Tuesday, May 27, 2008

a holiday grill story

it sure is nice to have a holiday weekend. it is especially nice when that holiday weekend includes fabulous weather, an iron chef marathon, and a chance to cook on the grill.

on saturday night the husband and i got a little wrapped up in watching old episodes of iron chef. i was totally enthralled by the first shows they taped for iron chef america in 2004. as we kept watching i was entranced by the fact that there could be 3 episodes where the iron chefs had to use peculiar seafood like sea urchins and langoustines. part of this fascination was stemming from the awesomeness that is iron chef and the other part was stemming from the fact that i just thought everything that looked like a big shrimp was called a prawn.

also, i guess i didn't realize that people ate sea urchin. the husband and i were trying to figure out how many people had actually tasted the weird orangey paste from within the spiny rock-like creature. i kept wondering what it tasted like. was it salty or sweet? is it strong or mild? chewy or pasty? was it one of those weird things that tastes like poo but considered an expensive delicacy? is it the most delicious orangey weirdness ever to be spread over white rice, thus making my vegetarian ways obviously ridiculous and certain to condemn me to forever mocking of all who i encounter who eat sea urchins....all those people who would stare down their pointy noses at me and from over the tops of their thick black framed glasses say something like "oh my, you've never had sea urchin...well...you are certainly missing out on the very best the whole ocean has to offer..." with an air of disdain and contempt for all vegetarians who actually recognize that seafood is part of the "meat" family.

of course neither the husband nor i had ever tried it, and being the vegetarian/vegan family that we are probably never will. so as i struggled to get my mind out of the scenario that was running in my head as described above, we came to the quick and highly "scientific" conclusion that certainly very few people, especially on the east coast, had tried it. neither of us ventured a guess of whether it was good or not.

this brings us to the next day when we were enjoying the nice weather with our friends C&M and C says something to effect of "i tried it once at a sushi restaurant. it was terrible". he then went on to say that it was expensive and so awful that he tried to give the second piece of his order to the waitress to try. he had no love for the sea urchin. i didn't get to ask him about the actual flavor of it. my guess is that his response would have been something close to "it tasted like butt". and my scenario of being chastised for never having eaten a sea urchin morphed into the scenario where i picture C trying to unload his half-eaten plate of sushi on to the waitress while distracting her manager by lighting his neighbor's table on fire.

we opted for a simpler dinner on sunday evening.. grilled vegetables and burgers (boca for me). i was happy to have the simplicity of just plain old grilling to start the first weekend of summer. no crazy japanese style wooden grill stacked high with cedar branches for flavor. just vegetables, some evoo,and a few simple spices. hopefully it was ok that i took over the grill and used every pair of tongs available to me.

i should also add here that there is another iron chef related scenario that runs pretty frequently in our house. it starts like this...."the secret ingredient is..........veganism! alle cuisine!"

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