anna

Friday, July 8, 2016

Growing up Gourmet

I've come to the conclusion that it doesn't take imagination or creativity to be successful in the food world. It is the "geniuses" who have rinsed and repeated the past, repackaged it, and sold it as the newest, bestest thing you must have. 

A prime example is the fad of fried chicken in New York City.  A friend of ours from California, who thinks of himself as a "foodie" sent us a cookbook a year or two ago with a note - "This is written by the best chef in New York City, just ate at his restaurant. Check out page 23, Fried Chicken, the best thing I have ever had."

Now, there are so many things wrong here - a "foodie" from California sending friends in the deep south a cookbook by a New York chef, pointing out the recipe for the newest fad - fried chicken. And, he was serious. 

I wonder if he realizes the three food groups down here are butter, bacon, and biscuits. And God forbid he learn the secret of good biscuits - lard.  

Several years ago I posted that I Don't Fry Chicken . That is right, full disclosure, as southern as I am, I fail at the trinity of true southern cooking. I cannot fry chicken, cannot make a biscuit to save me, and cannot cook collards. Although, since that post 6 years ago, I have managed to "Master" one, compensate for another, however the third still alludes me. But, I digress.

Back to the case at hand. To think that the new chic trend of "Farm to Table" attracts so many and cost so much when enjoyed at your favorite restaurant. How many of us grew up eating at our Grandmama's gourmet table? Heck, in this case, I had two such venues to choose from.

Suddenly in lieu of Arugula and Chard, Collards are the greens served at the haute locations. Once again I grew up enjoying that gourmet fare. And the new "Heirloom" tomatoes that are so dearly priced - why the tomatoes in my Granny's, Aunt Kat's, and Aunty's gardens were all misshapen, of various colors, plump, and full of flavor. Once again, as my Aunty often said, we were living "High on the Hog" and were totally unaware.

That brings us to pork. It may be the "The Other White Meat" but down here is the base of the most reverent and sacred of southern food - Bar-b-Que. And, not just pulled pork, my Granddaddy had smoked and salt cured hams in his barns. 

I could go on about the fresh quail and dove we ate the evenings after a successful hunt by my Daddy and Granddaddy. Or the fresh oysters, shrimp, and crabs we enjoyed after harvesting and catching them while we vacationed at the beach. We enjoyed them that night, along with fresh corn from the field. Now that is "Farm to Table." 

So, little did I know I was eating at a gourmet table, eating what people pay dearly for now. We did not know it was gourmet then. Hell, we did not know the word "gourmet" then. We knew it was good, fresh food, and full of flavor. Even though I did not grow up in a wealthy family, the table was always set with sterling silver, we all ate together, and you never left the table until you asked to be excused. 

I always complained that we never "ate out". What I never knew was that I enjoying fine dining at every meal. 

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