Help Stamp Out Food Snobbery

SATURDAY, APRIL 10, 2010 (original publishing date, still relevant)


Help Stamp Out Food Snobbery This is a re-posting of an article from this blog from about several years ago. I thought I would put it back up because I recently listened to something on NPR about things people pay big bucks for that are not the real thing...caviar was one of those things and there is something about that in this post.

I think that it is time that I do my part to bring attention to the issue of food prejudice. Since I am so in touch with food, I am going to address the food snobs of the world here on my blog today. That's right, it is my blog and I can say what I want to about whatever subject I am inclined to write about....mu-ah-hahahahahaaaa. I love the power of the blog!! Okay, I am getting a power high so I better get back on subject. This just has to be said. My simple definition of Food Snobbery: Refusing to even try or consider trying a particular fruit, vegetable, regional or local dish for any reason at all. If you are a food snob, let me help to set the record straighter on a couple of things:

Sushi versus Chitlins I went to a Sushi restaurant in Japan once where there were a bunch of fish swimming happily together in a huge tank. We ordered and the next thing I know, the chef is screaming like a ninja and grabbing a live fish out of the tank and flinging it down on the table in front of us. When he pulled out a cleaver and hacked the head off right in front of me, I almost fainted. Needless to say, I didn't eat sushi (or much of anything else) for a while. Chitlins on the other hand are quite civilized by comparison. I have seen them being cooked before but that is it. Chitlin preparation has the good manners to stay out of the public eye as much as possible. Grits versus Polenta Grits and polenta are the same thing. If you let your grits simmer too long and they get really thick, you have made polenta. In Northern Italy, where polenta is a staple dish, it was first made when maize or corn was brought there by explorers. It is cooked down more than grits and the grind is slightly different but there is not much difference except for the seasoning and serving methods. Of course, grits can be pretty bland and boring if you buy those wussie white ones at the grocery store or you don't know how to cook them. I buy stone ground, organic yellow corn grits. Fortunately, I do know how to cook them (Granny taught me) and mine are delicious.

Livermush versus Blood Sausage Do I even need to explain this one? Yes, I guess I do. Livermush is decidedly Southern and Blood Sausage is decidedly disgusting. Livermush probably had its origins with German settlers to the Southeastern areas of the US from Pennsylvania. Blood Sausage never quite caught on here in this area although I understand it is popular elsewhere. My best friend growing up moved to the US from Europe and we helped her mom to make BS at their house once. I repeat, ONCE. And I never ate any that I am aware of but sometimes when I ate dinner at their house, I was a little confused as to exactly what I was eating. Okra versus Anything I already wrote an entire blog entry about okra, so refer back to that post from to read up on okra titled OKRA 101. Before I even start, one quick note about okra: it is NOT indigenous to the Southern US (it just loves our climate); it is native to Africa; is an edible hibiscus; and is eaten all over the world. If you don't eat okra because it is slimy, it is because it is cooked in liquid. Use another preparation method. Okra is delicious. Caviar versus Catfish Roe I have eaten caviar once or twice myself, but don't remember particularly liking it. It tasted a little fishy and very salty. And speaking of fishy, there are people willing to pay $50+ an ounce for Beluga caviar yet look down their noses of folks who catch and clean their own fish and eat the roe. Joke is on them. Back in the late 1990's, the FDA busted a caviar "importer" who had been packaging and selling catfish roe as Beluga for years. Took DNA testing to determine that the roe in question was not from sturgeon, but in fact from the lowly Ictalarus punctatus or the common channel catfish. Nobody noticed the difference because, lets face it, who eats caviar on a regular basis? Do you know anyone who does? Neither do I. (Update: These jokers got caught again several years later. Now who is the joke on?)

Cow Peas versus English Peas Cow Peas- A drought tolerant and warm weather crop, cow peas are well-adapted to the drier regions of the tropics, where other food legumes do not perform well. It also has the useful ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen through its nodules, and it grows well in poor soils with more than 85% sand and with less than 0.2% organic matter and low levels of phosphorus.

In addition, it is shade tolerant, and therefore, compatible as an intercrop with maize, millet, sorghum, sugarcane, and cotton. This makes cow pea an important component of traditional intercropping systems, especially in the complex and elegant subsistence farming systems of the dry savannas in sub-Saharan Africa. English peas are just a cooler weather, slightly different cultivar of Fabaceae or Leguminosae, or the legume family.

There is nothing sophisticated or gourmet about English (green) peas. In fact, if you compared the common field pea grown in the South to the English pea, the English pea is by comparison a thin and pale relative, as far as adaptability and usage. And they are delicious.

P.S. Black eyed peas are cow peas.

Water Cress versus Creasy Greens If you ever watched the Dobie Gillis show back in the 60's, you most probably remember Mrs. Chatsworth Osborne, Jr., Resident Snobby Rick Bitch, who was forever giving parties where they served watercress sandwiches. This is probably about the silliest food affectation I know of, in all of my culinary experience. Watercress on buttered slices of bread with the crusts cut off was supposedly the height of snooty cuisine. Somehow the idea of a weed that grows along the sides of the road, in ditches where there is standing water pasted onto a tiny piece of white bread doesn't really impress me all that much. And why couldn't they even have a "big boy" sandwich with the crusts still on...did those rich people have weak choppers or just still long for mama? I don't get it.

I don't remember my Granny even planting "creasies", a delightful little spicy, edible green plant, but she certainly got excited once it showed up in the corn field in the fall. It grows in a rosette, kind of like arugula. Today, you can buy creasy green seeds (Upland Cress is how it is sold) and plant some for yourself, but in the foothills and mountains of NC, they were/are considered a wild, uncultivated food, not to be taken for granted. I think maybe planting creasys would not set well with some old timers. Creasy greens are first cousins to watercress and the name "creasy" is probably an Appalachian mispronunciation of cress. They are peppery and add a little spice to other greens.

There are lots more foods I could mention, but my fingers are tired and I have to go feed chickens. My break is over and I need to get back to some real work. Hope you enjoyed my little tongue in cheek (Really? Maybe.) missive today.