Sunday, April 1, 2007

Slow Food

I thought about posting some kind of elaborate April Fools post this morning—but I am not feeling clever enough. Perhaps next year?

My knees are still wet from Sunday Chores, and I am content with the thought of things happening in my kitchen.

I am a great believer in Slow Food. The Slow Food Movement was started in Italy (where else?) "to counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world."

I was an official member of Slow Food for a few years--until I resigned from full-time employment and had to cut back on a few expenses. But when my employment situation becomes a bit more fixed/reliable, I hope to rejoin Slow Food. I try to incorporate Slow Food into my life, even though I am not a purist.

One Slow Food routine I've made a habit is the soaking and roasting of nuts, as described by Sally Fallon in Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats.

Fallon notes that nuts contain enzyme inhibitors that make them difficult to digest and hard for the body to take up the nutrients therein. Traditional cultures almost always soaked or sprouted seeds and nuts before eating them. This rings true if you've ever eaten so many pecans that your tongue becomes sore: that sore feeling is from something in the raw nut that irritates the tongue; soaking the pecans and then roasting them leaches the irritant out, making the pecans taste sweeter and also eliminating that irritation.

Fallon's method is to soak raw seeds and nuts in lightly salted water for about 12 hours, drain and rinse the nuts and then slowly roast them until they are dry and crunchy (about another 12 hours) on a very low oven--150F max.

So it is a 24-hour process (SLOW FOOD!), which takes some planning but very little effort and which yields something tastier and better for you than the raw product. I like to eat nuts not only because they are good but also because they are a local New Mexican product--pecans and pistachios especially. I use nuts as snacks but also in curries and baked goods, as a way to introduce texture and protein and fat.

Another Slow Food favorite is to poach a chicken in my slow cooker.

Poached whole chicken yields two amazing products: (1) jellied stock that serves as an amazing base for soups and sauces and (2)wonderful, cooked moist chicken that can be eaten in salads, sandwiches, curries, pastas, etc.

As a lunch option, poached (or roasted) chicken is so much better for you than the sliced, pressed, processed deli variety, which is full of nitrates, sugars and other additives. It is also much less expensive.

Poaching in the crock pot, while indeed slow, is, like the nuts, not at all labor intensive. The chicken goes in with a bit of celery, carrot, onion, a bay leaf, some fresh ginger, some herbs if I have them (parsley, savory, thyme)--and then 1/2 cup of white wine (or dry sherry or vermouth), and 1/2 cup water. I cover it, put it on low, and let it cook for 8 hours. I then take out the chicken to cool and also strain the stock and let that cool. Once cooled, I bone the chicken and separate the fat from the stock (fat rises to the top and solidifies in a cool environment). I save the fat to fry with (Schmaltz!) and the resulting chicken and stock feeds us for several meals--soups, sauces, sandwiches, salads. Yum.

The only problem with the poached chicken is that I am not happy with my source for chicken-to get real, responsibly-raised chicken I need to drive 60-120-miles one-way; my local options are a bit dodgy, although not long ago, the labels on these factory chickens changed to say "100% natural" and "No artificial ingredients; minimally processed; no added hormones; no added steroids." I am suspicious of this sudden label change and suspect it means little; I just don't trust the agricultural industrial complex and the way they manufacture chickens.

1 comment:

Slaton Carter said...

Hello, Great post on the topic of Slow Foods. It's definitely an important movement; one the deserves everyone's utmost attention and thoughtful action.

You and your readers might like listening to the most recent Whole Foods Market podcast interview with Carlo Petrini concerning his new book, Slow Food Nation. You may listen to the episode by visiting this URL:

Also, thought you might also like to check out what Whole Foods Market is trying to accomplish regarding the very important issue of animal compassion via the establishment of the Animal Compassion Foundation:

Thanks, again, and might just have to try your suggestion for soaking and roasting nuts and seeds. Sounds easy enough, even for a novice cook like me, and I imagine the result is quite tasty.