Odds and ends to think further on perhaps
"When a thing goes viral it’s not because of the person who made the thing. It’s not even because of the media. It’s because of us." Adam Liaw
Over the last week or so I have come across a few weird, ridiculous, annoying, interesting things, that I have thought about using for a post subject, but have set them aside as being too trivial. Not much to say about them. So I am assembling a few of them here, just to bring them to your notice, and perhaps to ruminate on whether to slot them away for a future longer ramble. After all I am quite capable of waffling on for ages about nothing really. Most of them I have to say are to do with foodie terminology and fashion, and by now I have probably exhausted the subject, but then again, maybe not. So here goes.
Fashion, literally, and food - When I first started to look for extra information and pictures for this post my first Google search term - fashion food - brought up a whole lot of articles about how the fashion industry had somehow been associating itself with food because of lockdown. Which is a bit intriguing, and probably needs a post all to itself. This one is a bit of an aside really. But it came up with that intriguing bit of art photography above. A few more as well that could be used.
"forgoing the traditional catwalk format, in favor of more intimate, interactive experiences, often relating to food." Fashionista.com
This is a dish called Smushed potato salad which appeared in Thursday's Age - Home made section. The recipe is by Nagi Maehashi of Recipe Tin Eats fame who prefaces it with these words:
"Yes, I said "smushed". Not "smashed". "Smushed" is a very specific direction, where soft cooked baby potatoes are gently pressed so they burst open slightly, revealing their fluffy insides, ready to soak up the honey mustard dressing while still holding their form."
Honestly! What a load of tosh. The actual relevant instruction in the recipe reads:
"While still hot, gently press down on a potato with a spoon or fork (or tea towel-covered hands), so it bursts open but retains its shape. Place it in a large serving bowl and repeat."
Why would this be any different from crushing the whole potato? Indeed one could argue that crushing the whole potato would enable more of the dressing to soak in. Ditto for slicing or dicing the potatoes. Anyway I tried to find out if this was a new foodie trend, but instead found a series of definitions for smushed which really didn't have much to do with food:
A beaten or pulverized mass.
(slang, New York, US) To engage in intimate contact, especially sexual relations.
To smush is to smash or crush something.
To press, smash, or squeeze into a soft or flat mass; squash - the example given was quashing a bug with your foot!
To mash; or push; especially to push down or in; compress. - to be fair, this last definition did have two foodie examples.
Interesting - especially the sexual thing which I did see elsewhere as a definition of 'to smush'. Oh how attitudes to sex have changed in my lifetime. Its not a word made up by Nagi, although she seems to have added a rather more specific meaning to what is already a slang word. Nothing more to say on this one though, other than to comment on the use of a new, supposedly semi technical term to describe what is a pretty basic potato salad.
"tofu - a texture awaiting a flavour" Tim Dowling
I saw and loved this quote somewhere recently and did think about a post on tofu. However I feel rather unqualified to write about tofu, particularly with respect to taste, as I have never tasted it. Years ago I tasted some soy beans and found them utterly revolting and so have avoided all things soy ever since - except soy sauce which I love. But it's all part of the vegan thing, and I really ought to perhaps consider it some day. There is a lot one could say about tofu.
Flakes - Have you noticed how the word 'flakes' is being bandied around rather a lot these days? Those Aleppo pepper, and Urfa pepper flakes I was talking about the other day are just one example. We all know about salt flakes of course, and then when I was trawling the net for something I found a reference to dulse flakes. Dulse? It's a kind of seaweed and costs the earth - 100g will set you back $27.00 at the Matcha leaf website. Seaweed is very interesting though and I have slotted it away for further investigation. Ditto flakes. Because when I looked for a picture to illustrate flakes all manner of things were there. Cornflakes are at the other end of the spectrum and there was a whole lot of other stuff in between.
