Sunday, September 10, 2006

Food Blog Tag

The food blogosphere has a new game of tag in which bloggers list five foods to eat before you die. It was conceived by Melissa at Traveler's Lunch Box after seeing a BBC documentary. I am so flattered that Ruth from Once Upon a Feast tagged me, I honestly thought only my mother (Hi mom!) and my cousin in Texas (Hi Kev!) read this blog. So thanks for asking Ruth here is my list-each and every one a personal epiphany into my world of food.

They are not in any particular order of chronlolgy or importance.

1) Properly Roasted Chicken
I never get tired of eating roast chicken. Crispy skin, juicy meat, and the ability to absorb complimentary flavors makes it one of the best canvases for the kitchen artist. With the old Shaker quote "that which posesses the most uses is the most beautiful", it is truly the most beautiful dish because after you have enjoyed the dinner, the leftovers make terrific sandwiches, salads, and pastas. Then the bones make stock. For expert advice on how to roast a chicken properly please read Shirley Corriher's "Cookwise" or Harold McGee's "On Food and Cooking"-the secret is in the brining.

2) Mom's Tomato Cocktail
My mom makes and home cans this most incredible vegetable juice. She also grows all the stuff that goes into it as well. It contains tomatoes, sweet peppers, basil, sort of a homemade V-8. It is sweetness, sunshine, and good cheer in a glass. On Sundays around here we add a shot of vodka or tequila to enjoy with our eggs and pastries. Very limited quantities of this elixir are available.

3) MFK Fisher's Peas
Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher has been the most influential food philosopher/writer in my life. Her writing is prose, her insight and intelligence is formiddable, and her passions burn like fire.
In her book "An Alphabet for Gourmets" first published in 1949 in the chapter P Is For Peas, she recounts a lunch of just picked, just shelled early peas high in the Alps around Lake Geneva. I have been pining for those peas since I first read the story in the 1980's. I know I shall never taste those peas, but I remain enchanted by them over 25 years later.

4) Coulibiac of Salmon
This was one of the first sort of "show off" dishes I learned to make. Today it seems hopelessly old-fashioned but just the same in its day it was a great vehicle to impress dinner guests, seduce lovers, and take on picnics. I remember one particular night when I was living in Chicago I took this dish to a picnic at the Ravinia Festival. That night Ella was singing with the Chicago Symphony. The combination of a migical vocalist like Ella, with the music of the Chicago symphony, the beauty of Ravinia, and a damn good fish dish remains a benchmark of taste. Was it the fish, the music, Ella, or the company? For a great recipe use "The chez Panisse Menu Cookbook" where wild rice and quail eggs add an American touch to this French-Russian hybrid.
5) Buerre Blanc
I must include a sauce and that sauce has to be buerre blanc. It is an almost universally complimentary sauce. It is sensational on steamed vegetables especially asparagus, it can elevate anything simply grilled like lamb chops or salmon fillet. I know the foods trends are leaving me behind with things like foam, esfericacion, and essence but I just can't seem to get my lips around foam.

4 comments:

Ruth said...

Wonderful list - thanks for sharing.

I love your writing style, it's so poetic.

Kevin said...

You wrote,
"in the chapter P Is For Peas, she recounts a lunch of just picked, just shelled early peas high in the Alps around Lake Geneva. I have been pining for those peas since I first read the story in the 1980's. I know I shall never taste those peas"

I'm thinking there's a(major)road trip here. As Sir Winston Churchill said, "never quit".

When you do go(and I know you will),can I go too??

jsgrant said...

There are so many beautiful moments and shared tastes in Fisher's work, but the peas, the peas. That certainly is one of them, for a while I made tiny, tiny new potatoes, steamed with fresh farmer's market peas, added tons of european style butter, pepper, salt and some paremeseana and thought of M.F.K. Fisher.

jsgrant said...
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