The ghastly-looking century egg is the Roquefort of Chinese foods

When I was little, I thought that century eggs (also known as hundred-year or thousand-year eggs, pidan in Mandarin, and “What the hell is that?!”) were dinosaur eggs. Any 5-year-old could make the same assumption. There’s the name, for one thing, and the fact that the eggs are sold covered in clay and rice hulls like…

Paying tribute to the cheap and queasy St. Paul egg foo young sandwich

We’ve seen the joke a dozen times, the one that says anything can be a meal if you smash it between two pieces of bread. Al Bundy sprinkled Tang powder across a couple slices on Married… With Children. In The Breakfast Club, shaggy, black-clad Allison adorned her sandwich with Pixy Stix and Cap’n Crunch. The St. Paul…

Searching for a real cup of chai, far beyond the Starbucks

Every time I order chai somewhere new, I text my dad. “Is it real?” is how he responds. Real chai, to my family, means something that closely resembles masala chai, a daily staple in my father’s motherland of India, where chaiwalas line the streets, spooning out steaming, aromatic tea turned light brown by a generous…

Peanut pie and the sweet, crunchy memories of a Southern Virginia childhood

I grew up in Richmond, Virginia, but bussed 35 miles each day to a performing arts high school in the town of Petersburg. Several times a week during the spring, I’d get out of class early with the rest of the girls on the varsity tennis team, and we’d haul our bulky bags onto a bus for our away games, motoring down…

Goetta, Cincinnati’s second most-famous food, is a sausage for the working man

Goetta is not Cincinnati’s most well-known culinary export. That would be Skyline Chili, which I refuse to call “Cincinnati style,” because that would be acknowledging the existence of rival chain Gold Star Chili, and that is unacceptable in my household. Nor is it the city’s most gourmet offering; Graeter’s ice cream…

Dear taquerias: Please don’t forget the crispy potato taco

The first time I ever encountered potato tacos, I was 17. It was a Sunday—band practice day. During a break between overly angsty fits of distorted guitar, our chief songwriter, David, said to me, “Let’s go get potato tacos.” I’d never heard of such a thing. Even though I lived just across the Mexican border, I was…

How a banana-chicken casserole became a beloved Swedish comfort food

The recipe for Flying Jacob reads like a stoned dad’s trip to the bodega. It starts with rotisserie chicken, heavy cream, and bananas baked together, then it’s all topped with fried bacon and peanuts, like a casserole mated with Elvis’ favorite sandwich. The story behind Flying Jacob is all the more remarkable—and…

Herring is the cheap, healthy fish most Americans are overlooking

Unless you were specifically seeking it out, you’ve probably never noticed the little jars on grocery store shelves stuffed with scaly skin-on fish floating in sour cream, or a wine sauce the color of a murky creek. Or maybe it caught your eye and it made you shudder. For those accustomed to fish only in stick form,…