Tag Archive | food

Tender is relative

via Daily Prompt: Tender

 

When it comes to food, the word “tender” has a different meaning in the South than in the North. Degrees of tenderness to which foods are cooked also vary between Blacks and Whites. Many Southern Blacks take great pleasure in simmering their green leafy vegetables until they are soft and to the point that they melt in your mouth. Their white counterparts also sometimes cook their vegetables until they lose their crispness, but with more bite than their African-American neighbors.

Collard, turnip, and mustard greens simmering gently in a crockpot on a rainy day gives the most comforting feeling to a Southerner. Some like it plush with ham hocks; smoked turkey necks or tails; or just the plain greens seasoned with onions and other spices. One of my church sisters in Atlanta divulged to me that collards are no good without a little vinegar. She does not believe in adding sugar to her greens although some cooks swear by it.

After the greens have reached their level of the desired doneness, they may be served with several starchy dishes. For most Southerners, corn bread is the best complement to this dish. Macaroni and cheese casserole is the ubiquitous side that pops up on just about every southern table on nearly all occasions whether it’s a baby shower or a Thanksgiving dinner – and it also goes well with greens. And by the way, there is nothing al dente about the noodles, rather variations of tenderness since that quality is more inviting to the southern palate.

Talking about taste, every restaurateur knows if he wants to add the finishing touches to his greens, he must place a tasty bottle of hot sauce on the table if he wants to have African-American customers coming back for more.  Another thing that outsiders need to know is that whites and blacks in the south are not divided about food. They both appreciate and like their regional dishes.

 

Eggs as you like them

A delicious piece of prime steak is a meat eater’s delight: add the right wine, and you’ll place him in gastronomic heaven. I’m no vegetarian, but too much meat gives me little pleasure. That’s why I feel overly lethargic after the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. I tend to get bloated from overeating ham and turkey, and my body screams for green vegetables.

I dare not resist because there is a hefty price to pay. The weight of extra calories is cumbersome and not a sight for sore eyes. Moreover, I believe that too much protein wreaks havoc on my digestive system and causes “tectonic plates to shift in my stomach” creating weird sounds and emissions from my body that I do not welcome. Some will say broccoli and cabbage have the same effect. However, I believe that they do less damage than meat because they don’t have the excess bulk that meat has. Well, the difference is based on the discomfort of the eater!

My father is the reason for my meat aversion. During my childhood, Papa planted all kinds of vegetables around our home and made them a staple in almost every meal. He used meat sparingly, mostly to flavor a dish or as a filler. Therefore, I acquired a taste especially for legumes (which were his favorite vegetable). I enjoyed fish and occasionally ate our home-raised chicken. However, I avoided red meat. Like my father, I am squeamish about poultry. I have no stomach for fried chicken skin regardless of how crispy it may be.

I also think twice about ordering eggs at a restaurant although I like a good omelet filled with spinach and cheese. I confess too that I enjoy scrambled eggs with grits and a sliver of bacon on the side. Now my bacon has to be crisp and slightly burned. I wouldn’t request dry scrambled eggs or a hard omelet. However, you can guess I don’t like my eggs runny. That brings me to the point of sunny side up eggs.

Somebody said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I think that the adage applies more to sunny side up eggs. I presume that “sunny” refers to the brightness or lack of it in the yolk of the cooked egg. Sunny side up eggs are eggs fried on one side until the white is barely set and the yolk remains liquid in the middle. To the sunny side up fan, a runny yolk may appear more inviting and shinier than a more viscous yolk, but to my dad and I, a charred yolk is the sunniest treat in a fried egg. There is also a slight variation of this dish: the difference is that the egg is lightly fried on both sides with the yellow still runny. The latter is called easy over eggs. Because the egg is fried quickly on both sides, the yolk may vary in runniness and even luster.

Whether you are talking about omelets, scrambled, poached, boiled, easy over or sunny side up eggs; diet plays a role in what the beholder sees. According to Dr. Anne Marie Hellmenstine, the color of egg yolks can vary from pale yellow to bright orange depending on the diet of chickens and other poultry. She notes that although color variation occurs naturally in eggs, farmers can control yolk pigmentation by regulating the number of carotenoids they feed to chickens. Carotenoids are natural pigments that are found in foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, and cantaloupes. Natural pigment additives like marigold in poultry feed enhance yolk color because artificial sources are generally prohibited. However, Dr. Hellmenstine notes that certain commercial pigment enhancers, namely Lucantin (R) red and Lucantin (R) yellow are allowed on the market to affect the coloration of egg yolk.  The color is not an indication of nutritional value although some people swear that the brighter the yolk, the better the egg.

Although they may be eaten raw or cooked, research show people run a greater risk of contracting diseases from eating raw eggs than from eating cooked ones. Dustin Bogle (2015) in his article entitled “What Happens When Protein is Cooked?” states that “Some foods, such as eggs, that are consumed raw or undercooked carry the risk of getting food-borne illnesses.”

He also stresses that the body receives more of the protein in a cooked egg than in an uncooked one:

A study published in the “Journal of Nutrition” found that consuming cooked eggs as opposed to raw eggs provided the highest rate of protein absorption and is the safest method of consumption. The study concluded that the body absorbs protein from a cooked egg at a rate of 91 percent, while raw egg protein is absorbed at a rate of 50 percent over a 24-hour period.

The culinary benefits of eggs, however, outweigh the risks of getting foodborne diseases from them, if they are safely handled and prepared.

References

Hellmenstine, Anne Marie. 2017 “How to Change Egg Yolk Color: Is it possible to change the color of an egg yolk?” http://www.thoughtco.com (accessed June 28, 2017)

Bogle, Dustin. 2015 “What Happens When Egg Protein Is Cooked?” http://www.livestrong.com (accessed June 28, 2017)

 

Easy Sunny-Side-Up Eggs

 

 

A Thought for today

Just as the color of an egg yolk has no bearing on its nutritional value; our appearance, race, social status, and other outward indicators do not demonstrate our right relationship with God. He looks at the heart and not at the outward appearance:

But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7, KJV).