Since the evening of April 3, Jews throughout the world have been celebrating Passover. Passover marks the Biblical release of Israelites from bondage under the Egyptian Pharaoh.
One of the symbolic foods eaten during Passover is matzo, an unleavened ‘bread’ (some people would add far more quotation marks) that is made with wheat flour and water only. It commemorates the urgent escape of the Israelites, led by Moses, who left in such a rush that they baked their bread without waiting for it to leaven.
Why do I mention Passover? The keen reader will note that:
a) Passover marks the release of Israelites from bondage and
b) this is my last food blog…
but that’s not the reason!
I was reading the back of a box of Manischewitz matzos, and I saw the following: “Every time you open a packet of ketchup or soy sauce you can thank Jewish inventor, George Brusak, whose Bell-Pak and Bursa-Fill machines packed liquids, creams, powders, and solids into disposable sterile packets.” I just couldn’t pass over the opportunity to learn more (haha! “pass over… like Passover). But first, let me cite my source.
OK… uh… hmm… no author. Machischevitz Corporation…? Or maybe the back of the box is technically provided by “Jewish American Heritage Month”… uh… Company… ok… date: Passover-ish… 2014. Production code 0976B. So.
George Bursak Biography [no title given], Manischevitz Matzo
Box. Back of box. Corporation of Jewish American Heritage
I will be looking for matzo boxes in the next MLA handbook.
Anyway: George J. Burskak (Apr. 18, 1913 – Apr. 15, 2005) was a notable Jewish resident of Milwaukee. He lived through two World Wars, the Great Depression, and the birth of computers. Woah… Bursak was born with dyslexia, a reading disorder that slows a reader and may make them more prone to error. As a child, dyslexia was still not well understood, and Bursak’s teachers assumed that he was not intelligent. Throughout his life, he would grapple with dyslexia, and eventually wrote the book, “If I Can Do It, So Can You: Triumph Over Dyslexia”.
From an early age, Bursak showed technical prowess, and entered trade school after he completed grade six. Let me repeat that: he entered trade school after he completed grade six. After work in a defence plant during the Second World War, however, he finally focussed on machinery totally.
I also learned that in 1941, Bursak was the managing director of the The Service Health Club, Inc. It was located at 2124 W. North Avenue. This fact is unrelated to the rest of this blog.
While running manufacturing operations with his wife, Ida, Bursak developed medical supplies, a hand lotion, and THE REASON FOR THIS BLOG POST: one-time-use ketchup packets (though the packets can hold all kinds of stuff).
In “If I can Do It, So Can You”, Bursak writes: “Believe in yourself. Keep trying, and keep on trying again. Reach out to the people around you. And finally, give something back.” (qtd. in The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle).
So where was I? Ah yes. Disposable sterile packets for sauces. Portable food is important. It’s important if you are…fleeing a wretched Pharaoh. It’s also important if you are buying food in one place and wish to consume it elsewhere (home, car, desert…). Bursak’s innovation can be thought of as each of the following:
– an idea, for he first had the thought, “Hey, what if I squirt some ketchup into a packet so that people can carry ketchup around without having to literally hold the ketchup in their hands?”;
– technology, for Bursak developed the mechanical means of filling these sterile packets;
– product, for disposable ketchup was not available until Bursak made it so; and finally
– service, for though this is a bit iffy, the portability of the ketchup has value to it and could be considered a service of sorts.
The importance of this innovation has led to: portable, fast-foods as well as THE ABILITY TO MAKE YOURSELF SUSHI AND THEN BE SAD BECAUSE YOU HAVE NO SOY SAUCE BUT THEN BE HAPPY BECAUSE YOU FOUND SOME SOY SAUCE THAT WAS IN YOUR FRIDGE, HIDDEN UNDER SOME JARS, WAITING FOR YOU IN ONE OF GEORGE BURSAK’S LITTLE PACKETS.
Thank you for reading! It has been an honour to food-blog you all!
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Firstly, some people have asked me, “Matt, what does it look like behind the scenes at MattChefInTraining? How do you write your glorious prose and, occasionally, poetry?” My adoring fans, I grant you a rare photo. Here is my typical blog-writing set up.
