That quality Mexican food is more readily available in a place that used to be Mexico and which has since that time always had a substantial Mexican population is, perhaps, not so surprising.
Mexico is close to the US. The US has a sizable Mexican population, which means expertise. It also means there is a demand for Mexican food, which spurs competition. Finally, ingredients for Mexican food (whether sourced from Mexico or elsewhere) are readily available. This creates an environment where its possible to find delicious and reasonable priced Mexican food.
Europe is far from Mexico, and the situation is different.
Allow me to generalize "Europe": In Europe you can get delicious and cheap middle Eastern food.
P.S. Where in Europe do you live? Last year we had a really good Mexican restaurant open in Warsaw, Poland.
I don't think I've ever met anyone who didn't like a burrito, or pizza.
My point is I think a clean burrito joint would go over practically anywhere.
It needs to be clean, and the portions need to be generous, and the owner needs to keep an eye on the business.
Luckily these past years a lot of the "US food" has become way more popular. Tons of "artisan burger" restaurants and burrito/taco shops popping up. US-style food trucks, with all kinds of different offerings, also have become very popular.
More upmarket segment and pricing though, not really in the category of kebap shops.
I haven't seen a 14 Euro Doener anywhere, but I'm sure they exist. But 4.50 is definitely not the cheapest. 2.50-3.50 is actually the most common price I see around Berlin.
The peak will hit when a franchise chain of kebab places goes national.
I'd keep my eyes on Chicken & Rice Guys (3 locations around Boston, plus a truck), but they really need ten million dollars or so to win the domestic market.
 Halal Snack Pack, served originally by west Sydney kebab shops, it’s literally the greatest food to eat drunk. Which I find amusing — we do love our irony down here!
Basically french fries/chips covered with kebab meat and liberally doused with various sauces.
Absolutely true. At least at our truck, our kebab sales are second only to fish & chips - people go absolutely nuts for kebab, especially if we're posted up somewhere with alcohol. Munchy Box adoption is similarly high.
The main reason being that I prefer food that start life on my plate separately, so that I can choose to take a bite of each in turn. After that I don't especially like cheese, which spoils a lot of these types of dishes. I find that a lot of people agree with my first point, it's rarer to find people that aren't into cheese.
There’s an independent burrito place right next to my office (big tower block, so just being there guarantees them customers), and it has good prices (for London), good sized portions and is clean, but the taste is mediocre at best.
Well, one interesting point is that native Mexicans and native Chinese would hardly recognize what we in the US call Mexican and Chinese.
As for Eastern European food, I think some of it may simply be quantity. I can't think of a single ethnic dish in my family that wasn't meant for an army and was meant for one. Even the article author talks about having made 1500 dumplings. And many of the dishes get better on the second day.
It also doesn't help that ethnic dishes tend to all have little quirks about how your mother, grandmother, etc. did it and you won't like somebody else's quirks. The author's grandmother had her own quirks to her dumplings, for example.
> native Mexicans would hardly recognize
> what we in the US call Mexican.
Even more amusing is the person down-thread who echoed some wives tale about Mexican workers refusing to eat the food in the Mexican restaurant they work at in the States. Come the fuck on.
The only people I've ever heard say these things are Americans, especially pochos trying to claw back some cultural credentials because they don't speak Spanish.
I'm sure the Mexican food in Finland is fucking terrible. But let's not pretend that Mexican cuisine is some impenetrable wonder of the world, nor that Mexicans as a whole won't devour Mexican approximations with the same fervor they drink Coca Cola and queue up at Subway in their Sunday clothes.
But you know what they really loved? McDonald's kept running a promotion where you could get ten hamburgers or cheeseburgers for something like $2 or $5, and they would constantly make quick runs to the local drive-through at meal time, then burst in the kitchen entrance shouting and waving the McDonalds bag around. All work would stop and I would be called to bring my extra prep container of guacamole so a spoonful of that could be added to each burger and everyone would wolf them down. We're talking like ten Mexican dudes and myself, and 40-60 little hamburgers disappearing in a couple minutes. The executive chef was so disappointed and he'd just shake his head and go sit in his office.
