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VOL. 38 | NO. 20 | Friday, May 16, 2014

Whet your appetite for island foods

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Every time hubby and I go to an unknown vacation destination, we run into unusual foods from that particular culture.

When we traveled to North Carolina, we noshed on Low Country cooking. In Hawaii, we ate a lot of pineapple. When in San Francisco, there was an abundance of seafood, wines, and breads.

Before ruining the quiz below, I’ll not go on. See how many of these you can get when you travel abroad (or even in the states) for vacation.

1. Bahamians enjoy this sea creature cooked in fritters, chowders, stew, and salads:

A. Conch

B. Shark

C. Barnacles

D. Anemones

2. In Puerto Rico, most soups and stews begin with a sauté of onions, garlic, and peppers, also known as:

A. Relleno

B. Sofrito

C. Trinidad

3. Hawaii is the largest exporter of this luxurious nut:

A. Hazelnut

B. Pistachio

C. Macadamia

D. Kola

4. If you order “beef patties” in Jamaica, you’ll get this:

A. Grilled skewers

B. Burgers

C. Savory stuffed pastries

D. Beef-sausage patties

5. Head to Cancun, and you might find this hottest of Mexican chilies in your table salsa:

A. Ancho

B. Poblano

C. Habanero

6. Acapulco, Mexico is famous for this regional seafood specialty:

A. Shrimp tacos

B. Bouillabaisse

C. Ceviche

7. When vacationing in the Dominican Republic, what liquor is likely to grace the local cocktails?

A. Rum

B. Tequila

C. Bourbon

D. Scotch

8. In Barbados and other Caribbean countries, rice is often mixed with what other ingredient?

A. Pigeon peas

B. Guava

C. Corn

D. Papaya

9. In which exotic summer vacation destination would you find spicy jerk chicken?

A. Nassau, Bahamas

B. Negril, Jamaica

C. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

10. Plantains, a Latin American and Caribbean favorite, look like what common fruit?

A. Bananas

B. Potatoes

C. Yams

Answers

1. A. Conch, pronounced “konk,” is a mollusk composed of a firm white muscle encased in a colorful spiral shell. Summer is the peak season for conch, which is often served chopped and simply fried or in salads, chowders, and fritters.

Parmesan Baked Pork Chops

4 boneless pork chops, 1/2” thick
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder

On a plate, combine the last four ingredients. Rub the pork chops with olive oil and then dip each one in the cheese mixture. Press the mixture over the pork chops to make sure they’re well-coated.

Line a pan with tin foil and spray with cooking spray. Place the pork chops on the pan and bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.

2. B. Sofrito. Puerto Rican cooks often begin soups, sauces, stews, and meat dishes with a flavorful sauté of chopped onions, garlic, and peppers colored with annatto, or “achiote” seeds, a culinary tradition descended from the island’s Spanish heritage.

3. C. Often eaten plain, cooked into cakes and confections, or used as a topping for pan-fried fish, meat, or chicken, macadamia nuts were brought to Hawaii by way of Australia. This marble-sized nut is buttery, rich, and mildly sweet.

4. C. Savory stuffed pastries. This popular Jamaican dish consists of a buttery pastry shell (often tinted yellow with turmeric or annatto) filled with a boldly seasoned beef-onion mixture, folded in a half-moon shape, and baked. Yum.

5. C. Characterized by their bright orange color, small habanero chilies are known to be the hottest peppers in Mexico. The standard habanero rates from 100,000 to 350,000 units on the Scoville scale, above Serrano (6,000-23,000), chipotle (5,000-10,000), and jalapeño (2,500-5,000). Habaneros are featured prominently in the cuisine of the Yucatán, which borders the Quintana Roo region, where Cancun is located.

6. C. Ceviche. This refreshing salad is typically made from a mixture of raw fish, onions, green peppers, and tomatoes marinated in lime or other citrus juice until the acid in the fruit “cooks” the fish. Only the freshest seafood is used to make this popular Mexican appetizer.

7. A. Rum. Like other Caribbean nations, the Dominican Republic, which is just east of Cuba, is famous for its rum. Rum is made from fermented molasses, a by-product of sugar cane, and is enjoyed in such popular libations as the Cuba Libre (rum and cola with lime), the Coco-Loco (coconut rum, rum, gin, and grenadine), and the piña colada (rum, coconut cream, and pineapple juice).

8. A. Pigeon peas. Starches, such as sweet potatoes, green bananas, breadfruit, cassava, cou-cou, and rice, are widely consumed in Barbados. Rice is most often cooked with pigeon peas (a tiny, grayish-yellow legume) and seasoned with onion, garlic, and spices.

9. B. Negril, Jamaica. Negril is a popular vacation destination located in Jamaica, an island nation famed for its music, food, and culture. Jerk is a dried seasoning blend consisting of chilies, thyme, allspice, ginger, garlic, and onions, but the exact recipe and ingredients generally vary by chef.

10. A. Bananas. Plantains resemble bananas, but they are longer and have thicker skin and a starchier consistency. This tropical fruit is eaten like a vegetable when green and is almost never eaten raw, even when very ripe. Green plantains are prepared much like potatoes (boiled and baked, and then fried or mashed), and sweet ripe plantains are often baked and served as a side dish.

So how did you do? I say enough of the quizzes and on to the recipe. Here’s one that doesn’t take a lot of exotic ingredients and is so yummy! These are about the best pork chops you’ll ever have.

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