Focaccia gardens - It's a lockdown thing emanating from the good old US of A. I saw this in an article by Adam Liaw on Quarantine cooking's seven biggest trends - interesting and amusing stuff. This 'crafty' trend resembles in intent those fancy cakes on the How to cook that website don't you think? People with nothing to do turning to crafty things to pass the time. And I think I did see one in recent days in my internet trawling. Adam Liaw was amused by it and said:
"I’m not even sure if you’re supposed to eat them, but they look really nice, right?" Adam Liaw
Apparently they are mostly only half cooked. I guess if you cooked them fully your beautiful decoration would burn and disintegrate, so you would have to take them out of the oven at just the right moment. That's it for focaccia gardens.
Ben Shewry's avo toast savoy
This recipe has been billed by the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival as their top dish of 2020. Really? Now Ben Shewry is a world famous chef with his restaurant Attica rated in the top 50 restaurants of the world. But this is not a complicated thing. Indeed it is in a way a bit daggy. But it's Ben Shewry, it's avocado and it's a bit retro and maybe his tiny extras make it out of this world. But top dish of 2020 is surely a bit of a stretch. He says of his invention - if you can call it that:
“Savoy = Fancy. Growing up, the fancy party foods were always on crackers.
Think about it! Cheese goes on crackers, hummus goes on crackers, don’t mind a smoked mussel on a cracker, when things got extra, extra fancy it was always with pâté on a cracker."
His recipe is a tiny bit fancy - there is miso over the butter, and the avocado is sieved and sprinkled with lime zest and juice - and olive oil of course. No flakes of anything though. You can even watch a video of him making it.
He goes on to maintain that Melbourne is the birthplace of avocado on toast. Is that right? I thought it was Bill Granger in Sydney. Bill Granger's latest book Australian Food is another of my Christmas cookbooks and I shall definitely be doing a post on that, so I shall explore this vexed question then. As a taster here is a picture of the first recipe in the book Avocado and poached egg on rye. Strangely it doesn't seem to be online. Pretty classic stuff. Way, way back I did a post called Avocado on toast is hot and yes Bill Granger features as the inventor.
So Bill Granger here I come. Well not tomorrow, some time soon.
Waffles - also a bit Bill Granger perhaps, although Nigella is more the inspiration here. It was the second recipe in At My Table and you can find it here.
However, seeing the recipe in her book, made me realise that waffles had been gradually impinging on my consciousness of late. Waffle machines everywhere, and waffles on sale in supermarkets, and vague memories of eating waffles all those years ago in America. All of which made me thing that they also might be worth a post some day. They're sort of like a crumpet with large holes aren't they?
I now feel that I have been doing one of those very annoying Coming soon! articles that you find at this time of year. I may get round to expanding on some of them, and then again I may not. They've all been nagging at me a little bit though. In some cases momentarily and with a realisation that I am just not with it enough. Maybe I should subscribe to Instagram as I think this is where lots of these trends come from.
But those waffles look delicious and blueberries seem to be in abundance this year.
The outcome of yesterday's dithering about what to cook for dinner was indeed a sort of Middle-Eastern braised chicken. Italy and the mushrooms lost out. But the peppers and mandarins were in. Plus beans, carrots, a couple of squashy tomatoes, a handful of red lentils, coriander, lime and lemon juice. Served with some leftover flatbreads from Coles out of the freezer. Even a touch of cream as the bottle was almost empty. All leftover bits and pieces.
It tasted pretty Ok although there was nearly disaster, because somehow or other, either not thinking things through or by accident, the heat on the cooker was turned up and it all burnt on the bottom! Almost completely ruined, but I resisted scraping at it too much and so it was just a bit - shall we say 'charred'. I don't think it really affected the taste, but I don't think I should have added those lentils, which may have caused the problem. And I think it would probably have been better as a tray bake.
A truly leftover meal excepting the green salad and the bottle of rosé, which we agreed was marginally disappointing after the build up. We agreed on this for once. I thought it was a little sharper than I had expected. Must try Aldi's everyday rosés as I have a memory of at least one of them being pretty nice. (Thanks Jenny for the reminder of that.) Tonight we are going out for dinner to friends in Brighton, and taking a bottle of the local Kings of Kangaroo Ground rosé for comparison. I'm sure it will be far superior.