Aren’t we cooking and eating in an amazing part of human history? I may be speaking from my San Francisco bubble (within an even greater California bubble) but I feel like we have so much more info at our fingertips about how to eat and what to eat than even just a few years ago. I don’t remember exactly when I became aware of the organic movement, or of eating around the seasons — these concepts just seemed to slowly permeate the zeitgeist sometime in the mid 2000’s — but before we learned about these options my family and I were using an embarrassing amount of processed, frozen and canned ingredients in our meals — even though we cooked the majority of them at home from ‘scratch.’ We just didn’t know better. The thought of choosing whole grains over processed grains wasn’t even a glimmer in anyone’s eye yet — let alone the concept of living a wheat-free life altogether.
I’ll never forget when I learned about choosing ‘whole’ foods over processed (coincidentally, this happened at the same time I learned how important keeping one’s blood sugar at an even level is). On a one-stop flight from Los Angeles to Geneva I started reading Michael Pollan’s Food Rules, which subsequently terrified me into eating anything the airlines had to offer me (talk about processed!). In JFK during my layover I ordered the most real-seeming meal option I could find — a mushroom salad. 10 hours later or so I arrived in Europe, but sometimes travel throws you a few curve balls, and the result was that nearly 30 hours passed with nothing in my system but one mushroom salad. That’s when things got ugly. I stopped whatever I was doing and began laughing and crying hysterically at the same time, until my frantic travel partner was able to exchange some currency and order us a pizza. After years of many more brushes with ‘hangriness’ and the loss of one’s mental facilities, I’ve finally learned to roll with trail mix everywhere I go — but it was a long dark road to enlightenment.
While I’ve made a conscious effort since to follow Pollan’s very simple food rules (eat food; not a lot; mostly plants) there’s sp much info out there to process about nutrition and health. During a food cleanse a couple years ago I first dabbled with going gluten-free. After about 2-3 weeks my permanently stuffy nose magically cleared up for the first time in living memory. I could catch subtle scents in dishes I had never been able to before, but once I cheated with any gluten at all my sinuses reacted immediately. I toyed with the idea of staying off gluten permanently… but then I moved to Paris. And that, as they say, was the end of that.
Having been back from France for some time, I’ve renewed my interest in exploring gluten-free options. Bay area food bloggers and chefs Sarah and Phi let me come shadow them the other week as they prepared for a dinner featuring only alternative flours. Sarah’s blog regularly features gluten-free recipes, and Phi can do things with miso I had no idea were possible. Together they created a delectable menu blending mediterranean and japanese flavors. The items you saw rolled out in the first photo are wild rice crackers, served with a mizuna, pomelo and quail egg salad tossed with a sesame-miso vinaigrette that I would personally put on everything I ate. The recipes are going to be up on their respective blogs tomorrow — so be sure to check back in! (UPDATE: Here is the rice cracker recipe) Sarah’s over at Snixy Kitchen, and Phi is the indisputable Princess Tofu.
Other gluten-free options that night included chestnut pasta with braised shitake, deep fried celery root, and a sous-vide egg, red bean tofu, and finally a creamy pine nut pudding. Now that I think about it the entire menu was also vegetarian — so many creative and delicious options around the typical Western diet! As for that chestnut pasta — it was creamy, nutty and delicious — Sarah has the recipe for pasta up on her blog right here. While the alternative ‘flours’ dinner is over, Phi is regularly cooking up exciting and unique meals on Feastly — you can follow her profile by clicking here.
Do you remember when you first learned about organic food, eating seasonally, or alternative options — or did you grow up eating chestnut flour? Let me know what you think about glutten, home pickling, and/or your most embarrassing ‘hangry’ story in the comments below. I’ve got so many stories to share about exploring SF, eating delicious foods, and getting ready for spring — until I have a chance to share more here on this blog be sure to connect with me on instagram where I’m by far the most active — send me a note on there so I can follow you back! Or find me over at pinterest, twitter, or facebook.
Happy April 1st my friends! I’m so excited for a new month and particularly for TAX season to be behind us (we’re so close!). Until I see you next time — thank you for reading!