All of the awkwardness of Liz Lemon, with half the charm.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Why Vegetarians Should Not Use Animal Fat OR My Adventures in Tortilla-Making

So, this morning, I’m sitting in my pajamas watching an episode of Alton Brown’s Good Eats and trying to decide whether or not to leave the house today (my depression has been rearing its ugly head this week), when Alton makes the most delightful, flaky, tender looking flour tortillas. And he does it in moments with only flour, salt, water, and oh yes, LARD. What? I own most of those ingredients. Alton’s recipes tend to be wonderful. I have to run by the grocery store today anyway. I SHOULD MAKE THESE TORTILLAS. (I think the last time we really made Mexican food was during the Great Fire of All Hallows Eve 2009, but that’s a separate post.)

Now for context, here’s a side story or two. I’m pretty famous for seeing a recipe I want to make and then doing everything I possibly can to make that recipe, even at the expense of people’s safety, pocket books, and sanity. For example, when I was in high school, I found a recipe for a Mushroom Crepe Cake (coincidentally, also an Alton Brown recipe.) It was complicated and involved making your own crepes in addition to a filling. The whole thing turned out beautifully, but I probably spent at least $50 of my parents money at the grocery store. Mom=not pleased. I really wish I had a picture of that thing, but this was like, the year 2000, when camera phones were only owned by the very wealthy or the very tech-y.

The other story happened a few years ago where I saw a cookie called the Rockin’ Reindeer Ravioli. The outside was sort of a vanilla graham flavor and the inside was a delicious chocolate-y something—I can’t really remember. Anyway, I saw these cookies and I demanded to make them immediately, even though it was literally blizzarding outside. My boyfriend of that time was also the adventurous sort, so about 8pm on a Sunday night during a snowstorm, we ventured out to Walmart. These cookies were so fucking complex, they not only required 2 types of flour, but their own special ravioli press thingie. Needless to say, Walmart did not have a designer ravioli press or a scalloped dough trimmer, because Walmsrt is not designed for pretentious middle class foodies, or at least they weren’t 5 years ago. The BF and I figured we would just work with what we had and it would be fine, obvi. Fast forward four hours later and we are stil struggling to get even ONE of the two kinds of dough right and apparently all those fancy-pantsy cooking tools were indispensible. We gave up before we even assemble one ravioli. Those cookies probably cost us at least $50. My habits are expensive.

But today’s tortillas were not! All I needed was lard! Now, I cook with fat frequently, but almost always in the butter-olive oil range. If I’m really adventurous, I use vegetable oil. (I know, I’m a real rebel, Dottie.) I went to Ralph’s in search of lard, which they only sell around the holidays (WTF? Since when is lard a trendy holiday ingredient? I must not know about it because I am white and only eat stuffing and pumpkin pie.) BTW, the butcher laughed at me and told me only his mom cooks with lard. Maybe that was supposed to be a joke or maybe he was hitting on me, its hard to say.

Never one to give up on a mission, I googled Mexican Market on my iPhone and found a fabulous one less than a mile away. Now, this market was awesome, though filled with meat, but also beautiful Mexican baked goods. I will go there again. They also sold lard, rendered in house, and hidden on a shelf in the back corner. Apparently, Mexican cooks don’t really use lard either. This should have been my first hint. Or maybe like, my sixteenth hint, but I’m pretty dense. They sold the lard by the bucket for $3—buckets themselves covered in the gooey fat paste. Even though I am dirt poor, I figured I could spare $3 because imagine the cornucopia of tortillas it would enable me to make!

Lard smells funny, like burning bacon wrapped hardwood. It is not appetizing, especially for me who does not eat meat. Why it did not occur to me that I could taste it in the tortillas is another one of life’s great mysteries. Holding my breath, I made the dough and then made tortillas. Everything was fine at this point and looking good. Until I put one in my mouth. It tasted like hot flour-coated bacon-wrapped hardwood. I DO NOT WANT TO GO TO THERE.

So, at 4:30pm on a Friday, here is my status:

LOSSES: $3, dinner to serve my BFF, dignity, 3 hours I could have been studying Latin,

GAINS: A bucket of lard, a messy kitchen, a faint distrust of Alton Brown, a house that smells faintly of burning bacon.

What the hell do I do with a bucket of lard? And don’t tell me any kinky games because I already thought of that and rejected them wholeheartedly.

1 comment:

  1. I think I threw up a little in my mouth just looking at that picture. Sooooo disgusting.