I was driving Owen and his mute adolescent companions to their art program in San Francisco this morning when we passed a sign advertising civet coffee. I'd never seen civet coffee for sale in the United States (or anywhere else, for that matter), and I broke our customary silence to excitedly explain civet coffee to my passengers. No one showed the slightest interest in this bizarre Indonesian coffee tradition. Not a flicker. Adolescents are tough nuts.
Civet coffee, in case you don’t know, is coffee brewed from beans that have passed through the digestive tract of the palm civet, a cat-like mammal indigenous to Southeast Asia. The civets eat coffee berries which undergo some kind of enzymatic change in the their gut that (supposedly) renders the coffee healthier and more delicious. The beans are eliminated by the civets, collected, roasted, ground, and brewed into a fabled and very expensive coffee. I have just described the process with remarkable delicacy.
I dropped the adolescents off, started driving home, and tried to talk myself out of stopping at the civet coffee place. So much to do, blah blah blah. Then I thought, why resist? So I could get home to my laptop, dirty dishes, and boring routine a half hour sooner?
I am $15 poorer, but I can now report that civet coffee has a strong, rich, round flavor with no harsh, acidic bite whatsoever. Per the barista's recommendation, I drank it black, which is ordinarily impossible for me, but civet coffee really is noticeably smoother. It's very good. Is it worth $15 a cup? How absurd! No! Don’t fall for it. No cup of coffee is worth $15, but I’m not sorry I stopped because for a few minutes I felt like I was having an adventure.
|Why does she even bother?
As you might expect, there are ethical issues attached to consuming civet coffee. Another reason not to drink it.
Back to our previously scheduled programming: Unlike a lot of people, I really like Bon Appetit. I actually appreciate that it's flashy and sort of shallow. Maybe because I subscribe to the mighty, unstoppable New Yorker, the idea of yet more high-quality reading material flooding my mailbox exhausts me and I would probably cancel the Bon Appetit subscription if they started publishing great long-form journalism. I just want pictures and recipes and that’s what I get in Bon Appetit. I opened the August issue and it was full of stuff I wanted to make, starting with the grilled corn and chile dip.
To make this, you grill corn and poblano peppers, scrape corn off cob, chop up poblanos, mix everything up in a bowl with sour cream, creme fraiche, and hot sauce. Bake until bubbly and hot. Serve with tortilla chips. I took this to my sister's house for family dinner and it was spicy, smoky, creamy, crunchy, robust, and very popular.
Two thoughts in case you decide to try this fine recipe:
-The recipe says it “serves 4.” As my father said, “Four what?” The recipe serves at least 10. Perfect for a big potluck.
-While the corn dip worked as an appetizer, I think it would really shine as a side dish. To me, it felt wrong to eat corn on a corn chip. The recipe also suggests serving it with pork rinds, but that doesn't appeal at all. My suggestions is to rename the dish “spicy creamed corn” and serve it like a casserole, to be eaten with forks.
|My niece and nephew collaborated in perfect silence and harmony to braid themselves a whip.