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In the beginning.

of our collective culinary history, foods were cured as a method of preservation. The smoking, picking, brining, corning, drying and salting techniques that developed over thousands of years solved important problems with which our hungry ancestor were faced. Curing was the answer to vital yet simple questions such as: "How do I save the rest of this buffalo that we can't eat now?" and "How will we eat thought the winter?" As citizens of the modern world, we are the fortunate beneficiaries of these curing curing techniques that were once crucial for mere survival.

Ours is a world of unpronounceable chemical preservatives; enormous and shiny refrigerators; aisles of frost-covered frozen foods; a massive industrialized network of global food production and distribution; and, of course, Tupperware[R]. It's possible our ancestral culinarians would experience a spectrum of emotions ranging from delight to horror to confusion over these developments. But in the face of technology, industrialization and globalization, the curing traditions created two millennia ago or more have largely remained the same. Today our cured foods, while not crucial to our survival as a species, are crucial to our survival as a proscuit-to-devouring, smoked-salmon-lovin' people. We crave the tang, the smoke and the saltiness that various methods of curing impart. They are the antidote to flat flavor. They brighten and invigorate our cuisine and pique the interest of taste buds and minds. For everything a dish may lack, they are the cure.

They ancient artifact and famed early cookbook, De Re Coquinaria by Marcus Gavius Apicius, is a compilation of Roman recipes from the early first century AD. According to the text, liquamen (a fermented fish sauce) was an ingredient enjoyed by wealthy Romans of the time. So was flamingo. The book also contains instructions for curing meat with salt, vinegar, honey and mustard. Twenty recipes inspired and elevated by cured elements. Their recipes go beyond our proscuitto and smoked salmon.

These chefs have shown us that after 20 centuries, honey mustard is not only still delicious, but a condiment best served with braised then fried kombu-cured pig's ear. They have faught us black miso and cheesecake are friends. In a dizzying case of a snake eating its tail, a recipe for bacalhau-cured bacalhau is presented (just add liquid nitrogen). From cured watermelon to lardo, each chef has creatively transcended the technique and presented is with new ideas and applications in the ancient tradition of curing. Chefs Anthony Goncalves and Marc Forgione present The Cure.

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Title Annotation:The CURE; history of curing techniques
Publication:Art Culinaire
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2011
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