i was relating the joys of halifax once again (it's what i do) and replying to a question about seafood chowder (no, it's NOT a euphemism for oral sex, but thanks for asking) by listing the usual ingredients as a proxy for a description: blonde roux, onions, potatoes and bacon, the contents of a small fishing trawler... what? blonde roux? flour and butter, ya know?
nope, didn't know. not so hard to figure, i guess, but, beyond that, there was this implied sense of cultural separation that caught me scratching my head. is it because the expression is in french? i guess, these days, the "earth" that we're down to comes out of a styrofoam serving container plucked from a drive-thru (or "dive-thru" as i like to call it) and paid for out of what would have otherwise gone to next months rent, and the mysteries of staple cooking are all but lost on the world. (and, besides, everybody is rankled by the french). flour. butter. maybe a small bit of bacon if you have it. onions and potatoes from the root cellar. cream if the milking is going well. the discarded pieces of sea clams and mussels and all the other seacoast ubiquity that mean the difference between eating protein today and not. heat long and slow. it's the antithesis of highbrow, except for the fact that people with money recognize delicious when they taste it, and "New England Clam Chowder" gets put on the menu at some significant markup beyond the soup du jour, and folks forget where it came from, and where THEY came from.
lobsters used to wash up on the beach after particularly energetic tides, and they used to give 'em to the poor folks to eat because they were "trash" food. think what we'd think if someone tried serving us rats for dinner next time we were in the city. or pigeons. (oh, wait, that's "squab"...) so how'd we get lost?
i like my food simple. flour & butter sound great to me, even if you have to speak a little french to serve 'em.
and don't forget the beer.