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food odyssey

MinestroneNovember 1, 2005 Tuesday

Minestrone Soup

When I was at the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto many years back, I got hungry and ordered Minestrone soup at this hole-in-the-wall eatery. I wasn't prepared for that soup experience. That soup was blow-your-doors-off good! I didn't think a simple vegetable/bacon soup could possibly be that delicious. This was stuff that would put the soup-nazi (Seinfeld episode) out of business.

The owner's name is Gertz and soup is his specialty. He has traveled far and wide, learning culinary approaches from every place. The guy was impassioned by food. He later on authored 3 books on soups. Not long after that, he was gone and there was not a trace of him...not even on the internet. That experience set the benchmark for good soup to me.

Etag - Sagada Parma Ham
The world over, the Italian Parma Ham reigns supreme. Sagada has its version of it, called etag. Like all ham, it's salted, smoked and aged. Originally, it was used for ceremonial offerings to the anitos (gods), together with the more famous pinikpikan chicken. Eventually, it found its way into regular household kitchens.

I thought it would be exciting to use etag instead of bacon to make Minestrone, using the crock pot (slow cooker). This cooking method retains the natural moisture of the food and produces an amalgamation of flavors and textures. I went to the market, got the local equivalents of the ingredients, and fired off the crock pot.

It was good soup...perhaps even better than most restaurant offerings. However, it's not even remotely close to Gerts'. The guy still rules. Well, the search for the ultimate Minestrone continues.

By the way, if you know where Gerts is, or if you know a place serving blow-your-doors-off-good Minestrone, please email me:

--- TheLoneRider


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