american gothic cuisine: an introduction

My October food column, a meditation on the zombie art of fermentation, is out in the Eugene Weekly!  This week I’ll be featuring my thoughts on what I call American Gothic cuisine, or the non-sweet, non-soft, vinegary, preserved, meaty, dark-colored, unsettling, uncanny, jarring side of American food.  Some of the truly scary stuff of American food actually *is* sweet:

Of course, it could be worse:

…but that’s not what I’m talking about.  I’m talking about the dark side of relatively healthy, relatively normal American cuisine.  If I were writing about Japanese Gothic cuisine, I’d surely discuss natto, the fermented soybean condiment used liberally by crazy many people.  (Just click the link and look at the picture.  Then be glad I don’t have smell-o-vision, because the picture makes the stuff look like caramel…and caramel it ain’t.)  If I were writing about French Gothic cuisine, I’d include (as Joyce put it) mitey cheese.  Yessirree, I could do an around-the-world tour of every rotting, slimy, fermented science experiment served up for dinner!

But I’m a good American, no matter what Sarah Palin might say, and I’m writing about American Gothic cuisine.  The dark, haunting juice of blackberries on a bite of rare steakDeceased grandma chocolate chip cookiesHome-corned beef (pic below).  Broken Heart Coeur à la Crème (a French dessert gone wrong).  Twinkie people (c.f., two video clips above).

In short, it’s all about the food that just seems a little bit creepy.

The night is young.  There.  Will.  Be.  More.

P.S.  And for those of you who are visiting here for the first time, checking out my sometimes funny, sometimes annoying little corner of the food paradise we call the Willamette Valley…VELCOME!  You can find the sauerkraut recipe mentioned in the EW article by clicking here or here.  If you’re interested in other methods of preservation and recipes, click on the category called “preserving” in the list to the right.

5 thoughts on “american gothic cuisine: an introduction

  1. Maria 23 October 2008 / 6:57 pm

    I’ve actually had natto maki. It was completely freaking nasty quite interesting. I never thought pungent had a taste before.

    Your photo for this entry is brilliant!

    *blows kisses from Raleigh*


  2. Winnie 24 October 2008 / 3:09 pm

    In the Oregonian paper this last week, they had a huge (picture) front page article on their Food Day (which I read faithfully every single Tuesday) about sauerkraut. There are a couple of groups of people in Portland who get together about once a month and make “fermented” food (sauerkraut, kimchee, wonderful pickles, beets, etc.) Everyone brings something to the group, they pickle, talk, and portion the stuff out for everyone, go home, eat and relish the food, and come back and do it all over again. Is there a group of people like this in Eugene? Is anyone interested?
    I would SO like to be involved.
    If you are truly interested, you can e-mail me. If there is enough totally interested people, I’ll look into this further. If not, I’ll just keep making my pickled brussel sprouts and onions, and beets and kraut alone…


  3. Eugenia 24 October 2008 / 8:07 pm

    Thank you, Miss Maria!

    Winnie, your idea sounds like it could be really fun (and I’m going to link to that article, since it’s the best comprehensive take on sauerkraut I’ve seen on the web). Unfortunately, I’m insanely busy for the next few months, and I don’t expect it to get much better any time soon. That doesn’t mean others can’t comment here and let you know if they are interested. I’m happy to facilitate you getting in touch with each other!


  4. occhidaorientale 26 October 2008 / 11:40 am

    …That’s a very very nice blog!
    Happy Halloween to all us!



  5. brightviolet 30 October 2008 / 7:41 am

    Oh god, natto… my Japanese roommate used to eat that all the time (mostly because her mother told her to). Makes me gag just looking at the picture.


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