The 614ortyPlatter – The Food Encyclopedia (N-Z)

Service Bar’s take on the exotic Tea Leaf Salad from Burma

We started off our first volume of my off-the-cuff Food Encyclopedia with the first 13 letters of the alphabet at this prior blogpost.

Well, a couple things happened in the meantime, including a change in blogging platform and a random post or two in between. But indeed, this is one of the tangents in which I felt my original blog was no longer sufficient for my needs, and it would make no sense to not continue it as far as I foresee continuing this venture.

(It does make me wonder whether the 614ortyPlatter really makes sense for these lists – I’ll have to think about that further.)

But in any case, no more dilly-dallying around: here’s Volume 2 of the first ever 614ortyPlatter Food Encyclopedia, this time covering the second-half of the alphabet (N through Z), with an accompanying playlist embedded at the end of the post.

Nori – This distinctly Japanese food item has a history dating back for more than a millennium; one source indicates that this dried edible seaweed was mentioned as an item for taxation as early as 700 CE. It wasn’t until 1997 when our selected musical band, Chicago’s Fruit Bats, became a thing; their 2003 Sub-Pop release “Mouthfuls” appropriately contains Nori, or at least in this case, the English equivalent in “Seaweed.”

Osso Bucco – This classic Italian preparation, which originated from the Lombardy region, has two main variations: veal shanks braised in either gremolata, bay leaf and cinnamon (in bianco; the original version) and the more modern construct of celery, carrots, onions and tomatoes. Topping off our hearty dish musically are the elegant stylings of The Vince Guaraldi Trio’s “Ossobucco”, off their 1956 self-titled album.

Paletas – The origin of Mexican paletas is unclear, but most people agree that the state of Michoacán has something to do with both the origin as well as the non-chain chain you’ll see in a number of cities in the United States (due to lax copyright laws in Mexico, pretty much anyone who got into the paleta business early on ran with the Michoacán name.) Columbus indeed has a La Michoacán Market, but they also have other home-bred paleta makers such as Diamonds, Dulce Vida and La Plaza Tapatia. Noted Chicano hip-hop/rock band Ozomatli provides the chill vibe here with their song “Paleta”, from their 2014 album “Place In The Sun.”

Quince – The quince fruit has roots which stretch back for centuries, being prized by a number of ancient civilizations. Some have surmised that the apple mentioned in the Bible tale of Adam and Eve was actually a quince, since apples did not make it to the region until more recent times.  South Korean actress/singer Yozoh adds her dulcet tones to our playlist with her “Quince Tree”, a single which she released to the public at the beginning of 2021.

Rou Jia Mo – Often referred to as a “Chinese Hamburger”, the Rou Jia Mo can be found in the northern portions of China (and, if you’re lucky, the menu of Columbus’s Jiu Thai in Bethel Center.) In fact, this street food is thought of quite highly in the Shanxi Province, and was given an “Intangible Cultural Heritage” designation in 2016. Pulling in with their own hamburger here is Los Angeles’s The Muffs, a pop-punk band whose cover of Kim Wilde’s “Kids In America” proved to be their most popular tune in a recording career that spanned nearly two decades.

Snoek – Officially known as Thyrsites Atun, The Snoek, a species of mackerel, is a popular food source, especially along the South African coasts either as barbecue or as a protein in various Cape Malay dishes such as smoorsmoek or fish bobotie.  Dutch singer Hans Snoek occupies the next spot in our alphabetical playlist with “Als De Zomer Komt” (“When Summer Comes”) – if you listen closely, you might be able to figure out what popular 1977 hit Snoek uses for his composition.

Tea Leaf Salad – Known in Burmese as Lahpet Thoke, Tea Leaf Salad is considered a Burmese delicacy, often served during special occasions where guests are invited into someone’s home.  While Burmese dishes are pretty hard to find in general in Ohio, places like the San Francisco Bay Area are far more fertile ground, with dozens of options.  Off the appropriately titled and completely Burmese compilation “Green Leaf Tea Salad” (with a tantalizing picture of the ingredients on the album cover,) we bring you “Hni Oo Hsaing #1 (Two People Face to Face)” by  Own Kyaw and Htun Htun.

Ube – Pronounced ooh-bay, Ube is the Filipino term for the purple yam, which has been a traditional ingredient in a number of Filipino sweet creations.  In the era of Instagram, the striking purple color of this tuber has made ube has become something of a hipster ingredient, being seen in pretty much every dessert imaginable as well as things like lattes and craft beer. It only seemed appropriate to have a Filipino band for this slot, and perhaps it’s not surprise that there actually is a band named Ube, whose rendition of “Sayang” we bring for your audio sampling.

Vienna Sausage – Speaking of Filipino cooking, it’s hard not to find a pantry in a Filipino home without a few cans of these mini mixed-meat logs.  However, this version of the sausage, which in part was led by the quest to create portable preserved food sources, is really nothing like the traditional Vienna Sausage, which is generally a mix of pork and beef stuffed in a sheep’s casing and then given a low-temperature smoking. There may be nothing mystic and soulful about sausages, but that fully applies to Midge Ure and Ultravox’s rendition of “Vienna”, the title track from their 1980 full length.

Welsh Rarebit – Admittedly, I originally thought this dish included rabbit, but as it turns out, Rarebit (essentially, melted cheese with various herbs and spices served over toast) is something I would’ve loved even when I was a kid. Also, the dish isn’t necessarily Welsh; in some circles, the name of this dish comes from a place of condescension toward the people of Wales and their culinary habits. Regardless of the origin story you believe, one can’t deny that the Manic Street Preachers is one of the best things to come from Wales, with “Your Love Is Not Enough” our choice for accompanying your cheese and toast dish of choice.

Xocolatl – While this was the forefather of the modern hot chocolate drink, the taste profile of this Aztec-invention (just a little bit bitter and a touch spicy) was something of a complete opposite of what most current people are used to. Reflecting that somewhat unexpected vibe, we decided the Carolina Chocolate Drops, three African-American musicians fully into the Americana and folk vibe, would be perfect, with their cover of Blu Cantrell’s big smash “Hit ‘Em Up Style” providing the sonic refreshment here.

Ying Yang – Your tolerance for shots is tested here, as the Ying Yang has you take a shot of Jagermeister followed by a shot of Rumple Minze (note: your gut feelings after this combo may vary.) Here, twin shots deserve twin musicians, as in the Ying Yang Twins, who combine with Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz for their monster crunk smash “Get Low” (which is now as mainstream as anything, be featured in a Kroger grocery store commercial.)

Zambia – We finish our first alphabetical swing through the food encyclopedia with a look at Zambian cuisine, which is pretty rare to find in the States. Sample dishes from this country’s cuisine include Nshima (similar to grits, except with corn), Ifishimu (fried caterpillars), Ndiwo (vegetable relish), and Chikanda (a vegetarian sausage made of chilies, orchid tubers, peanuts, orchid tubers and baking soda, and cooked until it forms a meatloaf like texture.) Appropriately enough, our finishing dish is from none other than Zambian artist Chef 187, who continues the crunky vibe laid down in the previous song with his 2019 release “Tuleya Tulekela”.

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