Friday, November 17, 2006

The one where Chad posts about food and seeks Todd's guidance

**Blogger killed this post, I had to go back through after spell check inserted the new words in the middle of other words. Good luck reading it**

I brought clam chowder to work. Clam Chowda. I think as a Mainer its shame I don't eat more traditional New England fares. I'm sure Todd will have something to say about all this. He's a food guy.
Todd, edit in blue or red, just like we used to.


Fish - If the rest of your family doesn't dig on Fish Chowder neither will you. I do love it though. Haddock if you can, just make sure its a whitefish. No matter the color of the fish, there is not enough connective tissue in fish to stand up to the long simmering process needed for some rich chowder.

Clam - Same thing here. Thankfully it comes in cans. Of course you need an electron microscope to find the clam chunks. I will take microscopic clam chunks over to much clam any day Especially if the clam shucker gets the junk parts of the clams in. Like clam necks.
Clams in a can are already cooked, so why would you continue to cook them in your chowder turning them to something resembling silly putty that was left in a drawer since Reagan. Get a clean screwdriver and some nice fresh clams. Talk to your fishmonger, devlop a relationship, even if you have engage in the dreaded "small" talk. You want the freshest you can get, make a friend there on the other side of the piles of crushed ice, he won't steer you wrong.

There are alot of recipes for "New England" Clam chowder all producing different textures and flavors. But keep your damn tomatoes out of there. "Manhattan" good movie, bad chowder.


Lobster. I like lobster but frankly its not a must have for me. I built lobster traps and painted buoys for a lobster fisherman. I ate a lot of lobster. It did lose its special quality for me. A good way to have lobster for me is in something else. Specifically something cheaper like lobster cakes or stew. This is where we stray away from the chowder category and go straight to Bisque. There is no potatoes and it is usually a puree to retain the same consistent texture from the first spoonfull to the last gulp as you tip the bowl up to you lips to glean every bit of lobstery goodness.

Fish - I like haddock and a few other types of fish. Problem is that sellers frequently rename fish. You are not always assured your going to get what you thought you were asking for. Take "Scrod" for example. Who knows? It could be this or it could be that. Scrod isn't a fish. Just order a whitefish. Tilapia, Red Snapper. If I want to get local loco, Cod maybe. Again, ask your fishmonger what is FRESH and you you will hit a homerun everytime. And ask him for some of that crushed ice in the bag. Especially if you have more than a 15 minute drive home.

Mackerel - These are better off by themselves. They taste good but are oily. The best part about mackerel is fishing for them. I say the best part is throwing them back.

Clam -I prefer clams in stew rather than steamers, but nothing beats a clam fritter. Or as I call them, clam cakes or JJs, which is the name of the seafood shack where I first discovered these artery clogging meteorites.

We also got Cod, Stripped bass, Mussles, Crab, bluefish, flounder etc etc. Lots of junk from the sea. Like kelp, which is used in literally thousands of products.

Cakes and stuffed stuff

Clam - Clam cakes or "Fritters" if your from The Cape. I have a deep fryer at home just for making clam fritters. What a home made fritter is missing is the mix of other flavors from the over used grease at your local shack. When I make mine at home I put them in a paper sack so I get the greasy window effect. Last time I was at shaws I could not find the batter mix I used to get. Bummer. Get yer clam cakes ready-made in the brown bag with the dark stains that indicate freshness.

Stuffed Quahog - Places that are not there any more, "Alice's". Alice's restaurant (not the one from the song) was where I had my first stuffed Quahog. A Quahog is a big ass clam that has been emptied and filled back up with a special stuffing made with different stuff, most importantly clam bits. This was in Mass. Stuffed Quahog isn't all that popular in Maine. Shaws carries a store brand "stuffed clam" that's not all bad. The one I had recently had some bacon bits. I enjoyed that. Right down the street from where I am sitting is the Hideaway Lounge, which serves 2 varieties of these stuffed lovelies. The Standard Stuffed Quahog and what is called the "Hideaway Hog" The shell is standard but the stuffing is almost always regional. The SQ at Hideaway has clam or quahog bits, and they add lingucia and chourice(that is spelled and pronounced several different ways) both are a Portuguese pork sausage that used to be VERY regional around here, until that damn Emeril started blabbing about it. The Hideaway Hog is the same only add lobster, fish, shrimp and whatever they have lying around the kitchen that day. Served with a lemon wegde and two pats of butter. They are tasty, and dirt cheap, at 1.95, add a 1.50 draft beer and you got a meal that beats any drive-"thru" in price and taste any day.
Non Seafood

New England Boiled Dinner - vegetables (cabbage, carrots, onions, etc) and salt pork. Whenever my kids gag on something at the dinner table I try not to get to upset. The taste of salt pork did just that to me as a kid. I hated it.