Now the main event. People: I went vegetarian for a week. I’ve eaten as a vegetarian before, though for different reasons. I’ve been an I-don’t-want-to-clean-up-the-chicken-juice vegetarian, a maybe-I’ll-wait-until-payday-before-I-buy-a-big-piece-of-meat vegetarian, and a my-housemates-are-all-vegetarians-and-let’s-just-see-how-this-goes vegetarian.
This time around, I became a vegetarian for one reason: to get a mark on my blog assignment. “But what kind of vegetarian should I strive to be?” I asked myself. “WELL, SELF?! GIVE US AN ANSWER.”
Here it is: I will be a vegetarian whose refusal to eat a) the flesh of animals and b) any product whose production requires the death of an animal. By “animal” I mean any organism belonging to the kingdom Animalia. There are some caveats, here, as you would expect with many moral positions. Eating wheat that has been harvested in the Prairies probably led to the deaths of many insects. The wheat was transported along rail lines that displaced natural habitats during construction. Maybe there was road kill along the way as a delivery truck brought bread to the city centre. But, like… what do you want from me? We have to draw a line somewhere. (This, coincidentally, is the basic retort to many challenges to moral positions: “What do you want from me? Come on! I’m trying…”)
Breakfast: eggs and toast. I visited the hen that laid that egg, and it’s doing ok. Thus have I started my journey into vegetarianism. I should buy some anti-meat pamphlets.
Lunch: tri-citrus shallot dressing over arugula with goat cheese and roasted pecans. More animal products, here, though not requiring anything to be killed.
Dinner: I went to a vegetarian restaurant. I didn’t cook, but I ate a veggie burger at F**** (no free advertising on MattChefInTraining). Here’s the thing: this is a delicious vegetable burger partially because it doesn’t try to look like or otherwise imitate meat. It is a proud assemblage of spices and grains and vegetables and flours. It was topped with a peanut Thai sauce, thinly sliced green onion, and bean sprouts. Good work, F****.
Breakfast is not the most important meal of the day. I didn’t have it.
Actually, I didn’t even eat much today. If you don’t eat any food you’re also not eating meat, so it counts as vegetarian!
I procured some anti-meat pamphlets. They’re pretty convincing. So, in the real world, I’m not a vegetarian. I recall a conversation I had with a committed vegan. I said that I thought abstaining from meat was morally virtuous but was not a moral duty. She thought a vegan lifestyle was an imperative. Thus did we disagree.
I received a gift. I clutched the wrapped gift to my bosom and felt its exterior. Hmm… a book… sharp corners. But the book cover is soft… like a cushy leather bible. “It’s not a bible, Matthew.” What was it? A vegetarian cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi.
Let me share with you an example recipe: take some carrots, cut them up into big pieces, toss in olive oil and honey, salt, pepper, crushed coriander seed, and toasted whole cumin seed. Then roast the carrots until done. It was tasty. I promise.
But that is not the recipe that I will share with you for the purposes of getting a grade. Please proceed to tomorrow (below, “Friday”).
Check this sick recipe out:
3 c. leeks, rough chop
4 c. cremini mushrooms, rough chop
4 c. vegetable stock, fortified
3 Tbsp. butter
1 c. milk
pinch Herbes de Provence
4 sprigs fresh thyme
kosher and ground black pepper (to taste)
My dear mother gave me this recipe, and I altered it slightly.
HERE IS HOW YOU MAKE THE RECIPE IN CASE YOU WANT TO MAKE THE RECIPE.
Sweat the vegetables in butter.
Add Herbes de Provence.
Add fortified vegetable stock (which I made by adding mirepoix to some store bought veg. stock and simmering for half an hour) an simmer for five minutes.
Blend well in food processor.
Add milk and thyme and heat it right good!
Season with salt and pepper.
Eat as you wish.
Clean up your freaking mess (this step is left out of many recipes).
