Today’s World Cup Food Challenge menu calls for an Argentine-Nigerian main dish, a U.S.-English dessert, and a Greek-Korean side dish.
Mentions of kimchi will be strictly ignored until and unless Korea plays Germany. Kimchi is sauerkraut with attitude. I’d originally intended to inflict an avgolemono with buckwheat noodles on the world, but the meal was getting starchy, so I changed plans to a Greco-Korean salad. Since there is not (yet) a Greek angle to K-Pop, let’s go with music from the country of the losing team and check out Despina Vandi (listen), Greece’s Queen of Pop, who is releasing her tenth album, C’est La Vie, this month.
The salad starts with Mediterranean greens mix. Note how artistically I have arranged to salad to cover the grass on which the rooster stands.
While I’m cutting up kalamata olives with scissors, skip the first two tracks on Vandi’s MySpace page (we’ll come back to these topics) and try some of the later cuts. What we’re listening for is not lyrics–she alternates between singing in English and in Greek–but the underlying rhythm. A lot of this dance-pop here seems to be based on traditional rebetiko, which follow traditional Turkish rhythm cycles (some 9/8 time) and use traditional stringed instruments and drums. That’s why the hot dance club sounds as if it may involve belly dancing.
Those sweet pink items scattered amidst the olives are tiny canned shrimp, which handily represent both countries and make any salad better.
The dressing is composed of a squirt of white wine vinegar, a splatter of olive oil and… the BP oil spill! No, that’s House of Tsang Korean Teriyaki Stirfry Sauce, a.k.a., the only Korea-themed ingredient in the Asian-foods aisle of my nearest large chain supermarket. Mix well. Pour over the salad and sprinkle with feta cheese.
To my relief, this combination works so well that I’m likely to make it my standard salad dressing. It has a good spicy edge with just a little sweetness that works with the saltiness of the shrimp-olive-feta combo.
While I’d expected Vandi to be a dance-beat Celine Dion (Greek pop listeners have a reputation for liking the laika, which runs to sweet ballads about love lost, found, misplaced, retrieved from the deck chair cushions, and rescued from the collapse of the Greek financial system), her first single from the new album has a much harder edge and a social message unrelated to the state of the Euro (as well as a more typically American sound). Despite being a Western girl of a generation that has had little sexism with which to cope, I think “Koritsi Prama Part 1″ is worth a listen just to get to admire an all-female live band.