Thursday, April 5, 2007

A New Favorite Thing

After returning home from Hotel Hope, I developed a bad attitude about food. I still liked to talk and read about it; I just didn't like to eat the stuff. As hematology nurse friend Melanie warned, food becomes sustenance, not satisfaction.

When meal times rolled around, I would dutifully eat the most nutrient-rich foods possible. My brain said, "You need this," but my stomach cried, "Get away from me." Without an appetite, eating was just one more chore on my "to do" list.

That is until this morning. My 9 am Pilates class at the Pasadena YWCA was cancelled, but a staff member offered me a conciliatory potato ball from Porto's Bakery in Glendale. And since the Y had purchased these Cuban treats to commemorate 102 years of service in Pasadena, I agreed to try one.

A close cousin to the French croquette, the Cuban variety consists of seasoned ground beef surrounded by mashed potatoes deep fried to golden perfection.

When I bit into the savory treat, my taste buds immediately began a party. If I was a cartoon character, the animator would have drawn my mouth as a celebration, with flags flying and fireworks rocketing.

Although the ingredients are essentially the same, the Cuban potato ball bears no taste resemblance to its bland Japanese relative, the korokke. A few weeks ago, I learned to cook this popular snack food at the Pasadena Buddhist Church. But even with a dip in tonkatsu sauce, the Japanese croquette just doesn't measure up to its sassy Cuban counterpart.

I haven't yet tried the Dutch adaptation, the kroket, but I understand that it's so popular in the Netherlands that you can order a side of McKrokets with your Big Mac at McDonald's.

But I can't imagine anything cheaper or more delicious than the Cuban potato balls at Porto's Bakery. At 60 cents a piece, they have to be the most satisfaction per cent in town.

(Do you have a favorite cheap treat? Please share in the comments section.)


MUD said...

An old German Bierocks is hamburger, onions, garlic and cabbage surrounded by dough and then baked.The story in my family is that the German farmers would put two of these and a bottle of beer in a lunch bucket and go to the field to work all day. They are great right out of the oven or left over the next day.

Rebecca said...

I love chili.

Susan Carrier said...

I love the concept of farmers going out to the field with their hearty fare.

When my brother Robert was a teen, he worked in the hay fields with our "cousin" Nathan and family. After a few hours of hard work, they pulled out Vienna sausage sandwiches and a jug of water from a recycled one-gallon vinegar bottle. The bierocks and beer sure sound a lot more appetizing!

And I love chilli too. My favorite is from Smitty's in Pasadena.

Right now, I'm jonesin' for a shrimp taco, so I'm heading off for the Taco Spot in Eagle Rock.

Anonymous said...

You know I work in Glendale these days...You may get more surprise (not anymore, huh?) deliveries of your "New Favorite Thing" than you are prepared for. I guess a future entry may reveal how well they freeze? ~Abby

Piper Robert said...

Hey, Ninnie Choo Choo. I have vivid memories of the hay fields. Those were the days of making an honest to goodness hay stack with a pitch fork. Hard, hot, dirty work, but I loved it. What a blessing when Nate bought the John Deere and a baler.

Your 100 percent correct about the water jug. We would be way up on the north 40 and eat Vienna sausage sandwiches for lunch. The interesting part of getting a drink is we never brought cups. Nate would bring a gallon GLASS jug of mineral water and of course being the oldest (he was in his seventies), he would drink first, glug, glug, glug and pass the jug. The reason I stressed GLASS is because after eating a sandwich, one can SEE each glug, glug, glug........get the picture? There were usually 4 to 6 of us and I was the youngest. My strategy was to hold the jug until I saw some evidence of settling of the particulate. Those were great days. Nathan, if you're reading this, I can picture you laughing!!!

Let me get back on track. We now have a Lebanese deli in town and my favorite cheapy snack is Baba Ghanouj and warm pita. Love it.

Susan Carrier said...

Ahhh . . . I was hoping my brother would share the story of the glass water bottle.

If you blog it, they will come. Abby surprised me with a box of my new favorite thing.

Suzy Keleher said...

Joe's brisket with Texas mop sauce. Kira's turkey sandwhich with bread and butter pickles and juicy tomato. Krista's Texas chocolate cupcakes with carmel frosting. My Mom's Hawaiian sweet and sour pork loaded with onion, bell peppers and pinapple. She made this for me every year, at least, for my birthday. Now that she moved to Texas, Patrick makes it for me...delicious! Love, Suzy