Fancy Crackers w/Black Truffle Butter & Triple Cream Brie (Pink Floyd, Piazzolla & Social Equity)
Everyone has one of those days or weeks when all you want to do is relax, pop open a glass of wine, Netflix, and chill. I’m a big fan of celebrating little things due to the overwhelming ubiquity of negativity and diatribes. So, in honor of everyday celebrations, here’s:
Fancy Crackers with Black Truffle Butter and Triple Cream Brie.
From “ The History of Truffles,” by Gourmet Foodstore.com
“According to a legend, a farmer spotted his pig digging at the root of a tree, eating the mushrooms that it found. Upon seeing that the pig remained healthy, the farmer tried the mushrooms himself. Afterwards, his inability to have a child with his wife resulted in them having thirteen children.
(What the? Who knows if this is true…)
Many soon felt that there was a supernatural quality to truffles, and saw them as God’s gift to humanity. Truffles were also seen as having exotic qualities in its aroma and flavor, making it more popular among the noble classes.
Throughout the Middle Ages, truffles virtually disappeared from sight. This is because at one time, the church felt that because of their exotic aroma, truffles were the creation of the devil. They were sometimes known as the “witch’s fares”, and for centuries, few people ate or sold them. During the Renaissance, truffles made a comeback through the reign of Louis XIV, who not only saved them from obscurity, but also pushed them into the forefront of one of Europe’s most respected dish. The king was fascinated by the nature of truffles and set out to cultivate them, which proved to be unsuccessful.”
So…truffles were a miracle cure, nobility wanted exoticism, the Church preached it as a creation of the devil, then sold as black market goods, and then King Louis XIV pushes it to respectability? There sure are a lot of things today that seem to honor the same path, which is pretty hilarious considering it’s been a few centuries since the Middle Ages.
Personally, truffles, elicit a purely visceral urge to linger, enjoy, and bask in moments of raw pleasure. For one big celebration, my best friend (thanks, Tiff) urged me to have slices of white truffle shaved over handmade pasta. The delicacy of the white truffles with the perfect pasta- I‘m pretty sure I was magically transported to a place where earth meets the divine and time shuddered all meaning. For someone that usually has two or three different phases of thought going at the same time, very few things get me to stand still. (Thank goodness, I’m a musician.)
Combined with a glass of Pinot, the earthy richness paired with the triple cream brie, it’s a wonderful contrast with the shattering of the crunchy cracker. Plus, it takes less than five minutes to make and you look like a gourmet genius. It can pair well with a drier champagne, but I usually try to stay away because that pleasurable mind meld turns into a mind hell headache and I wonder why the heck I did it in the first place.
But truffles also bring to mind the idea of social equity. Years ago, while starting out, I would wait for a French warehouse to open once a month, and I’d wander aimlessly looking at the pain epice, imported yogurts with lusty fruits, and STARE at the cans and jars of black truffles… in the aisle, like an idiot. I’d just daydream and go through the recipes I’d read in my head. (I read cookbooks. I watched some cartoons as a kids but mainly cooking shows. I know...) Then, I’d calculate when I could possibly afford one of those cans one day, what I’d cook, and for what celebration.
Now, thankfully, truffle butter can be easily picked up but I still haven’t bought one of those cans or jars of black truffles. Maybe it is because in the back of my mind, social equity still is a reactionary issue that gives me moral pause. I can’t think about it too much or else I can’t have coffee (the only thing I can’t give up) and then I’d be royally screwed. But the lingering, carnal pleasure, social equity, and idea of cultural immigration brings to mind, Argentinian Tango!
Modern tango epitomizes beautiful choreography, matched glamorous pairs, and high society. Originating as a dance of European immigrants, former slaves and the working class in 18th century Buenos Aires and Montevideo, as of any art form expressing longing, belonging, and pleasure, it was forbidden since it sprung from brothels. This wave of immigration from Europe and Africa flocked to these establishments in order to find companionship, drink away their sorrows, and essentially straddle the line between homesickness and hoping for a better life.
As the influx of immigrants continued, the dance became less suggestive and more mainstream, and eventually taking Paris by storm in the 1920’s, appearing in cabarets and theaters, frequented by the rich. Piazzolla, took this music, again, with the musical influences from Africa and Europe and eventually turned it into more highly conceptualized concert music. Here’s a favorite, with the master himself. I’ve heard more modern renditions with faster tempos and modern arrangements, but thought the original should speak for itself.
Piazzolla-“Milonga del Angel”
As with the truffle, tango’s rise and fall within social hierarchy were highly leveraged based on moral valuation and eventually, the dilution of of what constitutes “the average.” I find it especially interesting that port cities around the world have historically been at this forefront until the rise of social media, which is another discussion altogether.
Pink Floyd- “Wish You Were Here”
The association with Pink Floyd is more apparent (or at least I think so in my head.) Written after the commercial success of “The Dark Side of the Moon,” the former cult musicians became verified rockers while frontman Syd Barrett suffered a mental breakdown and a crippling addiction to LSD. As with any group that’s been together through thick and thin, nostalgia for better days and mourning for the new reality is clear in the final release.
Again, the idea of social equity comes into the milieu… a leveraging of morality eventually colliding with commercial valuations. It’s funny, because at the rate we’re going, entire countries are determining their economic fates this way. But, with any flip of a coin, isn’t it better to celebrate the good and yes, the banal? I’m happy when I have a great cup of coffee! So….cheers! Grab that Pinot and a few bites of truffle butter and triple cream brie.
Fancy Crackers with Black Truffle Butter and Triple Cream Brie
1. Grab a great bottle of Pinot.
2. Go down the fancy aisle and get a crunchy cracker with heft, but not too grainy or it’ll compete with the truffle.
3. Grab a tub of black truffle butter and triple cream brie. (Triple cream is way richer and will linger…which ultimately is about quality….)
4. Top the cracker first with the triple cream brie, and dot the black truffle butter. Enjoy a few bites and celebrate! Pat yourself on the back for being a sensual genius. Thanks for reading!