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Gia-Gina Across the Pond

So I've decided to follow my husband to his native Italy. Follow our adventures as we eat, drink, travel, adapt to and explore this remarkable country. Part food blog, part photo blog but mostly my rants and raves. After our two years in Italy, we relocated across the Atlantic "pond" and are back in the States.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Childhood Food Memories

I actually like Meme's they force me to think and share part of my food history. A big thanks to Paz for tagging me.

Here goes:

1. Homemade Noodles and Won Ton Wrappers

My dad and mom’s homemade won ton wrappers and Chinese noodles are incredible. There was a time my parents with the help of all the kids made noodles that we ate (all 7 of us) and sold to a few small restaurants. I think we used 2-3 dozen eggs and a giant bag of flour along with some salt. We had a huge industrial noodle maker set up in the living room; on weekends the production would begins. The end result would be the most deliciously chewy, tasty and lip smacking noodles I have ever tasted. The simplest way to prepare them was boiled, drained and with a bit of chili, soy sauce, sesame oil and red wine vinegar. They were also great in soups with thin slices of BBQ pork, scallions, cilantro, and other goodies. My parents’ won ton wrappers were thin and tender, the filling was dynamite, not many times in my life had I had won ton as good as this, I better head back for a visit soon.

2. Pickled Eggs, Pickled Daikon, Pickled Green Mangos and Pickled Green Papayas

As a kid we had lots of papaya trees growing all over our property, we were not blessed with a mango tree but mangos were not hard to find. Remember those old hot dog stands that were silver with large white umbrellas? On Guam these snack stands were filled with local treats, my favorites were the pickled items. Mom and pop stores also carried these goodies. I think Guamanians like to pickle just about anything, they use vinegar, salt, sugar and the most important hot chilies. Most of the time these pickled treats were eaten as condiments with meals but as kids we ate them as snacks. You could buy 25 cents worth up to about a dollar worth of pickled treasures, since that was all that fit in the tiny plastic sacks they came in.

3. Sweet and Sour Dried Plums with Tabasco

This is a strange memory but a strong one because if I get a whiff of these now, my mouth starts watering out of control. Basically you take a bagful of dried plums, place them in a little Ziploc baggies, sprinkle them with Tabasco and wait until they are softened but the hot sauce and eat!!! Watch out not to rub your eyes afterwards. Tabasco also goes well on popcorn.

4. My mom’s Pho = Vietnamese Noodle Soup

Since my parents grew up on Vietnam they make the best Vietnamese food not to mention Chinese food ever. There are too many fabulous dishes to mention but this is my favorite. Oxtails are slowly simmered in a broth seasoned with charred onions, charred ginger, toasted cinnamon sticks, and toasted star anise until the oxtails are soft and falling off the bone. Then the soup in ladled into a bowl of rice noodles with a following additions, hot chili, thin onion slices, raw beef slices, cilantro, Thai basil, lime wedges and for me a tablespoon of fish sauce and hoisin sauce. This is the most satisfying soup I have ever eaten, great for rainy days and colds.

5. Tortillas-Guamanian style

I think to me this flat bread is the equivalent to French baguette and good rustic Italian bread in being a true comfort food. Guamanian tortillas are different than the Mexicans ones. They are thicker because of the addition of baking powder, they are sweeter, sugar is added (tiny bits) and they aroma of the coconut milk are unmistakable. Many mom and pop stores sell these and they are stored in a steam drawer to keep them warm and soft. Back home, I had to force myself not to eat up the whole batch before I get home.


Yes, it’s hard to get away from SPAM when you are from Guam. They even have a Guam Slam at Wendy’s that features, 2 slices of Spam, chorizo, red rice or fried rice, eggs and of course Hawaiian punch. I don’t eat it much now, in fact it is hard to find here in Italy but in Seattle, once in a rare while, I would crave SPAM, eggs and rice.

7. Red Rice

Red rice is made with achote seeds, a seed that is a bit like a poor man or islander version of saffron. The seeds are soaked and the red water is used to color and flavor the rice. Generally onions are sautéed in a bit of lard or oil and then the rice is added. After a few minutes the achote water is added and after 20 minutes or so it is ready. There is not one decent fiesta or BBQ that lacks a good amount of red rice, it’s a delicious tradition.

For a my tag I have chosen Alan.


At 3:07 PM, Blogger Gia said...

#3 Sweet & Sour Plums aka Li Hing Mui w/ Tabasco...my mouth is already watering just thinking about it.

At 10:27 PM, Anonymous Paz said...

What wonderful, scrumptious memories! Gia, the meme also forced me to do some thinking. ;-)

1- The homade noodles an won ton wrappers sound so good.

2- Pickled green mangoes?! You know how I feel about green mangoes! I'm getting excited! I'd like to taste it and the green papayas.

3- Very interesting combo. I love hot stuff, so I have no problem with Tabasco. ;-)

4- Does "pho" mean broth? Gia, your description here has me on the verge of going into a convulsion. I WANT to taste your parents' food.

5- Tortillas!

6- I remember SPAM!

7- Red rice?! Wow! Really cool-sounding but I've never of it before.

Thanks, Gia for writing about your childhood food memoires. It's been fun reading about them.


At 11:38 PM, Blogger Judith in Umbria said...

One of the best things about blogs is peeking inside lives entirely different from your own. Thank you so much for this nice series of memories. I used to go to a cafe in Rockvillke MD called "Pho." They had a long menu of things you could have them put in your bowl. Some were a tadbit exotic! I also loved the little dishes that were a bit like dim sum.
I was reared in Maine, and most of what I ate I wouldn't like to repeat. Hate baked beans except for the big onion at the top.
What was good? Lobsters, raspberries, fresh vegetables from the garden, finnan haddie and mom's biscuits. I make a super biscuit myself, but not as good as hers.
You are the first thing about Torino that has tempted me to consider going there!

At 12:26 PM, Blogger Gia-Gina said...


Come on up!

At 1:13 AM, Blogger Judith in Umbria said...

Maybe I will, but not during the Olympics.
Do you know how to wrap those rice paper spring rolls? Do you give lessons?

At 4:07 PM, Anonymous Jackie said...

Hi, I was looking for a pickled papaya recipe. I remember the little plastic bags @ south finegayan elementary. I could've swore it had shoyu sauce in it because of the color they became. I don't know but I have a Mango I'm going to try your ingredients on. Thanks.


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