Posted by Rob Eshman
They say we are all children of the same God, but it’s clear we don’t act like it. For centuries we’ve slaughtered one another in the name of God. We’ve enslaved, oppressed, reviled and ridiculed our fellow men and women because their god just looked at us funny. I belong to a People who, because we chose not to believe in somebody else’s idea of God, suffered 2000 years of mayhem at the hands of true believers. I’m over it—sort of—but a quick glance in any history book makes me wary of those that say the path of human unity is through the Divine.
No, God often divides us. Food unites us.
If you want to see people argue, get them talking about each other’s God. If you want to see them laugh and talk, get them eating each other’s food.
At the dinner table, you can even talk about God, or politics, or Zionism and terrorism—doesn’t matter. The best food can soften the most bitter disputes.
I saw this with my own eyes for the first time in 1984 in a kitchen in East Jerusalem. I was living in West Jerusalem at the time, the Jewish half of the, um, united city. East Jerusalem was the exclusively Arab half of the, um, united city. The Israeli Jews I had befriended warned me against venturing there. They themselves stayed away, and not without reason. The news often carried reports of Jews being attacked in the streets of the Old City. The week I arrived in Israel, an American studying in a Yeshiva wandered into one of the many confusing alleyways of the Arab Quarter and was set upon and stabbed. He died from his wounds—he was my age.
But the Old City lured me time and again. West Jerusalem was lively and imbued with culture and art. But East Jerusalem was exotic, the Jerusalem of the photograveures, and, let’s face it, that’s where the great food was.
My Israeli girlfriend turned me on to the hummus at Lina and I couldn’t help myself. If there was an uptick in attacks I’d take precautions—slide myself in with a Christian tour group, where a Roots sweatshirt—assuming every terrorist knows the company is Canadian and therefore, officially, neutral. But the one thing I couldn’t do was deny myself the best food in the city where I lived.
On one of my trips to Lina’s I met Bilal.
I had come out of the Old City via the Damascus Gate when we spotted each other. He was a Palestinian man around my age, sitting on a bottom step and reading National Geographic. Damascus Gate was below street level, so the hordes of tourists and residents who entered it had to descend a series of steps to enter. The Arab women dressed from toe to head in robes and dresses. The American and European women, especially the young ladies, pranced down in the light skirts they wore to beat the Jerusalem heat.
Sitting at the bottom of the steps and looking up, Bilal and his friends showed me, was better than National Georgraphic.
So we bonded over girls, and ended up talking about Israel, the Palestinians, history, America, movies—he was my first Palestinian, and I was his first American. A few weeks after we met, he invited me to his home for lunch.
The house was an apartment in East Jerusalem, with a nice sized living room and much smaller rooms surrounding it. In the kitchen his mother was busy chopping tomatoes an cucumbers for salad.
The kitchen was the size of a broom closet. There was a small counter, and next to it a kerosene stove, the kind the Israeli pioneers used. On top she had a covered tin contraption in which she was baking her cake: that was her oven.
Bilal wanted me to sit with him in the living room, where the guests were received, but I had to watch his mother cook. Here she lived, in a kitchen smaller than a Wolf range, turning out meal after meal for friends and family. She cut vegetables in her hands, using a small serrated knife with a lime green plastic handle. She was right-handed. Her left hand was the cutting board.
Bilal translated. She explained that the white power she used in her humus was lemon salt. I noticed Lina’s used it too. She rubbed her okra with salt to remove the slime. Her tabouli was exceptional. Until that afternoon, I only knew tabouli as the stuff of college vegetarian menus, gloppy mounds of soaked cracked wheat studded with flavorless bits of parsley and tomato. Bilal’s mother explained that tabouli was supposed to be parsley and mint, with justr a sprinkle of bulger. It made sense: what I’d been eating before was just cold breakfast cereal with vegetables.
We sat down to a meal of hummus, eggplant, an okra and meat stew and a semolina cake.
