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For the Food on Fridays carnival, any post remotely related to food is welcome—though we love to try new dishes, your post doesn’t have to be a recipe. We’re pretty relaxed over here, and stories and photos are as welcome as menus and recipes. When your Food on Fridays contribution is ready, just grab the broccoli button to paste at the top of your post. It ties us together visually. Then fill in the boxes of this linky tool to join the fun!
Food on Fridays with Ann
Michael J. Gelb in his book How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci recommends that we sharpen our senses. He writes that in the rush of our lives, it’s hard to pay attention to the sense of taste, even though the opportunity to taste presents itself three times a day.
One exercise he recommends is “Comparative Tasting”—wine tasting parties are a kind of comparative tasting, but he encourages readers to branch out. For example, one could buy three kinds of chocolate and then take time to make the following kinds of observations:
- First, he suggests looking at each sample and noting differences in color and texture.
- Then smell them, thirty seconds each, describing the aromas.
- Taste one at a time, letting the piece melt against the tongue.
- Sip spring water between each sample to clear the palate.
He suggests doing this with lots of things: olive oil, mushrooms, beer, apples, bottled water, smoked salmon, grapes, or vanilla ice cream. This exercise helps us develop our attentiveness to detail and our appreciation of subtle differences…one of da Vinci’s many well-honed skills that contributed to his genius.When I read the list, mushrooms stood out to me for some reason. I envisioned button mushrooms packed in blue styrofoam containers and wrapped in plastic, sitting on a self in Kroger. Above them are usually a few packs of portabello mushrooms, already sliced and always priced higher.Maybe I’ll try that sometime, I thought.Well, on Thursday afternoon I dropped by Kroger and was reaching for two boxes of button mushrooms when I glanced at the shelf above, where the portabellos are usually found, and spotted a variety pack of sliced “exotic” mushrooms, marked down for quick sale. I picked it up and observed the different shapes and sizes, thinking of Gelb’s exercise.I tossed them in the cart. I would taste-test mushrooms that very night.While fixing dinner, I poured some olive oil into a skillet along with a little butter and sauteed the ‘shrooms, remembering that scene from “Julie and Julia,” where Julie’s imitating Julia saying, “Don’t crowd the mushrooms!” I say that out loud in my best Julia Child voice every single time I saute mushrooms.As I was happily sauteing the mushrooms, it occurred to me that maybe Gelb expected me to taste raw, uncooked mushrooms. Yes, I think, I’ll bet that’s what he envisioned. But I like cooked mushrooms, so I continued, as it was too late anyway to eat any of them raw, and then I slid them into a bowl.They look kind of slimy in the photo, but they tasted wonderful.This wasn’t the most thoughtful or scientific evaluation of mushrooms. In fact, I really don’t know what kinds of mushrooms Kroger had assembled for me on that little Styrofoam tray. The assortment was not labeled, so I have to guess. But looking at this post with its descriptions, I think I ate a couple of slices of oyster, maybe one chanterelle, a shitake, and maybe one slice of portabello. Maybe.Unfortunately, because I chose to prepare them for dinner, I couldn’t focus my attention on the mushroom-tasting to the degree that I had intended, but I did slow down and enjoy each one more than usual, noting that some were more firm and flavorful than the button mushrooms I rely on; others were gummier.Most importantly, I acknowledged my desire to awaken my senses and sharpen them.I probably won’t repeat the exercise with mushrooms, but I like the idea of comparative tasting.Next up?Chocolate.
Photo credit: Images by Ann Kroeker. All rights reserved.