*Or, would a Synstylae smell sweeter?
A couple of days ago I was sent a tweet by someone who had noticed my email signature (“Ricki Heller, PhD, RHN”) and commented on my doctorate degree (I guess she hadn’t realized I have a PhD). The funny part is that I usually consider people who call themselves “Dr.” with a PhD (versus an MD) as unbearably pretentious, and I try not to do so. But as I mention in my “About” page: “I hold a PhD in Modern American Literature, which came in really handy the one time my sweetheart and I wanted to book a hotel room for our anniversary, and we got bumped up to a suite instead of a regular room because I had the title “Dr.” on my form.” That was pretty much the best use of my degree so far. 😉
But the anecdote got me thinking about how people sometimes use labels for things simply to make the things sound better than they actually are. Remember Roseanne Barr’s old skit in which she called herself a “domestic goddess” instead of a housewife? And of course there’s the classic “sanitation engineer.” Or that old résumé staple, “I’m a perfectionist” (ie, “I never finish any of the projects that I start.”)
When it comes to food, alternative epithets abound. I mean, giving something a rather exotic moniker makes it sound more appealing, doesn’t it?
Method One: use a word from a different language. To wit:
Hungry yet? Or how about Method Two, just use a euphemism:
Then, of course, there’s Method Three: simply name a dish after its place of origin. In this group, you’ll find
- Eggplant Parmagiana
- Buffalo Wings
- New York Cheesecake
- Chicago Deep Dish Pizza
- Baked Alaska
- Salad Niçoise
and, finally, today’s topic:
- Andalusian Asparagus!
When I first came across this recipe in my Kitchen Classics: Gourmet Vegetarian cookbook, I must admit that I turned to the HH and asked, “What does ‘Andalusian’ refer to?” (because, as we all know, the HH is the source of all factoids in my life; and also, I was never very good at geography).
“A place in Spain,” he replied.
Well, I have no doubt that the Andalusian people themselves eat their asparagus this way, so of course the name is apt. But really, for those of us here in the Golden Horseshoe, calling it “Andalusian Asparagus” just sounds so much more glamorous, doesn’t it? (And besides, “Golden Horseshoe Asparagus” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.*)
Whatever you call it, it’s entirely appealing. The garlicky, bread-crumby flavors in the topping reminded me of this soup, but the topping here is more like that of a fruit crumble in consistency (except savory). Initially, I imagined that the lemon juice might make the crumble a bit too tart to pair well with the spears, but they actually complemented each other perfectly, the umami of the asparagus providing the strong, savory undertone necessary to balance out the citrus.
I daresay you’ll love this Andalusian asparagus. Besides, it’s a great way to get your kids to eat their organic verdant vegetable fiber. Just sayin’.
“Hey, Mum, did you know that I’m half Alsatian? Doesn’t that sound exotic, too? And by that I mean, ‘exotic enough to give me some extra treats.'”
*Well, of course not. Because it’s a horseshoe, not a ring, silly!
Andalusian Asparagus (adapted from Gourmet Vegetarian by Jane Price)
suitable for ACD Stage 2 and beyond
An elegant way to serve your asparagus that’s as tasty as it is visually impressive.
about 1 pound (500 g) fresh asparagus spears, washed and trimmed
1 large or 2 small slices rustic bread, cut into large cubes (I used quinoa sourbread)
3 Tbsp (45 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
3 large garlic cloves, sliced
12-15 raw natural almonds, with skin
1 tsp (5 ml) paprika
1 tsp (5 ml) cumin
2 Tbsp (30 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp (15 ml) water, if necessary
Heat 2 Tbsp (10 ml) of the oil in a large, heavy frypan (I used cast iron). Add the bread, garlic and almonds and cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, until the bread and garlic are browned; turn off heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to the bowl of a food processor. Add the paprika, cumin and lemon juice and process to a coarse meal (if it’s too dry, add the water and process again).
Return the frypan to the heat with the final tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil. Add the asparagus and cook for 3-5 minutes, then add the bread mixture with an additional 2/3 cup (160 ml) water. Simmer for 4-8 minutes, until the asparagus is tender but still firm and most of the liquid has evaporated. Transfer to a serving platter and serve. Makes 4 servings.
Last Year at this Time: Flash in the Pan: Flavored Nut Butters for the Rest of Us (Walnut Cacao Nib and more)
Two Years Ago: Entirely Original Curried Pumpkin Hummus
Three Years Ago: Lucky Comestible II: Tagine of Quinoa with Chickpeas, Olives and Prunes (Gluten Free; not ACD friendly)