Monday, November 12, 2007

Fleur de sell

There are certain verities on the Food Network:
  1. The pans will be heavy, stainless All-Clad. They have obviously struck a product-placement deal, and in every program, TV lights play on their brilliant, polished surfaces. These monsters are seductive and curvilinear, but in use will break first your wrists, then your spirit, then your heart. High heat discolors them, brief encounters with scrubbies mar them, and a bit of burnt garlic will enter their pores to be breathed out forever.
  2. Plain salt is not good enough. It must be Kosher, grey or black, hand-gathered crystal by crystal from the salt flats of a little French seaside town by bent old men in black sweaters, and must be redolent of the sea creatures that lay down and died in it. What it doesn't contain is iodide. That is why Food Network enthusiasts are easy to spot: goiters.
  3. There will be zesting. The very most outer covering , the zest, of your citrus fruits has the highest concentration of citrus oil, and is worth harvesting. The favored zesting device of the F.N. is the Microplane, originally a carpenter's tool. This is actually one item worth having: it is relatively inexpensive (abt 12 bucks), much more effective than its box-grater brother, and multi-purpose. I use mine for grating cheese, nutmegs (whole spices keep better, and work out to be cheaper in the long run--I've been grating the same half-dozen nutmegs for years), and soap, for homemade laundry detergent.

Once I read an article about tastebud size. On some peoples' tongues, there is a concentration of enlarged, sensitive tastebuds called "supertasters". These people may be picky eaters as children, because of this sensitivity. When I inspected my tongue, I didn't see very many "supertasters", which explains a lot. It explains why my brother became a wine enthusiast and I just like the stuff. It explains why I can drink coffee that was not made in a French press, with spring water and fresh roasted, just-ground-that-instant Blue Mountain beans.

It explains why I can consider eating a casserole.

How fine is your palate? If you will not be transported by the multiple overtones of the salt on your cracker, you might be able to save enough to visit the French marsh where that salt was extracted.

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