Here is what I thought when I ate it: “This is really good but it would’ve been slightly better with chicken stock instead.” Sigh…
I ate some food, which included: chocolate chip banana bread, buttermilk scones and homemade strawberry jam, pain au lait with tahini and garlic yogurt spread, roasted pecan, roasted almond, raw cashew because I didn’t bother to roast it, pasta in tomato sauce, garlic bread, RED WINE, and some raw vegetable that bored me.
I really wanted to eat some smoked meat though. I didn’t eat it, but I reaaaaaally wanted to. Oh, yeah, I also had a tri-citrus dressing over arugula with goat cheese and maple syrup infused salt.
And in the end, I come to the day before my vegetarian diet’s expiry. You know, during the week I told one Chef that I was a one-week-vegetarian. He laughed at me. But, you know, you gotta take as good as you give.
I think the easiest way to maintain this diet while being a chef is to simply remove meat from the diet and not worry about approximating the flavour or taste of meat using vegetables. I think it’s a big hassle to try to make vegetables seem like meat. As Ottolenghi says in his most recent cookbook, ‘Vegetables deserve to have a starring role at the table; they shouldn’t always be a side dish.’ Chef Ottolenghi does eat meat however. He likes it, he eats it, but he thinks that vegetables are more versatile than often thought.
I will not be continuing with this diet. I enjoy eating meat. I like the flavour and I like the texture. This is a selfish reason to eat an animal that has been killed for your pleasure, so perhaps I will undergo an existential crisis in the next few months. In the end, however, I think I will eat meat with more awareness.
Greetings! Welcome (back) to my humble blog. First, a note on etymology. Did you know that “blog” is a truncated form of “weblog” from the internet’s earlier days? It’s true. “Blog”, therefore, takes out the “we”. But when you read my words, Gentle Reader, “we” are brought back together. Harmony, Gentle Reader. Harmony.
This assignment is grounded in the need to hug a farmer. But more important than the hugging, I contend, is the attempt to understand the work of farmers around us. I did not hug my farmer, but I spoke with her. I learned a bit of her life.
I would to share my findings with you.
In a feat of GREAT INTERTEXTUALITY, let me remind you of an earlier blog submission in which I documented some Royal Eggs that I had cooked. Guess what? Those eggs WERE FROM THE FARMER I WILL NOW DISCUSS!!!!!!!
I went to a local farm. Not local to where I am right now (i.e. Toronto) but local to where I was (i.e. Lafontaine, Ontario). In Lafontain, Ontario is a truly charming farm, whose main business is equestrian stuff: riding lessons, boarding, and the like. They have a website: http://www.celticrootsequestrian.ca/index.php
On this farm is a henhouse, and in that henhouse are some hens. Those hens produce eggs, which are sold on the farm property (for cheap!).
The current owners of the farm have been tinkering away and expanding for more than three decades. For most of its time, the farm was operated as a dairy farm. The switch to eggs came about during what I assumed was a 4 A.M. early milking epiphany: “Dairy farming is freaking hard. Enough of this.”
The owners love horses and love their hens. But only the hens lay eggs.
Is it totally organic farming? Nah… (too much hassle). But let me transcribe what is printed on the exterior of all egg cartons: “Our hens run around, socialize and eat / local grains, forage and seasonal veggies. / Happy Hens : Health Eggs.” Sounds good.
From this, we can gather the following vis-a-vis the farmers’ support for political or environmental initiatives: the farmers support local farming (i.e. sourcing their grains locally), perhaps due to the combined political effect of supporting local economies as well as the environmental effect of reducing emissions incurred by transporting food great distances. They have also committed themselves to a free-run atmosphere in which the hens are not combined to BARBARIC battery farm cages.
I visited the hens, to tell the truth. In all honesty, I wouldn’t have loved living in there, but the hens seemed OK with it.
It did not seem appropriate to take a photo with the farmer at the time, so what I have done instead is taken a photo of the combined fruits of our labours (the farmer’s and mine). From the farmer, I feature a carton of eggs that I bought on the farm premises. From myself, I give you another peek of my beautiful anti-plagiarism key. Would you like to see the photo, Gentle Reader? It is below.
