I have spoken many times of how the world feeds our eyes. Daily.
However, there is a reason we have multiple senses in addition to our visual prowess.
Taste being one of them. The lick of delectable foods.
Touch being another. The rustle of fashion and accessory on skin.
For audible emotions, tune into Akon’s Bollywood entrée and Rihanna’s racy dazzle during an Emirati fashion show review in Dubai.
And finally there is sound, where my penchant for alluring and addictive scents has been explored in my ode to the prominent feature of everyone’s face, the nose. Aptly titled Thy Nose Knows Best. Or, Scent of a Woman, another tribute to ecstasy.
After a viral response to my Out of Hand Observations series, I was long seeking something to inspire me to write like a flowing river on topics that would never cease to arouse me.
Daily, I taste and watch so much inventiveness in the bustling world of exploding tastes and flavors. And daily, I think to myself, how quirky of an ingredient to flirt with its polar opposite. How creative of a chef to blend something that juxtaposes with what I anticipate. Foods can play tricks on your imagination, and I have decided to now capture and catapult inspirations into a seemingly ordinary world.
The same can be said for what I see and feel as adornments on myself and my visual candy. Daily, I see a small quirk that elevates a look from ordinary to sublime or from perfect to completely refreshing. So I will sway between food and fashion to share with you my favorite elements in the world, with a touch of quirky.
And so begins a series of all things quirky, with an attempt to whisk them out of the world’s delicacies in alternating breezes of food or fashion, wacky or stimulating, alarming or calming, or any common inkling that binds them together. I hope that some of these evoke inspiration for fashion critics, lookbook enthusiasts, food analysts and hotshot chefs alike. And as the case with ideal list, these will be kept short with two to three quirks shared at a time.
This series commences with two quirky ingredients that I have seen many times in a variety of different foods, but lately in the most juxtaposed of forms.
By far, and probably very close to my other love of life – the grapefruit, comes my adoration for pomegranate. It is a king-like fruit topped with a crown and oozing with rubies, which is oh so trending this year. Plus its packed with antioxidants (there are no negative calories like my grapefruit, but health benefits surely help!). The rich red color, my favorite of all, the effortful peeling and dicing of seeds, and the luscious burst of flavor with a crunchy interior of each seedling is simply alluring and addictive. Mom and I have been known to finish 8 pomegranates at a time, that too when I was under the age of 8. 6 precisely. Here is the evidence, in vintage memoire format.
So how can one go quirky with this delectable seasonal fruit?
Ever tried pomegranate in a burger? Well Dabeli, a traditional Indian dish from the state of Gujarat, is not quite a burger, but with a potato patty amidst a sliced bun, it comes darn close. Mom has taught me how to make dabeli as a satisfying snack in times of rushed solitude, and the blend of carbs are cut sharply and surprisingly with the juicy pomegranate. It’s the prefect finale to a concoction of textures and flavors.
Pomegranate is usually known for its use in sorbets and smoothies and all things frozen. Ever tried pomegranate cookies? Given my picky addiction to cookies, I was surprised I liked them, for I dislike oatmeal raisin cookies, and anything with a chewy or fruity sensation in it (chocolate and orange, join my despised pairing list). Yet, pomegranate in cookies is a heaven sent combination of adulterous proportions. The sweetness and crumbliness of a soft baked cookie is the perfect marriage with the tart, tangy and bursting juiciness of a pomegranate seed. Not to mention, it enriches the visual appeal of cookies by embellishing them with glistening rubies, a feat that even my favorite chocolate chips cannot accomplish. A tantalizing recipe with oatmeal cookies was discovered by a friend on tumblr, which I can share here!
Curry is a stern, yellow and often simultaneously sweet and acidic combination of spices, which is often associated with Asian curries in particular, like Indian or Thai cuisines. However, curry powder has been recently discovered in the most strange of places which gifts it a spot in my Touch of Quirky series.
And once again I fall back on my love for cookies. It is no surprise that I was drawn to the curry cookie at Vosges chocolate boutique in Soho. Despite the offerings of a perfectly spherical curry chocolate truffle that had an odyssey as a history for its creation, I was still infatuated with the cookie.
It was gigantic and heavy enough to substitute weights at the gym, and the texture was akin to a deep desert of luscious dunes, with crevices that glistened with swoops of milk chocolate, and mountains tainted with a distinct yellow curry dough look. The many minutes it took to gobble the cookie (alongside milk) was a salivating climax for my mouth watering taste buds. The crumble of the cookie with a slightly spicy and sweet tang of the curry was alarmingly addictive… and left my fingernails yellow.
My other exploratory food pleasure is ice cream. Having documented a plethora of juxtaposed and inspired ice cream flavors, one that I obviously missed out was the curry ice cream that I tried through a friend from Asia. Almost in line with the spicy jolt of wasabi was the sweet, coconutty, spicy, and yellow-teeth-staining curry ice cream. Definitely my substitute for an entrée and dessert rolled in one.
And finally, given that it is Pizza Week, how can I forget curry topped pizza? Pizza is one of those experimental dishes that can go horribly wrong and mass market if not cared for, and become overpriced and unwillingly gourmet if one takes it too seriously. It also competes heavily with my passion for ice cream in terms of the combinations that you can achieve. And while I’ve tasted curry powder on pizzas everywhere from India to Tanzania to New Jersey to California, the most visually appealing was referred by a friend on a fellow blogger’s site, who aptly demonstrates how to use yesterday’s leftover Indian curry dishes into a pizza. Bravo!
And thus concludes the first pairing of A Touch of Quirky. Two ingredients that are close to my hearty taste buds, which I have seen translated and transformed with enough finesse to merit a cameo on Food Network’s Chopped. And so ends the first chapter in chronicles of many things I will taste and feel.
This time, don’t just feed your eyes with the world’s delights.
But reach out to feel them.
Linger on to taste them.
And you will see that amidst all things that seem perfectly ordinary…
there is a touch of quirky.