Linguica - The different nationalities brought different things to the table in New England. This sausagey delight comes from the Portuguese folks. This one I eat quite a bit. Buy it, fry it up, slice it, dice it whatever. It's not a breakfast sausage, but it is a little sweet. NOT a breakfast sausage???!!! WhatderyouNUTS! Make an omlette(with fresh eggs) and stuff it with diced not ground linguicia that has been browned, and add the cheese of your choice, but a Kraft single or the equivalent is all you need, we are trying to showcase the linguica here not some fancy Brie. You will end up with what is the most tasty breakfast ever! (the exclamation points will now cease, **edit** (until the end of the post) my apologies, I hate reading them as much as you)

None animal foods
Maple Syrup. I've heard that Vermont is the largest consumer of Maine maple syrup. It gets rebranded as Vt .Made. If you've never had real maple syrup you may not like it. It hardly bares any similarity to the "Maple flavored goo" you buy in a store. Better yet, get some spiles and make your own. Very interesting legislature on this very topic,
I find Mrs. Butterworth attractive, however her syrup (notice my ommision of the modifier: maple) would be better utilized as an adhesive for a welcome mat, or some other humorous household or office chore. Also the now retired "Vermont Maid" was also very hot. Unlike actual vermont "maids" which are usually unshaven, tree huggin (cause no man would touch that) gals who tend to hang around with other maids, if you know what I mean.
Fiddle Heads - Fiddle heads are immature fern plants that have yet to unroll and spread out. If you find an area that has had water but that's now receded that's a good place to start. Prepare them like you would spinach. If I remember correctly, the immature ferns with a V shaped stem are the ones you want, not the o shaped stem. Fiddle heads are seasonal. - spring Never tried them, I have had dandelion greens though.

Potatoes - We got billions of them.
I prefer Alaska myself, sorry Chad.
*edit* Blue Berries - We got trillions of them I think my dad is keeping the blueberry farms in buisness, he's been eating 2 blueberry muffins everyday since Nixon.
*edit* Apples - We got millons of these. The only thing I can say is that the apples taste best after the first frost hits them. I just finished off ½ peck of Mac Intosh apples in less than a week, I love Fall.

*edit* Cranberries -I almost got a little to "Maine" with this. Keeping with the New England food thought, lets not forget cranberries. I'll let Todd fill you in on those. Don't buy Wisconsin "berries" buy Cape Cod Cranberries they are actually red. And, um, add lots of sugar.

Game Animals

Deer - Venison is good but don't expect it to taste like steak. The older the deer the tougher the meet. A good eating deer is a young one. Don't poach one out of season. By poaching I mean shooting one in winter for instance. I hear the meet tastes off because of the winter diet of cedar tips and frozen fungus. That's Chad's turf, I'll steer clear of deer.

Moose - A moose tastes more like beef than deer does but its harder to get. Not that it's harder to shoot, that's as easy as shooting the family dog. Harder to get because you have to know someone who "Hunted" one. Again, I'll defer to Chad, since the one moose I ever saw in the wild was running down Chad's driveway at the time.

Bear - Greasy. Its ok, but I've never been a fan. Plus bear hunting requires a lot of work and I suck at hunting. Then there's the whole, human remains found in bear dung, thing.

Ruffed Grouse - Mmm, These little birds are nothing but breast. They taste good, especially if they feed on apples. It also helps that they are easy to clean. Step on the wings, pull the feet, breast up, and the bird pulls in two pieces. Take a sharp knife and cut the breasts off the bone. Be sure to pull out the bird shot. Always wanted to bread and fry me up some grouse.

Duck - Never had wild duck.
Greasier than Bear. The skin makes for some tasty, cracklin's though.
Wild turkey - Haven't had this yet either but I hear its a little tougher and gamier than our butter ball conditioned palates are used to.
Leave your Norman Rockwell expectations at the door and you might really enjoy a wild Tom.
Game Fish

Trout - Sadly this is becoming harder to get as the native stock is dwindling. Pan fried trout with fiddleheads and butter is a delicacy. Wash it down with some wild turkey, and I might try it, not a big fan of "slow" muscle fish.

Todd will step into this post I hope. He will also steal the show as that is his "thing". I just appreciate the bi-line props before I even sang a note. Color me flattered.

The term "take for granted" can not be used about something you know nothing about, only about things that are close. Personal. Something you encounter every day, or say, every week, or say, every Saturday night. I think you see where I'm going here Chad.
I had to add to ammend this post and call Chad out on his glaring omission.

Hot Dogs and Beans.
"Boston" Baked Beans to be exact. It's 10pm on Friday night as I type this, and our beloved grandmother has her beans soaking as I type these very words. When they finish their bath sometime tomorrow morining they will be prepared in the slow cooker or "crock pot" as traditional Boston "baked" beans. The crock in the wood fired brick oven has been replaced by the ceramic slow cooker, a much safer way to cook beans if you ask me.
These famous beans will be served at the equally famous "Saturday night supper". A tradition in our family, since oh man, Hoover, I guess. put it this way, I'm pretty sure the Red Sox were World Champs during the first Saturday night supper. The staple of the meal are the afforementioned beans and always hot dogs, All varieties, including Chad's favorite, the "red" hot dog. Other sides might be homemade rolls, cole slaw, carrot/rasin "salad, Ginny's awesome devil'd eggs. I eat those and I actually feel, satanic. To the point that I have to limit myself to 1, 2 at the most. They are tasty. Hmmm, some sides have been added in my generation, you know lame stuff like Kraft dinner, which takes about 4.2 nano seconds to make, and costs about 5 dollars per metric ton. More efficient? Yes. But look what you have to sacrifice: Flavor, Texture, A longer life, and it doesn't even make you fart, what a Gyp. I'll take the $1.19 bag of white beans that takes 2 days to prepare, any day of the week, except Sunday through Friday, because. . . Live from Carmel, it's SATURDAY NIGHT!!!!!!!!!!

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