Thursday, January 19, 2012

On The Road Again

Well, here it is, all of not-quite 20 days worth of 2012, and I'm about head north on Interstate 35 to Big D, where the good folks at the Dallas Market Center's Gourmet Food Show invited me to do a cooking demonstration, and (I hope) a lot of book signing. It should make for an interesting outing.

Because I am pretty much a kitchen coward in public, I'm sticking to an easy recipe -- my beloved Kick-Ass Tuna Salad. It came about years ago when I was first invited to one of Molly's Final Friday events -- that's when like-minded political progressives gather on, yes the last Friday of the month, to whimper and whine about whatever topic is up for grabs. If the weather's nice they sing or recite home-grown political poetry and talk about how nice the weather is.

All this Friday night socializing is accompanied by food and booze. My first time out of the gate I didn't know what to bring. Beer seemed too unimaginative, but the budget wouldn't allow for anything beyond the price of a six-pack.

So I looked in my pantry. That was depressing. Campbell's soup was well represented, as were spaghetti, rice and saltines. The fridge wasn't exactly a cheery sight either. I did, however, have a couple of cans of tuna packed in water.

Then I remembered: I had a small jar of capers.

And a little can of chopped black olives.

And a tablespoonful of anchovy paste.

And part of a red onion that was only a day or two old and a few stalks of celery and eggs.

It came to me: a tuna salad with enough ingredients to take it past mayo and celery, paprika and hard-boiled eggs.

I dumped it all together, threw in a little dill weed for good measure, some mayonnaise, a pinch of savory and a bit of dried chopped parsley, a dash of Dijon mustard and prayed for a good result. I made it the night before I was to make the drive from Dallas to Austin, so the flavors had a chance to meld.

Well, long story short, that evening someone who dug a Ritz cracker into the bowl was heard to exclaim, "Damn; this is tuna salad? This is one kick-ass tuna salad."

And voila, a star was born.

It was even a hit in Washington, D.C. at the National Press Club's Author's Night when it didn't have a chance to sit overnight. I made it in the Press Club's kitchen and put it out so people could nosh as they perused the book. They came, they snacked, they bought. A couple of people didn't even believe it was tuna salad, so three cheers for capers, chopped black olives, anchovy paste, dill weed, et al.

Anyway, I'm demonstrating the how to assemble this culinary masterpiece in Dallas. , in the fervent hope that it won't go the way of any of the faux pas from Julia Child's kitchen. If I could, I'd invite you all to come see me make a spectacle of myself, but alas, it's open only to folks attending the food show.

On the other hand, if you're planning to be in San Antonio on Jan. 28, and you find your way to The Twig Bookstore between 11 am and 1 pm, I'll be there too, only sans tuna salad.

Or, if you find your self in Seattle on Feb. 5 and snow hasn't paralyzed the city, come to the Elliott Bay Bookstore.

Meanwhile, stay tuned for future signings in Texas and elsewhere.

I've been alerted that there might be mimosas before the demo.

Oh dear.

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