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