Last Week’s Specials – 33

Cooking fast and slow

This could be this week’s motto. But before diving into detail, let’s talk about cooking. Or better: preparing food.

Starting point is that most things are not digestible. They need to be transformed in order to become digestible. Think about a potato, an olive, a cow. So the goal of preparing food is to change the structure of the material in such a way that it becomes digestible, becomes food. Right?

Basically there are two ways of changing the structure: increasing (and possibly decreasing) the temperature of the material and fermentation (think wine, beer, yoghurt, fish sauce (garum), soy sauce, choucroute and many other products).

Fermentation is controlled rotting. A simple, natural way of transforming the original into something derived and edible. Fermentation is something that happens in your own body, so why not use the same process outside your body?

Cooking is more advanced because it requires warmth. It could be cooking in hot, volcanic soil (works amazingly well by the way), it could be roasting over a fire, it could be boiling in water.

Fermentation may be a recent invention according to some foodies; it’s actually the oldest way of preparing food. Plus the origin of umami. Yet another re-invented invention.

Let’s focus on cooking fast and slow. This week’s recipe offers both.

Gieser Wildeman

The Gieser Wildeman pear was created by Mr. Gieser Wildeman around 1850. For some odd reason he created a pear that is not very edible. It’s hard, full of tannins and its texture is granulated. Not nice at all. However when cooked slowly and long, the unappealing pear turns into a red, sweet, refined and tasty pear.
If it’s not a true Gieser Wildeman then you need to add port or red wine to get a red pear. A true Gieser Wildeman will become red (through and through) without any problem, provided it’s ripe and cooked slowly.

Cooking fast is a similar joy: change something okayish into something lovely in just a few minutes. That’s how we make our favourite ice cream.

Here is what you need (Gieser Wildeman)

  • One pear per person
  • Cinnamon
  • Water

Peel the pear, put in a pan with a bit of water and add the cinnamon. Allow to cook on low heat for at least 6 hours. (We cooked ours for 8 hours). Cool and serve.

Here is what you need (ice cream)

  • 250 ml of Cream (single will do)
  • A bit of Sugar

Add the sugar to the cream, mix and whip but not too long. It should be thick but not whipped like a topping. Transfer to your ice-making machine or to the fridge. If it’s the fridge, make sure you stir it every 5 or 10 minutes.

Per person you serve one pear and one scoop of ice cream. Add a bit of sauce and taste the natural sweetness of the pear in combination with the rich and velvety ice cream.

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