Tuesday, January 17, 2017

eat it and weep, baby

Now, that's a good sandwich! Behold: homemade curry/satay chicken* with homemade Thai-ish peanut sauce on country-style baguette (from the new bakery in our building), with iceberg lettuce and store-bought mat-kimchi. I had worried that the kimchi might clash with the peanut sauce, but I needn't have. Despite its strong taste and smell, kimchi goes surprisingly well with a huge number of foods from very different flavor profiles.

Quite delicious, this was, although I don't think the baguette lived up to my expectations. It looked like a country baguette, but when I leaned close and smelled it, I got a distinct whiff of sourdough. I've smelled the sourdough odor coming off certain el-cheapo, store-bought baguettes in the States, and I just don't understand what these people are thinking. As offended as some politically correct nincompoop might be about my above sandwich and its various cultural appropriations (as you know, I don't think "appropriation" is a bad word), I'm more offended by these horrific knockoffs of what should be an awesome bread.

There is, however, a bit of irony** in not liking sourdough baguettes: sourdough bread-making apparently dates back to ancient times, but in more recent history, modern American sourdough was brought to California by French bakers. So sourdough has a pedigree that runs through France, but in my view of bread's evolutionary tree, there must have been a separation, somewhere back, between sourdough breads and baguettes. No proper baguette is made with sourdough, even if the internet is rife with recipes for such. Non, non, et non.

That said, today's bread was good enough to make for a fine sandwich. As with Paris Baguette's sad and shitty baguettes, it helps not to think of this bread as a baguette but, rather, as a new thing to be evaluated on its own terms. And by that criterion, this was a good-enough bread that contributed to a very tasy lunch.

*I pulled the curry chicken toward a satay by incorporating yogurt. Ideally, when making a satay (the yogurty kind, not the teriyakiesque kind), you marinate your raw chicken in a curry-yogurt-garlic marinade. A marinade should have an oil, an acid, and an aromatic: the garlic is the aromatic component, in this case, and the yogurt—being a fermented milk product—provides both the oil (well, the fats, anyway) and the acidity. The first time I realized that yogurt marinades were possible was a mind-blowing experience.

**I suspect I'd better spell the irony out before someone calls me on this. Basically: I love baguettes, which are French, but I don't like sourdough baguettes despite sourdough's French pedigree. Okay, maybe it's not that ironic, and now you're thinking I've misused the concept of irony the same way Alanis Morissette was accused of doing in her song "Ironic." But I see the irony even if you don't, dammit.

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