Monday, June 15, 2009

Le Cru Et Le Cuit

The spontaneous and imaginative aspect of cooking when the knife blade, spoon, or pot becomes an extension of your mind and hand simultaneously is what I love most about cooking. There is also an element of reverence for both the ingredients sacrificed and overall spiritual quality of cooking itself. Levi-Strauss, the mythic French cultural anthropologist, viewed the moment of transformation from raw to cooked as the symbolic act that made us human. “…The categories of the raw and the cooked, the fresh and the decayed, the moistened and the burned – can nonetheless be used as conceptual tools with which to elaborate abstract ideas…” Responsibility, nurturance, and survival are aspects of being human intertwined in the simple yet monumental act of cooking where culture takes over and allows our species to supersede the animal realm. Levi-Strauss’s canonical work was one of the pioneering pieces that got me into the anthropology of food, the academic sub-discipline I have and will continue to work under. Other motivating forces for choosing this particular trajectory, or humoring myself with a blog, is my love of food and passion for cooking. The other day I had a craving to harness one of the most fundamental cultural traits distinguishing me from my animal cousins and cook myself an epic meal.

For some reason I was feeling eggplant parmesan and set about making it using baby eggplants, fresh mozzarella, and a quick tomato sauce. It was out of this world good especially because I had grilled and then baked the eggplant rounds, not frying them breaded, which lightened the whole thing up considerably. In honor of Levi-Strauss and his contributions to the development of food anthropology I made a French bistro standard, poireaux
vinaigrette. The translation is leeks with vinaigrette; a Gallic favorite though any fibrous vegetable can be substituted like asparagus or haricots verts. Just steam the vegetable, which I find makes them moist but not overly soggy without jeopardizing their vibrant color, and top with your favorite mustard-based vinaigrette. This meal could not have been simpler and it was mighty delicious if I do say so myself. Here’s to loving food and for letting your passions guide you. As always, I encourage you to enjoy and share delicious food and home cooked meals with yourself and others!

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