Monday, April 01, 2013


Ten food items I'm going to miss once I leave Europe:

1) Scallops

Sure we have ten thousand types of shellfish in Malaysia, and they're delicious and dirt cheap too. But none of those come close to the succulent God creation that is the scallop. I've been in Toulouse for a month now, and scallops here are quite cheap compared to the north, so I make it a Saturday ritual to get 250 grams of scallop from the local fishmonger also known as the fish section at Carrefour. A dab of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, 1 minute on the skillet each side, and your scallop is done. Well, when I'm feeling particularly fancy, I'd go to restaurants for a scallop risotto (did that just last night and all in all set me back 30 euros. In my defense, I just got my pay last week). 

2) Salmon

In Malaysia we are blessed with a lush selection of lean, tasty tropical fish, so I shouldn't be complaining about our fish department. If you go to a French fish market, all you can see are huge fishes with scary faces and slimy white bellies. Even their stingrays aren't as juicy as ours, and they cost a bomb too. But then you have the salmon. Now that fish is certainly a bug in the system, because it's just as beautiful as it is delicious. And very cheap too. Just last week I bought three slabs of fresh salmon for 5 euros, which is practically a steal. I used one to make salmon sashimi, and grilled the other two for Monday and Tuesday lunch at work. Paired them with fusili and red pesto, and I was good to go. (Of course I bring my own meal to work. Lunch at the canteen costs 8 euros, and it's pretty much shit on top of shit on the side of shit with shit for dessert. And my red pesto fusili with grilled salmon costs me under 3 euros to make, a no brainer. Yes I have to wake up an hour early everyday to prepare lunch, but a good healthy and cheap meal is worth waking up early every day for).

3) Foie gras

I don't eat this a lot because it's super expensive and I'm dirt poor. But every time I get to, I'd thank God for all that is good and holy in the world, which this thing definitely is. For those of you who have never tasted foie gras, I'd compare the taste to dark chicken meat ground in Parmesan cheese, with the texture of soft butter. Usually people eat it with fig jam and spiced bread, but being fancy is not my primary concern, so I just put my foie gras on a toast. Just as good, and ten times cheaper. Besides I'm not a fan of spiced bread because it's more sweet than it is spicy, and it overwhelms the foie gras flavour. A lot of people have an aversion to the way the ducks and geese are being force fed until their livers swell and they become sickly. But if the end result of the process is a sumptuous fatty liver then I say force feed away. Some studies show that ducks and geese don't have gag reflex, so the whole force feeding process is painless to them and we needn't worry. Brought this up to an anti-foie gras friend, and he asked me, "Painless? How do you know? Are you a goose? Or did a talking goose come to you and tell you that?"

Good point. But then again, these geese are fed delicious, high quality corn all day. If I were a goose and all I had to do was laze around while constantly being fed good food, why would I be complaining? That is my idea of heaven anyway: a fat me in the middle of a Coca Cola pond being fed scallop and tuna sashimi by angels all day long.

4) Tuna

Okay tuna might sound like a generic fish. I associate tuna with camping trips, because every time I go camping I'd bring cans of tuna spread in my backpack. If you go camping with me, I'd be the dude with the God-awful tuna breath. But I shit you not, fresh tuna is actually a magnificent food. The red tuna flesh is a tantalizing sight in itself. Just make sure to go to a good fishmonger, though. I had a few food poisoning episodes with not-so-fresh tuna slabs, and I had only myself to blame for having prepared tuna sashimi with tuna sold in styrofoam at 50% off. Tuna is a lot more expensive than salmon, which is justified by its heavenly taste. So I decided to skimp on cheap tuna and God paid me in cash right there and then. Never had my toilet bowl gotten so much business in one weekend, and I'm lactose intolerant.

5) Milk

Good milk is expensive in Malaysia. Very much so. A liter of milk costs around RM5, and the good ones even more. In Europe however, milk is disgustingly cheap and surprisingly good. Growing up, I was used to the taste of HL milk and I loved it because of the slightly sugary vanilla taste. Now I know that milk should not taste like that. And in France, they have this milk campaign where every milk brand uses milk from the nearby region, so you can be pretty sure that your milk is fresh and it benefits local dairy farmers.

