Food Day Advice Post! What Food Do You Tell Your Friends to Eat if They Ever Have the Chance?

You know how there are these semi-obscure things that only people really in the know are aware are special? This is where we all get to share that exclusive data with each other! I’ll start to give you an idea.

When my sister was in college, so back in about 2002, they went to the really good Bubble Tea place in Chinatown and her Chinese-heritage friend immediately ordered “Jackfruit” tea with tapioca. My sister at that point had never heard of either “tapioca/Bubble tea” or “jackfruit”, but took her friend’s advice and tried it and loved it.

Anyway, that is what I am looking for here! What are the things that aren’t, like, mass produced, but the rare times you see them on a menu, you tell all your friends “oh, you HAVE to get —–“?

I’ll start! Something from My People. If you ever find yourself at a county or state fair in the American Midwest, and there is a booth selling “Lemon Shake Ups“, you MUST have them. It’s like lemonade, but way better. Half a lemon slice, ice, sugar, and water, you shake it in a cocktail shaker thing and then pour it out into a big paper cup. You drink it through a straw and little lemon pips and seeds come popping up to block the straw, and you hit these tiny islands of sugar too, but it is so cold and so good and the sweet and tang are kind of separate flavors from each other, unlike in traditional lemonade.

Lemon Shake-Up's
Looks like this before it is prepared. See the half lemon and the big silt of sugar at the bottom? Then you shake shake shake and it all mixes together, and you dump it out into the paper cup and hand it to a person.

Here’s something else I have been told to try and have not yet found available to me, but someday I will see it on a menu and order immediately: Filter coffee. It’s kind of like a frothy latte, but (I have been told) way better and thicker and sweeter. It’s coffee boiled with milk, then filtered so the milk skin goes away, and then tossed between two cups until it is extra frothy. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it?

filter coffee recipe | filter kaapi recipe | south indian filter ...
And now you are going to say “oh this is so simple, you can make it yourself.” No! I can’t! I can barely make regular old American style coffee, and that is super simple.

And finally something that is probably kind of a boring recommendation, but it’s my favorite so I am saying it anyway: Frontier Chicken. Also called “Kerachi Chicken” (I think it is from the Northwest Frontier area along the border of Afghanistan? I suspect the name comes from pre-modern maps, that region has always been a “frontier”, just the names of the countries on opposite sides have changed). Chicken with peppers and onions and chilies and tomato sauce and cilantro on top, it’s like the old familiar “butter chicken” but spicier and with no cream in the sauce. And also just tastes better. You only get it in Pakistani based “Indian” restaurants (meaning, if you are in the West they will label themselves as “Indian” since it is what we know but if this is on the menu, they are probably based on cuisine that you would find in modern Pakistan), and not even all of them. If you see it, grab it!

MOST AMAZING CHICKEN RECIPE! Sabri Frontier Chicken Recipe and ...
When you look at this picture, what would you call this dish? I saw something that makes me suspect calling it “frontier chicken” might literally be limited to the 6 block area in Chicago where I eat it and it is called something else everywhere else in the world.

Okay, now you go! Anything you know of that is super super good and we should all try it whenever we get the chance.

54 thoughts on “Food Day Advice Post! What Food Do You Tell Your Friends to Eat if They Ever Have the Chance?

  1. Lots of interesting stuff we eat at home are not available in Restaurants.

    One of my restaurant favourites is Thaali (literally a buffet on plate)
    Gujarati thaali is fantastic & they add lots of butter/ghee, so it is not too spicy but really flavourfu & nutritiousl in terms of ingredients used

    I also heard people rave about starter buffet plate in Lebanese restaurants but I never had a chance to try it.

    Anyways when I go to a restaurant I usually look for a mixed starter bowl/plate instead of having main course.

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    • I’ve done Thaali before, but of course it is overwhelming on a restaurant menu because you have to pick between 6 different variations of combinations and I have no idea which is the best one. I’m going to look for a menu that specifics “Gujurati Thaali” on it, or else just look for a Gujurati restaurant next time.

      On Tue, Jun 16, 2020 at 1:38 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • Oooo, good tip! I have always been vaguely disappointed, I get it and there’s only like three daals and the rest is just little dishes of lettuce or watery chutneys and I end up hungry.

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          • It is a shame, if you are going hungry after a thaali. It is supposed to be like an indulgence. You usually can’t eat all of it !!

            The 4 unique cuisines in India are Gujarati, Kerala, Bengali, & Kashmiri. All situated in 4 geographical corners of India.

            You should try each one of them atleast once .

