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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Although I'm back from Japan, I feel certain that it will continue to show up here for a while yet as I have the time and distance to reflect. One such thought now. Japan is the only place I've ever been where everything is so clean that I had no fear what so ever about eating anything that was put before me. I would never do that in rural Mexico, and I have clear memories of dicey stomachs while visiting countries in the European Union. This was fortunate, since so many things served to us were completely mysterious. Once, in a nice tempura restaurant I asked our waitress about the contents of a small black porcelain bowl; one a many small dishes that made up our dinner. She spoke a little English but didn't have the vocabulary for this. After a series of failed pantomimes, she retreated to the kitchen for help. She soon returned to repeat two carefully memorised words, "shark gristle."

I returned to the kitchen to find that this year we will indeed have Jerusalem artichokes. Last year the drought did them in, but as I had suspected they were down but not out. Ample rain has caused them to return, although not in the quantity I would have wanted. For a while at least, we will be able to serve our steaks with Bourbon brown sauce and Jerusalem artichoke relish. (I love pickles with beef.)The recipe for this relish is my father's. He is in fact famous for it around New Bern. For years, part of his Christmas present from me would be a five gallon bucket of the freshly dug roots, delivered early so he could make his relish in time for Christmas. Unhappily, this year I had none to spare. I'm afraid that people don't grow them much anymore. They are quite invasive and can become a nuisance.

It was time again for the annual fundraiser at The Chapel Hill Museum . I always donate two chicken liver terrines for their wine gala. I urge locals to visit the museum. If you've lived here as long as I have you'll be delighted at what you find there. It is of course of interest to visitors and newcomers as well.
I'll also be teaching some classes again from time to time. The publication of my cookbook and the ensuing tour and minor celebrity made it so I didn't have time to do this for a year or so. Now things have finally settled down some and I will be able to again. I'll be teaching Shrimp and Grits at the Seymour Center here on the December 2nd and a couple of ways to roast a chicken at A Southern Season on the 16th. Finally, the recipe page is up and running. You can link to it from the homepage. The first recipe is the apple rum cake requested in October. Sorry it took so long.

posted by Bill Smith at 5:03 AM


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