I still prefer tacos to hamburgers though.
Not really. Try ordering a "burrito" or a "breakfast taco" in Mexico. And, you will note, I was careful not to claim that either one was more "authentic".
Foods evolve as they move and are adopted. This is doubly true of "ethnic" foods. The original article is a beautiful example of this with the grandmother starting with Siberian pelmeni, adding pork to a dish while in a nominally "Muslim" area and preparing it in Chinese bamboo steamers.
Melting pot, indeed.
Eastern European food, however, is more challenging regarding authenticity once you get past the delicious dumplings. Not too many people want to go out of their way for boiled meats and cabbage, or fatty vinegary stuff in aspic. Egg salad on a hot day at the Latvian church picnic. Brrrr. I expect these cuisines to evolve the way food in the UK has, developing a new native cuisine.
My tips are: barszcz czerwony z pierogi (both red made from beetroot with a good pierogi), barszcz biały (white borsht - basically like żurek, but made with wheat and served with with meat and egg), żurek (a fermented rye soup), bigos (a stew made with cabbage, sour cabbage, lots of meat and sausage and other ingredients), gołąbki (as you said - cabbage leaf wrapping meat and rice filling, served with a tomato sauce), kopytka (a little like gnocchi), łazanki (like a polish lasagne, but with sour cabbage), or just something simple like kiełbasa z cebulą (sausage with onion fried.)
So much great food. This is only scratching the surface.
Cabbage soup is called kapuśniak (from "kapusta" which is cabbage). Żurek is a fermented rye soup often called "white borscht" on North American restaurant menus. Another Polish soup worth trying if you find it on the menu and like sour flavors is zupa ogórkowa, which is a dill pickle soup.
P.s. many people from places like Poland consider themselves Central European. Some even Western European. I think this is about how they feel about being aligned with Russia, but also where their affinities lay
It seems to me indisputably true that there are large groups of related countries in Europe, and as a French citizen I do not have any problem with being grouped with Western Europe. Sometimes Southern Europe even, or Latin. "Eastern Europe" doesn't seem less relevant for the countries that are east of Western Europe.
I have travelled a bit around Europe, and I certainly do feel more "at home" once I am back to somewhere west of the German/Polish border, anyway. I'd expect it to be the same (reversed, of course) for those who come from Eastern Europe.
Do you mean, adapt to fit the preferences of the native palete? No thanks, I would prefer that Lido just get forklifted into some country than to be offered a potato pancake not slathered in sour cream and horseradish…
Eastern European food has quite a lot of variation.
Mexican and Chinese do have high end representation. It's pretty paltry on the East Coast but you can go to Rosa for Mexican in NY or Red Farm for Chinese to see examples of high end. Of course there are lots of places in Mexico or Asia where you can get extremely high end cuisine of that type. I have very little experience with Easter European food (but love it!) so can't say if it's the same in its native region but I bet it is.
I haven't been to Red Farm but some cursory searches show it's categorized as Chinese-American cuisine.
I've lived in Las Vegas, The Bay Area, and Salt Lake City and Mexican Food definitely gets the appreciation it deserves here.
My favorite restraunt Utah doesn't even serve Mexican food... they serve "Imperial Aztec Cuisine from Mexico City"
Fortunately, the owner's teenage daughter came home for lunch, and she spoke English, but she didn't know translations for what was on the menu. My mum asked her what she was having for lunch, and then asked for the same. The girl translated for her father, he grinned, and brought the best meal of the trip.
Unfortunately, we had no idea what it was called.
I suspect that Mexican dishes highly according to the part of Mexico, but experience in higher quality Mexican restaurants in DC leads me to believe there is also a huge quality difference.
I disagree, and I'd look to the words of Bayless and Bourdain. Mexican food in the Bay Area, at least, is almost entirely taquerias.
