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Dish you love, but don't really know what's in it

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A lot of times with prepared foods even though we don't necessarily know every ingredient in a dish - we have a fair idea of what's in there without an ingredient list. But are there foods out there, from a store, deli, restaurant that you love but other than maybe one or two ingredients have no clue what it's made of?

There's a small store near near an old apartment of mine in Jerusalem that sold a dish that's name is roughly "eggplant chopped liver style". It's a smooth spread, pretty dark in color. Other than eggplant, I know there's black pepper - but beyond that I really have no clue. At this point I've gone so long without asking that I kind of enjoy the complete ignorance.

Are there other mystery dishes that people love but are really in the dark about a lot of the ingredients? Or do other people take more care to find out what's in their food than me.....

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  1. Hot dogs.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jpc8015

      LOL!

      1. re: jpc8015

        I thought everyone knew they were lips and a$$holes. (I enjoy them too!!)

      2. Sausages and salumi products.

        1 Reply
        1. re: melpy

          Many salumi are very specific as to what they are. Coppa is pork neck or shoulder; guanciale is pork jowl; pancetta is pork belly; prosciutto is the pig's ham (hind leg or thigh); bresaola is top round, to name a few.

        2. A sublime moment when tasting a dish for the first time but don't really know what's in it--

          You think to yourself, "IF this is ______, it's FABULOUS!!"

          To be in awe and wonderment with every bite...

          (I'd really be fat.)

          1. A spinach dish I've had at some Middle Eastern restaurants, mostly Syrian ones. It's chopped spinach sauteed in olive oil with red pepper, pine nuts and lemon juice. Also, there seems to be a hint of cilantro in it. Simple, but somehow I can never make mine taste like the restaurant version.

            1. Loved the Corn Pudding at a local BBQplace, was a buttery tasting cornbread that was somewhat pudding like and contained whole kernels. I later saw a recipe for it that involved a mix and lots of margarine bleecchhhh!

              4 Replies
              1. re: WhatsEatingYou

                This is the thing with my "eggplant chopped liver style" - I have no idea what's in it. In this way I can pretend it's just an eggplant spread and relatively healthy and not full of anything "yucky".

                1. re: cresyd

                  A pub nearby serves a dish very much like that -- a coarse eggplant paste. They guy who does the food is from Israel, so likely it is a common dish. Quite unusual in Tokyo, though.

                  1. re: Tripeler

                    It's common here, but usually complete smooth. It's been 5 years, and at this point I'm clearly choosing ignorance.

                    1. re: cresyd

                      Come to think of it, what the Israeli guy Dede makes is fairly smooth, but totally unlike any other eggplant paste I have had before. I'll have to order it again the next time I am there, then ask him more about the origins of the dish. In any case, I really love the occasional Israeli dishes he puts out.

              2. The street food carts in new york city often have something called "white sauce". Each cart has a slightly different version, all i know is its yogurt based, sometimes with tahini, mystery herbs and delicious magical secret ingredients. Good stuff.

                1. Gyros. I mean, meat, sure. Some kind of binder. Seasonings.

                  Except that that also sounds like meatloaf and gyros tastes nothing like meat loaf!

                  1. Scrapple! Okay, I know what's in it, I just choose to not recognize it.