March 11, 2005

Make_a_wish_1

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting.  I'm as busy as a spider spinning daydreams, I'm as giddy as a baby on a swing.

Posted by Bakerina at 11:01 PM in valentines • (2) Comments • (0) Trackbacks
March 09, 2005

Dear friends, the attached link contains an awful story.  Proceed with care.

Today I learned something new:  The cassava root, from which we get tapioca, contains cyanogenic glucosides.  If the root is eaten raw, the human digestive system will convert part of it into cyanide.  For this reason, it is critical that cassava be peeled and thoroughly cooked before use.

How I wish I had learned this another way than the way that I did.

Posted by Bakerina at 06:09 PM in anger is an energy • (5) Comments • (0) Trackbacks
March 07, 2005

Once upon a time, Lloyd used to be a temp. Between his long-term assignment as a technical writer for Big Pharma and his long-term assignment as an executive assistant at Big Finance (the job into which he was eventually hired), he spent some time working at a nonprofit created to bring businesses to Lower Manhattan after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. I thought that this was worthy work until he came home in a tear one night. Apparently the executive director had scored a real coup by bringing a big national chain to the neighborhood, and in describing the transaction to a journalist, she had boasted, "We don't waste time with any nickel-and-dime businesses here. I don't have time to talk to locksmiths."

Now, of course I don't want to be a wet blanket about bringing dollars into a neighborhood that needed them, but it did make me wonder. At the same time this nonprofit was trying to bring Big Retail to lower Manhattan, residential real estate agents were trying to bring new residents to the neighborhood, or to keep any residents who might leave the neighborhood, by way of reduced rents and/or rent abatements (for example, offering two months' free rent). One of the things that makes New York so neat is that while neighborhoods vary greatly in size, flavor and ambience, they all share common traits that help keep the area livable. You can get on a bus, and ride through four neighborhoods in half an hour, but in each neighborhood you'll see the dry cleaner, the hardware store, the locksmith (often in concert with the hardware store), the corner fruit and vegetable store, either a supermarket or a collection of specialty markets (butcher, fish market, etc.) where you can do your groceries, the restaurant where you get your takeout, the restaurant where you go when you want to go out for breakfast or a cup of coffee, the restaurant where you go when you want to splurge a little, the drugstore, the liquor store, the corner market where you get your beer and your Cadbury Flake bars, the bakery that includes at least one specialty item that you know in your heart is worth traveling from other neighborhoods for. My own neighborhood is a textbook example of this composition, as is the neighborhood I lived in for three years before moving to this one. These businesses are not particularly sexy, but they are key. I can easily live without an Anthropologie or a Pottery Barn in my neighborhood, but if I had to travel out of the nabe on a cold, wet night to pick up my dry cleaning, it would be a very, very long night. If a pipe bursts in our apartment building, and we need a washer to fix it, you'd bloody well better believe we want a hardware store close by. I'm sure the folks in Lower Manhattan would agree with me on that point. Apparently the Times Square Alliance does, and they are trying to make the neighborhood a bit more user-friendly for the people who live there. (Now, if only those people would venture a couple of blocks east and show Coliseum Books a bit of love...) It looks like it will be an uphill battle, though, particularly now that Times Square real estate agents admit that the neighborhood is geared to the folks who think we're just a nice place to visit. Ah, well.

Knowing that accidents in the kitchen can happen to anyone, that everyone from Rose Levy Beranbaum to Maida Heatter to Shirley Corriher to John Thorne has written funny little reminiscences of cakes laid low by too much baking powder (yes, too much baking powder will deflate your cake) and overstuffed ducks exploding in ovens, I am still not quite mature enough to be philosophical when bad things in the kitchen happen to me. Such was the case on Sunday when, having put two loaves' worth of bread dough into the fridge for a long cool rise, having made a quicker version of the same bread so that Lloyd and I could eat grilled cheese sandwiches if the mood hit, having broken up the carcass of our capon and turned it into stock, I decided to bake a cake. I don't know why I've been fixated on brown sugar lately, but the phrase floated its way into my consciousness, as if a lover had murmured it into my ear: brown sugar cake. I wanted a cake where you could taste the faint caramelly edge of molasses without actually identifying the flavor as molasses-based. I thought of a cake that would work just as well with a box of Domino light brown sugar from Key Food as it would with a packet of light or dark muscavado sugar from Kalustyan or Myers of Keswick. I knew that most of the spice cakes I like to make are brown sugar-based, but I wasn't looking for spice this time, the way I usually am: I was gunning for sugar and butter, creamed to the color of sand; a tender, soft crumb, a crunchy exterior, maximum crust-to-crumb ratio, the kind one gets from tube pans; maybe a little smoothness from vanilla brandy and a bit of zip from buttermilk. The more I thought of it, the more I knew I could do it, and the more it sang to me. I found myself humming that sweet old paean to gender roles, "Tea for Two:" "Day will break/and I'll awake/and start to bake/a sugar cake/for you to take/for all the boys to see..." I was *this* close to whipping up a batch of brown sugar meringues. I was just in that kind of mood.

