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March, 2010 | Manolo's Food Blog
Archive - March, 2010

Color Theory


When considering a balanced meal, Mrs. Henry thinks of complementary colors.

Composing a menu she employs a palate fully as pleasing to the eye as to the tongue. This is not a casual belief.  She maintains firmly as an article of nutritional science that color and taste are linked. Good color matches make for good flavor matches and even for good digestion.

During the last snowstorm, when forced to prepare dinner from whatever happened to be in the fridge, Mr. Henry served his family chicken, mashed potatoes, and cauliflower, an all-white menu for which he still suffers recriminations.

When the Duchess and her family came to dinner last week, the meal became a feast not only because peers of the realm were seated at high table, but also because duck breast, potatoes au gratin, and green beans were enlivened by the vivid scarlet of red cabbage. (The astringent sweetness of the cabbage prepared with red wine vinegar and a touch of sugar cleansed the mouth, as well.)

For taste and for color Mr. Henry likes the marriage of duck and orange, but he didn’t think a classic duck à l’orange would pair well with red cabbage. Instead, for dessert he elected to serve sliced navel oranges (Moroccan style – topped with a touch of ground cinnamon) along with two ice creams from Grom – dark chocolate and stracciatella with candied orange, grapefruit, and pistachios.

Push cart peddlers

Push cart peddlers clog New York streets! Mayor LaGuardia up in arms!

 

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In 1936 the mayor rose up in anger against immigrants clogging the streets hawking wares from push carts. Your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore? Phooey. LaGuardia thought them positively unsanitary.

 

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Today, in spite of all the specialty food online, push cart peddling has returned. With only an occasional foray to Citarella or Zabar’s, Leyla manages to shop principally from farmers markets. Wednesdays and Sundays are Union Square. Saturday is Columbus Avenue beside the Museum of Natural History. Shlepping milk 80 blocks takes a lot of time and trouble, but her table is set with the freshest, tastiest foods.

 

It’s all local – Ronnybrook Dairy milk and yogurt, artisanal sheep and goat cheeses, dark wintered-over greens, bosc pears, and apples of every description. Recently Mr. Henry has fallen in love with Quaker Hill Farm honey and eggs (goose eggs, no less).

 

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When La Guardia insisted that push cart peddlers take up residence in covered market stalls, the grocery business began to consolidate into mom and pop stores run chiefly by Italians. These in turn consolidated into a few large chains. Then in the 1980’s came the Korean-owned fruit and vegetable markets featuring salad bars, the go-to solution for harried office workers.

 

Now Fresh Direct trucks clog city cross streets, hardly an improvement over the push cart of yore. The very best fruits, vegetables and dairy can be found once again on sidewalk peddler carts. Weathered panel trucks with New Jersey and Pennsylvania plates sidle up and disgorge large ice chests of the most remarkable goodies imaginable. Sic transit gloria mundi.