oh, those lentils


no one i know hasn't ever eaten lentils. in fact lentils have likely been consumed for some time, say for some thirteen thousand years. which is impressive.  in soups, with rice, with onions, barley, garlic, carrots, lovage, in virtually any kind of combination, or addition, short of bananas. rice and lentils might be one of the more famously nourishing food stuffs and is apparently eaten in that combination by much of half the indian population as in a dish called khichdi. such things i know. i 've never been to india, and don't expect to go there anytime soon. but i certainly would partake of that combination if ever i got there. 

while i'm here, in portland, and in the very in-between, i've done lentils in a few combinations, rice and those plain legumes aside. i started with that pretty modest, but oh so warming, hence really a 'now', late winter's dish, a variation on the basic lentil soup. done up with the french (of course) 'le puy' green variety. this from a small (8th century) commune at le puy-en-velay in france's auvergne province. cooked together with that german delight, the 'kass'ler ripple', a smoked and salt brined pork chop, honoring thereby the recent fiftieth anniversary of the seemingly still evolving french-german friendships founded in '63 by de gaulle and adenauer. these liaisons, though not exactly dangereuses, were strained recently by madame merkel not harboring much love towards her french alternate, president hollande. (tmi ?)

thoroughly ministered in a beef broth, the bone of said pork chop rendered smokey flavor toward those beautifully mottled green 'le puy' lentils. the scent in the kitchen became ever more enticing, particularly after a good splash of sherry vinegar. some twenty minutes on at a gentle simmer the lentils were soft enough to sit, heat off entirely. i added the pork, off bone, fragrant and moist, in small cubes, together with crisply fried sage and crushed juniper berries. salt and coarse black pepper added in the very end. served in stone heavy pottery, a hot loaf of crusty french bread and a bottle of seasonal ale aside, it brought a deep belly warmth to an otherwise cold and rainy, ever so portlandish night.

there are many other dishes done with lentils and seen through my seemingly ever present lens. i use them as spicy base for an oyster stew, a carrot and lentil concoction, the carrots soft, almost mushy, with a caramelized notion, the lentils firm, of an opposite texture. there's a 'soupe aux lentilles blondes avec chorizo et crème au paprika', amazing, likely more spanish than french, the 'blondes' shading ivory.


everybody knows there are endless varieties of these legumes, black and tiny, called beluga, plain orange, macachiados are huge and yellow and hard to come by in my rather un-mexican north. still, on the 'net' what can't you get via fedex from all sorts of places, including sea cucumbers from vladivostok. the brown pardina, the eston green, the laird and the dal masoor. snow white might ultimately be the one to know all of them from mere pebbles.