We had a fantastic spread of Fatted Calf charcuterie with olives and pickles today, complemented by a bottle of pink ('scuse me, rosé) bubbly.
It was amazing how well the fruity, spicy champers went with the beautifully seasoned paté de campagne and duck liver mousse.
I've been having this conversation in my head — and with actual people — about how much we are allowed to "desecrate" somebody else's creation. Once the mortadella (just for instance) is perfected, is it a crime to smear it with other flavors?
I tend toward purism, which, darn it, is a lot closer to puritanism than I want to be. I am in awe of my artisan purchases. I'm nervous about messing with them. I take them straight, the way the artisan intended them. I think.
And today I realized that makes me a fraidy cat.
A couple of months ago I went to a party where somebody brought not only a Fatted Calf ham, she lugged along some of her homemade tomato chutney... and gooshed it all over the ham. On bread! She made a verrry interesting sandwich from individually sanctified ingredients by putting them all together.
Well, I followed her lead. I made myself one of those sandwiches, and it was damn fine.
The parapets started to weaken.
A few days ago, I was given a jar of homemade strawberry preserves by a friend, who apologized for the slightly loose texture of his concoction. We both wondered aloud what might be done to brilliantly use this trickly jam. Of course, ice cream. Then, I said... Mostarda? My friend assumed a knowing expression but didn't quite conceal his discomfiture over the fact that I was talking about stirring mustard into his fruit preparation.
And perhaps I was being obtuse. You can exhale now, Sean. I didn't do it.
Back to the charcuterie plate. Assume that I am more cavalier about adding tastes to someone's ideal recipe. Watch me search the fridge for... oh, hey, fig chutney!
So, Cranky stirred Dijon mustard into some homemade fig chutney (remember, this was already a highly seasoned mess). And it just got better.
With minor trepidations, we smeared some impromptu fig mostarda on the paté and mousse (over baguette slices), and ohgod, it was divine.
The spell is broken.
Artisan food crafters, rest assured that I will always love your creations for what they are, in and of themselves. But be advised that I might add a layer of spunky.
It is anniversary number 26. I don't know what traditional gift that entails, but around here, it usually entails something good to eat. Pork. Duck. Mostarda... Like that.