fennel. all over it like white on rice, i’ve been. there was a time when i’d most likely leave a fennel bulb in the dumpster for want of ideas about what to do with the damned thing, or at best bring it home and use it perhaps once in lord knows what manner, and then allow the poor bastard to languish in my crisper until being eventually tossed, limp, brown and dismayed, into the second garbage of its short miserable existence.
NO LONGER THE CASE.
the fennel bulb has now become a constant fixture of my still in many ways pathetic, albeit fennelful, existence. i’ve been big on licoricey things since i stopped being a snotty little (black-twizzler-hating) child – fennel seeds, anise, star anice, the ever so subtle presence in chamomile, i guess whatever other anethole-containing plants exist. (although not licorice candy, nor, oddly enough, licorice liquor/eur: pastis, ouzo, sambuca et al. awful stuff.), but only in the past month have i really embraced fennel as a vegetable qua vegetable, not just a spice (see also liberating such spices from their indian/chinese gaol. herbes de provence, anyone?). i’ve been cooking a lot with it, although where tenable i prefer it raw in order to retain the full anisey (fennelly?) flavour, which recedes astonishingly quick upon heating. great in salads, is a wonderful compliment to basil (which contains the related isomer estragole)as well as the bitter greens (rapini, arugula, kale) that are a staple of my kitchen, and the other day i cut a bulb lengthwise into sections, lightly coated them in a mix of cornmeal and flour, and fried those bastards up with some similarly treated jalapenos and go figure, it totally ruled.
so come on dudes, fennel.
shout out also to L’Amère À Boire (trad. czech/russian/english microbrew at 2049 st-denis) who serve a pretty good fennel+old cheddar gratin in the spirit of Bar Food That Doesn’t Bore The Living Shit Out Of You (along with a rotating selection of well crafted and delicious beers – i’ve been solidly impressed by their Boucanier and Cosaque)
also, Holy Shit, did you know that it was a stalk of fennel that Prometheus used to steal that motherfucking fire?
i’m gonna have to have to put my mindgrapes on that one.