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What food do you long for but can't find/recreate?

Mine is döner kebab, the way they're made in Berlin street stands. Whenever I've ordered items billed as döner in New York, they've erred on the side of shawarma, incorporating hummus, tahini sauce, tabbouleh, pita, etc. Still good! Just not quite what I'm looking for, you know? I pine for the crispy-outside-fluffy-inside flatbread full of crisp-edged spiced, shaved meat, cabbage, onion, tomato, cucumber, and Knoblochsöße. I was recently in Istanbul, and got all psyched for döner only to discover that my ideal döner is Germanized—neither the original nor the American version gives me the döner of my dreams. I have considered building a giant spit and making my own meat cones, but haven't actually tried it yet, because...crazy, and high-volume. I've basically given up hope and will just have to wait until I'm back in Germany one day.

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  1. That sounds pretty good, sadly mine isn't as interesting.

    When I was in college, one of the dining halls had this cook who made the best pancakes I have ever tasted. Large, fluffy (without being too tall), usually filled with chocolate chips, but he'd make them plain if you asked, and at times with blueberries (if they were available). I have still tried to find a pancake that could match or even top that, but to this day I haven't found one. And it's not just the batter that the school used, since there were a few times he was out, and they often had a replacement for him, but theirs tasted nowhere near as good. In recent years, I've begun to lose out on hope that I might experience pancakes of that caliber.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Cinnamonster

      Yeah, a pancake might be one of those things that imprints. I only like my dad's, which are small and crisp outside, with more of a chew than most. He adds a good proportion of cornmeal. He makes them very, very rarely now, but no other pancake interests me because in my mind, his are what pancakes are supposed to be.

    2. There used to be a Thai restaurant in my town that prepared a dish called Gai Ga Pao (hot and spicy chicken). It may have been the most delicious thing I've ever eaten. And it appeared to be simplicity itself: diced chicken breast, lots of minced pepper (probably jalapeno), and mint leaves in a thin, brown sauce ladelled over fluffy white rice.

      That restaurant is long gone, and with it the Gai Ga Pao. I've tried to back engineer it, and come fairly close, but by gosh, it's just not the same.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Perilagu Khan

        Hmmm, this dish is spelled many different ways. But maybe you're talking about the dish I know as gai ka prow. Usually with diced or ground chicken. What you'd be missing here is Thai basil. And I've most commonly seen it (and I make it) with Thai bird chili.

        1. re: alliegator

          You may have just made me a very happy man. I shall look for gai ka prow recipes.

          1. re: Perilagu Khan

            Great! You may also see it as kra pow, ga prow, etc...
            There are a ton of different recipes, every restaurant's will taste different. But the key is that Thai basil is a must. Regular ol' basil isn't going to do the job.
            Please keep me updated on how your quest goes!
            ETA: If you're particularly hungry or are just in the mood to gild the lily a bit, it's often served with a fried egg on top in Thailand :)

            1. re: alliegator

              I'm not sure I can get Thai basil, although I've never looked for it before. I will now, though.

              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                If it's a pain in the rear to find, it grows well in big clay pots in our sunny part of the country. Tons of sun, bring it in below 50, and don't overwater.
                I grow all of my oddball Thai stuff, it can be hard to come by.

                1. re: Perilagu Khan

                  The Vietnamese also used that as a garnish for pho.

        2. The Pizza Bismarck that I had in northern Italy and southern Switzerland. Simple wood grilled crust, a thin layer of marinara, fresh mozzarella and topped with an egg. The whites perfectly cooked, the yolk hot and runny. Some places ahd fresh basil, some did not.

          I have had variations all over the country (US and the closest I every came was at some place in Napa but still it was not the same. Sounds so simple but I think it must of be the "water" meaning that you just can't find the same flavors with american made products.

          I have tried duplicating it at home as well, I make a mean pizza dough! But even with real San Marzano tomatoes, with local/fresh mozz and with imported buffala. Mine was even less close than the place in Napa….

          1. A particular restaurant's spinach calzone. We moved 6 hours away and I have not had any as good since. I mean it was huge, easily should have fed 2 people, but I could never not eat the whole thing. It was just that good. It would seem to be such a simple thing to recreate. I have come close but not there yet. I just put some dough in the fridge for an overnight stay and will try yet again this weekend. I have some leftover creamed spinach which reminded me of it plus some ricotta I need to use up so I thought why not. Wish me luck!

            1 Reply
            1. re: MrsJonesey

              Oh, I *do* wish you luck! Creamed spinach sounds promising.

              The recreation quest is equal parts enjoyable and frustrating—I once got hung up on trying to reverse-engineer the spice blend in Pret a Manger's "Moroccan" lentil soup. It was just midtown convenience food...but it was SO tasty. I never got it quite right. Not that I didn't make myself a lot of good soup in the process, but the match goal remained elusive.

            2. Mine is a simple dish, a crouque monsieur. But it was at a Novotel in Seoul. But I have long been a fan of this sandwich and this one was perfect. Nothing looked unusual, just ham, swiss, bechamel. But it was so rich and creamy while and the bread held it's form pretty well. The ham seemed standard issue, but for as many times as I've eaten this elsewhere and made it for myself, I really think it's just the Korean Swiss cheese (?).