Warning: Gross overstatements and insults to most nationalities follow. Read at your own risk.
Spring has sprung.
There’s a new look to the produce stands. All of the lovely spring vegetables are slowly nudging the stodgy winter crucifers out of the way.
Naturally, when I see this bounty I immediately start to think of new and interesting ways to prepare it.
Which, naturally, leads me to ponder how other people prepare vegetables.
I have come to the (possibly, totally erroneous) conclusion that vegetables are more unique to a culture than, say, chicken or fish.
The French tend to like their veggies in a purée, like baby food, or a gratin, topped with crumbs and/or cheese.
It’s a bit of: yes, we’ll eat them but we don’t have to acknowledge it.
Americans either like them just briefly introduced to a heat source, to ‘retain their color and crunch’, (and make them impossible to eat with a fork) served naked or cooked beyond recognition, (and impossible to eat with a fork) smothered in cheese.
It’s a bit of: yes, we’ll eat them, if we really have to… But we won’t like it.
Germans like to add vinegar and bacon (yum!)
It’s a bit of: yes, we can add salt and vinegar to anything and it will taste good… Identical, but good.
The British just steam them. Doesn’t matter what they are, they get steamed and eaten naked. No other adornment, such as butter, allowed.
It’s a bit of: Yes, we’ll eat them, as they are, and we’ll like it… Stiff upper lip and all that.
My mother put browned butter on all vegetables. She claimed that it’s a ‘Swiss’ thing. She even put browned butter on baked beans! (Yeah, okay, butter is good, browned butter better…)
Amazing how a few big nobs of butter, nicely browned, with a bit of salt and pepper added, could dress up a tin of Peas and Carrots… Almost make them edible.
After that meander down a mindless lane, here’s my version of Peas and Carrots:
Stir-Fried Carrots and Mangetout
Remember canned Peas and Carrots? This isn’t it…. Stir-frying is a method of cooking, not a cuisine. Nothing says we can’t use maple syrup rather than soy sauce as our flavoring.
4oz (125gr) snow peas, mangetout, pea pods
1 tbs olive oil
2 tbs chicken stock
2 tsp maple syrup
Cut carrots into matchsticks. Slice onion. Trim pea pods, cutting off the stem end. Slice diagonally into wide strips if large.
Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add carrot and onion; stir-fry about 5 minutes. Add pea pods and stir-fry another 3 minutes. Add maple syrup and chicken stock, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 3 minutes. Uncover and cook off any liquid. Carrots should be just tender. Serve.
And you can eat this with a fork!
I went really crazy the other night, tossed in some chicken, a bit of minced ginger, garlic and a sprinkle of soy sauce…
If we are what we eat… I wonder… What am I?
What are you?