I’d see Bilal and his friend Khalil often over the next three years. There were some intense parties in secret caravansary rooms off those same forbidden alleyways, there was the time Bilal knocked on my door and asked to use my apartment to entertain his girlfriend—a religious Jewish woman. There were the lunches at Lina and the night Bilal introduced me to the world of Ramadan desserts, late night pancakes soaked in sugar syrup, and warm cheese kunafee under a layer of syrup-drenched shreded filo. , And there was my last meeting with Khalil, when he told me Bilal had been arrested in the first intifada, and who knew what would happen.
Who knew? After that I lost touch with both men. We had fun, we had food, and then God got in the way.
This is the tabouli Farah taught me to make. It is not the gloppy wheaty stuff of natural food stores (are you listening Whole Foods?). It is really more of a parsley salad with some bulgher added for texture.
2 bunches Italian parsley
1 bunch mint
½ c. bulgher wheat
1/2 c. boiling water
¼ c. olive oil
2 lemons, juiced
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cucumber, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
salt and pepper
Rinse bulger and drain. Pour boiling water over bulger and let sit 20 minutes. . Soak in cold water overnight. Drain. Wash parsley and mint well. Chop fine. In bowl mix all the ingredients together. Adjust for seasoining. Serve cool or room temperature.
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January 28, 2010 | 7:53 pm
Posted by Rob Eshman
What am I?
Isn’t that the question any religion worth its holy water forces its believers to confront.
Food begs the question too. As Michael Pollan pointed out, we can eat anything, so we must decide what to eat. In that decision we are deciding not just what our relationship is to the planet, to animals, to our fellow humans.
But I would go farther, deciding what we eat is deciding in a deep way who we are. What do I believe, and how willing am I to act on those beliefs? Who else am I like? What kind of life do I want to lead?
These are the questions wrapped up in the religious search, but you can skip the prayer and rabbis and priests and gurus and just confront them on your plate. We don’t ask other, “What do you eat?” We ask, “What are you? Are you a vegetarian? Are you a pescatarian?” It’s not enough to describe what foods we will and will not eat, we strive to find a word for it. Locavore. Carnivore. Gastrosexual. Our desire to give our bundle of food preferences a single name reveals our inate sense that we are what we eat, and we are what we don’t eat.
So who am I?
Today I had lunch with Tori Avey, the insightful woman behind a new blog called Shiksa Goddess. We ate at Afshan, a kosher Persian restaurant in the fashion district. Afshan’s traditional menu is all Persian (except for an inexplicable listing for “Buffalo Wings.” Do they even have buffalo in Iran?) It’s a hole in the wall, low on decoration yet oddly high on charm, the kind of place that’s chock a block in New York’s garment district, where each enthic denizen has its own commissary. For nine bucks I got chicken koubideh (ground spiced grilled chicken), rice with sour cherries, grilled tomato, two kinds of salad.
Tori and I fell into talking about what we are… vegetarian, etc. In the end I came up with a word to descrivbe someone who won’t say no to tasting anything, our of a love for good food and adesire to connect with the people who eat it—but who doesn’t make a habit of eating things he finds morally or religiously objectionable.
“What would I call myself?” I asked. “I guess I’m a tryatarian. I’ll try anything once.”
January 27, 2010 | 8:32 pm
Posted by Rob Eshman
Here’s an event worth attending—hopefully we’ll be able to get a reporter to cover it.
On Feb. 9, a group of leading food writers and activists will convene at Saul’s Deli in Berkeley, CA to discuss the future of the Jewish deli in light of growing consciousness about the sources of our food.
The questions before them, according to a press release, are:
What does sustainability mean for the future of Deli cuisine and culture?
Local, organic VS. industrial systems, externalized costs of cheap food and . . . collective memory and food traditions?
Even “authentic” cuisine can obstruct progress towards more just, sustainable food. How does a business committed to being part of the solution persuade traditionalist customers of the importance of change?