I'm still in that kind of mood, because this cake tastes like falling onto a soft pillow feels. It's like the first kiss you share with someone who you know you were born to kiss, the first time you look into the eyes of someone you adore and you know they adore you right back. If I do say so myself, it's a wonder of a cake. Too bad I decided to skimp on the pan preparation. I baked this in a Nordicware cathedral pan, which, even though it's a nonstick cast aluminum pan, I still find it worthwhile to butter it liberally and sprinkle it with dried bread crumbs. Too bad I couldn't find my bread crumbs and thought, oh, hell, I'll just butter and flour it. Buttering and flouring it didn't make the cut, as I discovered when I turned the cake out of the pan and half of it -- the crusty, sweetest, carameliest half of it -- stayed behind in the pan. I stood in the kitchen, pan in hands, thinking to myself, This cake looks like one of those rubber doughnut seats they sell at the drugstore. And this pan is going to take freaking forever to clean. I'm going to have to clean it with toothpicks.

Luckily, Lloyd had both of our priorities straight. "Can we still eat it?" he asked, as if I were granting him a favor by saying yes. Yes, I said. Yes, we can. Yes. Yes. Yes.

In other kitchen news, I cut my hand on Sunday. This in itself would be nothing new. Cooks cut themselves every day. But how many of them can do it with salt? Those Maldon salt crystals, they can really sting. I feel like I've fallen right out of a Joss Whedon script: "I've cut my hand on salt."

Dear friends, a quiz: A certain friend of yours has told you that she is contemplating turning some of her photography into notecards and selling them. She is also contemplating selling her preserves and pickles by mail. Furthermore, she is contemplating linking the site from which she'll be selling her stuff to her noncommercial, pretentious, foodier-than-thou site. Your response is:

a) No integrity for you, scurvy capitalist dog!

b) I believe it was Bill Hicks who said...

c) Why, yes! I'll take a dozen, please!

d) Will there be boobies?

Remember, there is no right or wrong answer, unless I'm in a mood, in which case if you answer incorrectly, I'll cry. Not to put any pressure on you or anything. >smile

Posted by Bakerina at 11:40 PM in stuff and nonsense • (4) Comments • (0) Trackbacks
March 06, 2005

Dear friends, I had good intentions, really I did.  Then I looked up from my pile of notecards and key texts (just how much source material on large-scale food production in Mesopotamia can one read?  answer:  get back to work, you!) and discovered it was 7 p.m. on a Sunday night.  Sigh.  Since I'm still in a writerly frame of mind, though, this post, which I originally wrote on April 25, 2004, is particularly resonant tonight.  Stay tuned, dear friends.

A caveat, one without which I am too cowardly to share the thoughts below: The opinions expressed below are mine and only mine, and they are opinions and only opinions. They may be completely wrongheaded, and what I find intensely praiseworthy may be only as so much shite to you. You are even free to tell me so, although, of course, I will like you better if you don't. wink

There are two kinds of writing that I love. One aims to soothe, the other aims to challenge and enlighten. I am a big fan of stretching one's boundaries, challenging one's assumptions, shining a light on misconceptions and false assumptions. But that is a discussion for another night. Tonight I am considering the nature of comfort.

I have eaten a lot of cooking and read a lot of writing that is meant to engender a very specific food memory, mostly of the comfort-food variety. True comfort food is supposed to evoke Mom, or Grandma, or a gaggle of aunties, or a Mom-Grandma-Auntie-like neighbor lady. It is supposed to be about nurturing, sharing, love made tangible, communion with ourselves and each other and nature and generations of ancestors. I have no quarrel with such ideals as long as they are organic, by which I mean that they flow naturally out of your own experience. But if you try to create a Momma's Kitchen O'Love idiom when you hated your grandmother or your mom believed that real women make reservations, then the people reading your words just might suspect that they are being sold a bill of goods. They will feel manipulated. They will become vaguely resentful.

