there is a special place in my heart for what i call “errant foods.”
i find that when a food manages to make its way across national borders (and sometimes oceans) to establish itself in a new locale, is worth giving a try once or twice at the very least.
i firmly believe that there should be a division of anthropology devoted to the study of errant food. errant food never develops in a vacuum; it is the result of cultural interaction, which means the resulting recipes can be used as a sort of historic landmark for when, where, and how culinary traditions from different cultures collided.
as babies, most of us regularly ate and bathed in our food at the same time. and even though we are all adults (some more than others), i think a small morsel of that glorious messy-eater mentality remains in each and every one of us, regardless of how cultured, well-preened, and properly educated we may be. somewhere deep inside, we all have a soft spot for getting really super messy at meal time.
it follows, therefore, that there are very few people in this world who don’t enjoy a good chicken wing.
when my japanese elementary schoolers list off the foods they detest, there are three which top the list without fail. eggplant and mushrooms are neck and neck at number two, but so far, the undisputed winner is piiman. the following is a brief list of reactions i have observed at the mere mention of the word piiman:
- vigorous shaking of the head
- two thumbs down
- face expression reminiscent of edvard munch’s “the scream”
- ten solid seconds of fake barfing noises
humor me for a second here.
imagine, if you will, a pork belly.
now imagine not rubbing it generously with pink curing salt and/or nitrates. imagine not curing or smoking it. imagine not using it to make bacon or any bacon-esque food (e.g. pancetta, proscuitto, speck, canadian bacon, etc).
some sandwich traditions are time-honored. they whether the ages, beat the odds, and become immortalized in the proverbial sandwich hall of fame. they become so famous we can no longer imagine a world without them. everybody knows their names by heart. names like blt, reuben, hot ham and cheese, and club sandwich.
but this post isn’t about their stories. this post is about the other guys. the underdogs. this post is about one of the sandwiches which is still fighting the good fight, climbing the ladder to infinite fame and eternal sandwich recognition. this post is about a sandwich which has faced countless obstacles and still kept on keeping on.
this is the sad sad story of the chicken cutlet.
remember a few posts back when i made yuzu pasta and my girlfriend whipped up an amazing batch of yuzu cupcakes?
while i would like to pretend that culinary curiosity was the only force of nature which inspired such an amazing post, the truth is not quite as glamorous. we cooked an entirely yuzu themed meal because we had so many yuzu we didn’t even know what to do with them. we literally had so many we were bathing in them.
we worked hard, and when all was said and done, we had accomplished a great feat. we breathed a deep sigh of elation and continued with our lives. two yuzu recipes had been born out of a desire to let no fruit go wasted, and that was nothing to be scoffed at. after all, necessity is the mother of invention.
like any normal person would after living through such a trying ordeal, i thought i was done with yuzu recipes for the year.
as it turns out, i was sorely mistaken.
it just isn’t that good. i mean, i like it, but if i had to take my pick between a big fat juicy prime cut of steak or anything made of ground beef, i’ll let you guess which one i would end up with.
don’t get me wrong. i didn’t write this post to rip into ground meat with vengeance. i wrote this post because i totally understand people, like my girlfriend, who think it is gross and super shady. she dislikes ground meat for, as far as i can figure, two main reasons. first, nearly every food made out of ground meat has an unromantic, disgusting sounding name (e.g. meatloaf). second, by looking at it with the naked eye, you have approximately a 0% chance of determining what animal it is comprised of.