How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Cooking in the Car

Although it was published -- by Miramax Books, of all things -- almost 20 years ago, we only recently learned that Laura Esquivel has a cookbook. We have cooked so many great things from her novel that an actual cookbook is very promising indeed!

I learned of the book when showing the film version of Like Water for Chocolate to my Geography of Latin America class this summer. Searching for other books by the author whose work inspired the movie, I found An Appetite for Passion (Note: IMDb users have given this film only 7.3/10 stars, proving that there is an exception to the general idea that crowds get things right. But I digress.)

We have loved Como Agua and its food since we saw the film in its original art-house run. Pam even participated in a class about the book and its food at our church back in Tucson, and a few years ago incorporated the food into her university Spanish class. The results of this creative undergraduate-research experience are on the CAPCR blog she created with her students, and which we consult frequently.

For this project, Esquivel collaborated with cookbook author John Willoughby and translator Margaret Sayers Peden to put together a volume dedicated to the enjoyment of food with all the senses.

So much for the appetizer -- on to the main course! For our first foray into this volume, Pam suggested a salmon dish, and since I was headed out for my weekly "whaling" voyage in New Bedford, I knew it would be convenient for me to pick up something fresh at Kyler's. I had also come to the market prepared, because I had read the recipe carefully before setting out. I don't always remember to do this, but this story is a lesson in why it is a good idea.

The recipe entitled Marinated Salmon with Warm Leek-Ginger Vinaigrette calls for imbuing the salmon with ginger in two stages, implied by the title. It is to marinate in a concoction of ginger, garlic, soy sauce, orange juice and brown sugar for 2-4 hours before broiling. For the broiling itself, it is to be coated with a vinaigrette -- more like a relish -- of ginger, shallots, leeks, lime, vinegar and soy. (See page 44 of the book for all the details.) Based on this description, I selected a wild-caught salmon with a gamy flavor that would stand up to the ginger. Knowing that we would not be eating until midnight if I followed the recipe after getting home, I prepared the marinade and vinaigrette beforehand, and brought the former to the fishmonger, along with a glass dish and the cooler I always bring. It was then a simple matter to put the fish in the marinade right there in the parking lot, so it could meld while I rowed and drove. When I got home, I put the vinaigrette on, and we enjoyed this along with some home-brewed pale ale and a delicious salad Pam had prepared.
What our "prep kitchen" looked like 187,000 miles ago.
Our 2004 LW300 may have been the very last wagon
sold by Saturn in southern New England.
The results: extraordinarily delicious! The whole family enjoyed this, and Pam found the one leftover fillet to be even more delicious two days later. The recipe calls for far more vinaigrette than is actually needed, so I am saving that for use with chicken in the next couple of days. I think it will be fabulous.

The introduction to this recipe describes the global infatuation with ginger and its association with passion, fecundity, and Paradise. It also makes for a simply delicious dinner.

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