If you were a visitor from another planet, a professional chef for example, dropping down on Earth and checking our various menus and recipes, you would most likely ask, “why would anyone want to use sheep intestines stuffed with rice?” Or, “Using seaweed as your vegetable instead of lettuce and tomatoes?”.
When you think of it, every recipe that is now celebrated and immensely popular is most likely one that derived from the necessity of using only what was available to the cook at the time and in that particular season. Over the centuries, cooks had to find ingenious way to make these available ingredients taste good. We are all now benefiting from the eons of experimentation of cooks from all over the world. For example, in Italy when fresh porcini mushrooms are in season, Italian restaurants feature them sauteed in a dozen different ways-all of the ways utterly delicious. The same is true with recipes that call for sun-dried tomatoes. In the days before tomatoes were available the year-round, drying them was the only way to be able to eat them in the off season. But aren’t we delighted for the invention of the sun-dried tomatoes, which add intense flavor to any dish in which they are used.
The same is true for bulgur wheat, the invention of which was absolutely necessary to be able to keep wheat around for long periods of time. Bulgur is wheat parboiled and left to dry on Mediterranean rooftops, the result of which is a different and more superior taste than regular wheat. Olive oil was used long before butter was discovered as a medium for cooking. But it wasn’t as though someone said, “Let’s go find some olives to press for oil.”
No, the trees were there, bearing fruit and figuratively begging people to pick them.
The same principle resulted in beef or buffalo jerky here in the Plains states. We can thank the Plains Indians for this invention, which bring pleasure to those who eat it.
And because the Japanese had no land for ranches to support a cattle herd, they dreamed up a way to mix ground-up soybeans with water and sea salt to produce tofu as a source of calcium and protein, minerals unavailable for other sources. Tofu is now one of the most celebrated sources of these valuable elements for the human system.
The art of finding what is available for cooking ingredients has been made somewhat easier nowadays by the development of caning and freezing perishable food. We now find the most exotic foreign foods in virtually every supermarket.
Our chef ancestors developed these wonderful recipes over the centuries in the most tasty and presentable ways, using only what was available to hem at that time and in their particular location. What we can do is to keep on cooking and avoiding eating highly processed packaged look alike food.
Green Herb Sauce with Walnuts
makes 2 cups
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
1 cup walnuts
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
1 cup fresh basil leaves, fienly chopped
1 cup finely chopped fresh fennel
salt to taste
-In a food processor, place the walnuts, the garlic, the rosemary, the lemon juice and the olive oil. Process until coarse mixture. Spoon this mixture into a class bowl.
-Add the rest of the ingrdients and mix well.
-Cover and refrigerate until needed.
-Use this sauce with cheeses, grilled vegetables or meat.