Friday, December 10, 2010

More sumac, please

God, I love food blogs. I love all sorts of food blogs, from the hip and sensible to the bizarrely specific. But I think the one I love most is Serious Eats, with its luscious, almost pornographic closeups of brisket and apple cake and Mac & Cheese Carbonara. I love its enthusiastic coverage of coffee and burgers. And I love the way it occasionally does what it did yesterday -- break down the exact appeal of an obscure ingredient in a fashion that makes you want to drive to the obscure-ingredients quarter of town and spend the afternoon hunting it down. The ingredient is sumac, which blogger Max Falkowitz calls "the saving grace for the unapologetically lazy cook, a Swiss army knife of finishing touches." (Tell me that wouldn't make a lazy cook, or an energetic one, want to read more.) His sensuous descriptions of the spice ("'s much more complex than lemon, reminiscent of perfectly ripe raspberries and tomatoes, with a pleasing bitterness that lingers just a second after swallowing") practically make me salivate, and this is the thing: I have never to my knowledge tasted sumac. If that isn't good food writing I don't know what is. Falkowitz's lovely essay on the spice reminds me of the story Bruce Springsteen told about Chuck Berry in Taylor Hackford's Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll. Springsteen recalls the first time he heard Berry's "Nadine," with its description of "a coffee-colored Cadillac," and tells Hackford: "I'd never seen a coffee-colored Cadillac." But after hearing Berry, Springsteen says, "I knew exactly what one looked like." (Photo by Robyn Lee for Serious Eats.)

Sent from James' iPhone

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