Food culture

So I'm kicking off the Food in the English-Speaking World discussion.

First off, one has to realize that English-speaking world is BIG. Indian cuisine is about as different from Canadian, as Zimbabwean from Turkish. I'll be talking mostly about American, Canadian and British, since I know those best.

Some people think American food is a derivative of English and some think it's hamburgers and French Fries. Neither is exactly true, or even close to truth. Although, yes, Americans do eat pot roast, hamburgers and pound cake.
US is an extremely multi-cultural country, and was multicultural to begin with. Dutch, Spanish, French, British, Italian, Irish, Chinese and Indian foods are all over the place and they penetrated so far into the "national" potluck that most people here don't think of them as "foreign" foods anymore. For example, today in out hospital cafeteria you can get:
Muffins and pound cakes - British
Stuffed halapinos - Mexican
Strawberry parfait - French
Spagetti and meatballs in pineapple sauce - the cross between Italian and Hawaiian, I imagine...
Pizza - Italian
Macaroni salad - American
Apple pie - Dutch
and so on. And I did actualy go down there to check.

So, what that means is you can find anything you want here, as far as food goes, or nearly anything. Including salted cucumbers, сметана, and кисло млeко. But you might have to search for a bit.
Now, "sour cream" is prepared very much like "сметана", except is is done with cream, not milk, and it is never diluted with water or milk. So it looks like Russian творог, thick and smooth, not liquid at all. If you want it to look like Russian smetana you can dilute it with full-fat milk or cream.
"Curd" is not actually творог but a kind of consistency for milk products. "Творог" is "cottage cheese". Cottage cheese can be large curd, small curd, smooth and whatnot else. Most cottage cheese made in the US is made along the Northern European recipies (Skandinavian, Northern French), so it looks chunky (small or large curd). But you can buy cottage cheese that is smooth and a bit sour to the taste, like Russian ones, you just need to go to a farmhouse or specialty Eastern European store.
Salted cucumber (preserved in salted water with spices) and pickled cucumbers (preserved in vineager water with spices) can both be found in the US. But mostly cucumbers are pickled, with a few salted here and there, as opposed to in Russia, where there were a few pickled and mostly salted. Salt was hard to get here for a long while, so people used vineager to preserve pretty much everything.

Last thing for now. Americans pasteurize their foods to the fare-thee-well, probably with a battle-cry of "No bacteria remains crawling!" So if the milk does not go sour for a week and sour cream stays good for a month that does not mean they have preservatives or artificial additives; it just means that they are well-pasteurized. Which is usually a good thing, although cursed inconvenient when you are trying to make sour milk for pancakes.

Questions? Comments? Disagreements? Corrections?

@темы: discussion, that's useful

2008-07-26 в 20:15 

bet on both sides | do what you must
May be cover that pickled-salted difference here too? And add tag it's useful, 'cos it's not only discussion, but an information too.

That cottage cheese thing baffled me when I first saw it. We here have rather new trend of домашний сыр in groceries and it's something in vein of творожный сыр, i.e. it's not hard, it's... chunky, though small curd, if I imagine it right. But it's salty unlike usual "творог" (I call it in russian to avoid confusion), and not salty as salted, but salty as made with salt.
You see, here i'm interested less in cultural cuisine - we have restaurants and rather good books if need arises. I'm more interested in "how is that box/bottle/slice called and what it means" kind of thing.
So, as i can get it, there are another lines of divide between classes of products than we have in Russia, right?

BTW, just interesting, what percent milk do you have there (f this question males sense)?
And what are yoghurt? I suspect we have it different too.

2008-07-26 в 20:38 

Чиффа. Okay. Added and corrected.

Okay. Understrand the issue... The two are kind of tied togeather, though, because you can't understand why things are called the way they are without knowing where they come from. But I'll try to be more to the point on names.

