Sunday, April 10, 2011

a comanche hot dog, the old russian volkswagen, canadian whiskey

Most of the New World crops are actually native to South or Central America -- corn, chocolate, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes ... the potato, which is now a key part of northern New England cooking and a major cash crop, didn't even arrive in Maine until the 19th century. (The potato chip was introduced almost as soon as potatoes became a common American crop.) One of the ones we CAN claim for our own, we named ...

... the Jerusalem artichoke.


It has nothing to do with Jerusalem, or artichokes. The French call it the topinambour, apparently after a Brazilian tribe that doesn't have anything to do with it either. You'll often see it as a sunchoke now, but it also isn't a sunflower. You may as well call it a monkey egg, or a Dutch banana.

Sunchokes - let's call them sunchokes - haven't caught on all that much, but they make their way into cuisine here and there - sunchoke relish ("artichoke relish") in the South, sunchoke soups here and there, a salad or two. They're probably the best-tasting tuber outside of King Potato himself, and unlike almost every non-potato tuber, they're not excessively starchy - they damn near fall apart into this velvetty puree after a short roasting.

But they store inulin instead of starch, see, and humans can't digest inulin, but the bacteria in our guts can, which leads to "a filthy loathsome stinking wind within the body," like with beans. I don't know if it's something you adapt to in time - beans don't give me any trouble, for instance, because I eat them often enough.

Anyway, also unlike potatoes and most tubers, sunchokes are perfectly good to eat raw. They're very crisp raw, but best peeled, and peeling these knobby little guys can be a pain in the ass. So you might want to roast or boil them, either of which will bring out a rich, nutty flavor. Honestly, they pretty much taste buttered straight out of the oven - the ones here were just roasted plain. It's no wonder people have been pureeing them for soups.


I have typed all that after eating the sunchokes, and prior to being sure if I'll suffer any effects or not. Best leave this here unposted for a while, just to find out. ... dot dot dot ... No man, it's all good. Maybe eating a lot of beans does immunize you.

No comments:

Post a Comment