15 May 2010

Round Food

Summer wants to be here for me so bad right now. Unfortunately, I'm still reading and writing when I'd prefer to be eating, drinking and listening to music all night long. School learning's great for most the year, but come May I want to learn about things to eat, sounds to hear. Oh well. Summer never really commences for me anyway until I get on the road traveling southward. That won't be for another six weeks, which means I've got a difficult period of craving humid heat and Southern cuisine ahead of me.

That doesn't mean I haven't made the best of my situation, though, and two round meals are the proof of my efforts. I made fish tostadas for the first time and they turned out much better than I expected. Tilapia fried in a light egg-flour-cornmeal batter really is perfect for warm weather. Put it on top of a crispy corn tortilla slathered with refried beans, then add avocado, vinegar slaw, and pico de galloit makes a lovely summer meal reminiscent of someplace far south of Buffalo, NY.

A couple days latter HRH made something that I'd never fathomed, although it seems to be fairly well known if Google search results are to be trusted: Polenta-crust pizza. It was easy to prepare in advance and then slip into the oven a few minutes before we were ready to eat. And it was delicious!

I'm not sure I'm ready to abandon more traditional crusts, but for an easier homemade option, polenta works great. I don't want to suggest that making pizza dough is too hard to do at home (Michael Ruhlman would have a fit!), but working with any dough is always sort of a pain in my ass. It might be worth it if I ever had any success, but alas! I never do.

Anyway, the polenta crust was a success and everything on top was lovely. I'm sure to miss something, but I think HRH included: tomato sauce, mozzarella, black olives, onions, basil and artichoke hearts. She roasted the artichokes (and leeks? Are those leeks?) first and they were my favorite part. The unused hearts made an excellent snack the next day.

Dough difficulties be damned, I want to make a peach pie this summer, whenever it comes on full force. In the meantime, I need to get back to book learning. And to prove my efforts on that front, here's a bit of trivia I learned from my (admittedly not so academic) research. Apparently the term "square meal" came into use in the mid-19th Century. Contrary to the subject of this post, it has nothing to do with shape, and everything to do with honesty. As in this example from a restaurant advertisement (1856): "We can promise all who patronize us that they can always get a hearty welcome and 'square meal' at the Hope and Neptune. Oyster, chicken and game suppers prepared at short notice." According to the same source, the words avocado and cupcake came into existence slightly earlier in the 19th Century. What the hell did they call those things in the 18th Century?