I was able to brighten the life of our dental hygenist, Helga, this winter by
telling her about popping my retainer into my mouth one night in the dark and wondering why it tasted like citric acid. You can guess: One of the flock of stinkbugs living with us had perched on the retainer in its case, and I never saw it.
That may be the most exotic thing I’ve eaten and I didn’t swallow it. I’ve had rattlesnake and alligator in a restaurant, but, unlike the stinkbug, they really tasted like chicken.
Growing up in Pennsylvania, we ate scrapple and sweetbreads regularly, also venison, quail and pheasant during the hunting seasons. I remember standing at the kitchen sink with my mother while she gutted rabbits (tasted like chicken). Camping at Ontario’s Silver Lake, we ate bullfrog legs (ditto) after the Van Dyke boys went gigging.
But I’m planning on that being my entire foray into the food movement detailed in Dana Goodyear’s Anything that Moves: Renegade Chefs, Fearless Eaters, and the Making of a New American Food Culture (Riverhead Books, 2013). Reviewer Thomas McNamee puts it well when he opens his New York Times review with: “Dana Goodyear writes with wit, grace and a contagious sense of humor about some of the most disgusting food you may never see fit to put in your mouth.”
I am rarely revolted by anything on a plate, unless you try to feed me okra or turnips. But this, for example:
“(The chef) was tweaking the dishes. ‘Layer a little bit more (pig) ear in there,’ he told a cook behind the sneeze guard, who was preparing ear slices with a side of brain aioli.” And that’s some of the more mainstream cuisine!
I am very aware that we need to change the ways we eat in order to feed everyone on the planet in coming times. But I’m going to raise and eat peas and beans, I think, rather than try the “maggot ceviche” or the stuff my mother scooped from those rabbits into the trash.
The point that’s stuck with me, though, since reading Anything that Moves is Goodyear’s articulation of “the culture of texture” in the United States (crunchy) and in Asia (“jiggly — soft — unctuous”). Just so.
We, meaning I, are very choosy about the squiggly-feeling food we swallow. On the other hand, I require crunchy stuff to make me feel as though I’ve eaten. (It’s all mind games — this business of eating in a healthy, sustainable fashion.)
That’s why you see the Ramen noodles in the photos of tonight’s salad. They add cheap, low-calorie crunch to a salad. The French-fried onions, not so much; but Stoic the Picky won’t do more than a soupcon of onion.
I made pimiento cheese for the first time ever this morning and decided that a good supper would be a clean-out-the-fridge salad and grilled pimiento cheese sandwiches on Stoic’s homemade oat bread. Into the bowl went the tired mushrooms, the soon-to-be-exhausted little sweet peppers, sunflower seeds (crunch), sun-dried tomatoes, spinach and Romaine.
And then I decided to start another cooking project: making my own dressings this spring. They’re easy-breezy-lemon-squeezy (frequently), cheap and usually have less sugar than the ones you buy. Tonight’s is a red-wine vinaigrette from Real Simple magazine.
Red wine vinaigrette
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
Combine all ingredients except oil in small bowl. Slowly whisk in oil to emulsify, transfer to lidded glass jar, cap and refrigerate. Enough to top 8 side salads.