(by Michael Ruhlman, guest blogger)
I’m 43 today and while I say this with neither joy nor sadness, more just a general sigh at the nature of time, or rather of the way we perceive it–an acceleration, a rush, like falling, rather than a metronomic procession of days–the day occasioned an unexpected delivery from Hudson Valley Foie Gras. Not a fresh foie gras, but rather two excellent cuts from the bird that gives us the foie gras and are every bit as excellent. Wonderful duck legs and duck breasts, called magret, from the moulard duck–it’s not just about the foie gras. The card inside read happy birthday, from my mom. Is that a great mom, or what? I’ll confit the legs and save them for fall; I’ll dry cure two of the duck breasts with salt and thyme for duck prosciutto, and grill the other two (they’re as fat and rich as strip steak and even more flavorful).
–In another package, also from my saintly mum, a can of Whitely’s Peanuts. These peanuts I tell anyone who will listen are arguably the best in the United States. They’re large, very crunchy, and the driest fried peanuts I’ve encountered. One of the company’s owners told me why: they soak the peanuts in water before cooking them; when they’re fried by hand in 130 pound batches, the steam they release apparently prevents them from absorbing tons of oil. They’re fantastic.
–A final more somber note. Bourdain has written a complete account of his Lebanon trip at salon.com. You may have to watch a quick ad for the travel channel for the whole story, but the commercial is brief. I emailed Tony to ask if writing it had been cathartic. He replied “I wish that were true.” And this is a guy who is not easily rattled.