Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Revolting Food

Well, I've finally enticed the fine Bakerina to cross boroughs and join me for dinner in Brooklyn tomorrow. Knowing we share an oft-ridiculed fondness for British cookbooks, I got out my well-loved but never-used copy of Tamasin Day-Lewis's (yes, she's Daniel's sister, and yes, she's equally foxy, plus she cooks. I knew I liked her when she not only gave a fabulous-sounding recipe for homemade Bloody Mary mix but swore that it was her Sunday-morning elixir, downed religiously post 8-mile run and bath. Damn. But I digress) book Good -Tempered Food (as opposed to, say, Bad-Tempered Food?), finally choosing Chicken Chermoula with Preserved Lemons, accompanied by my own crunchy citrus salad with blood oranges, fennel, and Meyer lemon vinaigrette, followed by Drenched Lemon-Ginger Cake. So far, so good. Went out to the produce store, hit Sahadi's for preserved lemon, ginger in syrup, coriander seeds and paprika, plus thick Greek yogurt and green olives.

Into the kitchen with the food processor, buzzing the toasted cumin and coriander seeds, the paprika, the carefully de-stemmed cilantro and parsley, the chopped onion and garlic into a pungently Moroccan-smelling paste. Then, the green olives and the preserved lemon go into the mix. A couple tablespoons of olive oil, then the taste test.

Oh my god. It's disgusting. Bitter, bitter, salty, and then somewhere in the background, cumin and parsley, struggling vainly to be heard. I taste an olive on its own, one of the big green Greek jobs from Sahadi's well-regarded olive bar. Blechhh! It's incredibly bitter, as if it hadn't finished curing yet. The lemon is worse--it smells like bleach and Lemon Pledge, and tastes like them too, if Lemon Pledge was also really, really salty and bitter. They have destroyed my chermoula rub. Bitterness cannot be assuaged; if I put this on anything, that thing will be ruined.

Into the trash it goes. Grrrr. But tell me, are preserved lemons supposed to taste like that? If so, why does everyone rave about them so?

We're having cheese souffle now. And although I'm a little burned on the lovely Tamasin, I'm going to go ahead with the cake today, so that if it blows, it can be replaced.


sugarkill said...

A little musical arcana, if I might.

"Well-tempered," as in "The Well-Tempered Clavier," means equitempered. "Equitempered" is a technical term meaning that the distances between semitones in the 12-tone scale are exactly equal. Unfortunately, due to pretty technical reasons, this results in keys distant from C tending to be slightly out of tune, especially the third degree of the scale.

At the time of Bach's "Well-Tempered Clavier," the equitempered scale was a recent development. The latest thing, as it were. But the opposite of well-tempered wouldn't be bad-tempered; it would be "out of tune." :-) Or, in a culinary context, probably out-of-balance.

Just being a music geek. :-)

Tyler said...

oh my gosh that does not sound too good. however i am no less hungry :)

p.s. sugarkill, thanks for the info! I had no idea.