This is a problem I have with a particular culinary memoir, one that I won't name here (although if you're an astute foodie, you may be able to guess what it is). When this book came out, I was thrilled. It had everything to recommend itself to me: It was a collection of thoughtful essays about food, which I love to read. Each essay boasted plenty of research, incorporating science, history, funny stories and puckish observations. It was a celebration of home-and-hearth cooking, a glorious field that has not been given proper historical consideration (although, thankfully, that is changing thanks to the work of disciplined culinary historians). It was published in hardcover by my favorite publishing house, a small press that, among other worthy tasks, is rereleasing the long out-of-print works of my adored Dawn Powell. It is filled with terrific recipes. It is written by a bright, funny, kindhearted woman who is obviously a demon cook. If I were invited to her house for dinner, I'd consider myself lucky.

And yet, and yet. It is hard for me to overstate how cold I was left by this book. I was not won over by the tale of her father's first taste of stew and polenta at his mother-in-law's table. I was not enchanted by her breadbaking aunt. I should have been enamored of her grandmother's blackberry pie recipe, but instead I was irritated by her repeated shots at restaurant food and the cooks who were unable to tell pate brisee from good old American pie dough. I was irritated even more by her unspoken but urgent insistence that I love all these women, women who were certainly kind and gentle and skilled cooks, but who I barely knew, certainly didn't know well enough to love, and felt disinclined to love by virtue of that bludgeoning: See how lovable they are, so much more so than those awful, awful restaurant chefs? By the time I got to the essay on food as aphrodisiac, I wanted to throw the book across the room. At the same time, though, I felt guilty. Wasn't she writing exactly what I wanted to read? Wasn't she writing exactly what I wanted to write? Aha...a question of sour grapes? Maybe I should try reading it again? Surely the problem was with me, not with her? The reader reviews on Amazon were unanimous in their praise. Writers I respected showered accolades on the book. It had to be me.

Friends, I read this book four times. In the end, I decided that the problem is probably with me, but I just can't will myself into feeling something that just isn't there. I am sure that the writing works a special kind of magic, but I am just impervious to it. That's fine. None of us is universal, no matter how we wish we were. And I have to admit that I am curious about the earlier drafts of the book, seen only to the author and her editor. The author is a graduate of a writing program, and it shows in her writing: technically, it is flawless, but there is, to me, anyway, an overwritten, overrevised, overpolished quality to it. I wonder if there is an earlier, rougher, more compelling draft, burnished into smoothness. The author also claims that she used a large number of sources to research her essays, but her bibliography doesn't reflect this; instead, she gives a "recommended reading" list. Did she try to include all of her sources, and was she discouraged from doing so? (I do have to take issue with a flight of fancy she has about Fannie Farmer "stamping her dainty foot" as she insisted on volume measurements in recipes. Anyone who has ever seen a picture of Fannie Farmer, or read even a brief biographical sketch of her, would know better than that.) Once upon a time, was there a book inside this book that I just might have loved?

Enough with kicking this poor book to the curb already. So, Jen, just what do you want, anyway? Despite my seemingly harsh words earlier about comfort food writing, I do have a particular fondness for writing that evokes a certain kind of comfort, the kind that is found in a temporarily well-ordered universe. I call it "Friday night mind," that feeling you get when your immediate burdens are lifted, when you are freshly delivered from work and obligation, when you can deviate from your regular dinner routine (i.e. cooking if you live on takeout during the week, ordering takeout if you cook during the week), where you can stay up late if you want to. It is a sense of presence, a moment of contentment and satisfaction with the present moment.

It is the feeling I get every time I read Laurie Colwin's essay "Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant," from Home Cooking. In this piece, Miss Colwin reminisces about a 7'x 20' apartment in Greenwich Village where she lived for eight years, cooking on a two-burner stove, doing dishes in her bathtub, cultivating her coffee palate. Although all of her anecdotes are rich and funny, I particularly liked the story of her moving in, aided by two friends named Alice, on a cool summer day. As a housewarming present, a friend had given her a fondue pot, and she decided it would be nice to serve steak fondue to the Alices. She bought a fancy piece of sirloin from the butcher, made two dipping sauces and bought a third, bearnaise, from a delicatessen. The fondue was not a success, the oil going from not hot enough to so hot that boiling oil overflowed from the sides of the pot. Miss Colwin saved the day by sauteeing the steak cubes in a frying pan and pouring all of the sauces over them. She and the Alices devour the steaks, then head out to a bar for burgers and fries.

