Well I definitely wanted to travel a lot more than I did a lot sooner in my life, but either way, I can honestly say that I was rather privileged growing up under the tutelage of a parents who made it happen in terms of exploring the length and breadth of this beautiful world of ours. One of the most outstanding features which define any destination however is its food, particularly that food which is unique to the place or which is prepared in a way that is unique to that location.
I’m talking here from your basic fries on which some people add vinegar in addition to salt, while others don’t and perhaps even eat them with rice, right up to dishes such as koshary, which is rather unique to North Africa.
A few short years ago however it was a bit of struggle to try and recreate many of these delicious flavours of the different parts of the world. I mean even if the restaurant owner was kind enough to write down the recipe for their favourite foreign customers who will perhaps never return to their establishment, some of the ingredients proved hard to find and still prove hard to find to this day. Shipping them across the world works out to be quite expensive and by the time they arrive they’re either not as fresh as you’d like or you’re not even in the mood for that specific dish you were previously craving anymore.
Some of these unique flavours of the world one experiences are just too hearty to put away on the “once-in-a-lifetime-culinary-experience” shelf, so a plan needs to be made in order for one to keep enjoying them. Fortunately there is a plan and it’s called ingredient substitution.
Ingredient substitution involves a whole lot of experimentation, but it takes you through a journey of culinary delight along which you learn so much about your own cooking skills and about what can be achieved with a little creativity and ingredient chopping and changing.
Many people in this part of the world find apple pie revolting, for example, but I reckon that’s just because they don’t quite have the proper ingredients to make something like that come out the way it was originally intended to come out. You’d want to use original apple pie spice for example in order to get the authentic taste of this good old American favourite, but since this dessert isn’t that popular round here, you’d have a hard time finding apple spice.
That’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about however, that being ingredient substitution used to recreate the flavour almost as is, if not all the way as it is. If you don’t have apple pie spice for example, a tablespoon of it can be recreated with a mixture of two teaspoons of ground cinnamon, one teaspoon of ground nutmeg and just a pinch of ground allspice.
In many instances you even come up with a richer and more delicious flavour than the original, but as mentioned, there will be a lot of experimentation involved to recreate the various flavours of the world on a budget.