I'm a strong believer in the idea that food has natural seasons. I don't want to eat cold soups when it's snowing outside and I can't imagine a hot roast beef dinner on the 4th of July.
That has led me to believe that our American predliction for importing ethnic cuisines from all over the world -- regardless of what geography means for climate -- and then assuming that they are universally appealing to our own hometown, doesn't always work.
This notion was really brought home to me last night when my family selected Vietnames cuisine for a Sunday night casual dinner out. (Note: all of us like Vietnamese food. One of the advantages of Philadelphia is that we have thriving Oriental communities from many places including more Vietnames restaurants than I can count, dozens of them located along a strip of Washington Avenue that used to be mainly an Italian open market.
It was in the 20's outside, football playoffs were on the bar TV, and I was shivering in spite of two sweaters and a ski jacket as we settled around a table to order. It was then that I realized that the Vietnamese summer rolls, the heavy emphasis on herbs, raw vegetables, and salad served with nearly everything, and my particular favorite, Raw Lime Beef Salad, were all COLD.
But it was too late so there I sat, warming my hands around a rapidly cooling cup of tea, trying to figure out how much ShriLacha (that Red Rooster Hot Sauce no Vietnamese restaurant is complete without) you could add to a dish like double noodle soup to make it taste warmer (much warmer) without making it inedible.
Tonight I think we'll have to go for Shepherd's Pie, with a thick coating of mashed potatoes and a temperature so hot it nearly burns my tongue. Just to be sure, I think I'll put on extra sweater right now.
P.S. I haven't posted to this blog for a long time -- Too many other writng responsibilities. But I'm going to try hard to post to it at least a few times a week. Do write in and tell me what you'd like to hear about.