We are starting a new feature here at Gluten-Free Girl. (I know the title says Girl, but this site is really a joint effort now, between me and the Chef. Everything has changed with him, including what I write here. Of course I write we now.
As those of you have been reading know, I love stories. I love the stories that curl up into the sky like curlicues of smoke from a chimney, as people gather together and share their experiences. Food starts stories. Who grew this? What were the weather conditions and family crises that gave bloom to this? Who picked it for me? How did it get here? And what was the experience around the table when everyone ate it?
Of course, food also blooms stories of love, falling down, noticing the world, and bacon parties with friends. Food is, it seems, about so much more than food.
But in the end, it all really comes down to the food around here. Much as I have enjoyed the chance to write about our lives, the small realizations and the moments of hilarity, I am still utterly in love with food.
All the best meals start with great ingredients.
And so, on Mondays, we’ll be offering a photograph, an incentive to cook. (And most weeks, it will be far less writing than today’s.) We would love to hear your ideas. What would you cook, if this were in front of you? What great meals have begun with this humble ingredient?
So, let’s begin.
Savoy cabbage. Its dark green, crinkly leaves just called for a photograph the other day, late in the afternoon, when I brought it home from the farmers’ market. (This one was grown by the good folks at Nash Organics. I bought it from a cheerful woman at the University District farmers’ market.) Any farmer that grows a beauty like this should be proud.
I don’t know why Savoy cabbages aren’t more popular here in the U.S. than they are. When I lived in London, these luminous green heads popped up everywhere. I understand why people eat them regularly there. Milder in flavor than traditional green cabbage (and far less bitter than kale or its cousins), Savoy cabbages have sturdy leaves that cup liquid like hands outstretched.
Besides, doesn’t it look like something Willy Wonka grew this in his chocolate factory? Oompa loompa food.
And I can’t help but sing the Beatles’ song, Savoy Truffle, when I’m cutting one. “But you have to have them all pulled out before the Savoy cabbage!”
The other night, I made a traditional Italian bread soup, with some stale gluten-free bread. (It goes stale quickly. That’s easy to find.) Again, Jamie Oliver inspired us. I boiled the Savoy cabbage with red and lacinato kale, in chicken stock, for five minutes. Anchovies and bacon snuggled together in the roasting pan until the anchovies had melted into the crisping pork. Mix those together, and you already have a meal. Layer the toasted bread, the meaty cabbage, loads of Fontina and Parmigiano cheese, and then repeat. Fill the pot with the chicken stock and slide into the oven for 40 minutes. When the Chef took his first bite, late at night, he said, “Holy god.”
I love that reaction.
And so, what would you do with Savoy cabbage?
(I love the community that develops in the comments section. You all have as much to say as I do, and you inspire me with your food ideas. So, fire away.)