Sunday, September 22, 2013

Oh, Porchetta

When I was in Italy a few summers ago I spent a great deal of time wandering through street markets.  I was not shopping for anything.  Wait, that’s not true.  I was looking at produce.  Buying a fresh San Marzano tomato in July and eating it like an apple is a pretty awesome thing to experience.  Invariably every market had a porchetta stand.  I was captivated by these.  One long counter and a couple guys in butcher’s aprons took orders and prepped simple sandwiches.  They would turn around and carve chunks of pork off a giant pig, snag a couple crisp pieces of skin, throw it all on a crispy roll, sprinkle it with rock salt and hand it to customers lined up five deep.  I fell in love with porchetta.

I looked carefully at the entire process.  Though at first I thought it was a whole pig they were carving, I soon discovered that it was more like a giant boned and stuffed pig.  In fact, it looked like a gigantic sausage with a head.  I looked into the process and found out that this is a very elaborate process and does in fact call for boning an entire pig, filling it with some seasoning, sometimes some offal, and tying it up like a sausage and roasting it for a long, long time.  I looked into duplicating it in miniature, likely with a large slab of pork belly and a pork tenderloin, but discovered that locating a large slab of pork belly is not always easy.  Maybe this Christmas I will give it a try.  In the meantime, check out Nancy Kruse’s national tour of Porchetta at In Praise of Porchetta.  She leads me to think that I need to get North Carolina or Oregon for one of those food trucks.  By the way, in my opinion, porchetta is the perfect food truck food, far better than seeing it all fancied up in a restaurant.  Throw some meat on a bun, sit in the summer sun and call it a day!
Want to see the process?  Check this out - A You Tube video

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Making Movie Feasts

A number of posts back I shared a list of my favorite foodie movies.  One of them was Babette's Feast, a 1987 Oscar winner from Denmark.  Truth is, the movie does exactly what I want to be writing about.  In the movie a French woman living in an austere Danish community the late 19th century prepares a sumptuous, sensuous, decadent meal for her somber community and creates quite a stir.  At its core, Babette’s Feast is about how food brings us together and creates intimacy and community.  Not long after writing the blog entry I came across a wonderful essay that raises a challenge to all of us.  In J. Bryan Lowder’s Cooking With Babette in Slate Magazine, we are regaled with a wonderful story of attempting to duplicate Babette’s feast  at home.  After reading it, I think I might be better suited to just eat Reese’s Pieces,  ride a bike and call it my E.T. meal; I don’t have the budget, time or skill, I am afraid, to replicate such a meal.  But then eating candy on a solo bike ride across the moon would be missing Babette’s point, now wouldn’t it?  That said, the essay is a great read and inspires an idea.  What is your favorite foodie movie?  Now, go watch it again and pick a recipe.  Come back here or to the Facebook page and share your experiences.  Happy watching, happy cooking, happy eating!!!   

Friday, September 6, 2013

Do you take apart your Oreos?

Pizza may not have pineapple.  Meatloaf must have bacon over the top.  Chili must be beef and tomato based.  Barbeque ribs must have a dry-rub.  Tuna salad may only be made with mayonnaise, not Miracle Whip. 

People have all sorts of rules about their favorite foods.  I certainly have more than a few.  Many of these rules have substantive results.  Pineapple really does change a pizza.  The various styles of chili, barbeque or clam chowder really are quite different.  But once the food is done and ready to eat, what’s done is done, right?
The other night I was wrapping up my summer sitting in the sun after dinner eating an orange creamsicle, and it occurred to me that we also have particular ways of eating our favorite foods.  I took a bite off the top of the creamsicle, savored the bite, then looked at the creamsicle.  The cream inside was smooth, but surrounded by a thin layer of orange with an irregular, icy texture.  Immediately I was transported to my childhood when I did my best to eat the orange first, leaving me with the creamy center.  I had to use my front teeth to gingerly chip the orange off.  I loved it when I was able to separate a large slab of icy, orange brightness.  Then the creamy richness rounded off the experience.

What other foods require a certain method?  I like my Oreos fully assembled, dipped in milk almost till soggy.  I like my Pringles in stacks of three to six; they just taste different in quantity than solo.  Same goes for Doritos.  A Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup is a two bite treat if I am trying to control myself.  If nobody is looking…one bite.  I like my peas mixed with mashed potatoes.  I love leftover chili poured over pasta.  I love Ruffles potato chips on a tuna or bologna sandwich.  I like mayo with my fries.  I do not dip fries in my milkshakes.  When I was a kid I ate only one thing at a time, never letting my foods touch.
I know others who always disassemble the Oreos first.   Some eat the creamy center, some dip in milk, some don’t.  I know one person who eats the edges of a Reese’s first.  I know somebody else who eats a Kit-Kat in layers.  I know many who only know one condiment – ketchup.  I’ve known people with all sorts of methods for eating a banana, including with a knife and spoon! 

Do you eat the candy coating of an M&M first?  Do you bite into a Tootsie Roll Pop?  Do you eat a burrito with knife and fork or by hand?  Use a spoon with spaghetti?  What are your eating idiosyncracies?