Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Food with Personality

From astrological signs to dating services to corporate team building exercises, we love to label personalities and deduce the psychological “type” of those around us.

We favor an endless supply of “tags” to classify character – cheerful, aloof, moody, mercurial, passive, and aggressive. Some years ago, I took the classic Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test, which neatly packaged me as ISFJ – which, translated from psychobabble, means Introversion, Sensing, Feeling and Judging.

Bogus? Maybe. To be honest, I had to look my “type” up after almost five years, but I know many people who can recite it just as easily as their SAT scores or Social Security number. There just seems to be some great degree of comfort in being able to classify, define, label and wrap things up in a neat little box.

Not so with food. Between color, texture and flavor, food offers an endless array of unpredictable combinations that consistently go against “type.” Yet, at the celebration feast this weekend, welcoming my brother and sister-in-law home from a year abroad, a fascinating collection of eclectic personalities emerged, not only around the table, but on the dinner plates.

Bell Pepper and Farro Salad

This combination of ancient wheat and a trio of multicolored bell peppers is a contradiction of a highly-traditional grain and bold, extroverted spontaneity. The black olives denote a mysterious, sensual undertone.

Tagliatelle with Mushrooms

A quick toss of fresh pasta made from scratch, sautéed onions and a mélange of wild mushrooms, epitomizes hands-on creativity and earthy, idealistic values. The sauce is adaptable and flexible to all kinds of situations.

Roast Pork with Orange

Slow-roasted boned loin of pork, basted with a rich mix of butter, orange juice, orange zest, chili powder and oregano is steady, painstakingly dependable and practical, yet imaginative with slightly exotic inclinations.

Chestnut Cake

Highly original, and non-conformist, this torte of chestnut flour, pine nuts, rosemary and olive oil eschews the tired, boring routine of sweet desserts, and its deep, nutty flavor is far from frivolous.

The meal was finished off with an effervescent Bartenura wine made from the Moscato grape, a sparkling and exuberant “life-of-the-party.”

Of course, I wouldn’t want to typecast anyone …

(Recipes from The Silver Spoon, The Bible of Authentic Italian Cooking.)

©2007 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved


Susan from Food Blogga said...

Great concept, T.W.! I feel an affinity for the farro, the tagliatelle, and the chestnut cake. Is there a personality category for "ability to detect extraordinary food?" :)

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

What a wonderful welcome-home feast! I especially like the sound of that chestnut cake.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Wouldn't I love having a meal like this? And what about this cake, T.W.? I would never have thought of combining rosemary, chestnut and pine nuts... Delicious, I'm sure!

Anonymous said...

the pork loin alone was enough to make my heart flutter. Add to that the chestnut torte which in itself has unique ingredients. I wonder what my psychological type is when it comes to food.

Anonymous said...

i'm ISTJ :) I loved the look of that chestnut cake :) I've never tasted chestnuts, but in my mind they taste deep and nutty :)

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Susan - I think there probably is a personality category for all of us who get way too excited about purple sage! :-)

Lydia - I'd never worked with chestnut flour, but with the olive oil it made a beautifully smooth batter.

Patricia -- The rosemary smelled so good when the cake was baking in the oven!

Veron -- You are certainly a "Thinker" type when it comes to food!

Sarina -- I love different nut tortes, and this was very unique and a nice change of pace from the usual super sweet cake.

Jann said...

This was quite a meal and very authentic, if I must say so. I have eaten the torte several times in Italy and yours looks just like what I had-bravo to you!

Stella said...

Your brother & sis-in-law are lucky people! I wish my brother would do the same for me;)
I see how you used your pine nuts, the torte looks uber delicious, it must have tasted heavenly with all those fragrant ingredients:)

oh, & I'd love to taste this tagiatelle with mushrooms!

wheresmymind said...

That Tagliatelle looks SOOO good to me right now

Freya said...

What happens if you've made a variation of all four? I made a chestnut cake last year with some flour I bought and found it deeply interesting, flavourwise. And then there's the roast loin, the pasta....
Great article!