Welcome back all for another round of me running my mouth about food-related topics that have been on my mind. It was a bit of a strange month for me; in the first week or so, time seemed to plod along slowly, but then suddenly I looked up and it was Easter weekend. So as I was coping with my personal time warp issues, here are a few tidbits that distracted me.
They say it’s the most important meal of the day. And from a personal standpoint, I couldn’t agree more. Breakfast is probably my favorite meal of the day, although it hasn’t always held such a high position in my life. There was probably a solid ten to fifteen-year gap where I could have cared less about breakfast, and was strictly a two-meals-and-snacks kind of girl. But in the past decade or so, I have started to notice the difference not only in the rest of my daily diet, but simply in my overall state of being, when I manage to eat a solid breakfast. And no gang, I’m sorry, but a soda or cold…well, whatever does not count. Although those famous “They” people I mentioned before say that something is better than nothing, I think perhaps they were referring to the notion that a donut or other sugary pastry is better for you than nothing at all. Part of why this has been on my mind so much is that I’m in mourning somewhat over the fact that since my life schedule has changed (since late last summer, actually), I only get to have what I would term as “breakfast” once or twice – if I’m lucky – a week. This from the woman who was whipping up French toast, pancakes, scrambled eggs and hash browns almost everyday for quite awhile. It can be a bitter pill to swallow. Yes, I hear you out there telling me about all the “on-the-go” breakfast options available, and I agree that they are convenient. Although if you’re looking to be a bit healthier you do have to be choosy about what you’re grabbing. I suppose part of my struggle is giving up the ritual aspect of it; being able to sit comfortably, drink my coffee, catch up on what’s going on in the world, and consume something delightful that I put together myself. But the bottom line is that I just love eggs and potatoes and bread of all kinds and I love taking the time to cook all those things up myself. Can I get some love from the audience?
Also going on this month…St. Patrick’s Day. And being Irish (both sides of the family, btw) makes it downright uncivilized to not stop and recognize your heritage. Which includes food, because Irish folks, well, we’re eaters. Now most of the general population merely thinks of green beer and the Potato Famine when it comes to Irish food-related topics, but I have to tell you , there is far, far more to Irish cuisine than that – especially the deplorable green beer, which was a horrible American invention. There are wonderful creations like soda bread, a dense, flavorful brown bread leavened with baking soda and buttermilk. Sometimes it may have currants, sometimes it may have caraway seeds. But if you were raised right, you always cut a cross in the top of the loaf before it goes in the oven: to scare away the devil, of course! And let us not forget colcannon, that delicious mix of mashed potatoes, butter, milk, onions and either chopped cabbage or kale that is right up my alley. If you’re into potatoes like I am (see above), there’s boxty, basically a fried pancake of finely grated potatoes – sometimes mixed with a little mashed potato as well. It can be presented in a variety of ways, but is always fried. Sign me up!
I also wanted to put in a good word for the people of Belgium. They had a very hard (and undeserved) time this month, and I thought it would be good to mention a few things about Belgian cuisine. I feel like most people don’t know a lot about Belgian foods specifically, except maybe waffles, chocolate and beer. And they are, in fact, prominent products that are done very well there. But there is much more involved in the culinary fabric of the country. They are of course largely influenced by their neighbors, France and Germany; one of their native dishes is Stovrij, also called Carbonnade, which is a beef stew very similar to beef Bourguignon, made with Belgian beer in the place of red wine. A common appetizer is Tomaat Garnaal, which is in essence a fresh tomato stuffed with a kind of shrimp salad, something I could definitely get on board with. And of course there are the famous Frites: they may be called French fries in most cultures, but the Belgians have been doing fried potatoes for a very long time, and they do it right. And let’s not forget the cooking term a la Flamande; though it is a phrase most-often used in French cooking, it literally means “in the Flemish style.” And if you’ve made enough of an impression on the French to garner your own cooking term, you’ve made it to the culinary big leagues. So let’s all keep Belgium in our thoughts and prayers, and maybe even consider trying out one of their native dishes as well. You can find a few great recipes right here that will have you cooking like the Flemish in no time.
And that’s what’s been turning over in my tiny brain lately. Feel free to share any food-related ideas that you’ve been thinking about in the comments below; hope you’re having a great week!