But I would try Lolinda if you are craving different.
There are a handful of less casual Mexican places in the Bay Area, but not many (Tres Agaves and Nopalito come to mind). Lolinda is actually Argentinian, not Mexican, though.
Any specific recommendations if I'm going to make the schlep on the G?
I recommend the series as they tackle themes regarding the prejudice against certain cuisines, as mentioned by OP. Warning, you'll be hungry after and during each episode.
Btw the sausage in Hamtramack is fing awesome.
If only Detroit could export its food like Brooklyn does. Detroit-style pizza is just so much better than yours ;)
What used to make france a great place for food is that you could it a different delicious dishe every day of the year if you wished so.
The food quality is seriously going down in my country though.
Huh? French food I can understand, though I don't have much of a taste for it, but Japanese food is terrible -- I was there for two weeks. A lot of foreigners are deeply disappointed when they travel to Japan, especially by sushi (though I found a couple of good sushi places). However, by far the best food in Japan is found in Chinese-style restaurants. Chinese food completely eclipses Japanese.
Eastern European food is fantastic. It completely spoiled me and my gf -- we couldn't stand the much-loved Spanish tapas when we went there. And Poles make as good or better pizza than Italians.
And then we went to Asia and found ourselves in a whole different ballgame.
> you can get an _amazing_ meal for cheap in Greenpoint
I completely sympathize -- Polish food is rewelacyjne when you're used to shitty American food.
You probably have not tried the ones you like, I'm french myself and there's so much variety in France it's impossible to try everything, I probably know less than 50% of the regional specialties despite being native. There's very few national dishes unlike most other countries.
Or it might just be your taste, but many people disagree with you about it being objectively bad.
When you arrive in Poland its cuisine can be very difficult to get used: pierogi (dumplings with potato or cabbage inside.. hardly ever meat!), sour soups, overcooked cabbage.. but then you start to discover sauces, creative salads, breaded fried stuff, sophisticated cakes and you realize that their cuisine is just as good as others.
Portuguese Açorda(1) is literally old bread inside hot water with herbs, a bit of olive oil and eggs. It looks austere but if you imagine yourself some centuries ago with only these ingredients, I challenge you to make something better.
Next up in Eastern European and Middle eastern cuisine - Cabbage rolls!
Mongolian dumplings are very similar to steamed Chinese dumplings, but strictly with ground beef or mutton.
Eastern European dumplings are smaller, usually boiled and made in bulk.
So they both have schnitzels, though the Austrian version is veal and the EE version is pork.
In the end, it is a variation of Italian dish.
The world of dumplings literally spans the globe and is extremely varied!
You can put different things in them. Even if you look at "meat stuffed dumplings", you can use different types of meat, that is prepared and flavored in different ways. The dough can be made of different types of flour and with ingredients in different proportions. They can be boiled, deep fried, pan fried. They can be eaten by themselves, or doused in butter, fried onions, sour cream, bacon bits, or who knows what. The choice of stuffing is tremendous, spanning meat, cheese, potatoes, fruits, and mushrooms! Don't even get started on different shapes, which are also an important part of the meal.
It's like saying "bread is bread" and throwing croissants, sour rye, and cron-bread into the same proverbial basket. Technically true, but does not add much to the conversation.
Finally, in this thread, no one has mentioned the recipe! I saved a copy of the OP, but only because of the recipe. The recipe was well written in places, e.g., the measurements. Good! At least the recipe left out the stuff about needing sour cream butter and adding flour until the dough "feels right": If I already knew that much about the dough, I wouldn't need the recipe!
Points about the recipe:
(1) Use pork shoulder or pork belly.
Really? In the US pork belly is raw bacon and nearly all fat. Pork shoulder has much less fat and, in some hogs, can be quite lean. So, those two sources are not nearly the same. I happen to have some pork loin, very lean, and some US bacon, nearly all fat but with standard bacon flavor. So, I should mix in by weight maybe 15% bacon?
