Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Let me not to the marriage of true flavors admit impediment

Sometimes I have a problem with the ease with which people bandy about the names of dishes. It's not a ragu if it has no meat, and I'm sorry, but at some point, when you make a very saucy "jambalaya" using peanut butter, red curry, and other Thai ingredients served over rice, you've lost the right to call it jambalaya.

However, when I saw this recipe for edamame and cilantro pesto posted on Tastespotting, my pedantry couldn't stand up to my palate. I love edamame, and I love cilantro, and I love the taste of the two together, and I love that I saw this recipe on one of the extraordinarily rare occasions that I have oodles of fresh cilantro I'm just trying to get rid of. Who could resist such synchronicity?

Pesto is traditionally a pulverized-with-a-mortar-and-pestle (thus the name) mix of basil leaves, pine nuts, Parmesan or pecorino, garlic, and olive oil. It's got both Italian and Provençal origins. But this "pesto" recipe--which, in a rare turn of events, I stuck to quite faithfully, save for the elimination of the broth (I divided the portion in eight, so there was little need) and addition of a small squirt of lime juice--follows the trend of non-traditional pestos in using a different bean and a different fresh herb, retaining the cheese, olive oil, and garlic. I ate it over capellini with a poached egg, using the yolk to lubricate the pasta much as one might use olive oil.

I can't recommend this enough. It was light and modern and pretty and healthful, especially when you eat it alongside a citrus-and-olive oil-dressed green salad (which I did, which might be obvious in the mention of it, but I hate leaving well enough alone).

And now, some fun:
1. We learned about this amusingly named cardiomyopathy in class today. Cardiology is increasingly interesting.
2. Speaking of cardiology, our professor introduced the module by showing us a short video of a Washington, D.C. advocacy gathering of people whose lives had been affected by severe heart disease and who decided to jump on the activist train. They work or volunteer for heart disease-related organizations, advocate for greater federal contributions to research, and so on. Reading Welcome to Cancerland, by Barbara Ehrenreich, will explain better than I can what makes me uncomfortable about the "breast cancer movement" that has splashed pink all over the place for at least the past ten years; it was refreshing to see promotional material showcasing almost solely people who had survived their own heart disease or survived family members' deaths from heart disease and chose to devote their careers or their spare time to real, concrete labor geared toward alleviating the burden of heart disease in the United States.
3. I finished the Macklin book. It was good, but it could have been quite a lot shorter. She had a point. She made it. She made it some more. I was waiting for a (perhaps slightly offensive) shocking or mind-opening conclusion that never really hit me. Like I said, though, it was moderately thought-provoking and taught me about common pro- and anti-relativism arguments, so I cannot complain.

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