ANDREA SEABROOK, host:
Does all these economic talk get you down? Are you tired of watching the stock market act like a sorry Phoenix rising from the ashes only to plummet again? Well, maybe it's time for a little comfort food for all the world. As the leaders of the G-20 huddled in Washington this weekend, we sought out cooks from their home countries to talk about the foods that soothe when times are tough all over. Take Germany.
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KATE DAVIDSON: Largest economy in Europe, but it's gone into recession. Chancellor Angela Merkel's going to need some comforting.
Mr. ERICH CHRIST (Owner and Chief, Black Forest Inn, Minneapolis, Minnesota): Yeah, I would make jaeger schnitzel.
DAVIDSON: That's Erich Christ, owner and chef of the Black Forest Inn in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Mr. CHRIST: That would be a slice of veal with some wild and domestic mushrooms and probably a very nice (unintelligible) dumpling. And as a vegetable, red cabbage, and that's a sweet sour cabbage.
DAVIDSON: Cooked with salt, pepper, cloves, and applesauce. Christ says the aroma wafting from the kitchen should be one of cinnamon and vinegar, comfort food from Germany.
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Ms. PATRICIA JINICH: My name is Patricia Jinich, and I was born and raised in Mexico City.
DAVIDSON: So, if you were going to cook one comfort food for President Felipe Calderon while he's here in the United States, a real comfort food, what would it be?
Ms. JINICH: It would have to be enfrijoladas,
Ms. JINICH: Enfrijoladas.
DAVIDSON: What are they?
Ms. JINICH: Enfrijoladas are corn tortillas that are dipped in beans that had been cooked and seasoned and then pureed. And then you drizzle a little bit of Mexican cream and some queso fresco or fresh cheese. And then it's your choice of which salsa of the infinite varieties that we have that you can drizzle on top. My choice is chipotle (unintelligible) sauce.
Ms. JINICH: Smokey and...
Ms. JINICH: And rich and spicy and sweet.
DAVIDSON: Tell me about the sort of - what it feels like to cook this?
Ms. JINICH: There is always a pot of beans being cooked in a Mexican home. No matter where you are, it can be the north, the south, it can be the tiniest little town in the countryside or the fanciest mansion in Mexico City. There's always a pot of beans that are being cooked. And the smell is sort of - it's earthy. There's a lot of moisture in the air coming out because the beans have to be cooked for a long time for them to be tender. And it just smells like home to me.
DAVIDSON: From Mexico to India.
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DAVIDSON: Indian cook Madhur Jaffrey also loves beans but the Indian version, dal. Dal is split peas in some parts of India, split beans in others. It seems simple...
Ms. MADHUR JAFFREY: But in India, you never leave anything as simple as that. Then you seasoned it. You take a little fat, which could be oil or it could be clarified butter, and into it, you put spices. And these could be cumin seeds and chili, or it could mustard seeds. And you pop these spices in this hot, hot fat, and you pour it over the dal. And that gives an extra little philip to the dal, and it becomes absolutely yummy.
DAVIDSON: Jaffrey says dal is her soul food.
Ms. JAFFREY: These are the kind foods that you hanker for, something that you've had as a child, as a baby, something that goes down easily, something that will always be true. You know, you can have fancy things, and they're exciting, but something that is always true and solidly itself is what is comfort food.
DAVIDSON: Madhur Jaffrey talking about dal, comfort food from a childhood in Delhi. Do you have a food that soothes? Tell us stories about your comfort food at npr.org/comfortfood.
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