Two Mom Food urges fought with each other this week.
Mom Food Urge #1: Don’t spend too much money! Buy food on sale! Get the best deal!
Mom Food Urge #2: Try new things! Strange and untried foods are exciting! Fish candy? Pickled hairy plums? Jackfruit jelly? Sign me up!
This week, I had an email conversation with Anna Mindess about how to approach shopping in markets that sell foods from cultures other than one’s own.
My answer: Buy small, and be brave.
But it’s easy for me to say that, because mom and I are both frugal (okay, cheap) and adventurous, so we often have shopping trips in which we make it home with some inexpensive grocery item that neither of us has any earthly idea what to do with.
One time, we thought we’d be game and buy fish candy. Pro tip: don’t buy fish candy.
We (mom and James and I) have discovered some of our favorite foods by being brave this way: seasoned nori strips; shrimp chips; ceviche; kim chee; unagi; passionfruit; oxtails.
(Full disclosure: another time, our nerve failed, and we never opened the jar of hairy pickled plums. Scary, seriously.)
So I was talking to Anna about how excellent it is to eat new foods, and the next day, I was at the Berkeley Bowl and saw that they had both fresh porcini and puffball mushrooms, neither of which I’ve tried, so I decided to be brave.
Puffballs: $11.95 a pound. Porcini: $20 or so a pound. Oy.
So I figured out a way to do both things: buy new foods, and not spend too much money.
I bought one of each.
About $3 for one puffball mushroom. About $5 for a porcini. Here’s what they looked like whole:
And here they are after slicing:
I decided that the best way to sample the true flavor of these was to cook them very simply: After taking a tiny bite of each raw, I sauteed them separately in a little butter, with a tiny bit of salt.
The puffball was much drier than the porcini, and soaked up most of the butter, so it got almost grilled:
This interesting little fungus gave James a little too much of a moldy vibe, so he gave me most of his, which I call a win. I adored it, especially the nutty flavor and the firm texture.
But my real new love is fresh porcini. Here it is after being sauteed. Because it’s so moist, it was almost stewed:
I could have made a whole dinner out of the mushrooms. However, here’s the dinner we actually ate. Roasted veggies, cheddar sausages, crash hot potatoes made with purple potatoes, and the mushrooms. VERY very good.
In the future, I will use this New Mom Foods feature to try new things that I’ve been wanting to taste, or to take your challenges for new foods to try. Ideas?