Sunday, September 23, 2007

and then, there were things

In fact, there were

Doc Nagel's Top 100 Things

68. Portabella mushrooms. I just love 'em. For the totally uninitiated, portabellas are the honking big mushrooms with the flat to slightly concave caps. I don't actually remember what made me decide to start eating them (I've never been mushroom-averse, so it wasn't a leap of some kind, unlike a few friends), but hot damn, do I love these suckers.

I tend to prefer them stuffed, with their stems, chopped and sautéed, with various herbs and spices, some grated parmigiano reggiano, bread crumbs, and so forth, and then roasted in this state. Holy jumpin'! But then again, they are tremendous marinated and grilled or broiled, and here my tendency is to soak them down in some kinda booze, garlic, pepper, herbs-a-go-go, and olive oil, and let nature take its inevitable course toward pleasing my palate. (A little-known and still-less-appreciated fact is that nature exists primarily and for the most part to please my palate. Basically, the universe is here so I can eat. It.)

I'd offer a recipe at this point, but I don't really have one. Almost anything a practiced cook would marinate meat in will do wonderful things for portabellas. Stuffing I regard as more complex, but on the whole, not at all unlike stuffing meat fillets.

... Which raises the question: Why not just do the same thing with a steak? For one thing, some of us don't want to eat animal flesh every day. For another, although portabellas are sold as steak substitutes (because, for the life of me, they are awfully steaky in this context), sometimes nonmeat entrées are preferable. So there.

Portabellas cooked this way are the way to convert non-mushroom-eaters. There is nothing quite like a well-cooked shroom, and enough people haven't had this experience that just one is all it takes.

67. Home-brewed beers. I just love 'em. I am at this moment fomenting (not to say fermenting) a home-brewed porter. Porter is a dark, usually somewhat sweet, medium-to-heavy-bodied beer, with sweet accents despite a good bitterness. The beer I'm making should be interesting, because I've added molasses to the brew, and tried to reach my usual porter balance of body, sweetness, bitterness, and color. We'll see, in about 8 weeks.

One may notice a distinct culinary bent in this list of top 100 things. This is certainly not an accident, but some may wonder whether the list is particularly targeted towards the pleasures of the maw. This is not my intent. I suggest that the aesthetic sensibility represented by the numbers of entries related to food correctly represent the importance of taste in my daily life. It figures. I am the philosopher-chef, after all, and I am saucier than thou.

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