So, cheeses can be "home-made", "farm-made" or "commercial made", like anywhere. Their consistency can be as follows (so far as I know, I'm not nearly a culinary specialist! :)

Hard cheese (like the "only cheese" in USSR or like Rochefort was addicted to in Chip&Dale The Resque Rangers)
Soft cheese (like Mozarella)
Aged cheese - выдержнный сыр
Cream cheese (which is, really, white soft butter)
Cottage cheese (творог)
Ricotto (which is some kind of cross between cheeses)

Now other milk products:

Sour cream - сметана. But it is more solid and a bit less sour.
Sweet cream or cream - сливки.
Half-and-half - a combination of milk and cream in proportion 50/50.
Whole milk (3% fat). Just regular milk.
Reduced-fat milk (2% fat).
1% milk - self-explanatory, right :)
Skim milk (fat-free) - cнятое молоко.
Buttermilk - liquid that remains in the churn after you made butter in that same churn. So, protein but almost no sugars and no fat. Makes absolutely gorgeous pancakes.

Butter - same as Russian.
Margarine - same as Russian. Made out of partially hydrogenated plant oils. I recommend that you avoid it like a plague; it's pretty unhealthy.

Yogurt is not кефир! Кефир is "sour milk", or Middle-eastern yogurt, or by an indigenous name like "kislo mleko" or "kefir".
Yogurt is Dannon or whatever brand is popular in Moscow now, pretty much. This is just the bacteria they have for making it, for some reason. Turns out the same way if you make it at home with their culture.

What am I forgetting?

A random thing:
"Dumpling" can be Chinese or Siberian, which has meat inside. People also call them "ravioli", but unless those are specified as having meat inside they are usually stuffed with some sort of cheese. The traditional "dumpling" is a European thing, it's like "клётцки", as in, just batter without stuffing. So if you are in a traditional American restaurant (and there are a few), the dumplings can offer you an unexpected surprise.

2008-07-26 в 20:50 

bet on both sides | do what you must
I see... I never saw buttermmilk here. Wonder, how it can be called...

It's just I've met something really unexpected done with yogurt, but don't remember what it was. But it gave me suspiction that you have some other yogurt than us here...

And how are пельмени called? I always thought it was somewhere in dumplings toom though thy are sometimes called ravioli here... but THAT is really not the same IMHO even with meat.

2008-07-26 в 22:24 

I can't even guess about buttermilk ))

Funny thing is, people here use yogurt as breakfast food (with berries or cereal) or as dressing for Indian food, and that's pretty much it. But Americans from India, Pakistan, etc use it so much more and in so many different ways that you can see the strangest recipies... Yogurt here is really pretty similar to Dannon, though, most of the time.

I call пельмени "dumplings". So does Kevin. My guess is that someone might call them "meat ravioli". Although yes, they are really different. I have heard them called "pirogi" and I have no idea where that comes from.

2008-07-27 в 14:01 

Я, Франкенштейн
я бешеный, я помешанный, я маньяяяяяк!
I guess buttermilk can be somewhat related to russian "пахта". But I nether seen it since USSR times

2008-07-28 в 04:19 

Electronic Elric I have never seen пахта in real life; only read about it, so I'm not sure how closely they are related... IS the production technology the same?

2008-07-28 в 11:49 

я бешеный, я помешанный, я маньяяяяяк!
I don't know in details but as long as пахта is "milk" leftover of butter production I thought it could be related.

2008-07-28 в 12:45 

Kleo Scanti
Spread your wings and fly!
Is there some English word for "запеканка"? My dictionary gives me "baked pudding", but if I search this definition in a food base, the closest thing it gives me is Yorkshire pudding, which if definitely not what I need.

2008-07-28 в 19:17 

Electronic Elric Could easily be ))

Kleo Scanti There are different words for different kinds of запеканка. sa far as I know. generally, it would be a "baked dish". Запеканка with spagetti would be baked spagetti. With meat, corn and veggies - Shepherd's pie. With bread, "bread pudding". Was the spagetti one the one you had in mind?

2008-07-28 в 19:29 

bet on both sides | do what you must
KattyJamison, and запеканка with potato (and may be meat or mushrooms)? Baked potato dish is more like печеная картошка, quite a different thing...

2008-07-29 в 00:37 

Kleo Scanti
Spread your wings and fly!
KattyJamison I mean the one made of cottage cheese, eggs, flour and sugar.