            Kerala & Gujarat have thaalis. I am not sure if Bengal & Kashmir have that. But Bengalis & Kashmiri Brahmins/Pandits have the concept of eating meat without onions. So it is a totally different experience. For example mutton Rogan Josh from Kashmir. Also the kashmir chilli powder used in tandoor items is a fantastic spice without any comparison to anything else.

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  2. Spanish Chicken, just such a delicious smokey chicken full of herbs and extremely delicious. It can be done with chicken legs or just a big chicken:

    https://www.foodrepublic.com/recipes/spanish-style-roast-chicken-recipe/

    An easy to make chicken broiled in the oven with just Créme Fraiche, mustard and a lot of cheese on top. It is absurdly simple and sooooo good with whatever side you could want from vegetables to just rice (my preferred method). It’s basically this, but with 2 Créme Fraiche and A LOT of parmesan cheese on top:

    http://meatandpotatoesfoodie.blogspot.com/2014/04/creme-fraiche-dijon-baked-chicken.html

    Here are some Finnish recipes everyone should try or at least eat at some point:

    Macaroni Casserole, in my family we add some chilli to the mix and it is amazing on an otherwise basic dish we all have in school and at home:

    https://tarasmulticulturaltable.com/makaronilaatikko-finnish-macaroni-casserole/

    Butter eye buns, everyone loves them and there is always competition for the one with the most butter and sugar:

    https://saraniyapt.blogspot.com/2019/07/voisilmapulla-finnish-butter-eye.html?m=1

    Creamy salmon and potato soup, a stable in any household and I have never tasted a bad version of this, good every single time of the year, but best in summer when the potatoes are freshest and in season:

    https://www.kitchenfrau.com/lohikeitto-finnish-salmon-potato-soup/

    Mustikkakukko or Blueberry Rye Pie, very sweet and delicious and good in summer with fresh blueberries:

    https://mydearkitcheninhelsinki.com/2014/09/29/mustikkakukko-blueberry-rye-pie-100th-blog-post/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh man, that blueberry thing looks amazing! My grandmother used to make blueberry cobbler, which is that, only without a bottom crust, just dots of dough along the top of a big casserole dish.

      Also, this will upset you, but I vaguely know the macaroni casserole and buns from a Swedish family recipe, and a Swedish restaurant, respectively. Not exactly the same, the macaroni casserole I know doesn’t have egg, and the buns have the cardamon flavor but not the eye dot.

      The other stuff though I have never heard of, and now you make me want to track down a Finnish restaurant! Or at least attempt the recipe myself someday.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, Finland does have a lot of history with Sweden (we’re neighbours after all and techically under their rule for 300 years just so they could get some more tax money to fight their endless wars in the 17th and 18th centuries) so sharing cuisine is nothing new to me, just with some minor differences of course. Though we tend to go for fresh ingredients whenever we can and anything canned or pickled is not in the everyday anymore, though it was in our parents and grandparents time.

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  3. 1. All the thalis (irani,GUJARATI, rajasthani)
    2. All Gujarati food (it’s sweet, spicy, sour, tangy, what’s not to love?)
    3. Nobody will agree with me, but bottlegourd! You never find it in restaurants, but it is SO good.

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          • Just an FYI, be careful when restaurants use the word Lauki in the U.S. You may want to call and check whether it is actually bottlegourd. Often times restaurants will often make the dish with zucchini or squash not bottlegourd.

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          • filmikudhi makes a very good point. Also, while the dessert is…okay, the flavor of the bottlegourd itself gets lost amongst all the butter and sugar. It’s the savory version, almost soup like with a few spices, that’s the one to die for.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Okay, I will have a little quest for myself then!

            On Tue, Jun 16, 2020 at 9:15 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. I am going to largely stick to the DC area because if I expand it beyong that, the list will be far too long:
    1. Half smoke (preferably from Ben’s Chili Bowl) It is half-beef, half-pork, half hot-dog/ half-sausage that I think is essentially only sold in this area.
    2. Spinach chaat at Rasika. I know spinach chaat has now grown exponentially all over the U.S. but there is something uniqely special and declicious about the spinach chaat at Rasika.
    3. Go to one of the many delicious Korean restaurants in Annandale. Specifically, go to a Korean bbq and have spicy grilled pork belly with grilled garlic kimchee and go to a Korean non-bbq restaurant and have their delicious soups/stews guk or jjigae. One of my personal favorite is Galbitang which is made with short rib (galbi).

    I would just add that if you are ever back in the DC area, just give me a call and we can do a food tour!