So, if you’re still reading, Gentle Reader, what can I tell you?
Here’s what I learned from the experience… There seems to be a hierarchy or at least a sense of increasing reverence divided amongst strata of farmers. The egg farmers look to the dairy farmers and think “Boy, that is hard!” And maybe the hemp farmers look to the egg farmers and think “Boy, that is hard.” I also learned that hens like to peck at snow off one’s boot. That was good knowledge to acquire.
Bonus farm-related Canadian theatre history interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_T-EMQfqcjA
Or What We Talk About When we Talk About Filet Mignon
I went to a butcher shop and I explored their products. I chose a cut I was not familiar with and I noted the cost. Dear reader, I will reveal all momentarily.
I went to Brown Brothers Meat & Poultry, which is located in St. Lawrence Market. My most experienced readers will recall that St. Lawrence market also once served as the jail to my fruit prey. But that was back when I was a fruit hunter… young… foolish. Times have changed.
We’re talking meat now. What meat? Filet mignon, which the butcher suggested should be pan fried. But why are we talking about filet mignon? I’ll tell you. My love affair with filet mignon began while watching Law and Order (the real, original one) with my brother. So there Ben was, trying to push a difficult case through the courts when the common law and political will were both opposed to his position. Tough slog, yes. But Ben is a bright guy. But in Adam’s office (Adam’s the District Attorney and Ben is the Assistant District Attorney, you see), Adam tell him: “Drop it, Ben! It’s no good. Your evidence is weak. What do you want me to tell you? Mincemeat is filet mignon?” The price by the way, is $28.95 for each cryovac package. There is no weight listed.
Inspired by Law and Order and then also excited by the butcher’s suggestion that I “pan-fry the meat”, I did some in depth research.
A recipe that uses my cut is pictured above. Filets mignons (plural!) with balsamic pan sauce and truffle oil. The source for this groundbreaking recipe is: Denis Kelly’s “Steak & Chop”, a Williams Sonoma cookbook published by Simon & Schuster.
Filet mignon is French for “cute fillet”, and it is beef, from the tenderloin’s smaller end.
I would prepare the product by rubbing it down with salt and pepper before cooking it in a hot buttery pan. Basting the filet mignon with truffle oil would allow those delicious flavours to infuse into the meat.Following the recipe, I’d charge about $30 bucks a plate, and that plate would be good quality. There would also be good service in this restaurant of mine, and people would be overjoyed to pay $25.
I have to say, the recipe from the Williams-Sonoma cookbook is pretty straightforward, so I don’t foresee special accommodations being required for the cooking method.
Would it be effective in a fast-paced restaurant? Yes, depending on what we’re talking about. This is an expensive cut of meat, and it wouldn’t fit well at a cheap, quick service place. I would prefer to serve it over dinner service rather than lunch. I would cook it to order and allow the guests to revel in the beautiful ambience of my restaurant.
POST UPDATE: Speaking of restaurants, here are the members of Rush getting drunk at a fancy hunting lodge. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zb-MwVUUy3g
By appointment to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II:
I am hereby pleased to submit for Your Majesty’s pleasure, the work which Your Majesty decreed that I should carry out. Your most loyal subject, I obey.
Your Majesty, I have scoured Your vast realms to determine the best means by which one may soft boil an egg.
First, Your Majesty, I carry out the requisite steps to guarantee the academic integrity of this work. By Your wise decree Your Majesty forbade—upon great penalty—the most heinous crime of plagiarism. Thus, Your Majesty, I have undertaken to uncover the ancient culinary symbol of my House. This ancient culinary symbol, which I refer to as a “key” shall henceforth identify all original photography used in the submission to Your Majesty.
The ancient culinary symbol of my house, described in the old heraldry texts is as follows:
Upon a sock of barren white folded to half along its horizontal axis: elastic band to bind it along its middle, holding in place a spoon of silver, partially obscuring and bound by tape, one photograph of Premier the Twenty-Fifth of Ontario—most loyal— with chef jacket unbuttoned. Appearing from bottom left, most inconspicuous: an obscured sketch of a gas plant, near unrecognizable when compared to the gleam of the Premier’s chef jacket, unbuttoned.
