November 2003

Food Column

You may possibly see soon the first of the Satsuma mandarins in your markets. They are good enough until right at the end of their season, which is a long one. They are superb at the beginning of their season. Hint: select the ones that feel fullest and heaviest for their size. On Saturday as I was leaving the Hamada’s stall, Gordon had the kindness to point out to me that I had missed the display of them.

And Bernard’s had the very first of their old sour white Marsh grapefruit. One of world’s great citrus fruits and now, in this country, in dwindling availability since every year fewer of the old trees remain and there are not enough of us connoisseurs to encourage farmers to replant this variety. One of the things wrong with the younger generation is that their taste buds have been dulled by all that junk food and they are incapable of tasting anything subtle. Not, of course, that most folks would describe the taste of a Marsh grapefruit as subtle, now that I think of it. What I really meant was “not sweet.”

And Lucero is still peddling glorious strawberries. He is also teasing the season out with his heirloom tomatoes, but few are left and you need to hit him early to get the good ones. What I can’t believe is that it took me so long to figure out that his strawberries were just simply better than everyone else’s, and you don’t have to hit him early to get the good strawberries. He also still has good raspberries. I’ve got some in there macerating in crystalline fructose while I write this. Well, strawberries this good deserve better treatment than being overwhelmed with table sugar….or even berry sugar since we now know about crystalline fructose. Oh, yes you do. Surely I’ve mentioned this before and besides, I cannot imagine Whole Foods not having it. It’ll be right beside the dark agave nectar (not that tasteless light swill), just two aisles over from the aged piave and the hoch ybrig.

When the strawberries have sweated enough to completely dissolve the fructose (and yes, I do give them a little stir now and then), I plop a tablespoon or two of clotted cream on them to remove any healthiness factor remaining after the addition of all that fructose. Yes, my first jar of clotted cream. I’d been reading about it for years, and Chris grew fond of it as a Schmand substitute when he lived in England. I found it, priced by the molecule, at this new little gourmet store called “Yum” on Market at Valencia.

I fear the poor thing is not going to survive because their selection is simply too refined and too high end. For example, they have the original recipe Dr Pepper there. Still bottled in a special plant in Plano, Texas. Still using cane sugar instead of that high-fructose corn syrup. Still in 8 oz. glass bottles. Still available in returnable glass bottles at the plant but alas not over the internet. When you’ve found the right drummer, you keep marching to him. He’s drumming away at Dublin Dr Pepper.

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