From Erica Wides:
So I had to go to Whole Foods a few days ago, to buy unflavored gelatin. You know, like Knox gelatin in the little packets? I needed it for a private cooking class I was teaching, the clients wanted to make soup dumplings, those Chinese dumplings that are filled with ground pork and cabbage and also scalding hot soup stock. To make the soupy filling you make a strong chicken stock and add gelatin to it, or use a lot of extra bones to get the gelatin out that way, but we were using boxed stock. I don’t get paid enough to make homemade stock for clients, so don’t judge the box. You then chill the gelatinized stock ‘til it…well, gelatinizes, then dice it up and mix it into the filling, before filling and folding the dumplings. Then, when you cook them, tada! Soup inside! Incidentally, making stock is one of the best, simplest and most classical way of using up food and preventing waste, and for the record, I am a HUGE advocate of making your own stock, ok? I do it at home, but when I’m only getting paid for the 2.5 hours at a client’s house…well, then it’s boxed stock city for me. Don’t judge. That’s my job.
Why I am telling you this? Well, because I had to go to Whole Foods because it was on the way to the client’s house, and my stupid upscale local grocery didn’t have Knox gelatin, let alone any other gelatin, not even a selection of Jello, not that I could’ve used that. You can’t make soup dumplings anyway with blue raspberry flavored Jello. But the simplest, most basic of kitchen and pantry staples? Nope. Oh, they had 16 types of gluten-free crackers, and 7 brands of cold-pressed juices and 12 local ice creams and 18 organic baby-food options--but no plain ol’ Knox gelatin. Yup, 7 kinds of organic gluten-free flour, artisan baking powder, 6 different vintages of chocolate chips, but no Knox. So much of the “more”, not enough of the basics. I’d like to open a store that sells the 20 basic necessities for cooking at home. And that’s it. Like a Portlandia store, “two girls, two shirts!” or, “the cup and spoon store.” Twenty Cooking Basics. That’s it. And nothing gluten-free.
And my crappy regular mainstream supermarket is almost a mile walk away, as this is the new Brooklyn where on my once formerly desolate block there are now TWO custom bridal shops and TWO custom perfumers and a doggy day care and a store that just sells international soccer team jerseys, but you have to walk a mile to find a stupid packet of Knox gelatin.
What, does nobody gelatinize things anymore? Are we so impatient that we just leave our liquids fluid, have our short attention spans removed out ability to wait for gelatinization? Is it easier and requires less effort to drink liquids vs. the effort and dexterity involved in spooning a gel into our over-fed gaping maws? Or does the fact that gelatin is made from boiled, strained and rendered pig skin, hooves and bones factor in? I doubt it; this is Brooklyn. You could probably offer a restaurant dish titled “rendered pork skins, hoofs and bones, parsley stem coulis and apple core essence” on any menu around here and charge $28 bucks for it. And you’d CLEAN UP! But try to find a little box o’ Knox…well, you’d better put on your Fitbit cause there’s gonna be some walking involved.