[ vegetarian improvisational peasant fusion cuisine for the 22nd century ]

Thursday, November 16, 2006

cooking can be god: nash's farmshare nov 17th 2006

rolling through new york city like so many beet tops in the wind, the
eternal dance of paper and plastic and some of these lovers haven't
even seen the styrofoam memo. the best mexican food outside of
southern calfiornia on twenty birded streets and fifth avenue (in
brooklyn my friends, don't even think i have the Imaginary Capital to
take you on a culinary tour of manhattan) but you've got to speak
rudimentary spanish or at least know how to count to get your
chalupas. two boys and two loquiles and even some fermented sunshine
for the natives and don't be surprised if each bean-stuffed tortilla
comes dressed with a violent green salsa and avocado besides, each
individually packaged -- this is the dream, this is the north, this is
the future, this is the sytem -- in cavernous styrofoam containers
destined one day to build the museum walls for our forgotten
posterity. and a thin plastic bag to hold them together as if our
heroes didn't have opposable thumbs and eight other fingers besides.

newton and trapp conspired to hammer the action and reaction principle
deep as a landfill so today's recipes are from the spellbook of the
Edible Plate Academy. or, to employ the biblical gravitas -- "thou
shalt not waste, for there is no garbage". first on deck is an edible
appetizer tray swung around the room asian tea party style on a large
dry collard leaf. at this point in the season you can fit enough
vegetable chips for the whole family. the crease in the middle you
pipe swirl-full of a spicy carrot aioli from the corner of a plastic
bag (thank you alton brown). dice the carrots to a finger nail and
roast them in the oven, crowding around the acorn squash halves that
will later (patience, dear prudence) give form to your main course.
when roasted soft you can blend them with the smokiest most authentic
chiles you can find, a healthy squeeze of limes' juice (not local, so
make sure it's organic), and a head of garlic (in the oven as well, to
economize). when the robot walks the picket line for lack of liquid
start drizzling in the olive oil you've been infusing with green
chiles since the late summer. drizzle until the blending is smooth and
the living is easy: you (now and forevermore) have a faux mayonnaise
the spaniards have been dreaming about since the first days of
massacre. uninvited guests show up for dinner and you add some silken
tofu or leftover mashed potatoes for body, compensating with salt and

now to the chips. we've eschewed the packaged variety (even the
organic blue tortilla chips. don't think i don't see those.) and we've
got the oven on and the mandoline ready. yes, the dreaded mandoline. a
strange and deadly kitchen slicer whose evolution followed from the
guillotine's early-19th-century popularity crash. steelsmiths still
wanted to hurt someone so they turned, as always -- the subjugation of
women being a pancultural phenomenon, let us not forget -- to the
kitchen. most of these tools have lost their edges and ended up in
bluegrass bands but you can still go by a nice restaurant (say the
Alderwood Bistro) and check it out. with self-preservation in mind,
use a knife and chop those jerusalem artichokes and golden beets
thinner than the morning mist. a gentle massage with olive oil and
back until they crisp and curl of if you're a robust soul deep fry
those slices (oil at 400) until they puff from the inside out. gods
have been trying to tell us to eat them raw for millenia now and it's
up to you to turn an ear. i don't.

that's your first course -- an arrangement of beet and sunchoke chips
around the saffron robes of a carrot aioli, all flared on a collard
green. or two. or three. for the third take whatever beans you soaked
last night and pressure cooked this morning and make them into a soup.
use your yellow potatoes and even some cabbage but save the kale for
something more visceral. a black bean soup works well -- the acorn
squash has been cooking for some time now and when the halves are
cooked to the quick you can extradite them from their oven sanctuary
and fill them for the next course. the edible soup bowl. with grated
cheese on top to keep everybody happy. and pinenuts for the vegans.

going back to a salad course, the buzzword is "cabbage taco". as in,
look online for pictures of the piles of paper plates (or tires, or
barbed wire) we're wrapping up for our children and mix your salad
ingredients -- spinach, walnuts, strawberries, grated carrots, tahini,
soy sauce, ginger, dulse, dried cranberries -- into the cabbage leaf.
fold and enjoy.

and forward to the main course. anything you like, i'm focusing on the
plate this time around. the key takeaway is that the soft sweet squash
has been baked and then marinated in soup and is now the sumptuous
vehicle for consuming with your mediterranean rice pilaf (with
shredded kale thrown in to saute at the last...). yes? eat the soup
out of the bowl. eat the bowl with the rice. take the rind to the
compost. ashes to ashes. vegetables to vegetables. and the cleaning
ritual is faster than a new york minute.