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One-two punches

bulavinaka | Nov 2, 2013 04:48 PM

We just sent off relatives back to Singapore today. It gave me pause to think what we did - especially what we ate - and I realized that after gaining over five pounds during their visit, we ate a lot of tasty food. My mother-in-law was great - maybe too great - because she cooked like a demon in the kitchen while they were here (her family's version of sambal arguably stands on a very high pedestal above all others).

One of the reasons my mother-in-law insisted on cooking so much was her exceptionally robust maternal extinct (think Jewish mom and Italian mom combining forces and wills in the kitchen with Mexican mom and Persian mom just outside the door waiting for the tag to take over), but another equally strong force was her perception of food in America. Most folks from SE Asia have had bad to mediocre experiences and impressions of American food. Tours are the usual culprits (Tony Roma's for ribs, Buca di Beppo for Italian. Panda Express actually starts looking really good to them). But the cuisines of SE Asia tend to be so amped up with flavors - different flavors - that "our" food typically (from say Utah) can be just downright boring to them (some of our relatives had a side trip for business in Utah - they lost weight). So to turn that notion around, one just needs to pick better examples of what we have to offer, no?

We actually had some days where we did eat meals not prepared by my tireless mother-in-law. One day, we drove out to Tang Cang Newport Seafood in San Gabriel for lunch, putting a serious dent in the world's crustacean populations. Mother-in-law was very quiet - hands and mouth were busily liberating then consuming succulent meat from shells. Consensus from our table was that Tang Cang Newport does crustaceans at least on the level of or better than most in Singapore. Whether true or not, they were wowed. Also, I think the fact that lobster tends to be somewhat uncommon relative to crab in SE Asia helped get extra points.

On the way back while most were napping from the seafood fest, I made a side trip to Bludso's and picked up a large party tray - we grazed through some tasty 'que for dinner. Having never had proper traditional barbecue from our country, they were very impressed with the depth and complexity of flavors. They also were enamored by the barbecue sauce. and the beans. The only twist on our otherwise Texas barbecue dinner was that we at it with nasi lemak - sigh... We had Bludso's with Sambal the next morning. This one-two punch of Tang Cang Newport and Bludso's helped alleviate the Singapore family's apprehension about food on this side of the Pacific.

What one-two punches (or any other combinations) do you find memorable, have in your Chow quiver, or just plain fantasize about?

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