Friday, April 09, 2010

Shall I write to you of food again on Fridays? Maybe. While I'm not avoiding the comfort foods of the past, I am working with some major portion control disciplines. So--I'm not eating out so much anymore unless I have someone I can say, "I'm not going to eat this--do you want it?" And the one person I do this with most often mostly eats very healthy food--so I'm not haunting the greasy spoons I used to haunt. There is this place in Oak Ridge the Goat Yoda told me about I've been wanting to check out though.

But I'm dropping pounds, so it's worth it. And I'm not exactly giving up things. I'm using Julia Child's philosophy of just enjoying small portions of the best available. With me and the steroids, it's more like tiny, minuscule portions to have success.

I've also been reading food writing. This, Bourdain, Zimmern and The Food Network seem to hold my attention when I can't actually eat as I would wish.

I picked up a copy of Isabel Allende's remarkable book of aphrodisiacidal (I think I just made that word up) recipes and memories, Aphrodite, A Memoir of the Senses, kept me rapt throughout my vacation just past. I've always loved Allende's writing--it's rich in sensual metaphor and ripe with tactile promises. So I wasn't surprised her food book zeroed in on the rope that binds together sex and food.

The thing about truly good food writing is that it's not so much about the food (well, it is but it isn't!) as it is about the connections between humanity, society and food. The breaking of bread, the communion of souls, the licking of mousse au chocolat from the tender spot behind a lover's knee. That's what makes for beautiful food writing--and Allende does this so well, diving into intimate anecdotes from her life. Including the tip to make sure that chocolate mousse is on you--so you don't have to absorb the calories!

It's not a new book, but I missed it when it came out in the late '90's. I think I picked it up at McKay's, Knoxville's big second hand bookstore, but I think now that I've read it, it's a "must have". And it does have recipes--excellent ones. They are all very simple, but elegant. All using very fresh ingredients, perfectly seasoned and clearly influenced by Allende's Chilean heritage. Nothing too heavy, but everything fraught with suggestion. Also very basic--so it's an excellent book for newlyweds who can't boil water, bachelors looking to impress the objects of their affections and 20-somethings lost in the kitchen. And so much fun to read.

I'm tackling M.F.K. Fisher's The Art of Eating next.

A recipe for today is something not in Allende's book, but something I recently rediscovered. It's a salad dressing, pasta sauce and spread. My sister served us Caesar salad while I was visiting her recently and I remembered how much I enjoyed this. It's very garlicky so everyone must eat it if kisses are to be had.

Garlic Parmesan Dressing

1 large clove garlic
1 large egg
Dash of salt
Cracked pepper to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (fresh is best!)
About 3/4 cup Pompeian (or some other good olive oil--this is my favorite) olive oil

I make this with my stick blender but you can use a regular blender. Put all ingredients except the olive oil in your mixing cup (or in the blender) and pulse until creamy. Then, with the blender going, drizzle the olive oil in until it becomes thick. Not too thick as then you have a mayonnaise and the olive oil will make it solidify in the fridge to a spread anyway. Then toss your salad, pasta or put out to dip bread in. Also good for making garlic bread.

In other news...Fat Buddy's back legs are beginning to move! He's discovered that being paralyzed puts him at a distinct disadvantage when food is around to be begged for. It's so pitiful watching him drag himself around when food is in the offing, but also strangely funny. He bitches and complains about everything, but he's determined to get his legs back if only to steal a few more snacks.


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