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I love a nice bowl of curry! Unfortunately, I get the same reaction to those words in my married-into family as I get when I exclaim “I love a nice piece of fruitcake!” So to indulge myself, it’s necessary to either go out with friends who share similar tastes, or to hook up, one way or another, with my brother and sister in the UK so that we can have a pig-out. (The Worcestershire area has some very nice Balti restaurants (I prefer the beef), and some of the better Indian restaurants, which offer more of a variety, do lovely curries. I’m not a fan of “curry and chips.” Nor of most “fish and chips” as they manifest themselves in the land of my birth, either, but that’s a whole nother story).
In the matter of curry, I’m pretty indifferent to, and catholic in my tastes, as far as the country of origin and heat output. A nice Thai panang (red or green curry), or Kiang Som Kung (sour shrimp curry) is scrumptious. Vindaloo, ramped up to a heat scale of about nine out of ten is delicious, as is Makhani, a mild chicken dish. Stretching the definition a bit, I’ll throw in a nice jambalaya here as well. The common factor with most curries, worldwide is rice, although the varieties change from place to place–plain long-grain, basmati, jasmine and so on. The subtle flavor of the rice enhances the spices in the curry, or in the case of plain rice, provides a nice contrast, and it’s important to use the right one for the right dish. Or so I think.
I’ve just returned from a trip to Pittsburgh to help my friend Andrea, who’s had a bit of a run of bad health lately, plant some flowers in her garden. She and I had a delightful afternoon last week at a local ice-cream parlor, and we followed that up with a visit to Bedner’s Farm and Greenhouse, just down the road. It’s a lovely nursery of the plant variety. It’s the only other place, besides luxury fabric stores in Italy, and sundry exotic spinning and knitting supply places all over the world, where I have to worry that the credit card company might be calling Mr. She to “turn me in” for an overabundance of retail therapy before I make it home. But I digress.
Andy and I had a delightful morning and afternoon, starting with delicious fresh bagels, cream cheese and coffee, followed by gardening (her garden is lovely; a haven for birds and wildlife, almost right in the middle of the city of Pittsburgh), and then she took me to lunch.
At a new and nice little curry place on Banksville Road. I asked for Vindaloo, as hot as they could make it. The young woman taking my order wasn’t sure I knew what I was asking for, and was a bit tentative about writing it down.
Andrea assured her I did, and that “hot as you can make it” was exactly what I wanted.
You see, she was with me in Washington DC a few decades ago, on a trip to the Smithsonian to see the Mesopotamian Art treasures from the Louvre which were on display. The trip on which I ate the hottest Vindaloo I think the world has ever seen. And she’s been trying to recreate that experience for me ever since.
Now that’s a real pal.
When you’re in the mood for a good curry, what do you order up?