Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Horrifying foods done right

I am always amused at how certain foods get a horrific reputation, simply because the person tasting them did so under not so great circumstances. Food, like sex, has a lot of ways to go about preparing it. If you only eat potatoes boiled, mashed and combined with milk and butter, you will never experience the french fries, potato chip, hash browns,roasted, gnocci or any other wonderful possibility potatoes have to offer in life. If you are only served said potato dish at the same meal over and over again, it would get to the point where you would not only refuse any pro-offers of potatoes, but begin to really dislike potatoes all together, and then the whisper campaign would begin saying potatoes are evil. Food, like sex, needs a whole lot of variety in order to fully appreciate what it really has to offer. Two foods that consistently get a bad wrap because people only know about limited uses for are kale

and anchovies.
The first has a reputation for either being used in a salad bar decoration or creamed and the second seems to be only known as a pizza killer. For these reasons , most folks would never taste them- let alone combine them !

Truth is, kale tastes very similar to spinach but has more body. Anchovies taste like concentrated oil packed tuna, and they have the power to add real flavor to anything they are added to. When combined with a food high in Vitamin A ( such as spinach or kale) , they create a dish that makes it easier for the body to absorb the nutrients. It makes for something that has good taste and is very good for you. Something like this dish
Spaghetti con pomadoro e cavoli
(spaghetti with tomatoes and kale)

1 bunch kale, stripped from stems and chopped
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
5 cloves of garlic, de-germed and sliced
1 can anchovies, chopped
olive oil

Boil pasta till al dente and reserve some of the water. In a large pan pour in olive oil, sweat the garlic till golden and add the anchovies. They will literally melt into the oil. Add the tomatoes and cook till the skins start to look wrinkly, add the kale and about 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Cover and let simmer about 5 minutes, till the kale is wilted. Add the cooked pasta, toss and add more pasta water if the dish looks too dry. Serve.( even giving something a name in a different language adds interest)

A word about garlic- another "horrifying" food. Most people find it bitter because most people never remove the germ before cooking. Most garlic ( unless you get it fresh from the farm ) has been sitting around a while , and it begins to sprout. The sprouting is the germ, and it is horribly bitter. Remove the germ and garlic becomes wonderful ! To do this, peel your clove, split it down the middle and remove the thing that looks sort of like a green onion growing inside

germ removed. It works so well that it can make even this gnarly head delicious

Did you know that you can control the intensity of the garlic flavor ? The finer the chop, the more intense the flavor. Adding a whole clove makes for a very mild garlic flavor, while fine chopping like this
will add a much more intense flavor using the same amount of garlic. Much like if you have sex in the same way at the same time with the same person for a long enough time, things become very, very bland. Yet simple changes like different times, different places, different activities add real spice and flavor. Try kale ! Try anchovies ! Try chopping garlic in a different way ! Try a new use for an ironing board at 3 am on Sunday. Horrors are often life rafts in disguise.Different foods and different experiences allow a person to express their creativity. Yes there will be failures along the way, but talents never bloom using the same food in the same way over and over and over and..... Embrace the horrifying foods. You will be glad you did.

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