    One particular recommendation for Chicago. If you are ever in River West area, go to a place called Egg-O-Holic is it Gujrati (specifically, Surti style) egg joint, where everything is made with loads of Amul butter. Personal favorites include Lachko (shredded green bell pepper cooked with cheese & running egg), Ghotalo (shredded hard-boiled eggs mixed with sunny side up in our special house spices), Lava Pulav (Omelette topped with egg rice, spicy gravy & garnished with cheese) and Ambavadi Sandwich (mashed potatoes and fresh veggies, in between layers of buttery bread with delicious sauses grilled to perfection).

    Also, random facts about Frontier chicken which I am sure NOONE else cares about, but here you go anyways. I heard of Frontier chicken for the first time in Chicago as well. The name does come from the original Karahi dishes (meat made in a heavy-bottom wok called Karahi or sometimes Balti), which came from the frontier regions of Pakistan/Afghanistan. However, original Karahi dishes had almost no whole or ground spices ( mainly salt and maybe turmeric for its antibacterial properties) and most definitely did not have any onion. Ingredients like tomatoes, chilis, ginger, and garlic, were all put in the pan with the meat and allowed to simmer for a long time. Even now, at restaurants who still make Karahi as in a somewhat traditional manner (almost all use onion and spices like cumin and coriander now), will tell you that it will take about an hour or more to prepare the dish. Where as the Frontier chicken that I have had in Chicago, which is DELICIOUS btw, seems more like a a quick stir fry with onions, peppers, and tomatoes.

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    • Not gonna attempt to find “half smoke” anywhere else, BBQ is uniquely regional, I can’t think of anything similar in America that just does not transfer.

      But the Korean dishes, that I can totally find in Chicago! Probably walking distance from my apartment, not sure if you’ve noticed this but the South Asian neighborhood near me starts blurring into the Korean neighborhood just about half a mile southwest. I haven’t done much exploring, because my Korean food knowledge is limited, but now you’ve given me a thing to look for.

      What I want is a Malayalam egg place. The movies have these “omelette” stalls everywhere which fascinate me. Probably impossible to get in America, because it would need to be super fresh and made to order to be the same. But I want it!

      Of course I care about that! I was actually wondering a little because the chicken tastes different, like the chicken itself. It doesn’t have that slightly boiled feeling that you often get with butter chicken, or the burnt taste of stirfry. Also makes me think, maybe that’s why it is a dish that is often a “specialty” of the restaurant? So they can cook up a whole bunch at once instead of made to order, since they know people will be coming just for that and definitely ordering it an hour later? When I got it from Sabri Nehri, it was slightly better and slightly tastier than from just some random storefront restaurant where it isn’t a specialty.

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    • Oh I just thought of two more recommendations:
      4. Go into Northern Virginia (Sterling, Ashburn, Chantilly) to a Chettinad restaurant and have their Kothu Parotta, Appam (string hoppers) and Crab roast.
      5. Go to a Malaysian restaurant and have Roti Canai (Malaysian version of Roti/layered paratha with curry on the side. Depending on the restaurant they may also have murtabak, which is roti stuffed with meet or egg and it is AMAZING. I have never been to Malaysia but the best Malaysian roti I have ever had is at Sugen Gopal’s restaurant Roti King or the much more accessible Gopal’s Cornor food stall at Market Hall at Victoria Terminal in London.

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      • Okay, Malaysian Restaurant feels like something that must exist SOMEWHERE in the Chicagoland area. Maybe it won’t be the best ever, but at least it should exist.

        On Tue, Jun 16, 2020 at 3:05 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. I don’t think you’ll find this in a restaurant. But when we were in India, we bought custard apples at the vegetable market. Have you ever eaten a fruit that tastes like a creamy dessert?

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    • Oh man, that sounds so good. I doubt you can get it in a restaurant too, sounds like my omelette stall dream, something you can only get as fresh street food.

      On Tue, Jun 16, 2020 at 3:18 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • The last time I went to India it was sitafal-custurd apple season and I ate soo many of them. I finally found them in the Vietnamese markets in DC area and was sooo excited about it!!! I have seen them called all kinds of things in the U.S. including Cherimoya, Sugar Apple, Sweet Sop. I am guessing the name variation is based on the fact that it is translated from Vietnamese.

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      • I just looked up custard apple, and I think I have seen it in stores! Very distinctive look. But also, kind of scary and weird looking so I’ve never been brave enough to try it.