I trust that this “key” shall serve to identify my work as unique. If any man has copied the ancient culinary symbol of my House, let him face me with his steel.
Returning, now, to the eggs, Your Majesty:
I sought the wisdom of an experienced chef to resolve Your Majesty’s burning question. I turned to Your Majesty’s loyal subject, Heston Blumenthal, a noted chef in your Realm. Through an exhaustive internet search I discovered Mr. Blumenthal’s video on cooking soft boiled eggs. I reproduce a link to said video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WiUZzEbtwqw
Essentially, Mr. Blumenthal suggests that Your Majesty may place or cause to be placed a medium egg in a small pan filled with cold water.
Your Majesty would then, if it should please Your Majesty, place or cause to be placed the pan on highest heat.
As soon as the water begins to boil, Your Majesty would remove or cause to be removed the pan from the heat source, allowing the egg to sit for exactly 6 minutes. The residual heat from the pan and water will continue to cook the egg in that time.
Your Majesty could then dry or cause to be dried the egg in question.
The egg should at that point be ready for consumption. If the egg should displease Your Majesty, I am led to believe that a slight push of said egg from a wall would be of sufficient strength such that not even your finest men would be able to put it together again.
This cooking method, I hasten to add, should be adequate in preparing up to 50 eggs. In truth, it would take more time to boil the cold water if there were 50 cold eggs in it, but, once boiled, it shouldn’t take much longer than six minutes to fully cook the eggs. The trouble comes with removing the eggs.
As Your Majesty will recognize, removing 50 eggs will take more time than one egg. Removing 500 eggs, on the other hand… Your Majesty would benefit from a good number of kitchen servants in such a case. The trouble is that any egg left too long in the water will overcook, and its beautiful runny yolk will harden. As such, it would be best to place the 500 eggs in a large basket so that it could be removed at once from the hot water. Your Majesty would require a large steam-jacket kettle to accommodate so many eggs.
It would be my humble suggestion that a soft boiled egg could be enjoyed with sliced “fingers” of toast, tossed in olive oil and salt before being toasted. Though I am a simple man from one of Your Majesty’s colonies, I have taken some amount of pride in procuring English muffins, which I have sliced and tossed and toasted. This way, one may dip the bread into the yolk. It is quite an amusing endeavour!Your most faithful and obedient servant,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is with the thickest of pleasure that I present the return of the culinary blog.
Posted in full on Thursday shall be the next exciting chapter.
in which Matt is asked to complete an assignment with respect to pickling vegetables and tasting the outcome.
I write this post to you under duress: a trying time this has been for our great nation. A time in which the Communist threat is ever present. We must not yield. We must not be complacent. Friends, I ask for your support in our fight against the Reds.
This was support I was ready to give when my esteemed colleague, Senator Joseph McCarthy suggested that there be convened a subcommittee within the House Committee on Un-American Activities (“HUAC”, though HCU-AA would be more accurate). The newly created subcommittee I refer to, however, is the House Subcommittee on Un-American Food Production Activities (HSUFPA).
At HSUFPA we’ve been working tirelessly to expose the Commie food threat, a threat that targets
YOU AT HOME!
YOUR CHILDREN IN SCHOOL CAFETERIAS!!
YOUR LOVED ONES EVERYWHERE!!!
Recent intelligence has made us aware that pickling is the latest plan of attack, being cooked up by the Soviets. They would pickle our American vegetables in their brine just as soon as they would pickle
YOU AT HOME!
YOUR CHILDREN IN SCHOOL!!
YOUR LOVED ONES EVERYWHERE!!
Pickling, you see, comes easily to the Communist. Their leader, Lenin, was pickled. His body can be seen even to this VERY DAY.
Our intelligence suggests that the first Communist pickling to attack America may be in the form of PICKLED TOMATOES AND YELLOW PEPPER. Heaven help us.
