Stalking the Waiter

Riffing on foods, flavors and methods, that would be telling.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

What Are People Willing to Eat in a Restaurant?

I'm not talking about grotty stuff because you know people will eat darn near anything, if they think it's cool. Just how open-minded, or bellied, are people when they eat out? When they eat out in a pretty tame, maybe family-style restaurant? Or a deli?

I think about this as I'm cooking at home. I'm hit with an idea, and it's like an epiphany: People would love this! ;+) Well, some people.

A recent ephiphany involves a cucumber salad that I adore...
  1. cucumbers very thinly sliced, unpeeled (wash and dry it first), on a mandoline or one of the bamboo slicers, and degorgéed (salted, drained in a collander for an hour or two, then squeezed dry)
  2. onions (I use Vidalia or that type), sliced ditto but without the degorgé
  3. a dressing of vinegar, oil and sour cream
Throw it all together, mix and taste, adjust vinegar/oil, salt and pepper, and it's done. Simple, basic, generic even. But that's the beauty of it. There are so many things you can do with it just by varying the type of vinegar, the cut of the veggies...
  • leave out the sour cream and use rice wine vinegar instead for a milder, less rich salad with an Asian flavor
  • use red wine vinegar and olive oil and throw in some nice fresh tarragon and/or oregano, no sour cream, and you've got something akin to a stripped down Greek salad
  • use yoghurt instead of sour cream, chop in some fresh mint and it's suddenly very refreshing and great with spicy foods of the Middle Eastern/Indian persuasion
  • leave out the sour cream, change the cut of the cucumbers by peeling, cutting in half lengthwise, "spooning" out the seeds, then cutting into 1/2-inch thick C-shapes, cut the onions into wedges or omit, throw in fresh herbs, maybe a handful of robust olives, and you've got the basis for a Salade Niçoise, or a great salad to have with grilled tuna or salmon.
As they say, the possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

Anyway, this particular epiphany came because, when the weather is hot, I like to serve this salad with roasted or grilled meats and fish. I make a Gyro-like meat mixture* which I make into sausages, burgers or meatloaf (to slice very thinly, for serving in pita bread, à la Gyros), or eat in the usual fashion, which is perfect with it.

I was looking at some leftover roast beef, with my bowl of cucumber salad sitting there, trying to get my attention, and I thought (here's the epiphany part): Wouldn't these make a great sandwich together? A big crusty roll, toasted in the oven or on the grill, the rare roast beef with the salad piled on top, then the other half of the roll. Messy, but it would be delicious.

Men would probably like it, at least the manly men types who would happily eat their weight in red meat, if allowed. Heck, if you made it in not so huge portions, and eliminated most of the drip factor, a lot of people who like deli foods would love this. Right? Of course. Really, if you took most of those salads, some leftovers of associated entrées, you could put them together in a pita pocket for a delish meal or snack. Voilá!

The restaurant part, as mentioned in the title, is because I've never quite given up the idea of having a small restaurant, or a B&B with a restaurant as part of the destination.

I just love to riff. More epiphanies to come.

* I got this recipe from the "Homemade Sausage Cookbook" by Bertie Selinger et al. Unfortunately, it's long out of print, but a search online shows that it is still available, even in Europe, if you're willing to pay the price. I'd recommend it to anyone who wants a good book for making sausage at home. The recipes are specifically designed for the home cook, but they are as exotic, varied and flavorful as anyone might wish.


Post a Comment

<< Home