Meatless Mondays at Makifood
I was cycling along Romai part a few weeks ago when I ran into Maki from Makifood Cooking School out for a walk with her family. She invited me to her monthly Meatless Monday event every first Monday of the month. I brought my friend Nora who is a big theater goer and Ervin Nagy fan. This is not strictly for vegetarians, but more for non-vegetarians to introduce them to vegetarian food and show that it is just as delicious and filling as meat dishes. Meatless Mondays is an international movement. By cutting meat out of your diet just one day a week, you can have a signifigant impact on the environment and your health. In between the courses, the conversation was wide-ranging, from where to get some of the specialized ingredients Maki uses in her recipes, pros and cons of the new ceramic cookware and knives, what to feed babies, the most disgusting things we have ever eaten, and things we refuse to eat. The guest of honor was actor Ervin Nagy, currently playing in Kramer vs. Kramer (Katona Szinhaz) and The Taming of the Shrew (Vig Szinhaz).
The menu was Middle Eastern in nature. The first course of appetizers (meze) included eggplant cream (so-so), graham pita bread, and pumpkin hummus with tahini and date syrup (very good). The soup was a very good spicy tomato soup with chick peas. The main course was a maqluba, "a traditional dish of the Arab Levant and Palestine. The dish can include a variety of vegetables, such as fried tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes, cauliflower, eggplant and chicken or lamb. When the casserole is inverted, the top is bright red from the tomatoes that now form the top layer and cover the golden eggplant." Maki was very worried that it would not hold together, but it was fine and slicable. My favorite, besides the pumpkin hummus, was the very simple but delicious rocket salad with pomegranate syrup and toasted pine nuts - I could have eaten that all night. For dessert we had a yummy lemony cream of wheat cake with Turkish yogurt cream and pomegranate seeds on top, accompanied by an amazing little orange fruit that looked like a cherry tomato. Interestingly, everyone was fed cream of wheat constantly as children. I always got it as a special treat from my mother when I was ill, and still crave it every time I get the flu. Everyone still eats it regularly as adults as a late easy dinner to prepare. This cuisine typically uses tons of parsley. I commented that if you plant parsley around your house it keeps ant out, as does little bowls of pepper innards in your kitchen around problematic areas. Folk lore states that since parsley is so difficult to grow, the person that is able to grow parsley wears the pants in the house.
Ervin told a story about eating grilled Llama intestine in Columbia. Perhaps the most disgusting thing I ever ate was in China in 1987. We were at our first formal dinner in China, and were served something I recall them referring to as the "exploding flower dish" - some kind of meat in a very nice sauce. It turned out that it was sheep testicles and penises. However, I did not vomit. I did vomit later having a rare "western" breakfast at a hotel on the famous West Lake. I remember distinctly that we had just received news that the US had just attacked a couple Iranian oil platforms, and a few of us were worried about a war and the draft. We were very grateful for the scrambled eggs after months of steamed buns. The eggs appeared to have some spring onions mixed in, but upon closer examination, the little green bits were actually the eyes of baby seahorses. I did lose my cookies then.
Another Nora, the winner of an on-line contest for a free Meatless Monday meal brought her friend Kata who recognised me from many years ago at the Marczibanyi ter tanchaz. It was a very nice surprise after so many years.
The next Meatless Monday is November 5. You can register online or weekdays at Treehugger Dan's.