Round foil container? Lunch must be inside

Today’s takeout lunch: chicken (muslo de pollo al horno) with yellow rice and beans. If it comes in a round foil container, it must be lunch.

It’s raining, so I went to the nearby Dominican restaurant for takeout, instead of to the Guineans on 116th or the Ivoirians on 125th.

This particular Resto Tropical (yeah, I know, every Spanish restaurant is either Caridad or Tropical) gets a steady lunchtime crowd; the rotisserie chicken with rice (pictured above) or chicken with salad is a steal for $5 or $4 respectively.

Thiebou Dienn (‘cheb’) from a place on East 116th St, gotta love the tamarind

Thiebou Dienn for lunch today, the Senegalese national dish. This wasn’t homemade, like the last cheb photo I posted, but instead was sourced from the nice ladies at 62 East 116th Street, between Park and Madison.

One of my office-mates has been craving Senegalese food for days now, so when she pulled the menu for the old Guinean place I frequented before I went down to the Secret City out of the stack I had a twinge of nostalgia and quickly gathered up the gumption to call them and order two plates of cheb. I know you’re thinking, “Senegalese/Guinean, what’s the deal here; do I go to a German restaurant for spaghetti bolognese?” Maybe you don’t, but in my limited experience everyone who’s tried it enjoys eating cheb, even me, and making it is kind of fun too.

The restaurant had kept the same phone number, but according to the order-taker they no longer did deliveries, and when I went to their old premises, they had moved, so it was a mini-adventure in itself just getting to the place, which was bizarrely named “Akwaaba,” the Twi (Ghana) word for welcome. So Senegalese food from Guinean cooks in a restaurant with a Ghanaian name.

As you can see, it looked pretty good when I got the dish back to the office and unpacked, and the colleague was very appreciative of my efforts.

They didn’t stuff the fish (some kind of sea-bass, I think), which is certainly an option that the Senegalese gastronome would not forego, but they did include the tamarind pieces. I think tamarind and a white fish go great together, and I should probably try to do something a little less elaborate with those two ingredients soon.

For your own delectation, you can try these at home:

  • My favorite cheb recipe comes from an old, old New York Times article, now available here.
  • Epicurious has a version as well, that lacks the tamarind, but does include the dried smoked fish, which is an acquired taste.
  • An easy recipe, that doesn’t stuff the fish or make the rice with the cooking liquid, is available at the bottom of this page of collected African fish recipes.
  • A wiki page with the recipe is here: they include the tamarind and stuff the fish both.
  • And this one from the pages of the Times in this decade, is way too complicated. Dried snail, anyone?

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Filipino fried rice for lunch, plus kiwis

I took the picture on a dare and wanted to dress up the kiwis a little
bit. On the plate is fried rice with some kind of Filipino-style pork
chop on top of it.

Double the fun! Indian Bar for lunch and dinner

Today I got wise and photographed the menu card so I would know what I
was eating, and you would too.

Comida Brasileira!

Wow. Something new under the sun, or the heat lamp. Today’s special bar at the big refectory is ‘Brazilian Bar.’ Clockwise from top left, beet salad (generic), two cups of tea, apple, orange, crème caramel, grapefruit half, feijoada with rice, braised beef (Brasil-style).

It wasn’t too bad, either, although the meat was stringy. I liked the crème caramel. I hadn’t seen that before down here.

Sausage Bar? huh?

This was rather unpleasant. It’s a shame to think that the refectory
people ran out of good ideas for specialty bars so quickly.
Or maybe the boss over there really likes bratwurst on Sundays. I
asked one of the supervisors about it but I don’t think he picked up
on the level of ironic detachment at which I posed the question.

Not chicken cordon bleu, thank heavens

Once again, Indian Bar has come through for me. The big refectory
across the street has been having a specialty bar every day for the
last couple weeks, and I mentioned the last time (two Saturdays ago)
that they had “Indian Bar.” Sounds good, but this week has also
featured Wings Bar (self-explanatory), Filipino Bar (greasy lo mein),
Seafood Bar (pretty yummy gumbo, actually), and Chef’s Specialty Bar
(roast turkey and stuffing). Still, I had heard that the main line was
offering chicken cordon bleu, which is something that wouldn’t be bad
if you made it yourself but which is positively disgusting in an
industrial food-serving setting like here. So I think I lucked out
with the tandoori chicken, rice, dal, vege curry, and rice pudding
shown below.

Lunch is better as breakfast

Honestly, a plate of beef curry over rice, vegetables, and dal, with some fresh fruit on the side. Can you beat that for a breakfast dish? Got up at noon (!), went for a quick run (10% off ordinary predawn time, call it Daylight Savings), then caught this repast on the tail end of the chow hour.