I was asked by HSUFPA to create this RED recipe in a secure, undisclosed environment so we can better understand it. The recipe itself was taken from the dossier of a brave American spy, code name “Pretty Prudent“. The method we believe will be used is the addition of watered down VINEGAR to raw vegetables, in this case tomatoes and yellow pepper. The yellow pepper is an addition not found in the recipe. Better safe than sorry.
The recipe explicitly allows for some modifications, and so I took the liberty of including these. After reducing the recipe so that it would produce only one jar of pickled items, I increased amount of black peppercorns slightly and increased the amount of coriander seed significantly. When all the ingredients were laid out in the secure, undisclosed location, the results were as follows (the layout of the tomatoes is a typical Communist affront to American virility):
I then heated up the brine and poured it into a NORTH AMERICAN MADE jar, which already held the raw vegetables. Finally, I had another person put the cap on. I could have done this alone but I did not.
Please do not be alarmed. Congress has initiated a scientific exploration of the compounds found in these RED RECIPES. Early tests show that the production of specially engineered capsules can render the Soviet food threat harmless.
The following are the originally laboratory notes on the pickled tomatoes and peppers:
– Jar stuffed with uniformly cut yellow peppers and two red tomatoes. Tomatoes bulge out, splitting skin. Effect of poking holes in them and letting too much brine seep in?? Should have reduced hole-poking.
– Brine: pale yellow colour: effect of apple cider vinegar. Yellow peppers don’t have appealing colour against yellow brine. Try red pepper?
– Overwhelming smell of salted tomato and hint of apple smell too. This is reasonable.
– Tomato skin is loose and slides off soft tomato body. Not holding up well. Drooping on the plate, a bit like shot cowboy on last night’s “Gunsmoke”. Skin is tasteless and hard to chew. Tomato flesh has slightly too salty taste, but the coriander has pierced it vibrantly. Could stand more pepper, I’d warrant.
– Yellow peppers maintain colour well, though they have gone soft. A crisper pepper would be more appealing and therefore more dangerous to American consumers. Of course we won’t want our countrymen to become entranced with this Soviet foodery.
– Yellow peppeafsddddddddddddddddd
[note: I’ll be taking over. My colleague seems not to have taken enough of the anti-Communist capsules. He is convulsing on the floor.]
At any rate, the yellow peppers have a mellow aftertaste that contrasts with the sharpness of their acidic content. They took a lot of acid in them, boy did they ever… Yes, the yellow peppers are a bit soft. It may have lost some of its crunch when the brine was poured over them. It was likely too warm to preserve the integrity of the pepper. Conversely the pepper could have been chilled more. There is a little more apple flavour to the pepper but not as much coriander. Again, the peppercorns are weak.
Lab report ends.
This, my fellow countrymen, concludes the report on pickling from the House Subcommittee on Un-American Food Production Activities. We are of the opinion that the Reds may try to bolster their weaponized foodery by first chilling their peppers, cooling down the brine before adding it, or even changing the colour of the pepper so that it will stand out against the yellowish brine colour.
But know, dear ones, that whensoever food is pickled, wherever a tomato is grown, we shall stand firm.
And we shall defeat the Communist aggressor.
God bless you all.
Some have said that “when we rescue…fruit, we also save our memories and our souls”. This intro hook was borrowed from an episode of David Suzuki’s “The Nature of Things” that was titled “Fruit Hunters”.
I, too, have become a fruit hunter. I cannot say that it was a path I chose. Nor will I say the path chose me. Yet, I find myself shrouded in darkness with my steel and my faith as my only company. Also music. I listen to Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. That, I suppose, keeps me company. So, the music, the steel, and my faith. And again I hunt. Oh, how I hunt.
Catch the Rainbow. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rQxI3-xSeg It sounds like “Taste the Rainbow”, the slogan for Skittles. Skittles do not belong to a fruit group, as a nutrition test recently asked. Hence, I connect the music to the fruit. It’s always about the fruit.
The ripest hunting comes when the prey least expects it. My prey is housed in a jail so large that it does not know it. The jail is St. Lawrence Market, whose first permanent version was constructed in 1803. I learn this from http://www.stlawrencemarket.com/history The website helps me hunt the fruit. I chose this building for its rich municipal history and for its proximity to the school that has taught me how to hunt fruit.
