Sunday, December 26, 2010

Foodland Dreamworld

Merguez Sausage
Originally uploaded by CaptainShen
I've always been a little on the adventurous side of the kitchen, in comparison to most people I know. I find myself most at home in asian markets, and as such, have always had access to 'exotic' produce and exciting flavors.

Recently, however, I've been ebbing ever-so-quietly toward the vast craggy canyons of culinary dreamworld. I excitedly bought up parsley root and let it shine in Stir-Fry Day's (Dec 25th) giant stir-fry. I nibbled on Parmesan crisps-- not exotic in the least, but certainly delicious and reasonably uncommon-- and savored three types of caviar* (Yukon Gold Salmon, Golden Whitefish, and American Sturgeon) with litlte spoonfulls of crème fraiche. Into my lunchbox I have tossed, without a thought, everything from ahi sashimi nori rolls to Kabocha-Tuna Salad (made with homemade mayonnaise). Raw Cocoa nibs with coconut flakes, cinnamon, and black pepper are a regular snack for me.

I say all this not to idiotically commend myself for my uniqueness, but to highlight the fact that in this world (uh, country?) of unending pressures for ease and quickness, a person in my situation might come to realize something. Inevitably, this would go one of two ways: I would retract, snap-quick, into a swirling pit of fruit-loops and hot-dogs, never to touch a well-seasoned iron skillet or a jar of coconut oil again, or: something phenomenal would happen. I would stand in my kitchen, laugh maniacally, and sear the underbelly of wonderment on an open flame (while Super Saiyan).

The latter occurred.

But lets back up, shall we? It began this evening-- nay, December 24th, even-- when I saw two unnassuming, unfamiliar little figures lying in the glorious Whole Foods meat case. A variety of the in-house sausages... unknown to me. This cannot be. I have scoured the world for a good sausage, something without sugar and that didn't taste solely of salt and unidentifiable (unmentionable?) things. And there it sat like a humble little prince: Mergeza Lamb Sausage. Ingredients? Lamb, Paprika, Cumin, Chili, Sea Salt, Garlic, Natural Pork Casing. Mergeza...?? I did not know what this was, and that was unacceptable. I bought it (5.99 a pound.. I paid 2.40 for a single sausage! Mumble) and let it wait anxiously in my fridge for a bit.

Back to tonight. I went on my monthly trip to Super H-Mart, a large Korean market about 30 minutes from me. That isn't too far, but commuting an hour to and from work leaves you with not-so-much of an urge to drive elsewhere. When I got to H-Mart, there was a large light up sign suspended in the sky above the store, that read: "CAUTION: ALL OF YOUR HOPES AND DREAMS AWAIT*". I grabbed a cart and went inside. This is where the magic happened. I bought not many things, not individually so unique at all, but my heart went all a-flutter for each of the little treasures that I found. Into the cart went a lotus root, a banana leaf flower, powdered coconut milk, seaweed salad, very good shirataki noodles, oyster mushrooms, tomatillos, okinawan sweet potatoes, guavas, and Grey Squash (or so I thought).
I came home and fried a few thin slices of lotus root to try. Awesome. I then did some internet digging on the Mergeza sausage and found it by another name, Merguez, to be a Tunasian sausage. I prodded a bit deeper and found other dishes, such as Mechuoia and Les Ojja. I didn't make them, but I did take inspiration from their ingredients. I stir-fried garlic and slivered purple onion in a pan with red bell-peppers. I began to batonnet my Grey Squash (if you must know) and was shocked to find myself staring at what looked like a neon cucumber. I bit it. It tasted like a neon cucumber! Was it a Grey squash? Was it a Korean Cucumber, which I recalled being adjacent to the former? The world may never know. Anyhow, in went wedged tomatoes as well. Finally, to top it off, I scrambled an egg into the mix.

I had removed the Merguez sausage from the broiler by this point and sliced carefully into it, revealing the most gorgeus paprika-fire imaginable. I don't know how to describe the beauty of it, but I can tell you that I used to own white dish-towels and now I own orange dish-towels. After tasting a slice of the best sausage that I have EVER had (like some kind of mash-up of a regal chorizo and a refined corned-beef hash, taken to the next level by the complexity of lamb), I decided that a creamy slice of avocado would be a nice addition to cool it down.

How was this meal, you ask?

I mean, did you see the length of the post that it inspired?

*Despite the price (and expectation) that comes with American Sturgeon, I liked the oily burst of the Salmon the best.

*It did not actually say this. It also did not exist.


Vego said...

I like the new entry, my buddy. I still need to cook something wonderful and primal soon!!

Shaleah said...

Aye, i'm looking forward to it!