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Dr John Hawkins

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Roll Your Own

Posted on 2003/02/20 14:05:45 (February 2003).

Last night Simon and Kevin from work came over for dinner. As I had been eating almost exclusively Italian and Japanese food for the past few weeks, I thought I'd break from convention and cook Mexican. So we had fajitas, which were very nice. It occurred to me what a running theme this is in food from all countries. The idea of having some kind of pancake, or other rollable sheet and a selection of different things in little dishes that you can put inside. So, in Mexico there are Fajitas. In Chinese food, there's the famous crispy duck pancakes, where one variety of pancakes used are made from rice flour. Alternatively some Chinese dishes come with lettuce leaves to wrap things up in. In Japan there is temaki sushi - which means something along the lines of "DIY" sushi. Rather than having everything prepared for you, an assortment of ingredients along with the nori (seaweed sheets) and vinegared rice are put in front of you and you can roll your own. In Britain we tend to use pancakes mainly as a dessert, but I remember as a child having my Mum serve them (on Jif Lemon day) much the same way as fajitas or temaki sushi. Again, pancakes with an assortment of different fillings - sugar, oranges, lemons and so on, and importantly you rolled your own. I'm sure equivalents must also exist in Middle Eastern food, perhaps with pitta bread - some kind of variation on the Mezze theme, and also in Indian food, involving chapati. It really appeals to me that all around the world people have independently come up with the same basic idea. I often think when I encounter these kind of recurring cultural themes that it must be indicative of something deep within our collective subconcious, perhaps some hint at a higher meaning or purpose in all of our lives. Or maybe it's just a fun way to eat.

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