In 1845, City Council began meeting in the St. Lawrence market building. Even then, sunburnt and jowly people jostled for “SUBWAYS, SUBWAYS, SUBWAYS”. The building had been built of brick and yet, it burned down in 1849. Fast forward to 2014. I am hunting fruit.
I was quiet in my fruit hunting. I selected a solitary fruit. A fruit not bound to others. A fruit whose weakness I could prey upon, and separate it from its confreres. I chose a single fig. A single, waxy green and brown fig. The only reason that guided my choice was this: I recently had a fig balsamic vinegar. It was delicious. I wanted to taste the fig itself, and I had never had it before.
A hunter must know his prey. The following two paragraphs include information provided to me by the California Rare Fruit Growers at http://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/fig.html
They seek to preserve rare fruit, but I seek to hunt.
Figs, my prey, are known in English as “figs”. A singular fig is called a “fig”. In French: “Figue”, in German “Feige”, in Italian “Fico”. Spanish was left behind. A fig is “Higo” is Spanish.
The fig was first grown in western Asia, and figs have been found at Mediterranean archeological sites dating more than 7,000 years ago. The fig is related to Cluster Fig and the Sycomore Fig. The Encylopedia of Life classifies the fig in Family Moraceae, truly a noble lineage. To non-Latinists, this is the mulberry family. http://eol.org/pages/60627/overview
At St. Lawrence Market, figs were sold at $1.29 CAD each. But what is the growing season, you ask? I shall tell you: September to March, and fig pollination is carried out by wasps. http://eol.org/pages/60627/overview But we can grow figs all year round, which is necessary to maintain the health of wasp species that pollinate the fig.
Figs are best suited to dry, warm climates, like the Mediterranean, (http://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/fig.html) which, as a bonus, means “centre of the Earth”. The figs are centre of the universe, however.
The fig itself has green-brown skin that is quite smooth. There is some stickiness to it as well, and a dull waxy sheen. Its camouflage was insufficient for the likes of me. Its flesh: chewy. Its seeds: crunchy. My teeth are strong.
When my strong teeth break into a fig, what do I taste? Notes of raisin with honey or slightly burnt sugar. Its smell is a milder form of these flavours, combined with slightly under-ripe banana.
No one needs to cook this fruit. It submits to the tooth readily when handled with an assured grip.
But if I HAD to cook it for some reason, I would find a way. Because of the softness of the fig texture I would recommend either cooking it at low temperatures for a relatively longer period of time (to soften it or give it a glaze without having the structure break down too much) or cook it at a high temperature for a very short period of time, searing some lines into it for visual appear, and bringing out its natural sweetness through caramelization of its sugars.
As an example of low temperature cooking, poach the fig in spiced syrup. An open-ended recipe (but one that allows for some trial and error) is found under “fig compote” at the bottom of: http://www.finecooking.com/articles/in-season-fresh-summer-figs.aspx
But to cook a recipe, you must first hunt the fruit.
In the words of Commander Bill Adama, “Good hunting.”
In the mid-1990s, the Spice Girls swept the hearts of children around the world. Less known is the fact that they formed in a kitchen in London, under the touring name of “Bouquet Garni”.
Although the girls eventually doffed their culinary-inspired nicknames for more marketable ones, Gerri Halliwell’s remained: “Ginger Spice”.
But this is not the only story of culinary experiences influencing the development of music. Note the famous American composer, Samuel Barber (1910 – 1981). Barber, who was based in New York City, made ends meet by bussing tables at the Bar and Grill Room of Maxl’s. Barber’s magnum opus, “Adagio for Strings” was based on a few notes that Barber hummed to himself as he heard a call for “al dente on the string beans”.
Finally, many people are unaware that Canadian rock gods, Rush, also have a culinary connection. Guitarist Alex Lifeson, owns a bar in Toronto, and early experiments with a red bruschetta dish led to this hit from “Moving Pictures”.