It is also the feeling I got the first time I read "Doing the Subcontinental." This simple essay was like a little movie for me, the image of a cold weatherworn night, the heroine with a mind full of worry and a heart full of trouble, visiting a friend stirring something interesting in a pot, taking it home and replicating it in her own kitchen. I also love the party at which the keema macaroni is served. I think of a large group of happy people, broken off into smaller groups of happy people, the table with the keema macaroni sitting on it, "calling no attention to itself." It is hard to elaborate, or to encapsulate, just what it is that resonates with me so, but resonate it does.

It was this essay that inspired me to track down a copy of Curries Without Worries, which brings out that familiar rush of comfort and pleasure. I have a lot of Indian cookery books, all of which are splendid books full of luscious and fragrant recipes, but Curries is easily the friendliest, chattiest, calmest, warmest of the bunch. Sudha Koul is both a great believer in basic Indian home cooking and an enthusiastic teacher of it. Consider the following passage, from the introduction to the 1983 edition (I have the 1994 edition, published by Cashmir, Inc., Pennington, NJ):

I still remember the day when some very dear friends of my husband invited us for dinner and served an Indian meal. They had, on occasion, enjoyed Indian meals cooked by my husband and wanted to give his still quite new bride a surprise. And they did! I had come to the U.S. for the first time and was intrigued by the prospect of eating an Indian meal cooked by Americans. To my surprise they served a delectable looking vegetable curry and hot, fluffy rice...a simple and authentic Indian meal. I eagerly took a mouthful and bit into something hard and pungent, almost bitter. The quintessential Indian spice turmeric...in its natural state! Swallowing it rapidly, I thought to myself that the recipe must not have explained that ground turmeric was required. I cannot think of any spice used in Western cooking that would even approximate such a culinary disaster had it been added whole instead of ground.

Even a cookbook must be inspired, and this episode sowed the seeds of a desire to introduce my new friends to Indian cooking. I hope my relating this episode at the very beginning of the book will not make an apprehensive reader even more apprehensive. I must add that, after removing the remaining pieces of turmeric, I enjoyed a hearty and delicious meal. The food was not rich, heavy, overly spicy or gourmet, rather, it consisted of wholesome, honest-to-goodness, everyday Indian preparations, thoroughly enjoyable and healthy, despite the aforementioned oversight. I was made to feel at home by the thoughtfulness that had gone into its preparation and by its superb quality.

The second edition, published in 1989, includes this amendment to the introduction:

Remember, this is not a book for fanatics. It is an authentic Indian cookbook used by genuine cooks of Indian cuisine. Adjustments have been made to a new time and place. No cuisine stipulates only one way of making a dish. Betty's apple pie tastes different from Pam's, both are real and delicious. You may not be able to replicate that dal you had at a friend's house, but there are as many ways to cook dal as there are friends!

If I had a friend like this at my elbow, I would never know a moment's fear in the kitchen. This passage, this book, it is more than comforting, it is fortifying. It makes an argument for kindness as one of the most powerful weapons we have against the things that would sap us. Spite, indifference, needless cruelty, sloppy work, sloppy weather, heartbreak: we cannot make them stand still, yet we can make them run, as Andrew Marvell said. Take a pot of keema, a tray of gingerbread, a bowl of lentils, a tub of bearnaise sauce from the delicatessen. When they help you find a place in time that you would not trade for anything, that's when you know you have found something special.

Posted by Bakerina at 11:08 PM in stuff and nonsense • (1) Comments • (0) Trackbacks
March 03, 2005

Apologies, dear friends.  It was never my intention to turn this space into the blog equivalent of a cheesy clip show, but I cannot deny it:  I have been seriously off my writing feed this week.  The desire is there, but the execution has not been, to put it mildly.  Until I am back on said feed, here is something to keep us all warm.  There is something about winter weather, particularly weather filled with subzero wind chills, that give me a serious citrus jones.  (Note to self:  In the event that LuthorCorp cuts you free and you find yourself turning to adult entertainment to pay the high-speed internet bill, consider Citrus Jones for your pr0n name.)  I have been craving oranges in quantity, eating at least four a day, and my lime habit is as strong now as it was on January 21, 2004, when I first posted this consideration of limes.  Once again, anyone who desires a proper recipe for the tea cake, please let me know and I'll post a follow-up.  Thanking all of you in advance for not pelting me with foodstuffs for resorting to the clip-show machinations.  Your patience will be amply rewarded, really.  smile

