Thursday, June 16, 2005

Enjoying a World of Food

Unlike my late father, I have always been one of the least finicky eaters on the planet. I would try almost anything at least once. And most foods that I tried, I tended to like.

Now that I’m well into my middle-aged years, however, I find that I’m fine-tuning my tastes a bit. There are now foods that I would just rather not eat.

Lately, though, my son and daughter, both of whom are in their early years of adulthood, have been taking me on a world tour of eateries, most of which are located in Indianapolis. I had no idea there was such a wide variety of gastronomy in Central Indiana.

It’s not like my family has to drag me to these quite disparate eateries. I go willingly. As I said, I’ve never really been that finicky, so I’m always willing to give something new a try.

But the more exotic and ethnic the foods are that I eat, the more I appreciate good old American fare. Not that I totally dislike ethnic cuisine, some of it is very tasty, I have just learned to better appreciate the kinds of food I’ve taken for granted my whole life.

Over the past few months, I’ve been introduced to a variety of new culinary delights. Take, for example, sushi. This is a Japanese treat that many Americans have taken to with great delight. I wasn’t impressed with it when I first tried it. But I have grown to enjoy it immensely. In fact, it is one of my favorite ethnic foods.

Then there are the Asian Indian foods. Most of them are flavored with some sort of curry sauce and have at least a slight kick to them. Although the lamb and chicken dishes are generally tasty, I find that the sameness in the flavor gets old after awhile.

I’ve also tried Scottish fare. I had my first taste of haggis recently at MacNiven’s on Massachusetts Ave.

Haggis is a Scottish dish consisting of a mixture of the minced heart, lungs, and liver of a sheep or calf mixed with suet, onions, oatmeal, and seasonings and boiled in the stomach of the slaughtered animal.

I know how it sounds. But it wasn’t really so bad. If you like corned beef hash, you would probably like haggis. It, along with a heaping helping of mashed potatoes and an equally generous portion of mashed root vegetables, made for a meal I couldn’t quite finish.

Across the channel from Scotland is Ireland. A downtown Irish pub, the Claddagh, is one of the restaurants we keep going back to occasionally. It has the best fish and chips (which is actually a British dish) and a shepherd’s pie to die for. Shepherd’s pie is a bit like beef stew with a big pile of mashed potatoes on top.

On Pennsylvania Avenue there is a quaint little coffee shop, the Abbey, which has some non-traditional sandwiches. I don’t know if they would be considered ethnic, but they are certainly unusual. My favorite is the smoked salmon wrap with cream cheese and onion. The latte isn’t bad, either.

Although, traditionally, spaghetti dishes are Italian, they are so common in America that, like pizza, spaghetti is often considered an American dish. Still, restaurants that specialize in pasta dishes are listed as Italian.

My favorite Italian restaurant is, and has been for decades, the Old Spaghetti Factory. Their mizithra cheese and butter sauce has no equal, unless it is their creamy clam sauce. These two sauces over a plate of angel hair pasta is truly a divine creation.

But with all the variety of lunch and dinner selections I’ve enjoyed over the past few months, my favorite type of food is breakfast fare. I still enjoy eggs, biscuits and gravy, and pancakes. And speaking of the latter, there are no better pancakes on earth than the blueberry granola cakes served at Le Peep in downtown Indy.

Excuse me while I go grab a bite to eat. Yum!

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