Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ahh Grasshoppaaaa...

My husband and I used to live in a town called Charles City, Va. This place epitomized country living. We didn't have a stop light. We didn't have a police or fire department. We didn't have a grocery store. We did, however, have a Feed & Seed and a fish hatchery.....the necessities I suppose. Saturday afternoon at the lake behind the fish hatchery was the time and place to see and be seen......."Hey Cletus! I see the tip of your thumb is healing right nice from where you done cut yourself trying to open that there beer with that old rusty knife you found lyin' on the ground."....and such. So not to be left out, my hubby and I would frequent the lake as well. We'd take our canoe and our fishing poles and head on down to Harrison lake with the rest of our "neighbors". My job was to pack the beers, untangle the lines, find the ores, find my husband's favorite fishing hat, bring a fresh cooler for the off chance we'd catch fish......and my husband's job was to criticize my stroke and occasionally splash me with his oar. We had fun ;) Finding bait was my job as well. Unfortunately there wasn't a "bait department" in the corrugated steel shed that was the Feed & Seed, so I was supposed to dig for worms. "Sorry honey. I can't believe it either but there are NO worms in our backyard" is a phrase I've uttered many a time, and my husband would just smile and laugh at my lame attempt to get out of it(we lived on 5 acres of soft, worm loving earth, but I wasn't budging on my no-worm stance). So we would get to the lake, try to catch fish with synthetic worms, fail miserably, and then spend a half hour on the banks of the lake catching live grasshoppers to use instead. Catching them was hard, but the fish loved them. Unfortunately the fish we caught weren't much bigger than the grasshoppers themselves. If I knew then what I know now about the taste, texture and all around wonderfulness of grasshoppers, I would never have let those damn fish have any of them....my grasshoppers....mine.

We went to dinner at Xochitl(so-cheet is apparently how it's pronounced but I can't for the life of me figure that one out so the redneck in me will just call it X-O-Chittle). It's in the Society Hill/Old City section of Philly. They were featuring a 4 course "indigenous Mexican" tasting menu in honor of Benito Juarez's birthday, and I was pleasantly surprised at just how "indigenous" it was. Grasshopper tostadas! Yes please! Crispy calf's brains! Yes please! The list goes on(frogs legs(a Charles City staple...I'll write up a recipe for anyone who thinks they'd love meat that's a mix between chicken and fish...delish), wild boar, venison), but the grasshoppers and brains were by far the most note-worthy of the meal. If you've never had grasshopper and you get the opportunity...please do so. They're crunchy and nutty and not at all what you would think a bug would taste like. As soon as we left the restaurant I started my search for a big bag of salted grasshoppers(still searching by the way). I just read that they only have about 100 calories in 100 grams and they're almost pure protein! Why hasn't the Hollywood elite or Jenny Craig jumped on this bandwagon?

Now for the calf's brains. The texture and flavor can best be described as "meat butter". It was soft(no, not just soft, melt on your tongue soft), yet it held together nicely. It also had a slight gamy flavor. Sort of like liver but not as strong. Oh, and don't even get me started on the cocktail pairings. There was one per course, but the one that made me fall in love all over again with fermented ANYTHING was the margarita made with fermented pineapple juice. It's the kind of drink that you would rather have served in a glass the size of a big gulp container(just throw a straw in it please and I'm good). If I had any idea at all how to properly ferment a pineapple I would try this. Unfortunately I'm not that brave, so I'll just have to keep reliving it over and over again in my head....ahhh yes, that's nice :)

Xochitl on Urbanspoon

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