5 Things I Would Eat Every Day If Doing So Wouldn’t Harm Me or My Wallet
by a contributor
from Eric Howerton, author of Scientists Confirm the Physical Properties of Negative Emotions and The Decree:
While growing your own mushrooms at home isn’t as difficult as you might think (I’ve had luck with king oysters, shiitakes, and pioppinos), the most delicious species are still the priciest and hardest to cultivate. Temperamental truffles, morels, and chanterelles are largely foraged from the wild, and these fungi fetch a pretty penny at the grocer’s. Even though you might think Utah is too dry for mushrooms, I found a medium-size morel growing behind my shed the morning I was to drive out of state for a friend’s wedding. Rather than letting it go to waste, I brought the mushroom with me and cooked it in a shallow pool of butter on the hot plate of my hotel room coffee machine. As I chomped down on the earthy delicacy I thought, “I do.” And every time I check behind the shed for morels that never appear, I wish I could do it all over again.
Let’s get one thing straight: geese are jerks. One of my earliest childhood memories is being attacked by geese on the banks of a lake in Minnesota, and a woman I once dated became the target of a pursuing honker at an eco-resort in Costa Rica. Bottom line, most animals deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. But not geese. They’re crotchety, cantankerous, and downright mean. If you ask me, they’re asking for it. So go ahead and force-feed a goose until its liver swells with fat. Then pan fry that liver and serve it to me with some fruit compote. I’ll gobble it down and feel vindicated every time.
Food Truck Tacos
After a few years living in Pennsylvania (where a certain chain of Mexican restaurants serves Southern-style corn bread with your meal—what’s up with that?) I moved to Houston, TX and was excited by the city’s food culture. But the Tex-Mex restaurants quickly proved disappointing—a mix of lightly sautéed tomatoes, onions, and jalapenos is not a proper sauce for someone raised on the majesty of New Mexico red and green chile. However, Houston’s taco trucks were a revelation. The mobile taquerias, of which there are dozens, if not hundreds, serve some of the best pastor, fajita, and pollo tacos I’ve ever had. And on handmade tortillas to boot. But the real treats were the “specialty” meats, the bits most people discard or make faces at: tripas (intestines; order them extra crispy), lengua (braised beef tongue that could easily pass for lean pot roast), mollejas (creamy, slippery sweetbreads) and barbacoa (shredded beef cheeks). In the first year alone I insulated my own tripas with a ten-pound spare tire that kept me rolling from truck to truck to truck with a smile plastered on my salsa-scorched lips.
No doubt about it, alcohol is poison. But beer tastes great. What a dilemma. I’m not talking about your run-of-the-mill American lager. I’m talking about West Coast IPAs where mingling malts and hops produce citrus, mango and pineapple flavors. I’m talking about Belgian gueuzes, a blend of barrel-aged beers soured by natural fermentation that lends a vinegary bite. I’m talking about wild ales whose aromas are reminiscent (in a good way) of trips to the petting zoo. The spectrum of flavors you can coax out of boiled malt, water, and yeast is one of the world’s many wonders. But to indulge in such a delight will rot you from the inside out. I guess it’s a kind of gastronomic karma that if you consume something in excess it will eventually about-face and consume you right back.
A Pound of Cheese
My grandfather passed away from a heart attack before his 60th birthday. My grandmother had high cholesterol, as does my mother. During my last physical, my doctor said my lipids were a wee bit high and I should keep an eye on them. I took his advice and headed straight to the market, gazing longingly at imported goat- and sheep-milk rounds. If ever I was forced to choose between meat and cheese, I’d give meat free range to take a hike while I sat in the shade of a tree and scooped the insides of a Camembert wheel with a crusty loaf of bread, consoling myself with every unctuous bite.