At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016


When I first came back to the States after spending my entire youth in Holland (we had moved there when I was still a baby), American food baffled and repulsed me. The fries were limp and greasy, the beer was damn-near piss, the cheese that locals ate was nasty-tasting industrial extrudite, bread was quite utterly unmentionable, and other than McIlhenny's Tabasco there was no hot sauce. No herring, stale weak coffee, and luncheon meats beyond the limit of human endurance.
Oh, and what Americans used for mustard was a crime against humanity.
Please imagine the horror of landing in that environment.
A gustatory and social waste land.

Since those first ghastly weeks I have learned how to cope.

There is no hope for herring here, and most domestic luncheon meat is inedible. Good coffee is available where ever you find a Peet's or transplanted San Franciscans nowadays.

Some people actually make good fries. Sam's on Broadway in North Beach usually does an excellent job.

There are craft beers now, and even back then Anchor Steam was a shaft of gold when all around was dark. But you don't need beer to survive, and as Americans drink past the point of idiocy, it is best to avoid beer halls.

Good cheese could be found, but you had to search. The Cheese Board in Berkeley was a resource, since then many more California cheeses have been produced by real human beings, and for the last several years I have lived a few blocks away from Cheese Plus at Polk and Pacific.

San Francisco has sourdough, baguette, and rustic loaves.

And David Tran made a hot sauce that has conquered the world.


Actually, that's just the civilized world, mostly Northern California.

His company (Huy Fong Foods, Inc.) also offers a chili garlic sauce, and a sambal oelek. They used to produce a sambal badjak too, but aficionados usually make their own by slow-frying sambal oelek or chili garlic sauce with a paste of mashed shallots, a few kemiri nuts, some fish paste, and a pinch of sugar, till oily and darkened considerably, but not nearly so dark as a typical jarred Dutch sambal goreng (mashed chili fried with shallots and fish paste till stiff and almost black).

Basically, almost any variation on a sambal can be made by using one of Huy Fong's lovely products as a building block.

Along with thick sweet soy sauce (ketjap manis) and mayonnaise, you have the fundament of Dutch cooking in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century.

You can fudge nearly everything else, or get by using local products and native vernuft, but without access to chilies, mayo, and soy sauce, you cannot live a civilized life.

American mustard is still barbaric.

Do not go too deep into the Interior; there are headhunters and trailer-park cannibals there. It's all Texas.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.



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