Ever since I wrote about Meatless Mondays for the Environmental Defense Fund, I've been much more aware of how much animal protein I eat. Cutting back radically has meant I'm now cooking much more quinoa, which I happen to enjoy, but, like tofu, it has a subtle, some might say bland, taste. So I've been chopping and stirring things into it. Well, as I've mentioned constantly, there is nothing like a big city for finding gorgeous, fresh, organic produce; at the farmer's market on Broadway and 112th Street recently I spotted a stand of mushrooms. They are grown, organically, and in protected houses, by Dan at Madura Farms. Just looking at the mushrooms made me smile and think of cool, damp woods on a hot summer day. Even if you aren't cooking, a stroll through a farmer's market is a great way to fall in slow love.
The most gorgeous display of mushrooms I have ever seen was at the enormous farmer's market in Nice, France. There, a woman had set up a large table, and arranged a hilly tableau, complete with moss, small logs, little branches of pine and fir, and rocks. Dotted throughout were clutches of mushrooms (but not "clutches" probably, what would they be called?) Anyway, I was enchanted, and like a small child, reached my hand out to touch it, thinking I would buy a few mushrooms. I was zapped out of my reverie by a sharp sting of a slap on the back of my hand. "Mais non, Madame, ne touchez pas." Well. No surprise there, really.
The Broadway mushrooms' colors are beautiful, too; I'd love to paint walls with that golden glow, but maybe I'd need a confection of Venetian plaster to capture the sense of dappled sunlight on the pale surfaces. I bought a small bag of yellow oysters, maitakes, and pioppinis. One of the things I love about the Internet is the endless supply of help in the kitchen. And of course, I quickly found ideas for what to do with mushrooms, including this one from the charming artichoke heart, for a pizza, which looks tempting (but I would need company or I'd eat it all myself.) I'm going to order Deborah Madison's vegetarian cookbook; my cooking friends tell me it is one of the best. I am also loving Lucinda Quinn's Feeding Men and Boys; I feel entitled to cook that way for myself, as everyone knows I have the appetite of a horse.
I'm finding that squashes, onions, and apples roast up nicely together, and when served, make a tidy nest for dollops of quinoa. I've cut my meat consumption way back, to the point that I'm thinking I may develop a new flexetarian rule: I only eat things smaller than myself--the idea being that if I were in the wild, I could have trapped or killed a bird, but not a bore. Er, boar. Sorry. I don't seem to be able to kill bores even at cocktail parties, much less in the woods.