#29 | Invasivorism, Siberian Elms, and Curries
It’s been over a century since the American eel made its once-routine migration from the Gulf of Mexico to the Rio Grande Gorge in Taos. The New Mexico sunflower has eluded botanists since 1851 and the Luna County globemallow, which once grew to nine feet, now only grows in memory. Giant bison, long-extinct cousins to the near-threatened American bison, remain in physical form only as bones buried in our sands.
Other locally cherished foods and medicines—oshá, Gila trout, and the aforementioned American bison, to name a few—have experienced steep declines. A new book by Dan Saladino on endangered foods and how to protect them, alongside a recent article on invasivorism, led our attention to the often maligned Siberian elm, which was introduced to our continent in the nineteenth century and has proven incredibly well adapted to dry and depleted soils.
In the eastern part of the country, the inner bark of slippery elm is highly prized as a demulcent, but, plagued by overharvesting and disease, it is now endangered. The Siberian elm’s inner bark, as we can attest, can be used for the same purpose with very similar results, and those ubiquitous green, leaflike seeds can also be used as food in the spring. This is all to say, maybe Siberian elms can work their way into more local diets, and even help eastern forests avoid being haunted by yet another lost species?
Sprouting Kitchen’s next virtual cooking class is also a chance to support South Valley seed saver Lorenzo Candelaria—ingredients (which must be ordered by February 22 to arrive in time for the March 9 class) include his blue corn flour.
Among the condiments we love: nam prik noom. This northern Thai green chile table sauce is one of several Isaan specialties on the learning menu at Open Kitchen’s February 26 class in Santa Fe, taught by guest chef Derek Rugsaken.
K’Lynn’s Southern and Cajun Fusion is hosting their sixth annual crawfish boil on February 26 in Rio Rancho. For the crawfish averse, a shrimp boil, fried frog legs, beignets, and other seafood dishes will also be on the day’s menu—which will be served until 6 p.m. or whenever they run out.
“Technically, they’re all curries. But technically, they’re also not curries at all.” In her story for The Bite’s sauce issue, Ungelbah Dávila-Shivers deconstructs her misconceptions about the word—and food—most associated with Indian cuisine. Along the way, she samples sauces at two Albuquerque restaurants whose names include the Sanskrit word for crown.
“The British loved the way [turmeric] turned the food yellowy orange, so they dumped loads of turmeric into the curry powder,” a guest reports on Gastropod episode “The Curry Chronicles,” which dives into the strange evolution of the British curry house. “So the British sort of took something very complicated and made it very simple.”
Because we excluded red chile from our miniature compendium of sauces, here’s one from the archives: Ty Bannerman’s testimonial on Cecilia’s Cafe. “If you want to try red chile in its purest form, there’s no better venue.”