picture of Tunisia

Dangerous Books and Tunisian Eggnog

This is a guest post by my friend Bruce MacDonald of Postcard from the Edge, who graciously contributed this Tunisian street food recipe because he thought it was well-suited for Cooked in Allston. I agree, and I’m very thankful to Bruce.

Dangerous Books and Tunisian Eggnog
By Bruce MacDonald

Can books change your life? Sure, if you’re lucky, or you find them at the right time.

Vagabonding book coverAs an 18-year-old college freshman, I discovered Ed Buryn’s Vagabonding in Europe and North Africa. The book is long out of print – this was 1973, mind you – but you can still find the odd copy on eBay.

To call Vagabonding a guidebook is like calling the Bible the chronicle of a late-Bronze-Age tribe. And it is equally dangerous. Buryn was a Zen Master of backpacking the world. After reading it, I came within an inch of dropping out of school.

Fortunately, wiser heads prevailed. Stay in college, my parents suggested; go abroad for your junior year. I took their advice and reward, and at Christmas during that year abroad – granted a glorious month-long reprieve from Oxford and my literature studies – found myself in Tunis. Continue reading

How to Make Indian Chai

Besides Desis and those with a refined palate, most of us don’t know what true Indian chai is. What we know as chai is a soup of herbs and spices sold at coffee shops anywhere in the city – often with an excess of cinnamon, sugar, or just plain weird stuff.

That’s why when my neighbors Aman and Karina invited us over for dinner last week, I asked them to show me how to make authentic Indian chai. They chuckled at my request. Why would I want to learn how to make such a mundane thing? But they must have been honored, considering that when we arrived at their place – bottle of red wine in hand – the ingredients were already laid out on their kitchen counter.

While Aman boiled the water, Karina opened the wine. A few minutes later we were drinking chai, eating crackers, cornflake mix, and then drinking red wine. Lots of red wine. Continue reading