Monthly Archives: November 2009

St. Louis Sophisticate: Coon Cookery

Foraging trip, post-Thanksgiving. Some people go to Best Buy; my family went to the Soulard Farmers’ Market. I’d never seen the spice shop, where I could find nothing to buy because Mom had already sent me a box of fifty-plus spices, from gumbo file to fish-blackening spice. And the meat market. From which, for some reason, she had never sent anything at all. Perhaps she regards the USPS’s delivery times with some skepticism.

In truth, I hadn’t thought to ask, but—”YES,” the sign assured me, “WE HAVE ‘COON.”

Also yes on alligator sticks. Why didn't I get the alligator sticks? I'm still kicking myself.

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Thanksgiving: Mushroom stuffing, naturally

Happy T-Day, everyone. I’m thankful for a lot of things. Number one is health, at least enough of it to go pick some oyster mushrooms yesterday in my parents’ part of the Midwest. A corollary is that I’m thankful this year not to have eaten, despite the dangerous combination of adventurous spirit + paltry knowledge, the wrong mushroom. Yet. A secondary corollary is that I’m thankful the maggots aren’t up to eating the oysters in this kind of weather.

Number two, family. They made the leap of faith last night to eat those mushrooms, even if it scared them. Nobody even mentioned it last night. Or did you know Mom put them in? Well, now you do. And see? You’re fine, right?

Number three, I am thankful for the power of digestion to erase, more or less, all that turkey. Oh god yes.

Road trip: Poodle cookie, San Francisco

Late October. My primary goal was sell the motorcycle (and presumably use the money to buy a new one in Madison— or for groceries); the alternative, drive it across the country. But two obstacles reared. One, you can’t sell a motorcycle in San Francisco in October. Two, I didn’t really want to sell it. Bee-Sting Betty came down the Alaska-Canada Highway with me, and had never failed me. Even after more than a year of storage, she started right up. So while I was traveling ostensibly to sell, I brought along a license plate. Just in case.

Unfortunately for either plan, it turned out the gracious friend who’d stored my motorcycle the last long months had accidentally taken the key to Australia.

SFMOMA: A realistic depiction of my innards.

So while I waited for a copy to arrive via exotic international post, my dear old friends entertained me. Mulling over the Richard Avedon exhibit at SFMOMA’s rooftop cafe, I ate what proved the most whimsical food of the trip: the poodle, a chocolate ice-cream sandwich. I think of it as the polar opposite of everything I ate in Oklahoma.

By far the most pleasing poodle I've met.

Those of you who know how much butter I eat will know what it means for me to say that I am still marveling at how much of it the bakers got into this little cookie. The poodle’s accompaniment a cold-brewed iced coffee from Blue Bottle, of course—San Francisco’s cult-inspiring coffee roaster appears to have expanded quite a bit the years I’ve been gone. No better way to pretend it’s still summer.

The Forager Traipses 2,863 Miles, Returns Home without Major Incident, Collapses in a Heap, and Remembers the Date Shakes Fondly

It was three weeks total, not two. It was brutally hot and then brutally cold. There were date shakes in Dateland, pie slices in Pie Town, and a six-pound steak in Texas served on a cow-print tablecloth—that one, thankfully, to someone else. There were dismal cups of coffee, and not a lot of vegetables. Dear Roadside America: Where are the vegetables?

San Francisco to Madison, via Yuma, Ariz. (see the map): I made it. So did my Honda Shadow, Bee-Sting Betty. Both happy and quite a bit the worse for wear. Now I rest, but soon it will be time for Show and Tell. Yes, I know it’s mission creep to step this blog outside Madison a couple of thousand miles—but just wait until you see the menu from the Big Texan Steakranch. And the darling little Texas toothpick-flag they put in the jalapeno peppers down there. Oh boy.

Road-trip reading: Pig wit

My dear friend Heather, who works with Meatpaper magazine, alerts me to Ian Frazier’s 1974 article on wild pigs.

A maker of fences in the nineteenth century advertised a new kind of fence as being “bull-strong, horse-high, and pig-tight.” In fact, as regards pigs, few fences ever are.

Previously, everything I knew about wild pigs and their ability to outwit men and their fences I had learned from Fup, by Jim Dodge, a classic about pigs, fences, ducks, rotgut and transcendence.

On hiatus, at restaurants.

Madison Forager is on vacation for the next two weeks while I ride my motorcycle back to Wisconsin.

For the moment I have seen no mushrooms sprouting from the concrete and must forage in Bay Area restaurants. I think I’ve satisfied my burrito desires, to the extent that is ever possible. The achiote tofu at Papalote is the only tofu I have ever craved. I have also stood in the line for a Tartine croissant. There will be tacos and pupusas, banh mi and rice ball salad. (Presumably I’m doing something to deserve all these calories. Oh, groans my legs and back, I am.) All with my dear friends. Of whom, like the rice ball salad, I really never get my fill.

Later there will be a long ride and lots of wind, with I can only hope some sopapillas along the way, and daily beers for health. Then I will reunite with W., and see if any mushrooms have survived November in Madison, and start thinking about plans for ice-fishing. Today it seems like a long way.