Not many people get that there’s a difference between simple and dumb, especially when you’re talking about all things great and edible.
Here’s the cliff notes version: simple is good; dumb isn’t.
Simplicity just means you don’t need a PhD in flavorology to understand what’s going on with what you’re eating. As much as I get a kick out of finding out that the taste in that pork belly was actually candied roasted fennel whispers or whatever the fuck, I also like eating something that I don’t have to think about. A dish where the flavors just come right out without any bullshit and say “Hey. Here’s what onion tastes like. It tastes like a fucking onion. Now eat it.”
Dumb is the TGI Friday’s shotgun approach: blast as many flavors and things at your food as possible, and hope one of them gets it right. This usually results in the same thing you get when you take a whole bunch of paint colors and mix them all together: something that looks and tastes like shit. It’s the impatient five-year old throwing together all the play-doh in one container, except now you have to eat it. And the taste probably won’t be that far off from play-doh.
Or in the case of Friday’s; Jack Daniels-flavored play-doh.
Point is, there’s nothing wrong with dropping your toque (that’s the fancy chef hat for you plebs and plebettes) at the door and simplifying things. That’s why I’m doing salsa this week, because there’s nothing simpler than chopping up a bunch of fruits and vegetables and throwing them at a bowl.
And it definitely ain’t dumb, either.
Here’s what you need:
- 2 of your favorite kind of tomatoes
- 2 ears of corn
- 3/4 of a red onion
- 1 jalapeno
- 2 tablespoons cilantro
- 1 avocado
- 1 cup watermelon (I don’t know how much that translates to in actual watermelon-terms, but a quarter of a good-sized watermelon should give you enough)
- 1 lime
- 1 loaf white bread
- 8 cloves of garlic
- ½ a stick of butter
Here’s what you do:
First, preheat your oven to 400.
Dice the watermelon and sprinkle it with plenty of sea salt. Put it in a container and refrigerate while you chop up the rest of the stuff.
Shuck (yes, that’s still a word people use) the corn, cut off the kernels, and put them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Toss the kernels in olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and put them in the oven for 20 minutes. Toss ‘em around a bit, then cook them for 20 more minutes before taking them out.
While the corn’s in the oven, dice up your tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, and cilantro. Toss them around in a small bowl and let the flavors introduce themselves to each other until the corn’s ready.
Let the corn cool for 5 minutes, then mix it in with the stuff you just chopped. Dice the avocado last (unless you want gross, brown avocado in your salsa. Oxidation is a thing, folks) and add it in along with the watermelon. Season with salt and pepper, squeeze your lime on top, and give the whole thing a good stir.
Bump up your oven to 450.
For the Texas toast, cut your bread thick. Really thick. For those of you who don’t live in the south, Texas toast is basically a wedge of bread the size of a phone book slathered in garlic and butter, so you want your slices to be about an inch thick.
Melt the butter, and spread it on both sides of the bread with a pastry brush.
Put the bread on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Once the tops of the bread are crispy and brown, flip them over and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Once those come out, take the garlic cloves and scrape them over both sides of the bread.
Top the slices with salsa, and eat.
Check out this week’s beats from Japanese favorites and electric flute (yes, that’s apparently a thing) masters T-Square. It’s Amaranth:
Food-minded people seem like they’re straying away from simple these days, and it makes me kind of sad. Even the stuff that’s supposed to be simple, like pimento cheese and BLTs, are getting fancied up to the point of oblivion. There’s a thick and muddy line between putting a twist on an old favorite and turning it into a joke, and every picture I see of a two-story-tall Bloody Mary with 18 hot dogs and cheeseburgers impaled on it like the victims of a fat Elizabeth Bathory sure as hell reminds me of that line.
Don’t hesitate to innovate, people. Just take a moment to think about it first.
I’ll see you next time.