Monday, June 16, 2008

Eat to Beat the Heat Part 3: The Pleasures of Waspy Foods

While I'm much more excited by fermented millet mush, I must say that the genre of "waspy" foods can be remarkably pleasant in hot weather. If you find that term offensive, simply replace it with "mayonnaisey."

Here in Massachusetts cucumbers are not in season yet, but neither is 95 degree heat, so I went ahead and made a cold cucumber soup anyway. When I can't go local I get organic, because it's better than not and because doing so generates a pleasant placebo effect. Of course you could argue that eating whatever food we want whenever we want it is one of the practices that has led to higher temperatures, but you wouldn't really have to argue because it's just true.

Many recipes call for seeding the cucumber, but you don't have to. Just throw two peeled cukes into a blender with fresh dill, a splash of white vinegar, salt, pepper, a spoonful of honey and your choice of dairy or even fake dairy, as unsweetened soy milk works fine. One slurp and your internal temperature will plummet.

Served open face and in dappled sunlight, this was the best chicken salad I've ever had. Made from the bird I roasted in E.T.B.T.H. Part 1 and with homemade mayonnaise, this meal proved once again that simple done well can be mind blowing.

I generally despise and mistrust mayo, but making my own demystifies it and produces a much more edible product that the commercial alternatives. Throw a raw egg and canola oil in a blender plus a pinch of salt and lemon juice or vinegar, and - poof! - you've got springy, savory, mayonnaise. Now put on something pastel and enjoy it.

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onigiri said...

Very nice article! Got your recipe ideas like reading a story. Very enjoyable!

Aaron Kagan said...

That's the idea! Glad it works.

Lyra said...

I do need to try making mayonnaise sometime, the problem is that high cholesterol runs in the family. I wonder what would happen if I just used egg white and oil. It would be pale I know, but would the missing yolk result in disaster? I keep aiolis out of my kitchen for the same reason, which is a shame because I love them when I occasionally indulge at a restaurant. I may have to do some experimenting and see what happens.

Aaron Kagan said...


It may not be as much of a risk as you think, though it's smart of you to keep your family's health in the forefront of your thoughts on cooking.

Two things to think about. First, is plant fat like canola or olive oil that bad in terms of cholesterol? Second, I've heard that fertile eggs supposedly have much better cholesterol levels than "normal" ones. Not something I can back up scientifically, and of course people have strong feelings about other aspects of fertile eggs, but at least some people seem to believe this. Either way, I bet an ounce of internet research would yield some answers.

Let's hope so, and that you can one day eat as much mayo as you want.

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