July 24, 2006

Read Up and Dine Out: The Magic Pan (crepes)

Many moons ago one of my boys picked up Crepes by Suzette. This fun, colorful book is full of mixed media collages based on photos that author Monica Wellington took on her trips to Paris. Readers follow Suzette as she takes her crepe cart around the city. In addition to a crepe recipe that has become a favorite of my boys, the book has a glossary of French words as well as descriptions of the famous artwork that Wellington alludes to in her collages.

But perhaps you're not up for making crepes (they are easier than pancakes IMHO). Then by all means, run, don't walk, to The Magic Pan. Remember The Magic Pan from your youth in Chicago? I only recalled the name of this revived Lettuce Entertain You joint. I must not have eaten their food as a child, because their chocolate crepes are unforgettable. Yum! If you are on Weight Watchers you may consider skipping a day or two worth of meals in order to save your points for one of these. They also offer savory crepes including a pizza crepe that the boys still talk about, but didn't seem to enjoy so much when eating it. The savory crepes seemed very rich; I recommend saving all those calories for dessert.

Since our visit to Magic Pan crepes have become a morning staple in our house. They're a good substitute for pancakes. I even find them easier, less messier to produce and more versatile than pancakes as you can pair them with a variety of fillings.

For a good dessert crepe, take a single size Dove Bar ice cream treat (bonbons? I can't think of their name and they are long since devoured) and let it melt in a hot, fresh crepe. Not quite the *magic* of The Magic Pan's chocolate crepes, but a close second.

July 18, 2006

Indian Garden

Indian Garden
2548 W. Devon Ave., Chicago
Tel: (773) 338-2929 2548

Summary: We recommend the lunch buffet. Full of vegetarian and meat options, it's an ideal way to introduce children to northern Indian cuisine. Plus, kids eat free; You don't have to spend an extra $10 or so just to learn your kids don't like it.

Rambling version: On the children's CD NO put out by They Might Be Giants there's have a song about John Lee, super taster, a real-life superhero. A man who can't drink coffee or beer for their bitter tastes, but loves sweet treats like ice cream and pie. "John Lee, super taster, tastes more than you do. Everything has a flavor, some flavors are too much." I instantly recognized myself in the song. I am a super taster. As such, I'm very sensitive to strong, bitter tastes and even the slightest hit of hot spices can set me off.

Granted, I come from a home in which the most exotic spice to grace our food was sea salt. When I was in college and overheard some in the dorm cafe ask for pepper I was stunned. I always thought pepper was on the table just to keep salt company. In my 18 years, I'd never actually seen anyone use it. So ultimately, my sensitivity to spices is an unfortunate combination of nature and nurture. Unfortunate because DH loves spicy food. On our second date he took me for some exotic, cuisine. It was hot and spicy and I couldn't handle it after about two bites. DH was incredibly disappointed in my lack of fortitude; I didn't sleep with him that night either. Frankly, I'm not sure why he even asked me out again.

The other day our family had a lovely trip to Devon Avenue and stopped to eat at Indian Garden. The lunch buffet was about $9 per adult and kids ate free-what a deal! And while the smells were enticing and the food was tasty, I just couldn't hack it. I mostly stuck with the nan (bread) and water.

"Are you okay?" My friend asked midway through the meal, "your face is all red."

"You should feel her nose. It gets really cold when she eats spicy food," volunteered DH as he closed in to touch it. "And when our mom eats spicy food her nose sweats," the boys giddily announced to the entire restaurant.

No one said being a superhero was easy.

Read my published "Super Taster" essay (musings on coffee and kids music) here.


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