A Malaysian dish echoes an old French favorite
The siren song of travel for me is discovering new foods. However, the more I roam, the more I'm amazed by the similarity of specialties that have emerged with seeming spontaneity continents apart. Take salad niçoise, for instance, which hails from the Côte d'Azur in southern France: It has tuna at its heart, surrounded by cold potatoes, green beans, and hard-cooked eggs, all drenched with olive oil and vinegar. In Malaysia recently, as I munched through various local gado gado salads, it dawned on me that, despite the fact that the protein core was usually chicken or shrimp instead of tuna, and the dressing was a thick, spicy peanut-based sauce, many of the other ingredients on the plate were the same as for salad niçoise. Granted, gado gado (dressing and salad go by the same name) sounds more exotic and exciting, but the adventure of this dish is in tweaking familiar ingredients for a refreshing change.