Monday, December 10, 2007

Fucking drug nazis.

The weather changed again; we slept last night with the windows open in the house. In mid December. Just. Not. Right.

Of course this means more migraines. I couldn't be more thrilled. And when I called to refill my migraine medication, the assholes at the pharmacy (the military pharmacy) wouldn't refill it until tomorrow because it's a controlled substance or some such bullshit. So, needless to say, I'm in a mood to chew broken glass, kill people, and kick small puppies. May all the gods save me from morons.

No. No. May all the gods spare morons from my wrath.

Ahem.


Just in time for yesterday's food discussion, and the season, the blog "Culinary Types" has a discussion of panforte, the Italian version of fruitcake. Link, here. Supposedly the recipe is about eight hundred, a thousand years old, but if that's the case, I've got a problem with chocolate as a traditional ingredient, seeing as it's a new world food and has only been available in Italy for five hundred years at most. (And probably less.)

There were some other food questions in yesterday's comments (and some fine points about folks not having ovens, made by Alwen). Since I've got nothing else to do but bitch about the weather (which is so exciting, and I've done quite enough of it in the last two months), here are a few general comments about said questions:

When did raw fish become a delicacy? I suspect it always has been. It's good raw. (Oh, yes it is, quit shrieking at me.) Why mess with a good thing and screw it up with heat? I think the real point to make here is, as long as we were catching fish ourselves and eating them on the spot, they were safe to eat raw and probably were. Cooking fish most likely became the standard after humans moved into cities and fish took a couple days to get there, and cooking made it safer. (This does not count various cooking methods that were used for preservation. That wasn't about tasting good, that was about having food to eat in February.)

On the seafood subject, lobsters weren't always considered a yummy good food. For many years they were considered net trash, and either thrown back during fishing expeditions, or taken home, chopped up, and plowed into the fields as fertelizer. (We're talking colonial times in North America.) One of the older cities of N America (damn if I can remember, I think it was Boston; I can't find the bloody refrence) had the servants push through a law that they wouldn't be forced to eat lobster more than three times a week. It wasn't a delicacy, it was crappy stuff they fed to servants and people in the poor house. I've got no idea when it became something fancy; sometime in the Victorian era, I suspect, from looking at cookbooks. But I can't figure out why. (Got any ideas? Let me know. I've been mildly curious about it.) Incidentally, all that overfishing in the North Atlantic that destroyed the cod population has created a huge niche in the ecosystem that's being filled by lobsters. They're talking about upping the quotas (the amuont fishermen are allowed to catch); plan on eating a lot more, cheaper, lobster in the future.

Have I mentioned I'm allergic to shellfish? Of course I am.

No idea on artichokes, either, except to say that before really efficient farming, people gathered and ate all kinds of plants that we don't, any more. Either because they aren't that good to eat, aren't worth the work, or are too much bother (when was the last time you had a Good King Henry salad?). I know in Amish country, artichokes are considered kind of like free nutrition; they grow along the fences between the fields, so folks go out and gather them up. Nutritious, free, and easy to cook. It's no wonder someone tried them, at some point.

Discovering milk wasn't the big deal; we're mammals too, and our babies eat milk. Probably took no thought at all to give the sheep milk a try. (There's a good bit of evidence that sheep and goats were domesticated for wool and meat, and the milk was just a happy byproduct.) CHEESE was the big deal, because you can take all that milk fat and minerals and store it almost forever. Mmmmm, cheese. It's assumed that cheese was 'unvented' (to use an excellent term from Elizabeth Zimmerman) by some schlep storing milk in an animal stomach; the enzymes left over in the leather would curdle the milk, and voila. Cheese.

I'm sitting here, rattling off thoughts on foods, thinking 'It's just possible I've read way too much on this subject'.

As for favorite old cookbooks, I've got one from the 1930's that belonged to my mother, and I suspect my grandmother before her. It was one of the first 'scientific' cookbooks and tried to cover how to cook EVERYTHING. It's about four inches thick and contains all kinds of fun tidbits like squirrel stew and how to skin a possum for roasting. It also has a recipe for reindeer potroast; one year I sent out copies of that recipe with my Christmas cards. No one laughed.

Anyway, now I get to go dig through a four inch thick pile of food magazines, looking for "Those almond cookies you made last year." They were an afterthought, and went so fast, I don't remember where I got the recipe from. Good times.

I don't like almonds. Maybe I should put them in everything.

Oh. And the Goober is, as ever, cute.

10 comments:

Rachel H said...

I would've laughed at the reindeer potroast. Totally.

Alwen said...

I did just laugh at the reindeer potroast.

The other thing about milk (and the advantage to cheese) is that while a lot of people lose the ability to digest milk as adults, they can usually still digest cheese. Somewhere I read a historic document talking about milk that said it was a pity it was indigestible!

Then there are kids like my son who produce so much what's-its-name enzyme in their saliva that the bottom half-inch of milk in his cup turns to sweet milk curd in about 40 minutes.

So far I've never dared dump it into cheesecloth.

Bells said...

Raw fish - sushi - is awesome. I love the stuff. And not the chain store stuff that's everywhere now. The Good Stuff.

Artichokes growing wild would be my idea of heaven.

allicats said...

Good luck finding the recipe! Several years ago I saw a recipe that needed Almond Roca candy. I spent 2 years trying to find the candy - and then another two years trying to find the recipe again which I still haven't tried since I also found out that my brother doesn't like toffee.

debsnm said...

I have often wondered about some of the things we (in general, not the royal "we") eat. Who the HECK decided that half-rotted milk was good to eat (yogurt, anyone) - and how do you tell when yogurt goes bad? Who decided that brussels sprouts were good (and who named them???) And who found out that poisonous mushrooms and "good" mushrooms looked the same (my teachers always said so) - who was the mushroom tester? Tomatoes were considered poison for centuries - who got hungry enough to eat one? I've always wondered. . . .

Amy Lane said...

That was hilarious--and I TOTALLY would have laughed at the reindeer potroast. (Seriously--raw fish. I've seen it raw--I wouldna eaten it, even if I was a skin-wearing baboon...)

Jess said...

When I first read this, I totally read, "May all the gods save me from morMons." But I wasn't worried because I'm not Mormon.

I love reading about food history and all that. And reindeer potroast sounds delish!

Caroline said...

That whole reindeer issue seems to be an American thing. In Sweden (even in the south where I live) pretty much every food store sells reindeer meat, and I've never heard anyone being bothered by "eating Rudolph" ;).

Barbara said...

Gah, Americans are so pi**y about food. I asked a subsistence fisherman on a teeny island how his day had gone and he proudly said he'd caught a dolphin so he could sell some and eat some. I knew he meant a dolphin-fish or dorado, but the woman next to me at the bar nearly bust a gut because he had caught Flipper! Geez, lady, grow up. I tried to tell her it was a game fish not the one on her TV, but she scowled at him and stomped off. The fisherman was totally confused about the whole thing until I explained about Americans not knowing where their food came from except in little sterile packages in the grocery.

Love the reindeer potroast story. I'd have laughed. I served venison roast one Christmas when times were tight and everyone thought it was beef until we sliced it and the slug/bullet fell onto the platter. Oops.

Sarah said...

I laughed at the reindeer pot roast, I would even consider making and eating it. I mean I eat deer deer, so why not reindeer.