        On Tue, Jun 16, 2020 at 3:27 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • Chirimoyas! One of my favorite fruit discoveries when I was living in Madrid. They’re easy to get there, hard to find here. My mother in law always stocks up when we go because she knows I love them.

          https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn%3AANd9GcSgF7PQkFce-OpaoZr7rG7ZrUVw-SJBEoZqPdXwtY_STI5kzNjc&usqp=CAU

          Another fruit that’s easy to find in Spain and I almost never see here is nísperos. Not sure how to describe these. Maybe a cross between a lychee and an apricot?

          (Coming up in English as loquat, never heard that name.)

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          • The Indian version is called Chikoo!!! If you can’t find fresh ones, I recommend eating Chikoo icecream, which you can find at most Indian grocery stores.

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          • I thought Chikoo icecream was Mango icecream! But with, like, a cute nickname. It’s the same color (ish), and the picture on the container looks kind of the same. Mind=blown.

            On Tue, Jun 16, 2020 at 11:06 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • I’ve totally had a loquat! In a “look at this weird fruit I got, try it” kind of way. This was years ago, it was either something that my parents got in a fruit delivery box and had to look up what it was, or it was something the grocery store had on display or something in a kind of “please buy this weird fruit that we accidentally got from our wholesaler and now nobody wants” way. Anyway, my parents ended up getting the weird fruit, and we all tasted it and went “huh” and then never saw it again anywhere.

            On Tue, Jun 16, 2020 at 9:56 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • There are tons of loquat trees in the S.F. Bay Area, usually in people’s yards. My parents have one in their yard in Berkeley, and when I visited them last they were ripe and delicious. The squirrels and my children agree with me, my parents, not so much.

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  6. This is my time to wax poetic about Jewish food.

    At my Bat Mitzvah when I was twelve, most of my friends weren’t Jewish, so it was their first time trying challah bread, and they lost their minds. It’s just sweet bread. But CINNAMON challah is where it’s at. I’ve only ever had it homemade from my local Jewish organization from college, but it is amazing.

    On a similar note, BABKA! Bread/cake/croissant? Maybe. The size of a pound cake, usually eaten for dessert, with lots of layers and chocolate!!
    https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/chocolate-babka

    Two more desserts. SWEET NOODLE KUGEL. I have to be specific with that, because there is a savory kugel that’s made from potatoes and isn’t as good. It’s basically cinnamon noodle cake, and I promise you, it is so much better than it sounds.
    https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/a19473736/sweet-noodle-kugel-recipe/

    And finally, RUGELACH! Another pastry, but cookie sized. I love the chocolate ones, but the nice thing about these are that you can add any filling. Raspberry, orange, cinnamon are pretty common. Similar is hamantaschen, but they’re usually filled with jelly and shaped like triangles.
    https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/how-to-make-rugelach-cookies/
    https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/hamentaschen

    Okay, other stuff. Matzah ball soup is pretty given, but if you can get it with noodles, it’s even better. Regular matzah is like eating cardboard. Bagels and lox, along with knishes and pastrami, I think are a deli staple. Same with brisket, but it’s gotta be done RIGHT. I have a friend who’s grandma can’t cook brisket and so he doesn’t like it and I feel bad for him. Kasha varnikes, which is just referred to as kasha everywhere I’ve gone, is buckwheat/barley with bowtie pasta.
    https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/kasha-varnishkes-at-wolffs-in-new-jersey-40010

    My personal opinion is that gefilte fish is delicious. It’s more traditional, eaten for Passover in April, and idk if you can find it in a restaurant. It’s condensed fish. I understand it looks horrible. Everyone I know either loves it or hates it. I love it. But it’s the same with chopped liver, and I hate it.
    https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/classic-gefilte-fish-40014
    https://toriavey.com/toris-kitchen/chopped-liver/

    And if a dessert is kosher for Passover, it probably also tastes disgusting.

    Thank you for reading all of this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My friend dropped off homemade Challah at my apartment a couple weeks ago and it was the first time I had had homemade, and it was AMAZING just like you say.

      I have had sweet noodle kugel, and now I can’t even remember when or why. Oh right! When my sister was pregnant, it was all she wanted. Not like it was a particular favorite before then, but she was having massive butter/egg/dairy cravings, and looking through recipe books it turned out to be the only dish that fit the bill.

      I’ve had Rugelach, but never Hammentaschen. Is it only available around a holiday or something?

      I will continue to not try gefilte fish, no matter what you say.