One of my least favorite things about winter is the constant chatter of vox pops on the local news, in which people express the novel notion that it's very, very cold out, and they don't like it. I don't like cold weather either, at least not this kind of cold, but I find it necessary. I am a big believer in seasons, and to me a fierce winter is the price you pay for a gentle spring, much as a baking-hot summer is the price you pay for a brilliant, crisp autumn. I grew up in northeastern Pennsylvania, in the Poconos, and I learned early to mistrust that warm snap in February, when the temperature would near 50 degrees, the ice would turn into little tributaries, and the dirt would feel soft underneath my boots. I knew that this was a debt we were incurring, and within weeks we would have to pay up. Sure enough, we would wake up one morning to 7 degrees, with a 15-below wind chill. When Stephen King wrote in his novella "The Sun Dog" that it was the debt that hurt you but the interest that broke your back, I thought immediately of those winters.

I am even more leery of winters that never get very cold, 50 degrees and wet all winter long. Not only is it dreary -- too warm for snow activities, too cold for much else -- but once spring arrives, there is a sameness to it all; that soft mud, that gentle air, it becomes status quo, rather than the marvel it should be. It should be a marvel, to walk around the city, or sit in my parents' backyard, or troop through woods and meadows, feeling warm air on my face and arms like a gift, feeling loved on this earth, all of us rewarded for our patience during those long dark fierce winter months. Because I am descended, on both sides of my family, from peoples of cold dark northerly green countries, I can't have one without the other. So the Arctic cold front currently grinding the East Coast under its bootheel should fit right into my plans. Only...Jesus, it's cold. I had forgotten how strenuous and draining it is, living in this kind of cold, how every gust of wind feels like an assault. I had forgotten the dread of waking up and seeing frost on the windows, knowing that that was the harbinger of a particular brand of cold, the kind that made you feel that you were being eaten alive. I had also forgotten how LuthorCorp loves to overcompensate in extreme weather, leaving us bluelipped in the dog days of August, and dry-roasted on a day when the wind chill hit 30 below zero. It is enough to make a girl run shrieking, or at least dream of escape. My dear friends who live in balmier and more temperate zones have graciously invited me and/or Lloyd to head southward or westward until all of this arctic nonsense blows over. Fresser that I am, though, there is only one place I want to go right now: anyplace in Australia, or New Zealand, where I can get my hands on some finger limes.

When the weather turns cold, I deal with it in two ways. One is to make a lot of rib-sticker foods, one-pot dishes: the famous braised chicken and chestnuts from Land of Plenty; beef with carrots and prunes, covered with stout and baked for hours in a slow oven; the wonderful Gran'maw Peacock's Chicken and Rice from The Gift of Southern Cooking by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock. This is one of the best chicken & rice dishes you will ever eat, and it is also one of the easiest things you could ever make. (Since this is a copyrighted recipe, I will not post it, but if you are keen to try it, e me.) The other way is to turn 180 degrees from the baked and stodgy and embrace the warm and zippy. This year I have backed down from my normally strict insistence on eating with the seasons, simply because there are only so many baked parsnips one can eat without screaming. This year I have fallen back on chile peppers, haricots verts, broccoli, mustard greens and black kale. I have come back to cabbage, loathed in childhood, adored now that I know the proper way to eat it (raw, pickled or very lightly cooked). And I find myself giving thanks every day that I was born in a time where limes are cheap and plentiful.

I am a mad fool for tart, sour flavors. Much as a normal person's mouth waters at the thought of a perfectly roasted prime rib, a bowl of buttery peas or a coconut cake with seven-minute icing, so does mine at the thought of a green tomato pickle, or the little rose-colored Greek pickled onions known as volvi, or the biting tamarind candies that I sometimes find in Asian markets. At this time of year I envy my British friends with access to forced rhubarb, as over here we don't see the best and affordable stuff until May, and so I must wait, tastebuds humming in anticipation. To my mind, though, the best taste in the world is to be found inside a passion fruit, so unpromising at first glance (that wrinkled shell! those spooky seeds!) but so brilliant and sunny and tart and loaded with promise. Every time I share a passion fruit with someone, the reaction is the same: a look of trepidation, a startled "oh!" at first taste, a smile. This lovely fruit has two big drawbacks, though: it lends itself better to sweet dishes than to savories, and, at least where I live, they are expensive. The market where I find them charges $1.75 a piece for them; this for a single fruit that yields about a tablespoon of pulp. There are few things more dispiriting than to open up a cookbook and see "passion fruit, about two dozen" in the ingredient list. I keep hearing rumors of passion fruit being cultivated in Florida and California, cheaper by far than the pricy imported Pacific Rim fruit. I am still waiting.

