Wednesday, April 13, 2011

streetwalkers and subtle hints

By the way, those two things don't really go together in real life.

For the moment, trusting that most of my readers are female, I'm going to go out on a limb and work under the assumption that I'm not the only one who's seen (loves, and owns) Pretty Woman.  I mean, if you're anywhere near my age, it was kind of a rite of passage, right?

So, follow me just a moment - I swear it will all connect.  A couple of nights ago we had Pasta Puttanesca from One-Dish Vegetarian Meals for the first time in a long time.  I always get a kick out of the legend behind this piquant sauce - there are two rumors I favor:

1. The sauce is so good, you just can't resist... (kinda stupid)
2. The sauce, being made up pretty much completely from pantry staples, was easy to put together after a long night of work, when the "ladies of the night" were hungry and a bit...ahem...worn out.

I definitely prefer the second legend - despite the vulgar nature of the legend, it also seems a little more romantic in its dark realism.  I mean, the sauce is good, but it's not irresistible.  Unlike Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.

How's that for a segue?

Anyway, in one of the opening scenes, you see Julia's character, Vivian - a hooker - using the fire escape from her apartment to sneak past her landlord, since the money box she and her roommate (also a hooker) keep in the toilet tank is empty.  Classy.  Anyway, she heads over to a bar where she expects to find her friend, and she does, and right before the two of them "head to work," her friend (Kit) puts a bunch of cocktail garnishes - cherries, orange segments, olives - in a napkin to have a snack.

My thought is that that is probably more representative of the way hookers dine.

Maybe Italian streetwalkers are different.  I mean, if I had the choice of eating a paper napkin full of formaldehyde-soaked cherries, drying out orange segments, and dollar store olives, or throwing a can of tomatoes on a skillet with some olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, and high-quality black olives and tossing the resulting sauce with hearty and stomach-sating spaghetti....

...I'd rather be an Italian hooker.

So on that tactful and international note, why don't we head north a bit and grab a little influence on our way to the Red Light District of New Orleans?

Through the only moderately subtle influence of PIFA, I've become a little francophilic these past couple of weeks.  The theme for PIFA, in case the huge Eiffel Tower in the middle of the Kimmel Center's plaza didn't give it away, is France (Paris) in the first few decades of the last century.  I'm not normally a big fan of France, but there is something undeniably romantic about Paris, enough that even my anti-France husband thinks I should go to Paris because it's enchanting.

Obviously, with its French Quarter, NOLA owes quite a bit of its cultural, linguistic, and culinary history to France and continues to capitalize on the vague resemblance.  The Poor-Man's Paris?  Anyway, with the near-constant reminder of all things French due to my mild obsession with PIFA, I thought it would be fun to revive a dish I haven't made in a while: Vegetable Etouffee, also from One-Dish Vegetarian Meals.

Someday, I'm going to have to find/order some authentic Louisiana Pecan rice to serve with this.  The brown rice was fine, but probably not as uniquely flavored as my brain lets me believe the recommended rice is.  This is the first time that I made this without toasting the flour first and honestly, I can't say it suffered much.  The whole thing probably could have simmered about 5 minutes more, but as long as its actual flavor is cloaked, the soft, subtle crunch of the zucchini was kind of fun and stands out against the creaminess of the kidney beans.

The sauce could be a little more flavorful.  The rebel in me wants to mix in some bourbon next time to see what happens.  The Yankee in me is poking me in the brain right now to remind me that I don't like bourbon.

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