Tabouleh in its purest form

I don’t eat tabouleh very much, probably because I hardly ever see it offered at stores.  Or I do see it, and it’s so expensive, but has like no calories.  It’s a salad that I’m not as familiar with as say a Cesear, or one with spinach, goat cheese, carrots, tomatoes; you know, gourmet.  So when I made it for the first time yesterday, I thought to myself, “why this is easier to make than stuff I usually make.”  I boiled 2 1/2 cups water with salt and added the bulgur wheat (high in fiber and protein I might add- and no fat).  I finely chopped about 3 cups of parsley (it said to add 1 cup of mint leaves but there’s no way I’m finding them anywhere this time of year).  And I chopped tomatoes and onions (you can add cucumber too) and added 1/3 cup each of lemon juice and olive oil.

It’s a pretty beautiful dish, and it made me feel very artistic making it.  One thing that strikes me though, is that parsley is such a common herb it seems like you could find it pretty much anywhere.  It kind of seems like grass.  Wikipedia says that it is very popular in the Middle East (tabouleh that is) and is a popular ethnic food in the Western countries.  But it’s probably healthier than some of the iceberg salads we’ve got going here in diners and such.  I know salads have moved up in the world here in America, but we have this import that has a lot of good stuff going for it.

Making tabouleh made me think of other herbs that are more rare such as cilantro and basil.  People either love or hate cilantro and its origins are Asian.  It is known to have medicinal qualities which may explain the aversion to it.

Basil is my favorite herb, if only because my parents have at least five basil plants every summer and I make big quantities of pesto every week until it withers up in the fall.  Wiki says it’s from India but has since traveled all over Asia.  Parsley seems so common I don’t really think of it as a delicacy like I do cilantro, basil, or even rosemary, thyme, and oregano.  Just think, you see it as a little sprig next to that filet mignon that usually gets ignored.

I was hiking in Washington state a couple years ago and my cousin made tabouleh on the Pacific Crest trail for my aunt and I and it seemed like there could easily have been some growing in a ravine near by.

And then when you talk about dried herbs, I think that’s blasphemy.  My culinary teacher said dried basil is a sin, but my Mom just got some dried basil from Italy that smelled pretty awesome.  Cilantro is known as coriander dried and I don’t use that much either.  Parsley, however, seems like it would be the same, or similar to regular parsley because it doesn’t seem as fragile.

But I do love tabouleh regardless, even if I don’t eat it as much as basil or cilantro dishes (and did you know these herbs have protein, fat, and fiber in them- tres bien!  So it’s better for you than those cheap salads we get at the super market- just scavange around your local park for some parsley and you could be on your way to living off the land!

Hot Potato, Cold Potato

December 7, 2012

Baked potatoes are pretty healthy, but when you have french fries and potato chips taking over the country (and maybe the planet for all I know), than we really should try to salvage some nutrition from them.   I have been loving sweet potatoes, which I read have more nutrients than regular white potatoes.  However, when I wikipediaed it, I found that they’re both pretty similar, with the only major difference being that sweet potatoes (30 mg) have more than twice the amount of calcium than regular potatoes (12 mg).

Did you know that the man who “invented” the Russet Burbank potato (that would be Luther Burbank) got famous because of it back in the 1870s.  He got really lucky because he found an abnormal potato with a seed pod and cultivated that into the Russet potato we know and love today.  Russett potatoes are the main potato used today, most of that which goes into fries and potato chips.

Another factoid is that more potatoes are grown in China, Russia, and India than the United States.

I was reading this book called, “An Edible History of Humanity,” and it was talking about the corn laws in England from the mid 1800s.  The so-called “Corn Laws,” referred to the mercantile system of England when corn producers didn’t want to have to compete with corn producers from other areas of the world.  It was repealed in 1850 in part due to the great famine in Ireland.  It’s kind of funny how I’ve never heard of corn laws in the US and we produce double the amount of corn than the second highest producer (China).

There are, however, soybean and potato laws in the US.  A controversial potato law from 1929 that was deemed unconstitutional and monsanto has specific laws regarding seeds with soybeans.  But maybe corn is so controlled by the government that we don’t know what goes on on those fields and factories.  Maybe they don’t want you to know, but just keep preaching that corn is wholesome (I believe this actually).  I mean, its been around for thousands of years so maybe it can’t really be anymore messed up!