So the Mrs and I were sitting in a cafe at the Denver Airport a couple of weeks ago, snacking on a big plate of nachos, and I got this goofy idea. The nachos are tastiest down at the bottom, when the chips start getting soggy, and there’s a lot of melted cheese left on the plate. So why not take it to an extreme? Back home, I tried it out, and ¡mira! it’s good.
Nacho Cheese Soup
6 corn tortillas, fried into crispy strips, about 1 x 2″ (I do my own in peanut oil, YMMV)
one Fresno or serrano pepper, minced
one Hatch or Anaheim pepper, sliced into thin rings
1/4 onion, chopped
2 cups chicken stock
12 oz processed cheese food (“velveeta”), cut into ~1″ cubes
2 cups coarsely grated medium or sharp cheddar
2 cups chopped tomatoes (I use grape tomatoes, halved)
1/2 cup sliced olives
one avocado, sliced into thin wedges
2 oz butter
1/4 cup flour
Saute the peppers and onions in some olive oil until the onions are translucent, and set aside. In a large saucepan, make a roux with the butter and flour. When it’s bubbling and starting to brown, add the chicken stock and wisk into a gravy. Then add in the cheesy cubes, wisking as they melt. Then add the grated cheddar. Then add the sauteed peppers and onions, and remove from heat.
Just before serving, stir in the chopped tomatoes (you want them cool and firm, not cooked). In each serving bowl, place a half-dozen tortilla strips, fill with soup, and garnish with more chips, 3 or 4 avocado slices, and some sliced olives. Serves two or three.
I suppose men standing around the barbecue burning meat and drinking beer is just another ritual of the Patriarchy.
Mark Twain was hip to this sort of thinking over a century ago:
In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Lower Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles. That is an average of a trifle over one mile and a third per year. Therefore, any calm person, who is not blind or idiotic, can see that in the Old Oolitic Silurian Period, just a million years ago next November, the Lower Mississippi River was upwards of one million three hundred thousand miles long, and stuck out over the Gulf of Mexico like a fishing-rod. And by the same token any person can see that seven hundred and forty-two years from now the lower Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long. . . . There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
Nutritionist Marion Nestle and other progressive reformers called foul, denouncing the change. “Really?” Nestle scoffed. “I have a hard time believing that WIC recipients are suffering from lack of potatoes in their diets.” Several watchdog groups and the national WIC advocacy group opposed the change, too. “It’s disappointing that politics has trumped science,” Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told reporters.
It seems that much of what our betters the Feds have been telling us about foods and nutrition is a bunch of Just-So Stories:
Rather it’s that the David-and-Goliath narrative of science versus Big Ag may be blinding us to another, even bigger problem: the fact that there is often very little solid science backing recommendations about what we eat.
Most of our devout beliefs about nutrition have not been subjected to a robust, experimental, controlled clinical trial, the type of study that shows cause and effect, which may be why Americans are pummeled with contradictory and confounding nutritional advice.
Any day now, I expect to hear that I should add a shot of tequila to my ideal breakfast of steak and (whole) eggs…and potatoes.
Update (14 April): There’s evidence to suggest that we can improve the good carbs-bad carbs ratio by changing the way we prepare starchy foods. I’ve replaced mashed and roasted potatoes with cooked-then-chilled potatoes (mmm, spicy potato salad).
OK, so I sometimes succumb to fads. While munching on toasted pan de xocol with crunchy peanut butter for breakfast, I mentioned to my lovely wife that we were honorary hipsters, indulging in the latest bistro trend, fancy toast. “You’ve gotta be kidding,” she said. “Toast? Toast?! What happened to muesli and quinoa and cupcakes and kale all that other hippy-dippy stuff?”
I assured her that cupcakes were passe, kale was s-o-o-o yesterday, and tapas were, well, toast. I confess, toast is a trend I can get with, mainly because it’s always been with us*–who doesn’t like toast?–now it’s just more so. And now my oversized bagel toaster is vintage hipster gear.
*In her fractous childhood, my baby sister (the oncology nurse) subsisted entirely on toast and chocolate milk for about two years with no ill effects.
Could eating too much margarine be bad for your critical faculties? The “experts” who so confidently advised us to replace saturated fats, such as butter, with polyunsaturated spreads, people who presumably practise what they preach, have suddenly come over all uncertain and seem to be struggling through a mental fog to reformulate their script.
It’s not just butter vs margarine, either. Red meat, salt, and eggs have been slandered, while the government emphasis on cereals and grains appears increasingly to have been a conspiracy to keep us fat and stupid.
The crucial phrase “avoid processed food” appears nowhere in government nutritional guidelines, yet this is the most concise way to sum up in practical terms what is wholesome and healthy to eat. Until this awareness shapes dietetic advice, all government dietary guidance should come with a tobacco-style caution: Following this advice could seriously damage your health.
Amen, Sister, to the advice on processed foods. A quick read of their ingredients (sugars, flour, and some kind of cheap grease) should be sufficient to put you right off them.