2008-07-29 в 16:18 

Чиффа. A thing like that would probably be potato (mushroom/meat) casserole... Although I can make an argument for "baked potato dish" being a more elaborate thing than "baked potato".

Kleo Scanti Huh. I don't even know how this one looks like... This might even be "cheesecake", seriously. Or "cottage cheese casserole" if it is not sweet. Or "cottage cheese pudding". I don't believe I've ever seen one like that before.

2008-07-29 в 16:28 

bet on both sides | do what you must
KattyJamison, yes, I like "casserole". As for "baked potato dish" - well, it's elaborate, but in truth your firstly boil potato fo it ))) and the whole process is even more elaborate then words )))

I don't believe I've ever seen one like that before.
You never had творожная запеканкка in school or at home? Never ever? How couls it be??? (I hate it like most cottage cheese things but) it was almost standart in schools... and in home coooking, honestly.

And, BTW, now I sometimes see it ready-made in foodstores. It's really called cheesecake...

2008-07-29 в 16:44 

Чиффа. All right, casserole, then.

A horrible mystery revealed: I never ate at daycare or school. Never-ever once in my life. Preferred to go hungry. And the only cottage cheese dishes made at home were сырники (cottage cheese pancakes) and cottage cheese with tons on jelly. So no, never came across it. The one запеканка I actually know relatively well is the spagetti-and-raisin one. Is it sweet? Because if it is, then it has to be cheesecake. Not the current one, but the traditional one; that's how they were cooked before.

2008-07-29 в 16:56 

bet on both sides | do what you must
KattyJamison, we have pretty decent food in school, but anyways - we also had a rule (especially when younger) that everyone goes to dining hall even if they aren't eating. One cannot leave small kids without suprevising and we had one teacher per class ))) and she went to dinig-hall, of course. So... I just thought you could have seen food even if you weren't eating.

yes, it's sweet, it usually foea as dessert with some sort of dressing (in schools it was kissel). So... cheesecake it is?

2008-07-29 в 17:24 

Чиффа. I see. Our teacher llet us stay in the classroom for lunchbreak if we were not planning to eat, so I stayed to read, usually. I am not sure how I missed seeing it, though, if it is that common... Blocked out the unwanted input, maybe?
If it is sweet, then definitely cheesecake.

2008-07-29 в 17:30 

Kleo Scanti
Spread your wings and fly!
KattyJamison It's like a huge сырник, and you bake it inside an oven. I guess I should look a traditional cheesecake recipe up in some cook book to be sure that our collective guess is correct. :)

2008-07-29 в 18:12 

Kleo Scanti I see. The thing is, "traditional cheesecake" does not really exist, there are so many versions. And I can't think of how else to call a sweet backed dish of cottage cheese, eggs, flour and sugar. Well, maybe "cottage cheese cake", since most modern cheesecakes are made with cream cheese, not cottage cheese...

2008-07-31 в 21:27 

Когда на руках выигрышные карты, следует играть честно.

Right. To kick the dead horse of "запеканка" a bit more, if I may. From the perspective of British English.

Here it would be "xxx bake". So, "potato and mushroom bake". By analogy, while the dish is not common around here, if you were to refer to "запеканка" as "cottage cheese and honey (or whatever) bake", you would normally be understood.
An exception that comes into mind is when you bake boiled cauliflower with cream under cheese topping. That's called "cauliflower cheese".

"Baked dish" would never be used, unless it was on its own and referred purely to the method of preparation.

"Casserole" would not be an appropriate word to use in England, as it describes something of a more liquid consistency. Something that is closer to "ragu".

2008-07-31 в 21:41 

Астер Did not think of "__ bake". I suppose you'll be understood if you use it in the US, but I haven't seen it so far.

The "cauliflower cheese" in the US is called either "cauliflower puree" (if you puree it) or "cauliflower casserole".

Interesting. Didn't realize "casserole" is a synonim of American "stew"...

2008-07-31 в 21:46 

bet on both sides | do what you must
Астер, many thanks )))
good recipe, btw. Never heard of it here. I adore cauliflower, but my partner does not, so I'm always at loss how to make with it something interesting for us both. I''ll try it, as he usually approves my baking experiments.


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