Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.

24.3.06

The vegetable interview.

Fellow Melburnian, Mr T. Taco has nominated me to take this meme, which I am calling an interview because I still can't come at the word 'meme'. It reminds me of paradigm and synergistic.

So here we go. Microphone on.

Do you like vegetables?

Yes.

That's a relief. 'No' could have killed the interview. Do you have a favourite?

All of them. It annoys me when people leave their vegetables on the plate. Eat your vegetables, people!

Is there any vegetable that you think (or know) most people don't like, but you find great?

Swede.

Why?

Do you mean why do I like it? Or why do I think other people don't?

I mean why do you like it?

It has a great colour, a great texture, a great flavour and a great name.

Is there any vegetable that you think (or know) most people find great, but you don't love that much?

Your questions are complex. Potatoes stretch me a little sometimes.

What experiences did you have with it?

I used to eat them raw when I was a kid. Have you heard the story about how if you shut your eyes and someone offers you a piece of raw potato and tell you it's apple, you won't be able to tell the difference?

No. What kind of vegetables are unusual to you?

Achoccha, burdock, calabaza ...

Then how can you reel them off just like that?

I googled vegetables a-z.

Oh. Name a couple of vegetables that you cook and eat.

Rabe braised with garlic, salted and peppered and finished with a swirl of cream. Grilled red and green peppers latticed into a frittata. If they are a vegetable.

Nice. Which vegetables do you want to know more about and bring into your kitchen?

Ideally, only ones I grow in my garden.

Which are?

Tomatoes ...

That's a fruit.

I know. I was just seeing if you knew. We haven't been in this house very long and so far we only have, aside from the tomatoes, herbs including basil, sage, oregano, parsley, coriander ...

What?

... coriander - some people call it cilantro - plus we had some zucchinis and cucumbers in but they're almost finished. The silverbeet is still going strong and there is also dandelion. And chilli peppers.

Some thoughts about vegetables?

I don't really think about vegetables all that much. T., my wife, does. She's obsessed with potatoes. She recently confided to me - after thirteen years - that the first time I invited her for dinner in our early courting days, she took a look at what I had painstakingly cooked and her first thought was: 'Where's the potato?'

She only had eyes for the potatoes and there were none? Sad. For her. What did you cook that was so sadly lacking in potatoes?

Chicken breast fillets marinated in ginger, tamari, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil and served with steamed mushrooms, strips of honeyed carrrot, snow peas and florets of broccoli. Dessert was strawberry gelati scattered with fresh strawberries.

Sounds like you only had eyes for the food as well if you remember it that clearly.

Let's leave our eyes out of this and stick to the script, OK?

Anyway I would have wanted potatoes too.

That's academic. You weren't invited.

Name a great cookbook.

R. J. Gilbertson's Guide to Australian Meat Cuts. No, wait, we're talking vegetables, aren't we? Our main vegetable-friendly volume is Charmaine Solomon's Complete Vegetarian Cookbook, Angus & Robertson, 1990. Another great book, ironically, is Steven Raichlen's The Barbecue Bible, Workman Publishing Company, 1998. This is a book everyone should have. The recipes are amazing: Catalan grilled artichokes, fire-roasted breadfruit, Argentinian grilled eggplant, garlic kebabs, onion-cilantro relish, sesame spinach, grilled rujak (an Asian mixture of crunchy vegetables and acidic fruits grilled in sauce of peanuts, chiles and tamarind), Turkish shepherd's salad, Peruvian potato mixed grill and hundreds of other recipes. Then there's the meat. Once you've read it, you'll never eat another boring barbecue of chops and snags ...

Snags?

Sausages. Chops, sausages, white sliced bread, Red Crow and potato salad with too much commercial mayonnaise congealing in the sun. And warm cask wine.

Sounds disgusting.

It is. Cask wine should always be served chilled.

Thanks for your time.

It's a pleasure.

3 comments:

Janis Gore said...

We have the Barbecue Bible, too.

neil said...

Nice one kitchen hand, still laughing over some of my questions?!!? I hadn't heard the one about the apple and raw potato, but I had heard about blindfolded people unable to pick the difference between red and white wine. Unlike you I managed potato on the first date, we were at a restaurant called The Blue Danube in Acland Street and had goulash. Strangely my potato loving wife hardly touched them. Isn't it funny I can remember things like what we ate on our first date, but struggle to remember wedding dates.

kitchen hand said...

It's a great book, Ms Gore.

If your first date was at The Blue Danube that would mean we must be roughly age contemporaries, TuT. Do you remember the German place - Black Rose? - also, the Red Rock, Fairy Stork, the (old) Vineyard and a Hungarian place around the corner with no licence so you had to bring your own corkscrew as well as wine.