Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cooking with the Philosophers

One of the reasons I become so easily frustrated with many of the modern philosophers is that they are all merely idealists. When does their thought ever bring us down to a pragmatic, human level? It is all about 'pie-in-the-sky' egos/ids, duality of thesis/antithesis, categorical imperatives, etc. Enlighten me with some useful information I can practically employ in my every day life.

Recently, my mother gave me a cookbook, The Philosopher's Kitchen by Francine Segan, brimming with words of wisdom concerning the culinary exploits of the ancient philosophers and their comrades. While testing out various food elements, the ancient philosophers observed and frequently took notes, some of which still exist today, much to my great elation. Back when philosophy was still a science, when it still had a foundation in observable nature, these lovers of wisdom would remark on even the simplest of life experiences -- enjoyment of food being one of them.

This is the kind of philosophy that I can appreciate.

An African chicken dish in the book is one of my favorites. It combines cloves, cinnamon, allspice, coriander and cumin together in a white wine sauce with arugula and dates. The flavor is unique and vivacious.

The other night, thirsting for a bit of adventure, I attempted a pork loin stuffed with apples and leeks, then wrapped in prosciutto. (It actually called for pancetta but there was none to be found at the store.) It was seasoned with cumin, coriander and black pepper in a honeyed cider vinegar sauce.

I had never 'butterflied' a cut of meat before, but a quick googling of the process cleared up any confusion (although I had already accomplished it before I knew the answer....yes, I am a bit anxious and impatient at times). For those of you who are still in the dark about this technique, it is really quite simple. Slice into the meat about halfway through, peeling back a bit of its thickness, and lay it out flat. Stuff your meat with your favorite filling, roll it up, tie it or toothpick it together, and viola!... you have successfully butterflied and prepared your meat for cookin'!

This dish was originally named after a good friend of Cicero and Julius Caesar, Gaius Matius--one of history's earliest great food 'bloggers!'

Prosit, Matius!


Rye-Rye said...

It was rather delicious and tasted as though it was covered in a sweet barbecue glaze...that chicken dish is one that I think would be delish, though it would require me to be slightly more adventurous than usual...

Christina said...

The spice combination is a nice change from the typical flavors called for on chicken. The beef sounds really good, too, especially stuffed with leeks. I like the sauce for it.