For example, towering pastrami sandwiches once signified success, security and abundance, an immigrant’s celebration of the American Dream. But given the realities of meat production in America today – 99% is factory farmed – how can we continue to stand by this as an icon? What taste memories and flavors of The Deli have been provided by an industrial food system?
How can we look at our nostalgia critically? How might we evolve a shared cuisine together and how can we bring our people along with us - away from grieving the disappearing deli, into the conversation and into the future?
The panelists are Michael Pollan, Journalist, Author, modern day foodie Moses (The Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food), Gil Friend, CEO of Natural Logic, Author: The Truth About Green Business, Willow Rosenthal, Founder, City Slicker Farms, Karen Adelman and Peter Levitt, Co-Owners, Saul’s Restaurant and Deli.
It will be moderated by LA’s own Evan Kleiman, Host of KCRW’s Good Food, whose restaurant Angeli Caffe used to make the best carciofi alla giudia in town (Attention Mark Peel: the ones you make at your new The Tar Pit don’t cut it… heavy and greasy, an Iowa state fair version of a Jewish Italian classic. You’re supposed to separate the leaves. Call Evan. Call Joan Nathan. Go back to La Taverna del Ghetto and learn at the feet of the masters).
If any readers plan on being there, please let me know.
Here’s the particulars:
Feb 9, 6:00 PM
Tickets $10 in advance, $15 at the door
Proceeds benefit The Center for Ecoliteracy
**Kitchen will be closed, regular menu not available from 4 pm on**
At Saul’s Restaurant and Deli
1475 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, CA 94709
January 26, 2010 | 6:14 pm
Posted by Rob Eshman
Barbara Kingsolver thinks Jonathan Safan Foer is an idiot.
She doesn’t say it, at least not directly, but that’s the inevitable takeaway from first reading her bestseller, “Animal Vegetable Miracle,” then reading his, “Eating Animals.”
Read them back to back and you’ll be ping-ponged between two strong moral voices who come to very different conclusions about one of the biggest dilemmas we omnivores face: should we eat meat?
They both have a wide and substantial area of agreement. Both lay out the case against the modern factory farm. In this they repeat or reiterate a lot of the facts marshaled by Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser, but, hey, keep screaming until people listen, I suppose.
But Safran Foer (or is it just Foer?—I’ll call him JSF) goes further than Kingsolver in exploring the basic question of not what kind of meat we should eat, but whether we should eat it at all. He thinks not. He drives home the point that eating any animal is no different than eating any other animal. Eating a chicken is like eating your family dog.
“What justification might I have for sparing dogs but eating other animals?” he asks—rhetorically. JSF lays out the case that any distinction is immoral. That cow pain is dog pain is salmon pain is human pain.
Kingsolver’s book revolves around the first year she and her family moved to Virginia and became devout locavores, eating only what they grew and raised and other foods from within a 200 mile radius. The idea was not just to explore all the food issues Pollan, et. al, have raised, but to learn by doing, to understand what a commitment to local, sustainable food really means, and if it’s a replicable, rational choice for an American family.
In the course of doing that, Kingsolver lambastes those who believe we’re doing farm animals a favor by NOT eating them. Here’s what she argues:
“I find myself fundamentally aligned with a vegetarian position in every way except one: however selectively, I eat meat. I’m unimpressed by arguments that condemn animal harvest while ignoring, wholesale, the animal killing that underwrites vegetal foods. Unaccountable deaths by pesticide and habitat removal—the beetles and bunnies that die collaterally for our bread and veggie burgers—are lives plumb wasted….
…“We raise these creatures for a reason.” *What, to kill them? It seems that sensitivity and compassion to animals is lacking in this comment.