6) Baked goods

If you've ever been to Delifrance in Malaysia, you would know how... bad their croissants are. Croissants should never be dry. And they should be warm. And buttery. The one from Delifrance are none of those. To compensate for the sub-par quality of their baked goods, they stuff their croissants with chicken or tuna with three tonnes of mayonnaise so you'll have a heart attack while also getting ripped off. I'm surprised Delifrance is still surviving while it should have gone under years ago. Baked goods in France is a different story. I'm not a pastry person, so I don't really buy them. But I'm glad to be in a country where, no matter where you are, you don't need to walk more than 10 minutes to find a good bakery that sells buttery croissants for 90 cents each. Malaysia is still way ahead of Europe when it comes to white bread, though. Gardenia bread is just unbeatable. Try spreading peanut butter on Harry's bread here, and you'll get a flaky peanut butter sandwich that tears in the middle.

7) Duck

I hate duck taste when I was in Malaysia. To me it was just a greasier, fattier version of beef. And they tend to overcook duck in heavy sauce, so in the end you'll get chewy red meat bathed in its own fat and an overpowering sweet sauce. It was not good. Coming here, I've learned to appreciate the taste and texture of duck meat. I don't have it often because it's still very greasy, but if cooked and drained right, duck meat is very crispy on the outside and extremely juicy on the inside.

8) Asparagus

Asparagus is very picky for a vegetable. It only grows in a short period between May and June, it needs to be cooked right, and it needs to be eaten very fresh. An old asparagus would be hard and chewy. I don't usually give my veggies a 5 star treatment because well, they are just plants. You can stir fry any edible plant and it'll taste good. But not asparagus. During the asparagus season, you'll have to go to the market early in the morning or you can be sure to see only shitty asparagus left on display. People go crazy over these long green things, and it's perfectly understandable why. Try steaming fresh asparagus and eat it just like that, you'll never get enough. It's crunchy and juicy at the same time, and it goes well with any sauce as long as you don't drench it lest it'll become too soggy.

9) Aurora sauce

Aurora is the best Italian sauce, hands down. The first time I tasted it, I went to heaven and back. During my month-long backpacking trip to Italy a couple of years back, in every city I'd look out for restaurants with aurora sauce on their menu. To this day I still don't know what exactly is in aurora sauce, but I'm pretty sure it's the same ingredients used to make the Powerpuff Girls: sugar, spice and everything nice. (Okay a quick Google search told me it was tomato concentrate, cream and garlic.) Aïoli is another good sauce I'm going to miss, but not that much because it's just basically mayonnaise with garlic, and is jam-packed with cholesterol.

10) Firm cheese

I am a big cheese fan. The stronger the taste, the better. In small doses, of course. Given my lactose intolerance, ten trips to the bathroom after dinner are not worth any cheese except for the comté. It trumps all the other cheese in existence. I remember going skiing in the Jura last year and we had a cheese night with different types of cheese from around the Jura area. The Jura comté was so exquisite, I wasn't even sorry for what the toilet bowl had to go through afterwards. However, I'm not a fan of soft cheese like the ones they have in the north. Now that I am in the south, I'm going to stock up on cheese and eat it like it's Doritos.

So there you go. Except for foie gras, everything else on this list is cheap everyday stuff that comes by easily in France, which is the main reason why I'll miss them. Of course, you can get them in Malaysia too, but I'm pretty sure it's unaffordable.


WP said...

Aye for salmon, tuna and duck! Okay, I have nothing against the duck meat we find in Malaysia, but they just don't cook it the same way as the French do. And I don't know how to, either. :P

I never bought scallops to cook, though...because I didn't know how to cook them. Sigh...what a waste.

Nazira said...

Just curious and not trying to be annoying, but they have halal foie gras there?

Kahuna said...

WP: I discovered scallops two years back, and was so pissed at myself for not having discovered it earlier. It is just that good!

Nazira: Yes, they do have halal foie gras (lots of it) and yes, that question is extremely annoying.

Qistin Fadzin said...

Dude, you're working for Airbus or ATR?

Anonymous said...

just sharing