Saturday, January 3, 2009

Faux food

We have two new cookbooks on the shelf that have only one thing in common: they are all about culinary impostures. Cheater BBQ disguises crock-pot cooking as authentic slow-roasted barbecue, while Everyday Raw teaches you how to make macaroni and cheese without using macaroni, cheese or heat.
According to chef Matthew Kinney, the goal of a raw food diet is to not let anything pass your lips that has risen above 118° F, and to not eat any animal-derived products at all. It's a lot harder than you think, and the next time you sit down to a meal, see if you can find anything on your plate that meets those criteria. So if you are interested in pursuing a raw food lifestyle, Kinney's book is an incredibly helpful primer on how to conjure up substitutes for the food you used to love: mashed potatoes (pureed raw jicama), steak (dehydrated portabello mushrooms), scrambled eggs (mashed-up tofu) and bread (dehydrated flax meal paste). He even shows you how to make a ricotta substitute using macadamia nuts. My one quibble: a lot of the sweet recipes call for maple sugar, which is maple tree sap that has been boiled for hours. Not raw!
Now that we've left off the paragraph about raw vegan food, let me quote a line from Cheater BBQ: barbecue anytime, anywhere in any weather by Mindy Merrell and R. B. Quinn. "Liquid smoke is exactly that - smoke from smoldering hardwoods or fruitwoods, condensed in water with impurities and carcinogens removed." Ahh, the anti-raw food diet. Living where we do, it's hard to maintain a really good barbecue pit for those slow-cooked pork ribs. How much better it would be if you could just pop them in the crock pot with a dry rub and a little liquid smoke, and when you get home from work dinner is ready. Sauces, dry rubs and cooking techniques are all combined here to make a variety of pretend-grilled meats. Even salmon!

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