la cucina povera

I’m all for this. As anyone I’ve ever gone to yakiniku with can attest to, my fondness for what even what a lot of Japanese won’t eat. Slimy cow guts taste goooood when they’re fried nice and crispy. And nothing beats a crispy fried pig’s tail.

Pig’s foot Milanese is pounded so thin and breaded so thickly that the flavor of the pig’s foot is not readily discernible through the fried bread crumbs. Beef cheek ravioli are delicious, light and pillowy, with only a hint of fibrousness to the meat and a telltale chalky aftertaste. Lamb’s brain francoboli are so heavy on cheese and so light on brain that they taste almost vegetarian. While all of these dishes are delicious, the question inevitably arises: If the recipe requires that you camouflage the central ingredients, why use those ingredients at all?

There is only one answer: Because it requires the slaughter of a pig, cow, and lamb, respectively, and flips a big fiddle minger to PETA.
Reminder to self: Post pic from restaurant in Khon Kaen here later.

5 thoughts on “la cucina povera”

  1. If a skilled cook uses fresh, high quality ingredients, anything can taste fantastic and shatter preconceptions about food. Tony Bourdain makes this point over and over again in his books (Kitchen Confidential and A Cook’s Tour, both excellent books, and his TV show on the Food Network). Take Okinawan cuisine for example:
    These people use ingredients that many shy away from and use them exceptionally well. I had a culinary revelation when I was sucking the softer than Jello tendons and connective tissues from the metatarsals of a stewed pig’s foot. I enjoyed crunching on the cartilidge of the pig’s face salad with the tangy vinagarette dressing. The filleted carcas of the mini red snapper (being the tail, the bones, and the head of the fish), fried in tempura batter tasted better and had a more enjoyable texture than the fillets themselves. And these people appreciate the versatility of Spam, Corned Beef Hash, and other canned meat products. They know how to blend the excess of salt and the texture of the meat to make a variety of delicious dishes.
    The best way to tear down one’s erroneous views of food is to go with people who know what good food is and to share their company as you toss back a couple of drinks. This is how I started on the road to enjoying hormone (intestines). There are two types of hormone that I know of: the fatty type, and the thin type. Like any other types of food, there is hormone of good and bad quality, and most people (like me) develop an aversion due in great part to eating bad quality hormone. Fatty hormone is best grilled and I like to pour sauce over it as it cooks, or dip it in a finely ground salt after it is done. I have found that charring it greatly mellows the taste. Thin hormone is usually used in various soups. I had the best, softest thin hormone in Okinawa. It had the same consistency as a nice thin shabu shabu slice of pork. My recommendation would be NOT to order the hormone unless it comes recommended by someone who knows what they’re talking about.
    The last thing I want to say is that a good chef usually BRINGS OUT the natural flavor of the central ingredient, and at their best, all of the ingredients will serve to contrast and compliment eachother. This is why I am always suspicious of the term “Deep fried”. Poorly executed “deep fried” dishes taste of fried breadcrumbs and recycled grease. Is there an art to deep frying? The answer is yes, and if you are curious to what I mean, then you have yet to taste my father’s deep fried turkey (he isn’t a master deep frier, but he makes this dish particularly well).

  2. Sheeit, I remember when you first came over. You wouldn’t touch naizo (innards). Now you claim status as a true hormone connosseur? OK, next time you come out, get ready for some serious gut gobblin’.

  3. Aw, dammit! Already you are making this into a game of “gross out”, which you would almost certainly win if I were to challenge you. The purpose of my comment was not to say how I am great at eating disgusting food, but to explain that many preconceptions that people have about food detract from the experiences that they might otherwise be enjoying. I still am convinced that liver (except for forms of pate and braunschweiger, or basashi liver) is nasty, but I am willing to admit to the possibility that delicious liver dishes exist.
    Tell you what: If by “serious gut gobblin'” is your way of saying that you were going to show me to a restaraunt where they make innards taste pretty good, then I am down. If not, there is no need for a contest.

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