Saturday, July 10, 2010

Comfort food says you're home

Ackee fruit
Ripe ackee fruit. The edible portion is inside.
Image via Wikipedia

After a week or so of  hotel breakfast buffets and unfamiliar restaurants, the simple food I had at home today and at one of our favorite spots was even more enjoyable than usual.

This morning, my wife prepared a special breakfast: ackee and saltfish with boiled green bananas. Ackee is a soft, bland Jamaican fruit we buy in cans, and it serves as a foil to the salty cod fish, hot and sweet peppers, and tomato. The soft bananas are a familiar and filling side dish.

I usually warm some Syrian pocket bread and stuff it with ackee, saltfish and banana -- a decidedly un-Jamaican way of eating it.

Tonight, we drove to Palisades Park for a filling dinner of soft-tofu stew with white rice and side dishes of kimchi, bean sprouts and peppery raw squid at So Gong Dong, a second-floor restaurant overlooking Broad Avenue. The tab, including tax and tip, was $36 for three.

I ordered my tofu stew with mushrooms, my wife asked for shrimp and my son rebelled by ordering pork. We asked for all of them to be prepared "more spicy," the spiciest of three choices.

When the stew is brought to the table in a stone bowl, it is bubbling furiously -- just the right time to break a fresh egg or two into the hot broth. I eat around the egg until a soft yolk forms, then break it over the rice in a separate bowl. Delicious, warm and comforting.

I knew I was home.

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