Wednesday, August 19, 2009

No, It's Not Tea: Gregory's Arroz con Pollo

No, everything is not about tea. Sometimes, it's about food and family.

My seven-year-old boy, Gregory Robert, is a serious reader of this site. Well, he claims to be, though I think he may skim a bit. At any rate, he's a young connoisseur (that's a person who enjoys things a lot) of fine tea, and he has definite ideas about food, as well. He has asked me to write in this blog about his new favorite food, Arroz con Pollo.

My wife and I are concerned about our health and weight, and as we try to gain the first and lose the second, we are cooking from, The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook: A Delicious Alternative for Lifelong Health, written by Nancy Harmon Jenkins. And Gregory loved "Quick and Easy Arroz con Pollo" so much, he thought it belongs where all good things go: The 39 Steeps.

One of Gregory's best friends is Galito, the eight-year-old son of our great friends, Dunia and Galo. Galito gets to eat Arroz con Pollo all the time, because his mom was born in Cuba, where this is a staple (a food that people eat all the time).

When I first encountered Cuban food, I thought it would be very spicy, like Mexican. But no, it is more like classic Spanish fare, without so much heat in the mouth. Arroz con Pollo is rather like an easy version of the classic paella. And the easy version of an easy version just can't be beat.

Gregory loved the richness of the chicken and rice dish, which has been spiced up with onion, and cloves, and tomatoes, and pimento, along with the world's most expensive spice, saffron.

Saffron comes from the saffron crocus, a type of purple flower. Look at the picture at the top of this blog for an example of this crocus flower. And have a look at the little red strings poking out of the crocus. Those are the stigmas, which help the flower reproduce itself. These tiny, little threads are dried out and sold for a lot of money, because you can imagine how many of them it takes to make a pound! Thousands, I think. It takes so much work and so much time to pluck all of those little stigmas that it drives the price sky-high. That's why saffron is the world's most expensive spice. And we have a little of it right in our very own kitchen!

Gregory will get to smell the saffron when we cook the dish (if he can be dragged away from his wicked-sweet Nintendo DS long enough), so he can identify it in any dish he eats from now on. And there's just a touch of it in the Arroz con Pollo, but a little goes a long way! That's part of what makes the rice so yummy and golden colored.

I'm continually amazed at Gregory's perspicacity and willingness to explore new things. He is surprisingly aware of his palate and likes thinking about the interesting flavors of the teas and foods we give him. Someday he wants to be a videogame creator, or a tea maker, or maybe a rescue guy who works with the Coast Guard.


Marlena said...

I would love to read your blog, but I can't see the letters on the black backgrouns

Veri-Tea said...

I made saffron cake last weekend - more of what we think of as bread really, it involved yeast and dried fruit as well as a half-teaspoon (!) of saffron - it was divine. We enjoyed it for breakfast with a pot of Castleton Autumnal Darjeeling...

It's terrific that Gregory reads your blog :) it is indeed a haven of all good things.

Unknown said...

When I read "half teaspoon (!) of saffron," my eyebrows shot up. That is a *lot* of saffron. I would think the cake would hold up well against the bright astringency of the Castleton.

And you're too kind! I do have many, many ideas to write about and too little time to execute all of them. I'm one of those people with a truckload of interests; but for the purpose of this blog, I try to stick to tea most of the time. Gregory insisted I write about his dish, and who am I to say, "No," to such a request?

Glad you enjoy the blog, and I hope you stick around!

Unknown said...

And Marlena, I left a note on your own blog. I don't quite know why your browser is not reading the site correctly, and I've never had the problem with all black before. I hope we can figure out what's wrong, so you can drink at the fount of my infinite wisdom! Or, at least, read about some good teas you can drink.

Marlena said...

Thank you, thank you, you're too good to miss! Marlena

Veri-Tea said...

It was a lot of saffron, and the cake was a most amazing yellow colour as a result!

I most definitely will be sticking around for more of your blog :)