My father is a very clever man. Long ago, as a Christmas Eve was coming to a close and we were preparing to plate up our milk and cookie offering to Santa, my dad stopped us with a suggestion. Arguing that, because our name was near the end of the alphabet, we were going to be one of the last houses Santa visited. Therefore, the jolly old elf would be very cold and tired of milk. Instead, we should leave him some bourbon to warm him up. It didn’t take long for our young minds to realize that a warmed up and happy Santa was much more likely to leave us better loot. As it happened, Dad had some of Santa’s favorite bourbon (parents know these things), which by amazing coincidence was also my dad’s favorite. I would hazard to say that this was the creation of our family’s traditional Christmas drink: alcohol.
Editor’s Note – Thanks to Michele we now know that today is the inaugural UK Fungus Day. There was a Fungus Day last year, but it was confined to Wales and, therefore, was “National” Fungus Day (and in the minds of the English did not count anyway).
This week’s recipe is a bit of a two-for-one. The “main” recipe is a fall favorite of mine, mushroom soup (PDF – 770kb). This recipe only has five ingredients (not including salt and oil, which are staples, not ingredients), the most important of which is not, in fact, the mushrooms. It’s the stock (PDF – 115kb). Just replace the mushroom with any number of vegetables and we can still make a delicious soup – as long as we start with good stock. So, if we want to understand the science behind great mushroom soup, we need to understand the science behind good stock. Continue reading “Mushroom Soup for Fungus Day”
My brother assures me that the title of the post is nerd for “Molecular Gastronomy Ain’t Food Science”. I hope this is true. He’s a very convincing liar.
The term molecular gastronomy has gone from niche jargon to a standard phrase in discussions of food. In many ways, molecular gastronomy is synonymous with modern cuisine. I find this ironic, because it is anything but modern. Techniques have been honed and the array of available chemicals has expanded, but that is a difference in degree, not a difference in kind.
Two hundred yeas ago, if we wanted to make something like an aspic*, you would boil down pig skin to extract the gelatin. Today, we can buy a packet of powder from the store. The source of gelatin, be that a vat of boiled pig skin or a convenient sized packet), does not make the molecular processes that occur during the cooking different. Continue reading “Molecular Gastronomy != Food Science”
Editor’s Note: My favorite movie food is Dots. That is not the kind of movie food Ben is talking about here.
In the Disney film The Sword in the Stone, Arthur’s stepbrother, Sir Kay, devours approximately 5 pounds of chicken drumsticks by simply sticking the whole drumstick in his mouth and sucking off the meat. My young mind was astonished to learn that you could eat an entire drumstick in one bite. Turns out, you can’t. There’s all this cartilage and stuff in there and its a bit of a choking hazard. Bummer.
You can, however, sometimes pull off Sir Kay’s trick with the meat on the radius* bone when eating buffalo wings. It’s not nearly as impressive, but still oddly satisfying.
*You know the part of a chicken wing that has two bones in it? I’m pretty sure that the radius is the smaller bone in that portion of the wing. It also has less cartilage and connective tissue, which helps with this particular trick.
I think everyone has had the experience of taking a bite of food that has transported them. That bite of food that takes them mind and soul back to their childhood or to a special place or to a fond memory. Food has that power. All food. Its part of its magic. I can’t eat prosciutto and melon (Recipe Card: PDF – 88kb) without thinking about The Pirates of Penzance, because my first time trying the delectable salty-sweet duo was while watching a movie adaptation of the play. I haven’t seen the movie since (about 20 years now), but I will almost universally be caught humming “Modern Major General” after eating prosciutto and melon.
In the spirit of food’s nostalgic powers, I thought it would be fun to periodically share those recipes that are close to my heart. In some cases, I was able to lay my hands on the very recipe. In others, I have recreated recipes that never fail to invoke warm remembrances of bygone days.
These are my memories, but I’d love to hear from you. What are your favorite nostalgic dishes?