No, what I really need to get me through the winter is a fruit that is cheap and plentiful, can be used in sweets and savories alike, and makes me feel like a little ray of sunshine, inside and out. Lemons do the trick beautifully. Limes do it even better.

As part of my overall January post-holiday, pre-spring dietary housecleaning, I have been cooking my way through Sally Schneider's A New Way to Cook. Ordinarily I have no truck with low-fat, or even lower-fat, cookbooks; I have no patience for regimes and I have never embraced, in Nigella Lawson's words, the way, the truth and the lite, but into every stubbornly-held crotchet falls an exception, and A New Way to Cook is mine. Some of the recipes are more high-maintenance cookery than others; for every brown butter/balsamic vinegar sauce, there are about ten recipes with long ingredient lists and very specific cooking techniques. Tonight I will be making hummus, the fodder for a dozen brown-bag lunches, and thus I will be toasting spices, grinding them, chopping garlic, blending them all together with tahini and lemon juice and then zizzing them in the food processor, along with the chickpeas I soaked on Monday and cooked last night. It is all worth it, I tell myself, because when I am done I can have a fruit salad dressed with Greek yogurt, brown sugar, cardamom and lime juice.

I have been eating insane quantities of limes, in seafood salad, in Thai hot and sour soup, in "brick chicken" (chicken marinated in lime juice, garlic and rosemary, pressed under a foil-wrapped brick and cooked in a cast-iron skillet). Normally there is no better way to roast a chicken than with a lemon up its bottom, but every once in a while I use a lime instead, and the result is a familiar yet exotic flavor. I'd always known in the back of my mind that lime juice + fish sauce + chile + ginger + rice vinegar + a little pinch of sugar was a workable combination, but I never realized just how gloriously all these flavors mesh together, particularly when you heat them for a few minutes. And I won't even begin to discuss desserts -- well, okay, I will begin to discuss desserts. The best cake I know how to make, the closest thing to a signature cake that I have, is a basic buttermilk cake, the kind you can find in cookbooks from Maida Heatter to Gale Gand, flavored with a lot of cardamom (do you sense a theme here?) and lime zest, soaked with quantities of lime syrup when you pull it hot from the oven. I made baked apricots last night, dried California apricots (so much bigger, brighter and more tart than their Turkish counterparts) soaked to plumpness, dressed with some of the soaking liquid, sugar flavored with cardamom and the inside of a vanilla bean, and several squeezes of lime juice. I ate those sticky, warm apricots with a little blob of full-fat Greek yogurt, and trust me, there was not a part of my body that wasn't happy when I ate it.

You would think that I have a bit of an obsession with limes, those unprepossessing little handballs in the supermarket, nice enough for a gin and tonic but little else. Until last week I would have disagreed with you; I would have said that limes are greatly underappreciated, their propensity to flood the coldest, most arctic days with warmth and sunshine vastly underrated. I would have said, hopefully not too meanly, it's not my problem, it's yours, you philistine, you. Then the New York Times food section ran an article (since archived on their web page, damn them) about exotic limes, such as the Thai cuisine fixture makrut lime (never kaffir lime, not on this page, at least). On the front page was the most amazing thing I had ever seen, the cross section of an Australian finger lime. The little elongated juice sacs that make up a section of citrus fruit, those that are so lovely when your fruit is fresh and sweet, and so nasty when it is old and dried out, are called vesicles. The vesicles in a finger lime are perfectly round and large, about the size of fish roe, or large-pearl tapioca. Apparently Ferran Adria, the chef at El Bulli in Spain, was moved to tears when he tried one, and Daniel Boulud, a very snappy piece of cheese in the New York restaurant world, is aching to get his hands on finger limes for his restaurant. We cannot get them here, at least not yet. And thus my obsession is fostered. I imagine cutting a finger lime open, tipping the vesicles into my mouth, crunching them between tongue and palate, feeling my mouth fill with intense sunshine, and I know, I have to go wherever I can go to find those, right now.

Posted by Bakerina at 11:46 PM in incoherent ravings about food • (1) Comments • (0) Trackbacks
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