Interlude: Enjoying food

Tortilla Soup

(Big, long, emotional day here, so I decided to avoid the heavy post following up on yesterday’s remarks. It’s ready to go though and should appear tomorrow. Thanks for your patience.)

I was thinking while driving up here that I was driving through three or perhaps four distinct foodscapes (and also thinking that if I had to drive 1350 mi through Europe I’d have encountered many more than that) and wondering which sorts of U.S. regional food Mr. Armitage might enjoy. If I had to pick one dish from the foodscape of the area where I live and work to recommend to him (one that he might not have tried in London?), it would probably be (by a nose) tortilla soup. I encountered it for the first time in a less spicy, less tomatoey variation while in the Yucatan as Sopa de Lima, but I like it in both guises. Stolen pictures of tortilla soup to the left, Sopa de Lima here below.

Both usually have a broth made with chicken, onions, and peppers (though you can make it vegetarian if you prefer). Cooked in the soup are chicken and vegetables; as I said the tortilla soup usually has more tomatoes and chiles in the broth itself, whereas Sopa de Lima often has lime pulp added to the broth and a more delicate, less forceful taste. Key to either variation are the add ons. You put dried corn tortilla strips or chips into the soup just before eating so they soften up and play the role of noodles. These are usually accompanied by a tiny sprinkling of a local cheese (resist the U.S. temptation to drown everything in cheese — I know it’s hard! — just take a little bit to melt on top) and slices of fresh avocado and chopped fresh cilantro (as you like them — leave off if you don’t like) and, very importantly, as much fresh squeezed lime juice as you like. It’s that lime juice that lightens the whole dish and makes you–or me, anyway–want to eat plate after plate of it. (Tortilla Soup nosed out chiles rellenos, another serious favorite of mine.)

What food would you offer Mr. Armitage if he were visiting your local foodscape, now that you know he really enjoys food?

~ by Servetus on June 1, 2010.

19 Responses to “Interlude: Enjoying food”

  1. Oh, tortilla soup. With super-fresh tomatoes and avocados. And if you mix a little tortilla into the soup as it’s cooking, it dissolves and helps to grant the soup a bit of thick goodness.

    I want to make a pitch for serving him two New England specialties: johnnycakes from Rhode Island, which are almost crepe-like pancakes made with cornmeal, and when cooked in butter become deliciously crispy at the edges; and lobster rolls from Maine: the simplest combination of chunks of lobster meat with a little dressing of mayonnaise, celery, and light seasonings. Super-simple, both of them, and perfectly delicious and regional.

    On a recent conference visit to London I was surprised to find of the 8 people at our table in a Thai restaurant, 3 had never had Thai food before and found it alarmingly daring and spicy. And these were academics, people I often assume to have more adventurous tastes. So for Mr. Armitage I’m keeping it simply just in case.

    Just saw George Gently this weekend — he was great.

    • Hey didion! I think Ricky Deeming is one of Mr. Armitage’s most intriguing roles. If I had to generalize I would say that his smaller roles have been much more interesting in substance than his larger ones.

      Love the johnnycakes suggestion especially. When I was writing this post I was thinking about the “every culture has its chicken soup” thing and thought of the similarities between tortilla soup and tom kha gai / tom yam gai. The lime brings it to mind, of course. Then I thought of my mother’s chicken soup, good for what ails you. My former boyfriend the physicist learned it from my mom and kept making it even after we broke up, which I thought was unfair. I’d love to serve Mr. Armitage a dish of that, as well.

      Surprised that so many academics at one table had never tried Thai.

  2. If Mr. A truly likes the comfort-food of fish ‘n chips, there’s always poutine. Which is quite disgusting, unhealthy, and apparently, has even reached NYC restaurants. Don’t pelt me with a cheese curd/gravy-sodden fry, please; I’ve resorted to the occasional poutine, as some might to chocolate….

    Will leave it to Maritime commenters on both sides of the Northern continent to discuss the merits of Atlantic and Pacific salmon, and argue with the Scots commenters.

    • It’s apparently kind of a trend food right now. I have to say I don’t get it. If someone served it to me, I’d eat it, as it has things I love in it (cheese curds, french fries), but I can’t imagine seeking it out. When I look at the pictures I think to myself, “there must be some secret ingredient I can’t see that makes it all meld together.”

  3. You certainly can’t beat Norwegian salmon, served fresh, smoked or as gravlaks!

  4. @MillyMe, fresh and smoked salmon is “creme de la creme”! Have yet to visit Norway, which appears to have landscape very close to parts of this large country.

    Thanks for the reminder that Northern Europe is also part of the Northern continents! Wasn’t ignoring, just could have been better worded:)

    Cheers!

  5. I should have said “regional food” and not just “U.S. regional food,” btw.

  6. @servetus – I did mean that I could have better worded “northern continenets”, not you!. We knew what you meant, especially as so many countries have opened to the cuisines of so many other cultures and continents. Rykstaffel sp?), anyone? B’stilla?

    • No offense taken, fitzg! I was just thinking about the U.S. when I wrote the post and forgot temporarily that Armitage fans are international!

  7. Hi there! Just thought I’d check your blog and see what you were up to — I did not expect pictures of such delicious food, yum! :) Are you still on the cross-country drive? Oh, and just curious, did you ever finish out “Robin Hood” or are you still watching?

  8. Umm, I’m living in Spain, spanish have good food and there must be plates that I’m probably not aware of so if he ever goes to Lima (Peru’s capital) there I could show him a handful of places, he can’t leave without trying them ;). For example ‘ceviche’ (fish and carrot slices cooked in lemon juice), ‘pollo a la brasa’ (chicken cooked in a oven with burning charcoal), ‘pisco sour’ (a cocktail)…umm getting hungry now.

    • Minor correction, the ‘ceviche’ has onion slices not carrot. (I think I should go back to kindergarden to re-learn the vegetables names in english…).

      • mmm, love ceviche. When we eat it in Mexican restaurants, it has fish, onion, tomato, peppers, and sometimes carrot!

        nouns are some of the hardest things to keep track of in a foreign language, OML!

  9. OML, your Peruvian suggestions sound scrumptious! As we know, Richard is fond of food so someone should arrange a jamboree of admirers and we could seduce him with all sorts of delicious dishes from around the world!

    • I’m sure he’d appreciate that ‘gift’ Milly.

      Now I’m wondering how adventurous is he with food :D

      • I have read that he likes sushi, and that red carpet interview implies that he likes chocolate cake. Then there was an interview in which he said he often forgot to eat, and another in which he said he was obsessed with sandwiches.

        ??

        It would be a shame to live in London and not be adventurous.

  10. [...] with the Servetus family any night this week Drawing on earlier posts about my own American regional foodscapes and what we’d offer the man who really likes food if he happened by for supper, I’ll [...]

  11. [...] not as popular as the more generic “richard armitage girlfriend.” (Incidentally, “sopa de lima” and “wallace and gromit” are in the top twenty as [...]

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