I've never done a meme before, and I was excited when Ximena of Lobstersquad tagged me for this one. A food blogosphere event!
The Five Things To Eat Before You Die meme was dreamed up by Melissa of the Traveler's Lunch Box in response to Fifty Foods to Eat Before You Die, a list that was put together by the BBC. Melissa felt the food blogosphere could put together a better list where many more cuisines and foods were better represented, and she is in the process of compiling a master list of Things To Eat Before You Die based on everyone's response to this meme. You can see the list here.
My personal top five (at this moment -- I reserve the right to have a different top five in the future) are:
Steamed blue crabs
The proper way to eat steamed blue crabs is from a table spread with newspapers with an enormous pile of steamed crabs in the middle. Good places to do this are at a table outside on a hot summer night, or maybe at a table in a screened-porch on a summer afternoon. Outside is essential because this is a messy process. Cold beer is a traditional accompaniment.
To eat the crabs, pull off the claws and legs. Suck any little bits of meat from the body that come off with them. Crack the claws and eat that meat. Turn the crab over, find the "tab" on the under side and pull it off. Pull off the top shell. Pull off the bottom shell. Crack what is left in half. Brush away the dead man's claws. Pull out and eat the imcomparably sweet crab meat.
Eating crabs should be a long and leisurely affair. Something that causes you to linger over the table. Let's have no talk about how much effort all that crab picking is. It's supposed to take a long time.
Particularly the mussels that my sisters and brother and cousins and I gathered as children from a rocky stretch of the Rhode Island coast. These were generally smaller than cultivated mussels and the meat was always sweeter and firmer than any mussels I have ever tasted since. During the summers of my childhood they were always prepared the same way: steamed open and served with garlic butter into which we dipped the mussels.
Gathering the mussels was a daily ritual when we visited my grandparents in the summer. Each morning we would drive to the beach, spend the morning swimming, and then eat a picnic lunch. After lunch we were not allowed to swim for one hour (doing so we were told might cause cramps which would cause us to drown) so instead we collected mussels from mussel beds located in the tidepools between the granite boulders in an enormous field of boulders further down the beach.
We would climb out over the rocks and down into the tidepools, plastic buckets in hand. The tidepools were protected from the rough surf and were their own world of sea life -- snails, hermit crabs, starfish, tiny blue crabs, and thousands of mussels attached to the rocks. We'd gather mussels and carry them home covered in sea water. Once home the mussels had to be scrubbed and debearded (always done by the kids, never the adults) and then cooked.
Every mussel I've eaten since childhood has been compared to these mussels. No matter where I have them or how they're cooked, no mussel is ever as good.
Corn on the Cob
The more recently your sweet corn has been picked, the better it will be. The best corn (in my opinion)is grown near the ocean in Rhode Island. Buy it at a farmstand on the way home from the beach. Boil briefly and bring to the table. Apply much butter and salt. The ears with the smaller kernels are best, sweeter and more tender.
The corn will taste even better if you are tired from a day spent at the beach and your skin is a little tight with a tiny bit of sunburn and from salt and sand that was not completely washed away by the outside shower at the bathhouse, and you know that when you get up tomorrow after falling in your bed tonight, your day will be almost exactly the same as it was today. Which makes it perfect.
My favorite vegetable and one which I can never get enough of. I love it in any form and would happily eat it day after day. Unfortunately, I have never had the chance to eat artichoke day after day. Someday before I die I hope to visit Castroville, California, the artichoke center of the world, for the artichoke festival a place where I might spend an entire day eating artichokes prepared in every possible way.
Fresh Caught Trout Cooked Over a Fire
My other entries are all things I've eaten in the past and hope to eat again, but this is something I have read about and hope to eat before I die.
I picture trout pulled from the cold and crystal waters of a trout stream somewhere in the western foothills of the Rockies, and cooked in a cast iron frying pan over a fire made of gathered wood. The trout is tender, moist, and sweet. After dinner we sit around the campfire and as the evening grows dark we sit under the vast open sky glowing with thousands upon thousands of stars as far as the eye can see.
We then retire to our cabin with indoor plumbing and a comfortable bed. Campfires are fine, but camping does not figure in this fantasy.
The five people I am tagging with this are:
Rebecca of Eat (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
Lindy of Toast (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
Cin of A Few of My Favourite Things (Melbourne, Australia)
Sher of What Did You Eat (Davis, California)
Anne of A Good American Wife
A note: You don't need to be tagged! Go ahead and compile your list and then send it to Melissa.