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Entries in insane (3)


Post-Apocalyptic Cooking: Some Tips to Get You Started

As we all know, the End is Near.

Image via Komo News,

Not the zombie apocalypse -- the CDC has reminded us that zombies aren't real. Yet.

I'm talking about the REAL End Days -- the moments leading up to the Eschaton, the final judgment for all people. Why is the world ending? You might ask. I'll tell you: I don't know.

But the Internet has made it quite clear that it probably definitely will. According to the interwebs, common symptoms of the apocalypse may include:

-Collapse of social institutions, such as kickball teams and celebrity chef cooking shows

-Nuclear winter

-The destruction/hacking/solar flare burn-up of the power grid

-Universal health care

-Extreme food shortages

With this in mind, it makes perfect sense that my friend Joanne, who blogs far more delicious food and far more frequently than I over at, would have received a letter from a reader suggesting he was appalled my friend doesn't own a solar oven or a 30-year supply of food.

I am inspired, then, to add to the useful apocalypse related news and tools on the Internet by providing my beloved readers with this post (full list after the jump):

Post-Apocalyptic Cooking: Some Tips to Get You Started

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RESPONSE: Comparing Apples and Oranges

As I often do on my several-mile walk to work, I took the opportunity yesterday to listen to my favorite food-oriented (and indeed, favorite) podcast, The Sporkful. The episode I enjoyed that morning pertained to apples and oranges and to a general comparison thereof (even against the strong headwinds of prevailing wisdom).

Photo: Flickr CC/limonada

Now, The Sporkful, I feel, exists in the same food-space as this blog. As Mark and Dan, the gentleman podcasters behind the show articulate, The Sporkful is "not for foodies, it's for eaters."

I feel the same way about Hungry Sam, which is why my posts range from a determination of the categorical imperatives of salad to the recipe for my vanilla chai-infused french toast. Ecclectic? Yes. Insane? Maybe. Interesting? You tell me.

Back to the point. In "Comparing Apples and Oranges" Dan and Win (guest) took the position that oranges are superior to apples for several reasons: the superfluity of apple varieties is absurd; apples' cores are an obnoxious bit of trash; and apples become bruised or blemished while oranges have a pristine wrapper in the form of the peel that keeps the fruit pure and unsullied. I'd like to respond somewhat and involve myself uninvited in this discussion, and then I want to hear what you guys think:

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The Categorical Imperatives of Salad

I generally feel a little lame ordering a salad at restaurants -- after all, one of the reasons to eat out is to benefit from the wisdom and verve of a real chef. Salads are often the menu items which involve the least skill or forethought, and so I compensate by ordering Cobb salads, stacked with bacon, chicken, egg, etc. Somehow, it helps.

Photo: Flickr CC/Nemo's great uncle
But tonight, as I chowed down a Cobb at Trio on 17th and Q NW (Washington, DC), this flexibility as to what constitutes a salad ate at me even as I ate at it (HUMOR!). So what IS a salad? What makes a salad a salad and not something else? What are the necessary conditions of salad-ness?
After much thought and some debate with Liz, I contend that four key factors lie at the firmament of any salad:
  1. A salad is a stand-alone food – it does not inherently require a complementary food outside itself;
  2. A salad is composed of a semi-random mixture or “tossing” of multiple distinct ingredients, each of which exists as a legitimate food unto itself;
  3. The ingredients of a salad are themselves fully cooked or prepared prior to inclusion into the salad;
  4. A salad must have a dressing, sauce, or relish which complements and connects disparate ingredients.
NOTE: The above are all, of course, reliant upon the general intent of the salad creator and each can be perverted for the creation of pseudo-salads, such as fruit salad which (with few exceptions) has no unifying dressing.

These attributes, I feel, constitute a sort of set of Kantian categorical imperatives; properties necessary to the nature of the proposition (in this case, a salad). They exclude some related foods, such as mixed nuts, dips and stews while effectively including salads ranging from traditional vegetable salads (leafy-greens-based or otherwise) to chicken, potato, pasta, tuna, and even Waldorf salads.

The key, however, as mentioned above, is intent. What makes a salad a dish and not just a pile of random foods is that a Creator-figure (e.g. chef) intentionally chose the elements and combined them in a pleasing way. Whether working from a recipe or improvising on a theme, human creative energy is a necessary condition for a true salad.

I know that this and other descriptors are controversial, and some people seek to modify salads in such a way that they cease to be salads. One common example of this is the situation in which people take a perfectly well-designed, intentional salad and ask that it be served without dressing. These are no longer salads; they are crimes against salads – aberrations of the lowest sort. This denies the plan of the Salad Creators and the salad's intended deliciousness.

As a final note, I'll add that the dressing factor (Key Factor Four) was a tough call. Traditional fruit salad is considered by many a salad and excluding it was no easy decision. But I feel strongly that fruit salad, while delicious, is far more reliant upon the inherent tastiness of the fruit than upon the techniques, talents, and recipes of the chef.
Oh, and the Cobb at Trio was pretty good.