(2) Fold the dough to make an infinity symbol.
Really? As a mathematician, I understand the infinity symbol, but I can't visualize how to take a circle of thin dough and make an infinity symbol. An instructional picture is needed.
(3) Master the dumpling pleating folding technique.
I'm willing to do that, wanting to do that, waiting to do that; now teach me how to do that! Or is not explaining that just one of the secrets of kitchen hazing for newbies???
Somehow such issues are standard in recipe and cookbook writing. E.g.:
At one time I subscribed to the Time-Life series Foods of the World. Finally I wrote them a letter cancelling the subscription. I got back a letter from some Time-Life person with hurt feelings.
Their point was that they were showing lots of really good foods. They were. My point was that they were also showing me travelogs with colorful stories about the cultures and with beautifully done, often full page, photographs of smiling faces, peasant costumes, interiors of high end Paris restaurants, gorgeous landscapes, and spectacular displays of what looked like fantastic foods: All of that made me want to learn to cook such foods! But the emotional grabbing got in the way of the instructional part: For instructional pictures, they had only a few and they were small. E.g., I saw lots of dumplings from Eastern Europe, Russia, China, etc., but nothing at all on how the heck to fold the dumplings! There was a fantastic Bavarian Black Forest Cherry Cake, but after many hours in the kitchen, with lots of money on groceries, there were two research problems, (A) getting the chocolate curls on the sides of the cake and (B) getting whipped cream strong enough to serve as cake filling and frosting. After hours, I got a good solution to (A) and a partial one to (B). And there were other issues, e.g., the cake was basically an egg foam with coca powder and nearly no flour so took some special handling.
All the books in the series went on this way -- "bait" with lots of gorgeous emotionalism and then a "switch" with far too little instructional rationalism.
For an explanation of this bait and switch stuff, I conjecture that in cooking writing, editing, and publishing, there are many more English majors than chemistry majors!!!
I can understand the Radon-Nikodym theorem in measure theory and the proof of von Neumann just fine. I made As in high school and college chemistry and can follow Eric Lander's lectures at MIT. I've made Sacher Tortes, Black Forest Cherry cakes, several French dishes, lots of American dishes, some Chinese dishes, have cooked successfully from Escoffier, Diat, Pepin, Child, etc., so I can learn.
Still I don't know about how to fold dumplings. That dumpling folding is common in kitchens doesn't make it common in my kitchen. The OP didn't help, and neither did you.
For making the infinity fold, the OP text is:
"Pull up two opposite edges of the circle, and stick them firmly together above the meat. Do the same with the two other edges, creating an X shape with the edges. Now join the “ears” by pressing together the corners, turning the X shape into an infinity symbol."
Between the first and second steps, sounds like a 90 degree rotation about a vertical axis through the center of the circle of dough.
The OP starts with a nice picture, but it's not very instructional on HOW to make the items shown, and among those items I didn't see anything like an infinity symbol.
For the infinity, I'm beginning to guess just what she means, but it's still a guess.
As is common in cooking, IMHO the OP is more for entertainment, for vicarious escapist fantasy emotional experience entertainment (VEFEEE), with the fantasy of being with a big, traditional family in a family kitchen in Eastern Europe, with lots of aromas of spices, herbs, and browning dumpling dough, etc. Still, such VEFEEE is zip, zilch, and zero for instructing me how to fold dumplings.
It's part of the mandate of HN to cover an assortment of everything, not just tech and startups, so long as it gratifies intellectual curiosity (https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html). That's one of the best things about HN, in my view, so I hope it doesn't change. Can dumplings gratify intellectual curiosity? Of course they can!
It's written beautifully, and includes what looks like a delicious recipe. I myself never realized the similarities between Chinese and Eastern European dumplings, but there is a fair amount of overlap, especially with regards to soup dumplings!
HN sourpusses could use a bit of home cooking -- a juicy dumpling full of pork belly and butter would lighten any mood!