Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Food vs Stuff

I suppose the holiday is going to happen whether I do anything to prepare or not. Christmas wasn't so commercially in your face in South America. Rio had a big artificial tree floating in their lagoon, and a church I toured in Uruguay had Advent decorations. That was about it, I think. Things were low key even in Miami, which is more or less South American anyway.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, decorations are everywhere and the consultants are sending the office expensive but bland cookies and waxy chocolates and chemically-enhanced Japanese candies. I came in this morning and my stomach almost lurched when I saw another box of ... junk.

I'm having serious food withdrawals. Buenos Aires didn't have much of a cuisine - it was pretty much steak, lamb, potatoes, and wine - but what they had was world class. Grass fed and organic and fresh. And even though it's their beef that's famous it's the Patagonia lamb that I'm craving the most.

There was no 'stuff,' nothing from a can or frozen or processed or pre-made. It was a bit like Ireland and Turkey. It was real food. And even though it didn't look like people ever ate vegetables or fruit, and even though our diet gurus say Meat is Bad, the guys there were pretty fit and lean.

Michael Pollan tells us to 'eat food, not stuff.' Easier said than done. I went to Cost-Co last night and had a hard time finding food. Even the meat came from ranch-factories that feed their animals on products and hormones. I wandered the aisles, but couldn't find much. They seemed to have stopped stocking the few foods that I would normally buy. I picked up some nuts and cheese and called it quits. I ended up going to Tamuras to pick up some gourmet ingredients. It stretches my budget, but sometimes I need real food and it is getting harder and harder to find that in our stores. Even the stuff they call 'organic' and 'free-range' at Whole Foods doesn't really taste that much better.

Tamuras seems pricier, but I'm not quite sure. Good food had so much flavor that I eat less of it. I made a pasta with serrano ham and wahoo that was delicious. It was pretty thick and creamy, and I think it would only work if you use good pasta and real cream and good fish, etc. Otherwise it would just be a nasty tuna casserole.
Saute sliced shallot in 2T olive oil until shallots are slightly brown
Add 1.5 T orange zest, 2 anchovies, and two slices of minced serrano ham; saute for 5"
Add 2 T mashed green olives; saute 2"
Add 4 oz. tuna and a bit of oil; saute for 2-3"
Add .75 c cream; saute until reduced by half and sauce is thick.
Add pasta.
And that's it. Good pasta will have enough extra starch to thicken the sauce, so this was almost the consistency of a risotto. I'll make it again, maybe even tonight.

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