Thursday, June 29, 2006

summer in the kitchen

Summertime cooking is unique. There's more time than during the school year, and so you're free to plan menus that aren't usually practical in terms of time or effort. There's time to peel 30 shallots and blend them with a food processor into tan, pink, and red spice pastes, a process that stinks up the kitchen beyond belief and sends you running to open the windows wider and turn the fan up -- air-conditioning would only send the same pungent air circulating around and around the apartment. Being free in the middle of the day lets you drive up to the enormous grocery store uptown when it's not packed with people just coming off work; this particular store keeps its meat and dairy products in a giant refrigerated room, so you can walk in and get a blast of 45 degree air that starts you shivering. It lets you try out weird vegetables like chayote, which, I discovered yesterday, tastes like grass when raw and like cabbage crossed with cucumber when cooked. And you're free to snack on the leftovers at will, unbound to an eating schedule -- 2 meals a day plus snacking is pretty standard for me in summer. Today I'm hoping to buy some fresh vegetables from a small farmer's market nearby, and make some non-spicy food for a change.


Lucy said...

*shudders* I think that chayote is what my family called choko and I hated as a kid (cabbage crossed with cucumber is a pretty good description - I hate both those vegetables). I was horrified to learn that people used to try to pass it off as tinned pear during wartime rationing. My grandparents had an enormous fence covered with choko vines, so I almost dreaded visiting them (the chokos and avocado orchard were just outweighed by the lychee and custard apple trees, though).
I hope you find some yummier veges at the market :)

kermitthefrog said...

Ha -- I bought a chayote partly out of curiosity, since I hadn't seen one before, and partly because it was included in the recipe for veggies with peanut sauce I was using. It was an *interesting* flavor, but I don't think I'd go out of my way to buy one again... sorry to think of your being led shuddering into your grandparents' garden, though! :)