gathered at my house for another dialogue, to which each of us contributed to our potluck-style dinner.

In preparation for this evening's dinner, I got one of the quintessential dishes of my experience in South Africa--beskuit--into the oven last night and took it out of the oven this morning. For me, this recipe truly exemplifies what it means to consistently recreate a memory and share in a cross-cultural tradition.

And so, with the beskuit already made, I arrived from work with a plan to focus on two dishes that in part define my culinary experience (and by extension, me). The first was a different take on my TAB (turkey, apple and brie) tartlet, this time around made with chicken (perhaps an unintentional homage to one of my previous residence hall food and culture programs). As seen above, onto a thawed and rolled out sheet of puff pastry were placed a layer of shredded mozzarella and Italian herb mix, a layer of sliced Granny Smith(?) apples and then a layer of cooked cubes of chicken breast. Since the chicken was already cooked, the tarlet was left in the preheated 350°F oven for about 25 minutes, or until the cheese melted and the puff pastry was fully cooked.

Meanwhile, I recreated the chocolate mayo I had discovered and love from our molecular cooking In the Kitchen Practicum. With a touch of water (enough to thin out the chocolate) added to two handfuls of melted and then slightly cooled chocolate chips prepped, I whisked this into an egg white I had begun to beat while the chocolate itself was in the microwave. This simple, fluffy and undeniably chocolatey concoction would go well with the drier beskuit that awaited its turn to shine.

With the chocolate mayo set aside, I added to the CAB tarlet rounds of brie slices and got this under the broiler for a few minutes (do keep an eye on this!). And with that, members of our dialogue group arrived. Added to the potluck experience were Annelise's baked and cheesy brown rice risotto, Crystal's "spicy (for me)" black beans and rice, Aaron's refreshing quinoa salad (with lime and cilantro) and Tali's pigs in a blanket.

Everything was unquestionably delicious and the dialogue meaningful (and I'd say to an extent, cathartic). As the evening rolled on, it would soon by time for dessert which included the chocolate mayo and beskuit, Cristina's Whit's selections (pumpkin pecan and peanut butter cookie dough) and Josh's cookies (which we all felt, for whatever reason, should be named "Milano", or something like that). All in all, this was a successful night of dialogue and dining, though the next time around, I hope everyone in the group can join us! Until then, good night and happy eating! For additional photos from this evening's meal, click here.

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