“To envision a vegan version of civilization, start by erasing from all time the Three Little Pigs, the boy who cried wolf, Charlotte’s Web, the golden calf, Tess of the d’Urbervilles…
“Recently while I was cooking eggs, my kids sat at the kitchen table entertaining me with readings from a magazine profile of a famous, rather young vegan movie star….What a life’s work for that poor gal: traipsing about the farm in her strappy heels, weaving among the cow flops, bending gracefully to pick up eggs and stick them in an incubator where they would maddeningly hatch, and grow bent on laying more eggs. It’s dirty work, trying to save an endless chain of uneaten lives. Realisticially, my kids observed, she’d hire somebody.”
“My animals all had a good life, with death as its natural end. It’s not without thought and gratitude that I slaughter my own animals, it is a hard thing to do. It’s taken me time to be able to eat my own lambs that I had played with.”
I don’t know what starlet Kingsolver is referring to, but she sweeps up JSF in the argument as well.
“It’s just the high-mindedness that rankles,” she concludes. “When moral superiority combines with billowing ignorance, they fill up a hot air balloon that’s awfully hard not to poke. The farm-liberation fantasy simply reflects a modern cultural confusion about farm animals. They’re human property, not just legally but biologically. Over the millennia of our clever history, we created from wild progenitors whole new classes of beasts whose sole purpose was to feed us.”
This is the meat—okay, sorry—of Kingsolver’s argument, and it’s easy to find long passages of it quoted about the Net. Meat eaters find succor in it, vegans fuel for flames.
Am I sorry to see the good guys fighting? No—true belief breeds conflict. Even those who agree on the power of food to change our lives and our world can disagree on exactly how to put that power into practice.
Eating animals at all versus eating only ethically raised and slaughtered ones is probably a permanent and lasting schism among Foodaists. Is it two different camps of the same religion, or is it Christians and Jews, two wholly different points of view on a fundamental matter of faith? Probably the former. Some will agree to disagree, some will continue to slug it out, some will join forces for the larger good, and some will snipe behind the others’ backs— Goofballs! Murderers! In Foodaism, you aren’t what you eat, you are what you don’t eat.
As for me, my head says Kingsolver, but my heart says Foer. I look at my goat and think—dog. I look at my chicken and think—dinner. And if I am in Greece say, and I catch of whiff of goat roasted on a spit over oak logs and grape cuttings, brushed with rosemary branches, served in crisp-tinged slices with a glass of Kretikos? Then I’m with Kingsolver too. I admit it: my higher moral calling can be too easily derailed by a good cook and a glass of wine. Or by some good gribenes.
A lot of us try to split the difference by sticking to fish (wild, sustainable, not farmed raised, etc etc). I know JSF thinks eating Alaskan cod is like chewing on a chihuahua, but as powerful a writer as he is, I just can’t follow him there. And even if he did, I’d be lured away by the smell that blooms from these packets when you cut them open, as I did last night at the dinner table:
Alaskan Cod en Papillote with Fennel Mustard Sauce
1 3/4 pounds cod, halibut or other great fish fillet
2 cups TOTAL finely diced tomato, carrot, celery, fennel, onion in equal proportions PLUS 1 T. minced fresh parsley and thyme
4 bay leaves
4 T. olive oil
salt and pepper
2 cups white wine
2 T butter
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 T. dijon mustard
3 T. minced fennel fronds
Preheat oven to 450. Cut four large parchment paper circles. Place one fish filet on each circle, top with bay leaf, 1/4 of the vegetable/herb mix, salt and pepper, 1 T. olive oil and a long drizzle of wine. Fold circle shut and crimp edges to seal.
Place on baking sheet and bake in hot oven about 15-20 minutes.
While fish is cooking, boil remaining wine with garlic until reduced top 1/2 cup. Remove from flame, remove garlic. Whisk in butter and mustard until emulsified. Stir in fronds and add salt and pepper.
To serve, put a pouch on each plate, slit open and spread paper apart, pour sauce over fish.
January 26, 2010 | 1:51 pm
Posted by Rob Eshman
Here’s my Jan. 24 column in The Jewish Journal, “The Joy of Skin” plus a great How To video made by none other than Adi Eshman…..
Whatever happened to gribenes?
