Saturday, February 4, 2017

Crummy Food

Crumbs get a bum rap.
When something is lousy it's referred to as 'crummy.'
Instead of cussing, old folks will sometimes say, "Oh, Crumb!"
Meager portions of food, minuscule allotments of affection and miserly generosity all use 'crumb' as a synonym.
Enough already!
There IS a positive connotation to this word and it needs to be shouted from the mountain tops, in every village and hamlet, in every kitchen and cafeteria.  For where would we be without crumbs?

Goodbye Crabcakes...
So long Oven Fried Chicken...
Later dates Mac and Cheese...
Arrivederci Chicken Parmesan...

It could be the culinary version of a post-Apocalyptic world; those with bread crumbs would dine well and culture would survive.
Those without would revert to meat on sticks and no napkins.
Here's an example of the power of crumbs.  The maintaining culture part is still a work in progress...

"Dude, this salmon is off the flippin' HOOK!  Who MADE this?!"  Liam was just in from a late night run and was doing his usual 'dining in three different spots' kitchen routine: beverage station at the Bullet shake blender, veggies in a mixing bowl by the sink and protein-in-a-pan on the stove top. He'll eat one thing for a few bites, then shift to another station, graze, then complete the circuit a couple of more times until everything has been consumed.
"I mean it's so moist, but still crunchy on the outside.  And what's this stuff on top?  It's perfect!  Green onions and lime juice?"  If something is really delicious for him, he'll kind of breathe/groan/growl as he's eating.

"Yeah, Mom made the Salmon with panko bread crumbs," I followed, "and topped it with green onions sauted in butter and finished with fresh lime juice, just a squeeze.  She didn't bake the salmon, it was sauted which crisped-up the crumb coating.  Pretty sweet, huh?"

"Hell yeah!" he replied, pulling his head from under the kitchen sink faucet and wiping his mouth with his arm, "Mom's got skills."
Liam let out a burp and began cleaning up his counter-top debris field.
"Why'zit so good, Dad?  I mean this is so simple, not a lot of fancy ingredients, but, this salmon has it all."

I went on to tell him of our human taste for fats, most peoples love of texture and that a thin line separates success from failure.  Bread crumbs were one of those tools in the magic cook's box that bring a dish from a solid 'B' to an 'A+.'  These wonderfully plain morsels work as a barrier to protect the texture of say, a fish filet, keeping the juices in and eventually satisfying your palate.  Bread crumbs can take on a seasoning profile, too, when added as a condiment, like a topping on a casserole. The lightly browned layer of crumbs on a Mac and Cheese dish tells me I love it already!  And Oven-Fried Chicken?  Other than the birth of our four children and maybe the Sistine Chapel, nothing is more moving than a cookie sheet clustered with chicken thighs, skin coated with toasty, seasoned bread crumbs right out of the oven.  You want to just take in the beauty, like standing at the rim of the Grand Canyon, but, this art was meant to be eaten with passion and in good company. 

And for those souls that watch their fat intake, but, still love 'fried foods,' bread crumbs have zero oil! Oven-baking requires no oil and these little, mini-sponges absorb all the liquid from the chicken, fish or vegetables that you've coated; a cardigan of flavor!  (Wait, that sounded kinda weird...I don't even get that...sounds like a Jim Gaffigan comment...I should delete that...).  OK, I'm going to conclude...

Now, I suggest either getting Panko Japanese bread crumbs that you can season to your delight or buy a cylinder of Progresso Seasoned bread crumbs.  The Panko is more coarse and completely plain, while the Progresso is very fine and blended with dried herbs and what-not.  Hell, get 'em both and do a side-by-side!  That'd be kinda neat actually...present them to family and get feed back; who likes which and why?
Be sure that the food you are coating is damp enough to have the crumbs stick to them; I like a little egg/milk mixture for good adhesion (1/2 cup milk with 2 eggs, beaten).  Put the crumbs in a mixing bowl and pat the crumbs onto the protein or veggies after dipping them in the milk/egg mixture.

When I hear an older person say something is crummy and frown, I can't help but close my eyes and smile; the aroma of crispy chicken thighs filling my memory, resting on a pan with two boys, one old and one young, pointing to which they'll eat first and why!

Make some Crummy Food today and create a memory for the week!

Take care, God bless and remember:

"Food, Faith, Family and Friends; 
the Best Things in Life aren't Things!"