I’ve been away for a while. I didn’t go far though. I was just over here on my couch, binge watching ‘Chef’s Table’ on Netflix, and contemplating the meaning of life, the meaning of food, the meaning of guacamole.
I’ve been doing more cooking recently, and less writing. I blame it on the Thugs and my new Shun knife. If you’d won this knife, you’d be playing in the kitchen too. I feel like a joyful kindergartener waving a new toy around in the playground.
Thug Kitchen are some honest, down-to-earth peeps, who wanna help people eat healthy for cheap money. Real food, real people, real taste buds. You know what I’m sayin’?
The chefs on programmes like ‘Chef’s Table’ are the opposite. With their huge expensive kitchens, and hand-plucked edible flowers from the Amazonian jungle which have been boiled in fresh spring water from a hidden spring in the Andean Mountains infused with tree sap and topped with insect legs…It doesn’t get further from Thug Kitchen than that.
Are their wonderful, vibrant, tiny creations amazing? Yes.
Filling? Probably not.
There’s a time and a place for everything (even beetroots and enemas*), and I love both worlds for entirely different reasons.
I love free food. I love stuff that’s reduced at the store with a big, fat yellow sticker. That shit makes my day. Call me a cheap skate, or call me a survivor, I can make a meal out of very few ingredients, including stuff that I find randomly growing outside. I like feeding my Family, and the cheaper or more deliciously I can do that the better.
So I love when in ‘Chef’s Table’ they forage the shit out of some weird berry, or bark, or other edible weirdness. I am that girl who randomly picks berries till her fingers are purple. Because it’s free. Because it’s local nature. Because it’s healthy (unless you’re experimenting with toadstools and random shrooms you find lurking around. It’s not so healthy if they kill you.)
It occurred to me that down-to-earth Thug Kitchen and the hoity-toity, ego-centric chefs have something in common. They use what they have to hand, and they cook what they know. You don’t see TK making some Nouveau Nordic Cuisine with some weird imported ingredients from Sweden. They use stuff you can get at American markets or stores where they live. Which is also why some of their easy-to-find ingredients are harder to find over here, like jicamas, or grits. Whereas if you need a pickled herring or smoked eel, I know a guy. In fact I know dozens. That’s what’s local to us up here in the Northern Hemisphere. That, and rye bread. Everywhere you turn there’s rye bread.
So this recipe is a celebration of one of the things we have in common: Potatoes.
Danes eat potatoes with almost every meal. We are potato and Lego experts. The same way that a wine connoisseur can sip wine and taste which grape was used from which region in France, we can lick a potato whilst blindfolded and tell you which of our neighbour’s fields that potato was stolen from, and what fertilizer they used in that field. They train us in that shit at school. It’s second nature to us. (Just like learning to walk on Lego pieces bare foot in the dark)
This recipe for Arugula Potato Salad with Fennel is fucking delicious. The fennel and olives take it in an entirely new potato salad direction. Regular potato salad is left alone and lost by the wayside, while this potato salad jazz-hands and hitchhikes its way to the promised land where flavour and freedom await.
Those of you who’ve got the Fast as Fuck cookbook and have cooked this before know EXACTLY what I’m talking about. And it doesn’t take long to throw together either. A blindfolded potato licker could do it in a matter of minutes.
Okay, it took me a little longer because I had to de-stone the olives, but whatevs. I got to eat half a jar of olives while I was hanging in the kitchen. Chef’s prerogative.
The flavours were fresh. The crunch from the fennel played well with the softness of the boiled potatoes; the texture and flavour seesaw was nicely balanced, without one side over-powering the other.
This is a side dish that would go well with most things. It would work at a BBQ, a picnic, as a side to a dinner, or even a snack straight outta the fridge. And I speak from personal experience on that last one, where an hour after dinner I took a fork to the fridge for a second helping.
Fuck it, I’d eat this as a main straight outta the bowl with a ladle, if I didn’t have a kid that was watching.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve gotta go dance around the kitchen recklessly waving a big knife in the air while my kid looks on with curious eyes. #excellentrolemodelling #knifeskills #waveyourhandsintheairwavethemlikeyoujustdon’tcare
* Not at the same time obviously.