I still make them every time I roast a chicken or make chicken soup; couldn’t be more simple.
Gribenes are the golden brown, curled up bits of chicken skin made by rendering the fat, or schmaltz. They are the Jewish equivalent of pork cracklings. The French and Chinese make them from duck. A good gribene is both dry and fatty, crispy and chewy. The word in Yiddish means “scrap.” It’s much better than it sounds.
I make them at home every time I roast a chicken or make chicken soup. I serve them tossed about in a small bowl with onions fried just as crisp in the same schmaltz. Sometimes I toss them in a green salad, the way the French do with theirs. And once in a while I set them on a plate beside thin shot glasses of frozen vodka. These I call Gribenes Shooters.
Outside my kitchen, I don’t come across gribenes.
I know in New York City, the Second Avenue Deli will put a little dish of them on your table when you sit down. Sammy’s Roumanian off Delancy Street does the same, along with a saucer of chicken fat to spread on your rye bread.
But gribenes in a restaurant or deli relegates them to nostalgia, which is a big mistake. Gribenes deserve a place in the home. They taste good. They make good use of excess skin and fat that you’d otherwise toss. And, most importantly, they make people happy.
For some, gribenes instantly recall grandparents. It was my mother’s mother, Bertha Vogel, who taught me to make them. She made and served them whenever she made Friday night dinner. She ate fried chicken skin every week and drank a glass of bourbon every evening. She died in her sleep at age 96.
But even people without a gribenes-eating Jewish grandparent get a kick out of them. They hint at newly hip animal parts like trotters, head cheese and jowls, yet are hardly exotic: people who eat chicken tend to like the crunchy skin the best, anyway. Gribenes just distill that pleasure to its bite-sized essence. I have yet to put out a plate to anything but smiles. Gribenes make people inevitably, assuredly happy. Is that why we’ve stopped eating them?
More likely, gribenes fell out of fashion because of health concerns. In the age of Lipitor and white meat, deliberately tossing back fried chicken skin may seem like the equivalent of a death wish. A friend of mine calls gribenes “chicken crack” — both addictive and dangerous.
My answer is: don’t eat too much. Save them for Shabbat, a special meal; they’re not movie popcorn (which, by the way, is no health picnic either).
Meanwhile, I choose to believe that something that brings people such momentary joy and pleasure cannot do much harm. Especially when chased by a shot of vodka.
Gribenes and Onions
There’s no point in going into proportions here. When you trim a chicken before roasting or stewing, save the excess skin and fat. Two roasting chickens will give you enough for a small dish of gribenes. Plan accordingly.
Chicken with fat attached
Onions, halved and sliced thin
Cut large pieces of skin into smaller pieces, around 1 or 2 inches.
Heat a skillet and add all the chicken skin and fat. Cook over low to moderate heat until the fat is rendered from the skin and the skin begins to turn golden brown.
Toward the end of the cooking, turn down the heat to avoid burning and watch carefully. When the bits of skin are the color of an autumn leaf, remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain.
Add enough thinly sliced onion to cover bottom of pan but still stay submerged in the schmaltz. Fry over moderate heat until very crispy and brown. Drain separately on paper towels.
Just before serving, toss gribenes with onion in a small dish, sprinkle with salt, and serve.
How to Make Gribenes [VIDEO]
January 8, 2010 | 4:28 pm
Posted by Rob Eshman
Last week in New York we ate at Yonah Schimmel’s Knishes on Houston Street in the Lower East Side. My friend Chuck first took me there in 1981. Chuck wasn’t Jewish, but he was vegan, and Yonah’s knishes and borscht fit perfectly into a diet that allowed him to enjoy about 1/100 of any restaurant menu. Chuck was an ethical vegan—he was a professional nonviolent activist, and he refused to use any animal products. He wouldn’t eat honey because it “enslaves” bees. We argued about this constantly. Bees make honey anyway, I’d say. “But not for us,” he’d say.
