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Classic Tom Yam – The Soup with Thailand’s Aroma

Tom Yam

Photo Credit: ssour https://goo.gl/rOncjc

Tom yam has been referred to as the “national aroma of Thailand”, and it is a hot and spicy combination of tangy lime, lemon grass, galangal (a close cousin of ginger), mushrooms, and chilies. Depending on the kind of tom yam you want, meats and seafood are used as central ingredients in this dish, but prawns are the exceedingly popular choice. To the uninitiated, a first taste of this soup is truly a culinary adventure, and a first sip usually elicits an involuntary indrawn breath from those who are used to Western fare.

The Different Kinds of Tom Yam

This dish is at the very heart of Thai traditional food, but it is also a staple soup in Cambodia, Laos, and some Malay territories; these were part of the Rattanakosin Kingdom, which began in the 18th century.

Some versions of seafood based tom yams feature the addition of coconut meat, or coconut milk, or both. If you want your dish to have the creamy flavor of coconut milk, ask for tom yam nam khon. [Read more…]

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Pizza: Finding Its Roots Then and Now

pizzaIf you are among those who think pizza has all the elements of a complete meal, you are a child of the 21st century. With the convenience that eating pizza offers and the limitless possibilities of toppings and flavors, it is not surprising that Italians lost it to the world, figuratively and literally. It has been embraced by all cultures all over the world; every place now has their own version of a delicious pizza.

Have you ever wondered about the humble beginnings of pizza? Maybe you’re not as eager in its history as in devouring slices upon slices of it, but make no mistake it is something that fascinates a lot of foodies and food historians. Since the publishing of the book Pizza: A Global History by Carol Helstosky, the grapevine has been all rife with how it hasn’t really started in Naples, Italy. [Read more…]

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Pasta throughout the World and Ages

pastaPasta is one of the best-loved foods in the world, and practically all cuisines have their way of preparing it. Several dishes made with pasta count among the most popular comfort foods, and as the world becomes more interconnected, it is a sure thing that more and more people will develop a passion for spaghetti, macaroni, and the forms of pasta.

The Origins of Pasta

It is generally considered Italian food, but its origins are believed to be rooted elsewhere. A popular belief holds that Marco Polo brought pasta to Italy from his travels in China, but not everyone agrees.

In an article of The History Kitchen entitled “Uncover the History of PastaTory Avey says “A common belief about pasta is that it was brought to Italy from China by Marco Polo during the 13th century. In his book, “The Travels of Marco Polo,” there is a passage that briefly mentions his introduction to a plant that produced flour (possibly a “breadfruit tree”).” [Read more…]

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Sauerkraut, Comfort Food from the Old World

SauerkrautIn many countries, sauerkraut is as popular a comfort food as chicken soup. Sauerkraut (German for sour cabbage) is made by fermenting finely cut cabbage, and it is either eaten by itself or used as a condiment for various traditional foods.

Sauerkraut’s Flavorful History

In Food History, a blog coordinated by Chefs Stephen Block and Stephen Halloway, the two food history buffs mention that, Although sauerkraut – German for ‘sour cabbage’ – is thought of as a German invention, Chinese laborers building the Great Wall of China over 2,000 years ago ate it as standard fare. Chinese sauerkraut, made from shredded cabbage was fermented in RICE WINE. [Read more…]

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Chicken Tinola – Stewed Chicken with Ginger as Comfort Food


All cultures have dishes popularly designated as comfort food. The American list includes pizza, fries, fried chicken, spaghetti, mac and cheese, and chicken soup, while the British seem to have a decided fondness for fish and chips, trifle, and scones. Filipinos also have their own comfort foods, and one of the best loved Filipino recipes is “tinola”, a chicken stew strongly flavored with fish sauce, ginger, onions, and pepper leaves.

Tinola in the Old Days

This simple stew has a long history of honor and comfort. It is mentioned in Noli Me Tangere, an 1887 novel written by Jose Rizal, one of the heroes of the country. In the beginning of the novel, he describes one of the characters having chicken tinola, and as the honored guest of the dinner, he is served the choice parts. The tradition of setting aside choice parts of the tinola went on for centuries – until it became possible to cook this stew with as many wings or drumsticks as you wanted. [Read more…]

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Shakshouka, The Comfort Food from the Middle East and North Africa

Shakshouka a comfort foodYou can’t believe a hearty dish can be healthy too. More and more gourmet chefs are proving that it can be done, but if you are not gourmet, you have your doubts. Enter Shakshouka (or Shakshuka) … another comfort food, even a staple of exotic origin. It is a simple dish of tomatoes and eggs scented and flavored by exotic spices.

If you are looking forward to another unforgettable addition to your repertoire of healthy dishes, learn a few interesting facts about Shakshouka and how you can make it varied and exciting.

Enigmatic Beginnings

References are pointing to various origins – Middle East (primarily Israel and Arab nations) and North Africa (specifically Tunisia, Egypt, Alegria, Libya, Yemen and Morocco). The name is said to have the “flavor” of Tunisian or Yemeni, but the name also brings to mind close association with Amazigh (Berber) or Arabic  to mean “mixture.” [Read more…]

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Healthy Tuna Sandwich: A Departure from Mayo-slathered Comfort Food

Healthy tuna sandwichIf eating tuna sandwich brings back happy childhood memories, it must be a comfort food. If by just thinking about it you remember the taste and feel like it’s in your mouth, you must be missing it since you turned to healthy lifestyle.  If it is the mayonnaise that is making you cringe knowing how much unhealthy fats are when slathered on your white bread with it, know that there are ways to make your tuna sandwich healthier.

Discover nine ways to make tuna sandwich minus the fat-laden mayonnaise in this Huffington – Taste post by Kate Bratskeir entitled “How To Make Tuna Salad Without Mayonnaise. Because Yes, You Can” [Read more…]

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Soup for the Soul

soup - food for the soulThe “Chicken Soup for the Soul” is more than a book; it is an international brand that sold over 5M copies, translated in 40 languages, distributed in 100 countries, and counting. It took time before Jack Canfield, the author, thought of the title that gave this book an unprecedented success. The title is apt because like the comfort food chicken soup, the book brings comfort to people looking for inspiration and hope.

Now back to the chicken soup as the ultimate comfort food. It brings back memories of childhood, home and family. During winters, it provides everyone around the table some warmth to ward off the chills. And if you’re feeling downhearted or ill, a bowl of chicken soup is a promise that everything will be better. Thus, Johanna Derry asks: Comfort Soups: Nostalgia in a bowl or magic medicine? Read about it in The Guardian as she presents the versions from three chefs: [Read more…]

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