Monday, October 14, 2013

Watering the blog


 I am a bad cake decorator.
Sorry. Another long absence. I’ve spent many hours pondering the comments on the last post, comments that -- taken as a group -- have made me radically rethink personal grievances and long-held assumptions about cooking. Radically. I thought I was the only enthusiastic, ambitious home cook serving “deadbeat” eaters. Clearly not so. It’s a trend, a syndrome, a blight. I have thoughts!

But I’ve been laboring over a post on this topic day after day, day after day, and I’m stuck. Maybe because it's argument driven rather than anecdote driven and apparently my brain doesn't want to do that anymore. It’s driving me crazy. Meanwhile, I've been letting the blog wither and that's also driving me crazy.

So I’m just going to tell you what I’ve been cooking and shelve the dissertation for now.

I’ve now made all the rice bowls in Edward Lee’s Smoke and Pickles except the version with lamb, and I bought the ground lamb for that today. We love rice bowls. They’re great because you can customize based on your likes and aversions. We dislike rice bowls because you have to make fussy, fussy remoulade. We will probably never eat rice bowls again because of that, but it was fun while the remoulade lasted. 

Unfortunately, it's impossible to find the recipes for the following rice bowls on the internet and I think I know why. You have to type out the remoulade recipe, then the rice recipe, then the recipe itself. This will deter even the most ardent plagiarizer, including me. But, if you have Smoke and Pickles, here are the last three rice bowls I've made, listed in order of preference. The salmon rice bowl and beef rice bowl described in earlier posts were also terrific.

-The lovely tuna rice bowl (raw tuna, avocado, pork rinds, hearts of palm, jalapeno remoulade) was crunchy, cool, spicy, and creamy. I love anything -- novel, movie, song, rice bowl -- that brings together such different and seemingly discordant elements and then reconciles them. The seemingly discordant elements here were not just textural, but cultural. The world seems momentarily whole when you're presented with a dish that contains sashimi, hearts of palms, and pork rinds. Make this. Don't skip those pork rinds, no matter how gross you think they are. 

-The pork rice bowl was also fabulous. You make delectable pork sausage patties and fry. Serve atop rice with jicama sticks, and kimchi remoulade. It's been decades since I bought a jicama and I wonder if I will ever buy one again.

-The chicken rice bowls were not my favorite. You make chicken sausage patties and fry. Serve atop rice with orange segments, peanuts, and miso remoulade. Sweet, refreshing, burstingly juicy orange segments in a savory context? Blecch. All the other rice bowls I've made were much tastier. Tomorrow we'll have a verdict on the lamb rice bowl.

I also made Lee's cinnamon-honey roast leg of lamb. I marinated the expensive lamb for a day in a spiced buttermilk mixture and then glazed it with honey and cinnamon as it cooked. Not as good as it should have been given the special treatment and it brought me just a little closer to going off lamb altogether. 

Per his request, I made Owen a John Gore (see photo at top) cake for his birthday party on Saturday. I told him I didn’t think I could pull this off artfully, but he insisted. I was right.



25 comments:

  1. Well, it's clear that Owen needs to learn to be the cake decorator aboard.

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  2. Your fans always want to hear your thoughts, even if you don't think they are composed in a manner to be presentable. Share when you can. I, for one, am always fascinated by your take on things of this nature. Sadly, I will not be making rice bowls, but I appreciate your reviews of them. Your cake is not professional, but it looks fine. This is a situation where, "it's the thought that counts" certainly applies. I bet Owen liked it just fine.

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  3. Ba ha ha, I endorse Owen's refreshing use of the Keep Calm meme, which is a turnip from which I thought no more blood could be squeezed.

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  4. I LOVE the cake. and the Keep Calm sign. What fun. What could be better than a FUN 13th birthday?

    I think one of your fans had the right idea: start a club of enthusiastic eaters and meet once a week to share food. like a book club - only much more exciting .....eventually you could write a book about the meetings ....the food/comments would make a great blog.

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  5. I think the cake looks great, much better than I could do. I'm sure you could get a lengthy essay, if not a dissertation, out of the topic "Deadbeat Eaters: Why don't they know what good food is? or Why don't they care?" From my observations, I conclude there are three main reasons for this trend. 1. The American palate is attuned to junk food: the salty, the greasy, the glutinous, the very sweet. This is why my husband prefers alfredo sauce from a jar instead of the classic recipe prepared by moi. The modified food starch and excessive sodium create the optimum alfredo experience for him. 2. People like the familiar. This is why everyone wants chocolate chip cookies instead of pfeffernusse, and chocolate cake instead of opera cake. 3. Many people consider food to be fuel, rather than a cultural, sensory, or otherwise rich experience. They would prefer that it taste good, but mainly they want to gulp it down and get back to their ipads. When/if you decide to write the definitive paper on this topic, I will read it with great appreciation.

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    Replies
    1. Sobaka, you got it right. Cooks cook to feed themselves; everyone else is just along for the ride.

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  6. Glad you are back, and I hope your thoughts are spinning in the direction of your next book with "The Unappreciated Cook" being a great potential title. I further suggest dividing things up with the recipes you've "modified" for your family (paying proper credit to the originators, of course), along with the tales of how you and/or your family responded to them, mixed in with the fun stuff about the level of work required. There - I've made my request! If I win the "title contest" can I get an autographed copy? :) Best, Ida

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    Replies
    1. I second that nomination!

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  7. I like the suggestion above. Bring on the crazy!

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  8. This might make you buy jicama. It's delicious.
    http://benandbirdy.blogspot.com/2013/01/jicama-with-spicy-lime-dipping-sauce.html

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  9. Although I should admit I served it to my extended family and only 2 people would eat it. My husband loved it, though.

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  10. Wait. There are people who think pork rinds are gross? Have they tried pork rinds?

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