Aug 18, 2011
Rare Adjectives, Sliced and Pickled
"The fusilli is a picaresque delight, a bumptious fugue of octopus and bone marrow." --Andy Borowitz, in his "first and last restaurant review."
From whom we also have:
"The Long Island duck breast is a bumptious delight, a picaresque fugue of mulberries and mustard."
This restaurant review--and Andy, I can guarantee that it's not the last, my friend--caused me to think about how I, too, could use the words "picaresque" and "bumptious" to describe food. Not "fugue" because the word deeply depresses me--the sound, the spelling, everything. The way it slides and thuds, like a dead body falling down an elevator shaft.
What about "picaresque"? "Of or relating to a rogue or rascals." Mulberries and mustard does sound like a roguish combo, like something 10-year-old girls would make each other eat at a slumber party.
Let's look at "bumptious:" "Offensively self-assertive or conceited." Octopus and bone marrow? The combination sounds like an accident at sea, but is it bumptious? Or, after being cooked for a while, would it be "unctuous"?
By the way, I did find the phrase "bumptious homoerotic picaresque" in my Google search. Not sure where to go with that.
Anyhow, five pattypan squash in a row, on the kitchen counter, is picaresque AND bumptious. Picaresque because in my house squash is a mischievous vegetable that hardly anyone likes. I have to quash its bumptious personality.
Here is what I did, and it worked:
Pattypan Squash Pickle
Slice five or six pattypan squash thin with a mandoline. If you don't have one, get one! Dice a jalapeno and add. Sprinkle a tablespoon of salt over all, and give it a good squeeze every few minutes until not much water comes out, maybe 20 minutes later. Rinse and squeeze one final time. Add one teaspoon of rice wine vinegar and a drop or two of dark sesame oil.
Five little squashes, sliced, salted and civilized.