What’s the most interesting thing you’ve tasted so far?
I would have to say the peanut butter soup and the plantain fufu we had in our Nashville episode. It was so tasty but the texture of the fufu was one that I have never experienced before. The fufu was so smooth and doughy. They mash it so much that you are not even supposed to chew it, just swallow. Crazy cool!
What kitchen appliances scare you the most?
Cleavers and electric meat slicers. It always freaks me out watching someone hack at something with all that force and their other hand is usually hovering around where the meat is. Yikes! Also the meat slicers. There is something about having your hands near that sharp blade with that speed that gets my heart racing.
You seem fearless when exploring different cuisines. How did you come to have such an adventurous palate?
From a young age I always remember my father putting new foods in front of me and always encouraging me to try new things. There were definitely foods I loved right away, but there were also foods that I grew to love. I am always pushing myself to try new things. I feel like it will teach me more about the person who is serving it to me and their culture. When it is something I am frightened of, I just remind myself that it is mind over matter. I just know how much attention, love and pride everyone puts into their food and I want to be a part of that so I just go for it!
I’m heading to NY, any advice you can offer?
I always research the city’s food scene before I go there. So take the time to do that. I would look into local food blogs and go on Yelp. I love Yelping. It always gives me great ideas.
When chefs say add white wine to a savory recipe, what kind of wine should you use? I’m a red wine drinker and the only white wine I like to drink is Reisling which would be too sweet.
Definitely use a dry white wine. I would use a Pinot Grigio or a Sauvignon Blanc. You also don’t need to spend major bucks on the wine either. It is going to be cooked down.
Are there any basic foods you will not eat?
I actually don’t really like hard boiled yolks. Bizzare, right? I love them runny or mashed up with something, but when they are hard boiled and on their own I have a hard time. It is too chalky for me.
How do you eat all that food on the show and manage to stay so slim?
On my days where I am not exploring, I try to eat as healthy as I can. I take lots of yoga and try to run. It’s hard and I am so bad at it! Whoever runs marathons I applaud you! I also love to dance – whenever or wherever.
Which ethnic cuisine do you think will (or should) become more popular in the US in the future?
I think Malaysian cuisine should and will become more popular in the US. It has some of the most popular cuisines combined into one! Malaysian is a mixture of Indian, Chinese, Indonesian and Thai. How cool! It has been one of the most surprising and exciting cuisines for me this year. I have recently discovered it and can’t get enough!
What happens when you taste something on TV with the cameras rolling and the food you’re tasting isn’t all that. In fact, it’s hideous. How do you handle that?
I am always so blown away by the preparation and the love that goes into foods that it is almost impossible for me not to love it. There are foods I love more than others but when you’re exploring new cuisines that’s not what you’re thinking of. You want to try new foods and open your palate. If I put something in my mouth that I am not crazy about, you can usually tell, but there is no point in making a big fuss about it. I always respect the family and the culture I am with.
You had za’atar spice in chicken, where can I find something like it in Arkansas?
If you can’t find it in any spice store or online you can always play around in your own spice drawer. Za’atar is a spice blend traditionally made out of wild oregano, sumac, sesame seeds and salt. But there are so many variations all over the Middle East. You can also have za’atar with thyme, marjoram, cumin, coriander, etc. Families pride themselves on making their own distinct za’atar blend so if you can’t find za’atar to buy then make up your own! I would suggest keeping a base of oregano, sesame seeds and salt. That would keep it in the za’atar family.
Tonight at 10pm ET on Cooking Channel, Eden lands in beautiful Salt Lake City to see who she can meet and what she can eat in 24 hours. Get a sneak preview of her trip.