      I live in the Orthodox area of Chicago (if you have ever had relatives who lived in Chicago, they lived within half a mile of my current apartment, guaranteed). Anyway, that means most everything around me is Kosher and my friends have warned me deeply and truly to NOT try it. For example, Kosher pizza, apparently not worth eating even once. Although the bakery at the end of my street must not be Kosher because everything is good there, they are just closed on Saturdays.

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      • As far as I know, I have no relatives anywhere near Chicago, and most of my family is Reform Jewish anyway.

        Kosher food in general isn’t that bad. Most of the options I gave probably fit the bill. Most of the times I’ve had rugelach and kugel and even black and white cookies have been from Kosher bakeries. I firmly believe that Kosher hot dogs are better than regular hot dogs, and probably won’t eat it if it’s not Hebrew National. Kosher for Passover specifically, I think is the worst, because not only does it have to fit the limits within being Kosher, but also the limits of the Passover diet, which also excludes pretty much all bread products, and corn and rice and peas, depending on how far you go with it. That’s a huge limitation, which leaves us with options that end up being terrible as an end result. I’ve never had Kosher pizza, but I’ve had Kosher ice cream. Never again.

        And Hamantaschen is usually associated with Purim, which from a cultural perspective is kinda like the Jewish equivalent of Halloween. Religious significance is obviously different. Usually in March. I stopped celebrating Purim when I left Hebrew school, so I’ve never sought it out, never knew it wasn’t available all year. But if that’s the case, maybe next March!

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        • Shoot, just missed my Hamentaschen window!

          Do you know about the Latke Hamentaschen debate? It was started at University of Chicago but I think other places have it now. It’s kind of a fun way for academics to make fun of themselves, you get to argue for one side or the other using whatever field you are in. So, for instance, a mathematician would argue from the side of which of them has more mathematical importance based on the number of sides or whatever. You pretend it is very very serious and come up with all the arguments you can, and it just proves how silly all these academic debates are because you can always come up with evidence even for something as silly as Latke versus Hamentaschen. If you are ever very bored, you can watch a lot of the recent ones on youtube.

          On Tue, Jun 16, 2020 at 8:42 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  7. If you ever go to an Indian restaurant run by people from Andhra Pradesh or Telangana you mostly will find gutti vankaya (shallow fried Indian eggplant in gravy) and fish pulusu (fish in tamarind gravy). Both of these are really tasty. Other items that you will in such restaurants which are must try re cut-mirchi (banana peppers like pepper batter fried with onion based stuffing).

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    • Wow, I have never seen any of these! And I’ve been to places called “Hyderabad House” and stuff. But they probably weren’t as authentic as needed for this.

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        • That’s why that name sounded familiar! No, I have never been to Hyderabadi House, just places like it. I have waited for the bus in front of Hyderbadi House (thus the name familiarity), but haven’t gone in to eat. It’s too far east on Devon, when I am hungry I want something right away so I end up at places smack in the middle of the shopping district. But when I go shopping at the Salvation Army, I wait for the bus at Hyderbadi House. Also never been to Baba, same reason.

          On Thu, Jun 18, 2020 at 6:43 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  8. I have a sweet tooth, so my mind immediately jumped to Mexican sweets like arroz con leche (a sweet rice pudding) or chocoflan, which is pretty much what it sounds like. Flan on top of a chocolate cake. The best!

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  9. My favorite fruit is durian. Very popular in Asia, but most Westerners hate it. Not me! Its stench is hard to descrive–kind of like a combo of garluc, baby poo and vomit–and it looks a bit like scrambled eggs but the taste is wonderful. The smell is so bad, you will see signs banning it from hotels, airports etc.

    In Singapore, the chili crab is a must!

    And you can’t visit Hyderabad without sampling their biryani.

    If you go to Holland, french fries and mayo, croquettes with mustard, pofferjes (tiny pancakes sprinkled with icing sugar), any and all cakes.

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    • I will eat your weird smelling fruit, I will definitely have little cakes and fried things with sugar, chili crab and Hyderabadi biryani absolutely, but I refuse to have french fries and mayonnaise. It’s just wrong! French fries go with ketchup and nothing else and that is the end of it.

      On Wed, Jun 17, 2020 at 10:07 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  10. Salmon skin sushi or a salmon skin california roll are delicious – it is cooked, and crunchy, so you don’t have to fear eating raw fish (which I also love). My family now makes trout skin california rolls, and sometimes even trout skin tacos, as we have more access to trout than salmon.

    I’ve had German steak tartare with the egg yolk, and capers and such and it was divine.

    And Czech pork knuckle, where you have to peel off the giant layer of fat to get to the meat, is tremendous.

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