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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in food

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
A Minoan Grocery List, Sort Of

I've written a couple of times about Minoan food and cooking. It's a perennially popular subject, since food is one of the human universals: everyone has to eat. And learning about a culture's foodways is one of the easiest ways to connect with them.

Over the years, I've gathered up bits and pieces of information from research about Bronze Age Mediterranean food. I shared some lists of typical Minoan foodstuffs in Labrys & Horns. But I've collected up far more than I have published. So today, I thought I'd offer what you might think of as a comprehensive Minoan shopping list of the foods that the best-stocked kitchen in Bronze Age Crete might have included.

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Dinosaur Kale Information and Facts 

 

“Oh, I just love kale!”

So insists my friend. Frankly, I don't believe him.

Let's be honest here: kale is not a lovable vegetable. Bearable, yes. Lovable? Well, let's be generous and credit my friend with magical (i. e. wistful) thinking. Call it the “little lie.” You really, really want it to be so, you keep saying that it is, and eventually you may even start believing it yourself.

Well, half-believing.

As a vegetable, kale has a lot going for it. It's cold-hardy: there's kale to be had when nothing else will grow. It doesn't get much more nutritious than kale.

On the other hand, there's the flavor and the texture.

If any vegetable besides onions and garlic has a claim to be the ancestral pagan vegetable, it's probably Brassica oleracea. We've been cultivating it for the last 4000 years; every bite of kale that you eat is a taste of the Bronze Age.

Here's something that I can tell you for certain: the ancestors had more sense than to make kale chips.

Unlike contemporary food-faddists, the fore-mothers understood that kale plays best in a supporting role, not as a star. So, on the principle that any vegetable can be palatable if you know how to cook it, I set about looking at the peasant cuisines of Europe. If anyone knew how to make the most of kale's nasty rubbery texture and unappealing sulfurous flavor, I figured, it would those who had to eat it because that's what there was.

My favorites so far in the search for edible kale are incavolata, an Italian bean-kale soup thickened with corn meal, and trinxát (treen-SHUT), a scrumptious savory cake of potato, kale, and onion from the Catalan Pyrenees, Iberian kin to the Irish Samhain staple, colcannon.

The major secret to enjoyable kale seems to be to blanch it first to take off the sulfur, and then to wring it dry and mince it fine, thus getting rid of the rubber.

Oh, and another thing: if you want to enjoy your kale, don't bother with that curly shite that they overcharge shamefully for at the stores: that's a decorative, not fit to be eaten. Go instead for the black or Italian variety, known mostly here in the US by the delightful name of “dinosaur kale.”

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Kroger used to have a super foods salad made of chopped kale, blueberries and cashews. I think they had something else in there a

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
When Less Is More

 

Many of us believe we need to lose weight. Even people who are in relatively good shape will believe they need to lose that last five pounds—and lose and regain it in an endless loop. Articles on weight loss dominate the newsstands, especially in January but pretty much all year long. Eating disorders can arise from the belief that one needs to be thin to be attractive. Fashion models are a terrible example of what is healthy for the average person. Fortunately, there are growing numbers of healthier-looking models of all sizes and shapes these days.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Culture Culture, or: Ambrosia in a Glass

I love buttermilk, or rather, the probiotic cultured dairy product that, these days, we call buttermilk.

(Historic buttermilk was the liquid residue left behind after the milk solids had been churned out into butter, but nowadays only butter-makers have access to this.)

I grew up drinking buttermilk in mid-century Pittsburgh—the Posches are an old Viennese family who, like most Central Europeans, relish sour flavors—and I still drink two or three glasses of it every day.

One of the things that I especially love about buttermilk is that it's easy. Other cultured dairy products—yogurt, kefir—require that you heat the milk to near-boiling, then let it cool until it's reached the right temperature to inoculate it with the appropriate culture. This is a big pain. It makes a mess of the cooking pot. If the temperature of your milk is too hot, it kills the culture. If it's not hot enough, it doesn't activate the culture, and you have to start the whole, laborious process over again.

Not buttermilk. Dump half a cup of buttermilk into a large, clean bowl. Add a quart of milk, and cover. Come back 24 hours later, and voilà: buttermilk. (You'll want to whisk it first before decanting, of course, to homogenize the texture.)

For years, I've just bought commercial buttermilk from the store and used that as my culture. One strain I managed to keep going for almost two years.

But cultures mutate over time, and eventually it's time for a new one. When this happened most recently, I tried four different local buttermilks, one after another, all without acceptable results. One had a nasty, ropey texture; one culture wouldn't take; one had a foul flavor; one was completely flavorless.

So I did what all early 21st-century people in despair do: I turned to the internet.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Who's Bringing the Hornless Goat?

 "What is it with witches and cannibalism?"
(Sabrina Spellman)

 

What's a coven to do?

We're pagans. We don't just like to eat; food is central to our religion. Maintaining a spiritual connection with our food sources lies at the very heart of who we are, how we see things, and what we do.

So, when we get together, we eat. Therein lies the rub.

In our coven of eight, we've got one vegetarian (me), one fishetarian, and six more-or-less practicing omnivores, but that's the easy part. We've also got numerous allergies, sensitivities, and just plain don't likes. How to accommodate everyone?

When I'm thinking about what to bring to the (ahem) cauldron-luck, I'd like to be able to feed as many as possible, so I try to bring dishes without major allergens. But once you add in all the “don't likes,” acceptable foods begin to vanish mathematically with each person that we add to the group.

So, in our usual pragmatic way, we've settled on two coven food policies:

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I think of Elizabeth Marshall who, as a teen back in the 50s, went with her anthropologist parents to the Kalahari to live with so
  • Murphy Pizza
    Murphy Pizza says #
    We had the same problem in my old coven. We couldn't even do cakes and ale together in ritual because of allergies and sensitiviti

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Riddle Me This

One of the genres you may not expect to be popular in the Middle Ages is that of riddles. They're not usually as straightforward as the riddles we know. They tend to be more metaphorical. I mentioned before in The Magic of Names the riddle that has 'magpie' as its solution (probably). Many of them are scatalogical or full of double entendres, which also doesn't fit our image of pious monks -- but it's our picture of monks that's wrong.

The myth persists that the church ruled the Middle Ages with a heavy hand. Like the myth that people thought the world was flat, it's just wrong. Many people who thought of themselves as Christian went to church once a year to confess and that was enough for them. Many monks who were part of the church were no more devoted to their religion than the average slacker working for a giant corporation is. It gave them a living if they weren't inheriting any wealth. For many it was an easy life (see Chaucer's monk for example).

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    Sweet riddle! Love it. Thanks for sharing! A most interesting blog.
  • Dragon Dancer
    Dragon Dancer says #
    Haha, I was gonna say apple.
  • Kate Laity
    Kate Laity says #
    The answer is of course -- an onion!
If Pagans Had a Food Taboo, What Would It Be?

By and large, the pagan religions are not known for their food taboos.

Oh, we may have our dietary preferences, but it's worth noting that, when food taboos are present among pagans, they tend to apply only to the priesthood, or to be observed only for a certain period of time. Otherwise, generally speaking, the default food setting for pagans is Omnivore.

But if, say, Indo-European-speaking pagans did have a food taboo, what might it be?

Please note that what follows is neither prescription nor suggestion. It is, merely, three points of historic data.

West

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