My “Ethnic” Food Dilemma

A number of years ago I had the opportunity to go to Amsterdam, The Netherlands.  It was a work trip combined with a vacation.  I spent my days going to the beautiful museums and walking the streets of the city, visiting the flower market and trying the food (yes, I even went to the red light district).

One of the best meals I had was in a little Indonesian restaurant just opposite the park on the main street where all the museums are.  I can’t remember the name of the place, it probably isn’t even there anymore but in this dark little place, my friends and I ordered a “rice table” and so the fun began.  They brought us little dish after little dish to sample, I can’t remember how many things we ate but there were 10 of us and none of us left hungry.  This was my introduction to Indonesian food. It was love at first taste.

Returning to Toronto, we found a little place on Yonge St. that served the food that we had fallen in love with.  We would go occasionally and fulfill a craving until one day, it was gone, just like that.  There didn’t seem to be any other places at the time in the city and years passed and we gave up on finding a place to curb this craving.

Fast forward years, to Halifax.  This is a very interesting place for “ethnic” food, it’s still building.  There are quite a number of Sushi places that have opened, one or 2 good Chinese and Vietnamese  a few Mexican and a few expensive Indian restaurants. A couple of Greek and Italian places that are great here and a few French bistros and creperies.  I was recently told about a little Chinese bakery which I’ll have to explore.  But most of the places that I’ve mentioned are pricey.  What I’ve found is that most people here make their own “ethnic” foods.

I’ve been asked a number of times here, what kind of food I like to make.  The question always surprised me, then I realized, people here are cooking the foods that I always took for granted in Toronto.  They’ve solved the lack of “ethnic” food by making their own. Where in TO I could walk out my front door and have any number of amazing cheap ethnic restaurants to choose from or have it delivered in 30 minutes, I never had to learn to make this food.  Why would I when I can get it cheaper and better, delivered to me in a matter of minutes?

Spice paste for Nasi Goreng

Spice paste for Nasi Goreng

You can imagine how thrilled I was when walking down the “ethnic” aisle in Sobeys yesterday, looking for salsa (is that really still considered to be ethnic?) I found a package of spice paste for Nasi Goring one of my favorite Indonesian dishes. I bought it, so happy that I can now make this dish in the comfort of my home, I didn’t even notice til I got home that it’s the “mild” paste, oh I don’t care! I’ll throw caution to the wind and add another chili to the mix to spice it up, I’m just so happy that I found this.

I guess this is my real initiation to becoming a Maritimer learning to make what I want.  I’ll keep you posted on how this works out but I have high hopes, high hopes indeed!

Dreaming Big from the East Coast,


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5 Responses to My “Ethnic” Food Dilemma

  1. Sheila says:

    We had a similar experience eating “authentic” Chinese food in China (imagine that…) and fell in love with “hot pot”. We were fortunate to find a local Chinese restaurant that offers this style of dining because most don’t but we were also inspired to do “hot pot” at home. Most of the meats & vegetables typically used are readily available and we found a deep electric kettle for the broth to simmer in. The challenge was finding the seasoning….much to our surprise, we found it available on Amazon and had it delivered right to our door!
    We have taken guests to the restaurant several times to share the experience…and now writing about it is making me hungry and giving me a craving…lol…I predict another home made “hot pot” in our near future!

  2. hobbyjunkies says:

    cool! have fun with it! Also, I find the ethnic aisle in the superstore is more accurately titled and developed. I buy all my beans/lentils, spices and nuts in that aisle cause it’s so much cheaper!

  3. Sheila says:

    Interestingly, I find the retail shopping here amazing but the grocery store options very limited…the choices are basically Publix or Winn Dixie (Walmart doesn’t count)…. I miss Superstore and I especially miss the Bulk Food store!!!

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