Chuck was a living reminder of how slippery the slope of food consciousness is. One minute you don’t want to eat a cow whose esophagus is pulled out while it’s alive. The next thing you know, every honeybee becomes Spartacus.
In 1981 the Lower East Side hadn’t been gentrified. We’d get to Yonah Schimmel’s by noon, because by 1 or 2 pm the run down store would be out of knishes and its homemade yogurt. We’d be sure to be out of the area by nightfall. It was full of graffitti, abandoned buildings, and criminals who didn’t share my nostalgia for the neighborhood where my Eshman and Peshkin forbears arrived from Eastern Europe and huddled in crowded tenements. Yonah Schimmel‘s was founded in 1910. Aaron Eshman arrived from Pinsk in 1901 and lived not three blocks from the place. There is no chance, none, that he never sat where I sat, and ate his knish, in joy and peace.
Today the Lower East Side is largely gentrified, and not at all Jewish. Yonah Schimmel’s has hung on, prospered in fact, as the walls full of newspaper stories and celebrity photos can attest. A Ukrainian born family owns and runs the place now. When we ate there a couple weeks ago the place was packed with tourists. The owner alternated between bringing out knishes to the tables and digging through boxes in the back for a size Large Yonah Schimmel T-shirt someone wanted to buy.
The knishes are still good: A baseball-sized hunk of mildly-peppery mashed potato filling surrounded by a thin pastry crust and baked. The kasha-filled knish is a lot of buckwheat groats, more than you’re likely to eat the entire rest of the year. That’s the one Chuck always ordered.
The best menu item is the yogurt. They make it with what they claim is the original culture, started in the Schimmel kitchen in the late 19th century. That means my great-grandfather and I are essentially sharing a yogurt every time I eat there. It’s good too: mild and fresh. And often sold out by noon.
Chuck died several years ago. He was 54 and he developed stomach cancer. Go figure. I go to Yonah Schimmel on every trip to New York. It’s chic now, but it’s the same. All the other vestiges of the Jewish Lower East Side have disappeared: there’s the Tenement Museum, the Blue Moon Hotel, a few shmatta stores from the old days, and Gus’s Pickles—but, face it, it’s over. So what? People led crowded, miserable lives there. They worked hard, got their kids educated, the kids moved out, and their kids never got to experience the joy of living in a tinderbox where 200 other people share the same fetid outhouse.
I don’t go back for the nostalgia. I go for the same reason most Jews give when asked why they attend synagogue once a year: because their parents did. Day to day life can take you far from yourself, from who you are, and you need to do something to bring you back, to anchor yourself to yourself. For some people that means sitting in the pew of their neighborhood church, the one where their mom and grandma knelt. For me it means going back to the place my ancestors ate. I sit and eat and feel myself getting centered, and full.
That’s why I go. To eat a good potato knish with mustard, and with my great-grandfather.
January 7, 2010 | 6:16 pm
Posted by Rob Eshman
So I’ve read Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation and Michael Pollan’s Omnivore Dilemma and In Defense of Food. I read four new books about back-the-land intellectuals: Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Brad Kessler’s Goat Song, and Margaret Hathaway’s The Year of the Goat and Novella Carpenter’s Urban Farmer. And now I’m almost through Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals.
Three things stand out.
First is that there’s a lot of books on the issues surrounding food. A lot. When I first starting exploring these issues, as a freshman in college faced for the first time with feeding myself. Back then there was exactly one book we all passed around: Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappé. Lappe was the first to critique the amount of grain it took to create a pound of animal flesh. She was the first to question whether a diet based on meat was sustainable, healthy, moral.
Her book was published in 1971, sponsored by Friends of the Earth, and for years it was the touchstone for every college coop discussion on combining proteins. I blame Lappe for all those times I came down to dinner at the co-op kitchen and some gaunt sophomore had cooked up pot # 265 of half-cooked adzuki beans, mushy brown rice and salt-less acorn squash. Yum. No wonder most people, given the choice between a bad dinner and killing the planet, would rather kill the planet. Hunger is all about now, not 100 years from now.
