We're getting our winter Communal Table salon together... pickles and roots- hearty sharp flavors using what's seasonally available. We have our activity planned (making sauerkraut) and our invited experts... Nancy Ralph, director of the NY Food Museum and ring-leader of the yearly Pickle Day festival, and Annie Hauck-Lawson, co-author of Gastropolis: Food and New York City and master Kapusta maker.
Deena and I are in the fun emailing back and forth stage.. trying to narrow down the menu- there're so many roots to cook so many possible ways. Deena has her Asian vocabulary- and we share Eastern European roots- and there're all those wonderful South American and African tuber dishes... yams, yucca, ginger, turmeric, jicama, daikon... Then there's dessert... we're thinking conserves, preserves, crystalized and oven dried... start thinking winter preservation and it opens a huge can-o-worms... maybe we'll just bake gingerbread.
I've been practicing pickles at home with my son who's home for the holidays from college- cabbage and toasted sesame seed sauerkraut sitting in a jar weighted with a cup of odd metal relics collected over many years. The first taste was too salty so we rinsed it and are letting it ferment some more. Then there's a beautiful sharp pink turnip kraut, gorgeous vinegar-pickled red onions, bubbling lacto-fermented cucumbers... and sourdough starter brewing in a bowl. The kitchen's pungent, lively and alive!
Roots and pickles are a perfect metaphor for family, history, and memories, and offers perfect inspiration for the poetry part of our salon... guests bring poems (home-made or store-bought) to read as we linger 'round the table. This is one of my favorite parts of the salon evenings (or is it that with the meal served and eaten I finally relax?)
We've also started planning our Vernal Equinox Fish Tales Salon. Our fish-monger friend has offered his loft and his expertise... we'll make some kind of loxy treat, feast on who ever is running at that time and share fish tales... the bigger the better!