News over the last few weeks has made the carnivorous lifestyle appear a rather more adventurous, even risky, option than might have hitherto been imagined.
Either you don’t know what you are eating and are inadvertently enjoying a facet of la vie Française or you do and are now doomed to an early grave (please note that I use the word “or” in its logical or Boolean sense, i.e. you could be doing both). This leaves those of us living a (mostly) vegetarian lifestyle feeling even more smug than usual – which is not directly a life limiting condition, but could precipitate violence if not suitable masked.
Bacon, now identified as only slightly less deadly than the eponymous nightshade, is oft cited as the one item the newbie veggie finds hardest to eliminate from the diet – though, I can’t say that its lack has been an issue in my life. However, I bring a message of hope to any wannabe vegetarians out there, as I believe I have found an alternative. On a recent trip to 10 Greek Street I partook of a dish, which as part of its delicious whole contained capers which had been fried in brown butter. I have never found capers particularly appealing or interesting in the past, but in this form they become one of the tastiest things I have ever had the pleasure to eat: they were like perfectly fried bacon only better (like the quintessence of the brown stuff you scrape from the pan after frying the bacon). I have now come to believe fried bacon is but a pale shadow of its Platonic ideal: the brown-butter fried caper. I would not want my readers to go away thinking this is necessarily a healthy option – well not for the eater, though it is rather healthier for the pig – but it does offer a vegetarian (though not vegan) alternative to the morning rasher.
Another recent 10GS discovery is the marvel that is roasted celeriac – a completely different animal to its boiled version and even more scrumptious (if only I had discovered this earlier in the season). As I type this post, my first experiment in celeriac roasting is underway in the crypt of Fish Towers – it will then be crumbed, mixed with ricotta, chopped parsley and one egg (to bind it, in the land of Mordor where the shadows lie) and formed into patties and shallow fried. I shall probably serve it with mushrooms and something green (a seasick mariner perhaps?). I have high hopes for this experiment in biochemistry, but there are always risks in experimenting on one’s self, so if you don’t hear from me again then know I took one for the team and another will have to continue my vital work.
Still, I am not anticipating an early meeting with the Grim Reaper as this last week has already seen a new cooking triumph. I have finally produced a properly decent risotto (well, speltetto if I’m honest as I use pearled spelt in lieu of rice) with the assistance of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall who provided the basic recipe around which I riffed (10GS should also receive a credit as I’ve watched them make risotto and have become much bolder in my method as a result). It may be the best use I’ve ever made of a leak and a couple of handfuls of kale.
So, come over to the (mostly) green side, it’s a lot more fun than most vegetarians would have you believe!