Vegetarian food began a long slog toward edibility, with many dicey footholds along the way. Diet for a Small Planet begat The Vegetarian Epicure, which begat The Moosewood Cookbook, which begat The Greens Cookbook, which begat Chez Panisse Vegetables. The evolution mirrored that in the non-vegetarian cookbook world. From fancy concoctions of faux sophistication to more authentic, stripped down flavors carried by the ingredients themselves. (You can trace the same arc in the magazine world, from early Gourmet magazine to early Saveur).
As the cooking became more refined, the scope and power of Lappe’s basic argument got, so to speak, fleshed out. First rate journalists and writers like Pollan and Schlosser, and first rate writers and thinkers like Kingsolver and Foer, took on different aspects (with a lot of overlap). Their theories were made flesh by people like Hathaway, Kessler and Carpenter, who tried to live according to what I call Foodaism— the idea that food—how we get it, how we eat it— plays a central role not just in our physical well-being, but in our spiritual, economic, environmental and social well-being as well.
Second, I noticed a lot of the strongest voices in Foodaism movement are Jewish. Pollan. Sclosser. Foer. (I’ll throw in the goat people too: Hathaway—yes, a Jew—and Kessler. But that’s a whole other post, the strange attraction between the modern Jew and the ancient goat).
Third—and this is the point of this post—the fact that if you read all these books with an open mind and an open heart, you have to conclude: There Is Nothing to Eat.
The dilemma is the opposite of the one Pollan raised. The thrust of his book was this: If as an omnivore we can eat everything, how do we decide what we should eat? But if you take what he and Foer and others are saying to heart, you have to wonder what’s left for an ethical omnivore to eat. Meat—out. Non organic veggies in the market: out. Organic veggies at Whole Foods shipped using a billion gallons of fossil fuel: out. Fish, eggs and dairy—per Foer—out.
That leaves the vegetables, beans and grains from your local farmer’s market, and anything you can grow yourself, or filch from a neighbor’s tree.
I’m not exaggerating either: the logical conclusion of all the Foodaists thrown together, stirred up and turned out is this: eat like an enlightened peasant.
The good news: you can drink like one too. So far these folks have kept their incisive minds off booze,
More often than not—despite an inner hunger that wants to give in to the entire menu at Balthazar, wine list included—I find myself eating just like they tell me. Once your eyes are open, it hurts a little to will them shut.
My problem is I never want to go back to Cuisine Lappe, the brown rice and vegetables that stank up many a kitchen coop, depressing me and my appetite at once.
Fortunately, I have a loophole on the Foer dictum against eating eggs (he forces us to take into account the cruelty with which even “free range” chickens are raised).
My chickens are the picture of contentment. I rescued them from Johns Feed Store just before their necks were to be inserted in a spinning razor blade. They owe me, and they pay me in two or three delicious eggs each day.
A few nights ago I came up with an ideal way to cook them: poached in olive oil. I served them with some fried potatoes and rapini in garlic. Great winter dish: oily and hot and fatty and salty. And Foodaism-approved.
[RECIPE] Olive Oil-Poached Eggs with Fried Potatoes and Rapini
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Blanch rapini until bright green an tender. Drain. Toss with olive oil, salt, chili flakes and sliced sautéed garlic. Set aside.
Cut a pound of potatoes into ¼ inch cubes. Heat ½ inch of olive oil in a skillet. Add potatoes and fry until broawn. Turn and toss until brown on all sides. Remove and drain on paper towels, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Pour about three inches of olive oil into a small saucepan. Heat to about 145 degrees. Using four eggs total, Crack each egg into a small dish then slide gently into the oil. Stand back in case egg splatters. Poach 1-2 minutes, until white is opaque. Remove with slotted spoon, repeat with all the eggs.
Divide potatoes and rapini on four plates, top each with egg, spinkle with more salt and pepper.
Here’s the pics: