(THEY CAN) TRANSFORM INTO SURPRISING DELICIOUSNESS OF ELEGANCE AND COMPLEXITY
THIS is the last post (for awhile at least) of the new week-long segment, The Shits I Eat When I’m By Myself. Jason is coming home tomorrow, and if you were any decent, none of us is ever going to speak of what happened here in the last few days… But even though we’re near the end of an epic run, I have meticulously kept the best, and I hope you agree, for the last.
I’m going to share with you what I eat, sunny or rainy, broke or stashed, then-young and now-old, then-slim and now-lumpy… by myself or not, doesn’t matter. This. This is what I actually eat, love to eat, and I mean, like all the time. This is what raised me, put me through college, and every other weekday-nights along with the lovely grin of Jon Stewart. This, completes me. I never had a name for this before, but for the sake of easy reference, I will now call it – The 3 Founding Donburi, The Art of Eating Canned Meats.
Donburi, is Japanese “rice bowl”, with various toppings that ranges widely. The integrity of well-cooked short-grain rice is, of course, important, which is a subject I won’t even touch today for it’s so not the focus here (fine, two words, rice cooker!). The focus here is the topping, and the topping, my friend, is a promiscuous playground for something that we all, at any given moment, got 1 or 2 stashed in a dark corner within the pantry.
Good sardines in olive oil from Europe, bad sardines in olive oil from Europe, not-bad sardines in tomato sauce from Southeast Asia, corned beef, tuna, salmon… SPAM! Misunderstood and badly represented, where people see them as shunned practices of desperation, I see them as cherished and indulging delicacies. Good quality canned sardines (or even just the OK ones), with just a light touch of acidity, grated ginger and scallions piled over warm rice, can transform into surprising deliciousness of elegance and complexity. How can I douse sichuan chili oil over diced SPAM, with a few drops of black vinegar and calling it a thing?! Well, that is too, what doubters said at the historical moment when somebody thought why not smearing a bit of mustard over hotdogs… Then browned corned beef, mixed with chopped kimchi and gochujang, toasted sesame oil and grated garlic… will have you breathing stinky and happy.
Each of the donburi will take… 2 min to put together at the most (not including the cooking-time of the rice). Less than the time it takes to boil a pot of water. And they will have you asking yourself, where have they been all your life?
Well… they’ve been right here.