Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Salt, pepper, smoke

One day last fall I walked past a neighbor's house whose wood stove was filling the air with its toasty potpourri. The aroma always stops me in my tracks, prompting primal urges.

If I had to put words to the feeling it would be something along the lines of wanting to run down a woolly mammoth and sink my teeth into its flesh. Since I can't do that -- yet -- my brain goes to the next best thing: pimenton. When the smell of smoke hits my nostrils, the only cure for my primal longings is to indulge them by eating or drinking something that tastes like a fire.

That got me thinking about just how universal smoke is as an agent of flavor, appearing in everything from Scotch and tequila to nova and bacon. After speaking to some Boston area chefs, I wrote a story on smoky foods for the Globe, which ran yesterday and which you can see here:

There's also a recipe for a roasted pepper and eggplant dip from the chef at Sabur, which is here.

If you've got something to say about smoky foods, do share.

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hgk said...

Brought back memories of "old" North Miami Beach, Fla. -- in the 60s, before the shore of Biscayne Bay went all condo and strip-mall -- of a ramshackle place in a clearing in the mangroves at water's edge with a sign on the causeway that read simply "Smoked Fish." They smoked all local catch, from mullet to marlin, but best of all was their smoked fish dip! Several seafood restaurants, especially in the Palm Beaches, still serve this appetizer: it is seriously mouth watering!
And while on the subject of "smoke" in a "Tea and Food" blog, how can you resist putting in a special section on that most remarkable smoked tea, lapsang souchong, referenced in your Globe article?

Aaron Kagan said...

One note on lapsang souchong: I'd have to do more research to confirm, but I'm told much of it is faked, which I assume means smoke "flavoring" rather than real, smoldering wood.

hgk said...

Aaron; please then, expose the fakers and show us the real stuff, along with a comparison!
I recall James Michener's novel, Centennial, mentioning the stuff as one of the greatest luxuries some trappers carried in the wild. There' gold in them thar teas!

lelia said...

It is so cold here today that reading about smoke makes me want to build a fire. I love smokey flavors and although I am leaning towards wanting to think about out doors and summer iced tea.