My fondness for far away places means that my comfort foods are a bizarre smorgasbord of Indian and Asian style curries, European baked goods, taco truck carbohydrates, and mundane supermarket standards like Crackin’ Oat Bran (the crack cocaine of cereals), mac and cheese, and Snyder’s pretzels. Mr NEV, bless him, has come to embrace the oddity that is my appetite (mostly) and has been known to say, unprovoked, “Get your coat, we’re going for pho” or, using his best Homer Simpson imitation, “Mmmmmmm. Spinach naan!”
Today, nothing would reassure me quite like the spicy sweet combination of a pineapple curry, preferably served up on that fluffy reddish brown rice that fancier Thai places offer you. I picked up a five pound bag of Tom Mali (unhulled jasmine) rice along with a ripe pineapple from Costa Rica, a pound of white shrimp from Ecuador, a bottle of fish sauce from Vietnam, some Thai basil from Hawaii, a few greenhouse grown red peppers from Canada, and miscellaneous other items from all over the planet.Â My dinner had the same carbon footprint I’d have made if I’d hopped a flight to Bangkok, eaten curry, and flown back again.
I would be delighted to do nothing but eat locally were I to live in a tropical wonderland where mangoes fall from the heavens and seafood jumps out of the ocean and on to your plate, perfectly filleted and coated in a little something – let’s say ground macadamia nuts drizzled with sweet chili sauce. We have fairly abundant produce in the Pacific Northwest but I miss California avocados, I love love love the spicy sweet food of the tropics or the complicated aroma of Indian cooking. Kale is great, but how can it compete with the wonders of, say, dragon fruit or rambutan?! Al Gore, I am sorry, but if I can not travel myself, from time to time, I like a plate that reminds of the bright variety of the outside world.
My pineapple curry was imperfect, but it was my first one. I can’t repeat the recipe since it was just a hack between a bunch of recipes I read online during the day. I did learn that the trick to a good pineapple curry is to let the coconut milk based sauce stew for a while. Our seconds – with an added half a teaspoon of red curry paste – were so much better for simmering on the stove for an extra 20 minutes. Next time, I’ll saute the onions (probably from Walla Walla, Washington), toss in the curry paste, the coconut milk and the pineapple, and let it simmer on low for a good hour. Then, right at dinner time, I’ll add the veggies and the shrimp. That will make for a thicker, more seasoned sauce and the pineapple will be well stewed in the chili paste. There’s nothing like the amazing sweet bite of pineapple offset by the sharp fire of red chili. There’s something about the combination of contrary flavors that reassures a complicated person like me that everything is all right in the world.