Saturday, October 14, 2006

Language for Food

Archy posed a challenge to define a certain practice of efficient cooks: multiple uses of ingredients larger than the company can consume at once.
One might call it the canny cook.

My first thought is a bit fuzzy and requires a bit of a bleg. There is a bit of light verse floating about in the fluff between my ears (Did I hear Stanley Holloway recite it?) that I will paraphrase (uhmm: make up) as follows:

Ah the noble joint
Roast on Sunday
Boiled on Monday
Cold on Tuesday
Fried on Wednesday
Hash on Thursday
Minced on Friday
Soup on Saturday
The beef of old England!

(with fulsome apologies to the shade who wrote the original verse I am attempting to remember. Any who recognizes it, please correct me in comments.)
That describes the practice Archy follows with his chicken, but does not give it a name.

The French keep a kettle slowly simmering on the back burner to accept all the liquids used in cooking vegetables and the pan scrapings from meat. The tops of celery and the peel of root vegetables also goes in. When stock is required for a soup or stew or sauce, it is strained from the Stockpot. But never empty it. Like a sourdough starter something is always left over to build the next stock so that every meal bears a faint rolling echo of many that passed before.

The Chinese do the same thing with wok scrapings to create Master Sauce.

Roy Andries de Groot was a noted mid 20th century journalist who wrote a fascinating text for Knopf in 1966 called "Feasts for All Seasons". Not content to provide over 700 pages mostly of recipes he also provides a thoroughly organized 'system culinaire' Which organizes the kitchen, the shopping, the cooking and the eating into the most efficient gourmet mode possible. One more Germanic-organized than the Germans -- as one would expect of a Dutchman. For instance in the section "Epilogue: Appendices and Indices" There is a directory of cheeses which surveys the prospects in firm, soft, fresh and aged. Another on wine discusses color, locale, price and quality up to and including rum as good as brandy and single malt Scotch -- remember this was the age of blends. Marketing and mail order sources are carefully and thoroughly examined for both ingredients and tools. A 'General Index' keys us to dishes by title. A 'Menu Planning Index' divides the recipes by categories: 'Breads and Cakes', 'Breakfasts for Lazy Sundays and Other days', 'Budget Pull-Back Dishes', and so forth. Finally a 'Regional Index parses the catalog by geographic origin.

de Groot's word for Archy's process is Encore Dishes. I submit that this word suffices for all occasions save the snarkiest of sarcasms.

Me Mum fried Sunday's chicken in the sausage fat left from breakfast. The herbs of the sausage made a delightful aromatic oil fit for chicken. Being a moderately large family, there rarely was more than a wing left. As me Dad said: "The pigs'll get it anyway."

One might brown the chicken in sausage fat before roasting and achieve somewhat the same effect?

Speaking of which, it is time to turn the pastry for tonight's party tartlets.

Technorati Tags: Archy, 'encore dishes'

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