Tag Archives: food

persistence

I have a confession.

I like jello.

It’s simple consistency and the ability to hold different flavors makes it the perfect dessert. Strawberry, lemon, cherry…lime is my favorite -by far. Green jello. It is easy to make: Just add warm water, mix, and let it set. It can be served up in little dessert cups, in larger pans and then cut into slabs or cubes. This delicacy is unique. It holds form. You can depend on it…mostly…to be the same every time you make it, only becoming distasteful when it is stale.

I recognize that this love for jello goes back to my childhood. During my hospital stays for various surgeries, the food was never a favorite – it was not consistent – nor was it the easiest to eat at the time. I don’t really remember the meals, but I remember the jello. Cool and soft, flavored, and easy to eat.

It is also versatile. You can mix it with other things to contribute that flavor. Mix with whipped white topping giving a fluffy fruit flavoring. Or mixed with fruit itself. Or as shots with liqueur. I’m not as much of a fan of jello salads, perhaps I feel the other ingredients overwhelm the flavor in the jello itself…which is funny, because gelatin is really only a medium to hold things together. The fact that jello is flavored is a bonus, I suppose.

I seem to appreciate that bonus, so I don’t really care for the desserts that “contain” jello.

When we eat at our favorite chinese buffet restaurant (the one that plays smooth jazz), I always check out the jello dessert on the salad table. My son looks at me with doubt, and says “You know you are always disappointed that the jello is stale.” This is true. Jello that is “old” develops that toughened layer on top where it has dried out over time. This ruins the trifecta of form, flavor, and texture. Nine times out of ten, I am disappointed. But I keep trying the jello. I’m persistent like that.

They don’t serve lime-flavored, though.

lime jello
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I recognize that my use of the term ‘jello’ may be implying that I endorse a particular product of gelatin dessert. Jello has become such a ubiquitous product that it’s identification is similar to kleenex ~tissue, coke~carbonated beverage, etc.

that’s a lotta somethin’

Many years ago, I lived in the Crescent City.  

fleurdelis

This was in a time of relative innocence before Katrina, before the Saints were consistently good, before Casino gambling was legal, but ….it was not a time before there was good food.  I think there has ALWAYS been good food in New Orleans. It was probably written into the Louisiana Purchase agreement.  

You can’t swing a stick in that city without hitting a restaurant or sandwich shop or street vendor selling some delicacy…that is good to eat.

While living there, I discovered many unique foods: stale pastries with little plastic figurines in them are great party foods, street vendor hot dogs at 2 AM are THE BEST, oysters and crawfish taste better when you drink cheap local beers, coffee with chicory (tree bark) is best with cheap stale pastries or deep fried donuts with powdered sugar (beignets), crawfish etouffe’, po-boys are superior to subs, hoagies, or hero sandwiches,

and the muffuletta is a big-@$$ sandwich.

The moof-fa-what-Ah?

The muffuletta (moo-foo-let-ah) is a creation of the Italian community of New Orleans. The story goes that ca. 1906, Sicilian farmers selling produce at the Farmer’s Market would stop into the nearby Central Grocery for lunch. They would order ham, salami, cheese, olive salad, and bread, and then sit out on barrels or crates with everything spread out, eating everything separately (as is typical in Sicilian culture). The proprietor of Central Grocery (Signor Lupos Salvatore) suggested that they cut open the bread and prepare everything as a sandwich, and a new sandwich was born. The muffuletta is ubiquitous in New Orleans now, but there is a sign outside Central Grocery claiming the birthright. The name was derived from the bread roll used, which was determined to be better than french bread (already in high use for po-boy sandwiches) due to its soft interior and crunchy exterior. The typical muffuletta roll is a flat-ish bread disk that is about 10 inches in diameter. So it’s a huge sandwich. That is why it is typical for sandwich shops to sell 1/4 or 1/2 muffulettas.

Too much food you say?

There is a way to bring a little of that Noo Awlins food to your kitchen.

Single Muffuletta Sandwiches*

Ham, sliced (can be traditional Italian style ham (capicola), or something like Black Forest Ham. Use salty, cured hams, not sugar-cured or sweetened)
Salami, sliced
Provolone cheese, sliced
Mozzarella cheese, sliced
Marinated olive salad (Giardiniera or similar)**
Kaiser roll or similar bread

Cut the bread roll horizontally, and dress the bottom slice with the olive salad. Add the sliced ham, cheese and salami in alternating layers to the bottom bread roll and top with more cheese. Top the sandwich with more olive salad and the top piece of bread roll. You can prepare several sandwiches this way for a family, party or to save for later.

You may eat your muffuletta cold (as is traditional), or it can be toasted for 15 minutes or so (as shown below). Serve with some good ridged/ruffled potato chips.

20141005_130949[1]
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*Disclaimer: This sandwich does not adhere to the strict ingredients of the muffuletta, but it is quite tasty and suitable for consumption.

**There are store brand giardiniera salad mixes that are quite good, or you can be adventurous and try to make your own. Someday, when I’m feeling more adventurous….

smooth jazz at the Asian Garden

On Wednesday,
the piped-in music
is the dulcet tones of
a soprano saxophone, a theme
some clientele believe balances
smooth with the hot and sour soup
and the first plate of butter shrimp
with white rice, fried pepper squid, and
the hibachi chicken, stratifying the ambience
of a buffet; but the second plate,
picked and chosen
among the sesame chicken, and the
general tso’s,
and the chicken with broccoli
all taste
like a thin song
of tempura chicken (sans the
sweet and sour sauce) on the
front serving table.

On weekends, they serve dim sum
and there are family style meals
served in the banquet room. The music
from the erhu and the lute
is the the sum of the whole,
a way to return
the lever to its grounded point
while remaining on the fulcrum.