The Chinese have historically valued mushrooms for medicinal properties as well as for food. Ancient Romans and Greeks, particularly the upper classes, used mushrooms for culinary purposes. Tasters were employed by Roman Emperors to ensure that mushrooms were safe to eat. Of course this wasn’t a job with much long-term job security. Rock and Roll bands and their fans of the 1960’s rediscovered other uses of over 200 mushrooms that contained psilocybin, the natural, psychedelic drug. Today however, the production of edible mushrooms is big business and a safe one. Mushrooms are produced in sterile, clean and controlled environments in at least 60 countries around the world.
Quinoa was originally grown in high altitude regions of Latin America in Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia. It is now grown in Colorado and parts of California. It grows naturally in brown, black and red colors. Author Deborah Madison finds the black and red versions take a bit longer to cook— only 30 minutes—while the beige or brown take half as long. But Madison tells us that the red and black varieties are found to be more robust in flavor.
It’s amazing to live in a region of the country where you can find an evening meal at your finger tips. As mentioned last week, oysters, like clams, lobsters and mussels are available year around. Both coasts of the U.S. feature such seafood riches. Up and down the Eastern seaboard and similarly on the West Coast, crustaceans, mollusks and bivalves are extraordinarily available. Wellfleets are prized in New England, especially on Cape Cod. New Yorkers can’t get enough Blue Points. And Kumamotos and Olympian oysters from San Francisco, Seattle and Puget Sound prove the rule that size is no measure of flavor and taste. For those of you who visit Manhattan I recommend eating at the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station to experience all of these seafood delights from all parts of the country.
These bivalve mollusks are still eatable and delicious year-round in various forms, but are best when the weather is cooler. The irony is that they are susceptible to bacteria in summer months when many of us think about the enjoyment of clam bakes. The good news is that they are inexpensive year round.
Last week’s column ran the incorrect amount of buttermilk needed for the recipe. Please see the revised and corrected recipe below:
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