Bean There, Done That

September 6th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Now that autumn is rolling around, HG expects to see Cassoulet, the French casserole based around a mix of duck confit, sausage and beans on many restaurant menus. HG has dined on Cassoulet in many estimable Paris and New York restaurants. The dish sounds so good but, inevitably, HG is disappointed. In fact, the only really good Cassoulet HG ever enjoyed was prepared by his talented cousin, Wini Freund, in her Port Washington. L.I. kitchen. Deeply flavored, robust and rich, with every ingredient retaining integrity. The memory lingers on.

HG likes beans. They know how to handle them in Tuscany. In Florence, Steak Fiorentina cooked blood rare and gilded with great olive oil is usually accompanied by abundant, firm white beans with lots of that good olive oil, rosemary and plentiful garlic. HG replicates this dish in New Mexico with New York strip steak and Goya beans. HG has never liked Boston baked beans. Too sweet. Serving it with Boston brown bread just adds to the saccharine quality. The only cook who can do anything good with conventional Heinz or Campbell’s baked beans is BSK. The excellent woman adds lots of sauteed onions and ketchup to the mix (and a dash of Tabasco). Serves the beans with grilled Hebrew National all-beef frankfurters. Mustard pickles on the side. A -once-in-a-while, funky, teen age, down home treat.

For the Love of Tripe

May 28th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

When HG utters the word “tripe’, A certain high percentage of HG’s listeners respond to HG with a grimace of disgust and a collective: “Ech-h-h!!”. Unfair. But, understandable. Years ago, HG was in the glorious Italian city of Firenze. HG went to the wicker market where at lunch every day a truck pulled up and a grizzled old guy dispensed tripe sandwiches. These were famous throughout the city and there was a long line waiting for the delicacy. HG took one bite of his sandwich. Spat. Threw the sandwich to the ground. The Florentine tripe lovers turned to HG with anger. HG heard the word “Americano” whispered and everyone quickly calmed down. Of course, the crowd reasoned, HG was an American. This excused HG’s behavior since all Americans are crazy and know nothing about food.

HG overcame his anti-tripe prejudice three years ago when HG and BSK moved to New Mexico. HG became an obsessive lover of New Mexican tripe — menudo — as it is prepared at El Parasol in Pojauque. HG limits himself to one bowl a week since menudo is mega-rich in cholesterol. HG remembers a mournful essay by M.F.K. Fisher, the late, great food writer. Living in a small California town, Fisher could find no one who would share a tripe meal with her and cooking tripe for a solitary meal seemed too arduous and too sad.

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