2.24.11 Marinate On This
Due to my previously mentioned upbringing (college professors for parents, etc), I'm kind of a prig when it comes to language. Some might even say I am less than rational when it comes to being exceedingly irritated by changes to the lexicon, especially when they involve loose grammar. Which is not to say I don't embrace slang. And occasionally a newly coined term or phrase will capture my fancy. When I first heard the expression "to marinate on something," I was instantly won over. Mostly because I knew exactly what it meant. Sometimes you just need to soak up new information, letting facts and emotions seep in through your pores. You emerge steeped in whatever it was you had to mull over, newly flavored. And of course culinary metaphors are always big with me.In the kitchen, marinating is part of your arsenal. It can take the place of cooking, as with ceviche, or just be the first step in infusing flavor into your food. Although acidic or enzymatic ingredients are commonly used to tenderize proteins, marinades can also be like a kind of dressing that slowly penetrates vegetables and fruits, without going all the way to becoming pickles.
Over the holidays, my sister gave us a case of delicious green olives from California. Packed in water, they had a mild flavor and I was a bit stumped how to use them. I tend to have a weakness for those wrinkly, black, oil-cured olives that sometimes have red chile flakes stuck to them. With that in mind, I decided to try to make some highly flavored snacking olives with what I had on hand. I made a few different types, always starting with some nice spicy green olive oil. One batch had thinly sliced lemon and tangerine zest, red chile flakes, fresh rosemary and fleur de sel. Another had finely chopped preserved lemon rind, toasted fennel seeds, cumin, cayenne and smoked salt. A third I made with chile salt, ground coriander and dried Mexican oregano. There was even a Spanish-themed one with almond oil, sherry vinegar and bits of chorizo. Call me crazy. Invent your own with whatever flavors interest you. They keep for ages in the fridge and you can bring them out whenever you want something to go with a cocktail or a bit of cheese or some nuts.