[cooking] Trip to Middle Earth, for music and soup

Went to Middle Earth with Dollar last night because, hey, I love distractions. Open Mic was interesting- the performances ranged from aggressive anti-Bush spoken word and poetry to less aggressive anti-Bush folk songs. There were people who performed solo and some groups. One blue grass band featured a old man pucking a slender upright bass cello. Dollar said, "That's an antique! And the bass is old, too." Har har. We met his band mate there and I think the band is going to sign up for 15 minutes next week. As Dollar put it, "We won't be the best... but we won't be the worst either."

Middle Earth itself was interesting. I had never been before but immediately fell in love with the casual atmosphere (there's a stack of boardgames to grab and play if your party is so inclined) and rustic, wooden interior. There are trees inside and the bar is made out of THICK wood that sits higher than normal, so you feel like a small hobbit when you're placing your drink order.

For supper, I saw Posole on the menu and had to get it. I've been thinking about this soup for few weeks now. I have a couple cans of hominy in the cupboard (must have bought them on sale) and don't really know what to do with them. Heck, I didn't even know what hominy was until I looked it up:

Hominy or nixtamal is dried maize (corn) kernels which have been treated with an alkali of some kind. The traditional U.S. version involves soaking dried corn in lye-water (sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide solution), traditionally derived from wood ash, until the hulls are removed. Mexican recipes describe a preparation process consisting primarily of cooking in lime-water (calcium hydroxide). In either case, the process is called nixtamalization, and removes the germ and the hard outer hull from the kernels, making them more palatable, easier to digest, and easier to process.

What?! I'm not sure I feel comfortable eating something that has been nixtamalized. Sounds... shady. And chemically.

So I ordered the Posole. While I didn't particularly enjoy the pork in it, the hominy was good. I don't know if corn without the hull expands but the hominy pieces are much larger than the average corn kernel. I'm going to try making my own posole this weekend.


Shelby said...

Isn't Middle Earth fun? Chris Jones (the owner) did all that woodwork himself. He's quite the artist. They have such a wide range of acts up never know what you're going to find. I love it! And I only live 5 miles away. And also, I have TOTALLY knit there before. :)

Sarah said...

Though it sounds scary and chemically, nixtamalization is the process that makes maize edible. Unlike corn, maize has to undergo this chemical transformation in order to give up its nutrients and release its digestible starches. I saw an entire episode of Good Eats where Alton Brown explained the whole process in detail. He mentioned that when the Spanish invaded Central/South America, they did not know how to correctly prepare maize, so when they cooked and ate it they suffered from indigestion (the real "Montezuma's Revenge") and malnourishment because their bodies were not able to process the maize and derive nutrients from it. I was trying to find more information on this episode for you but struck out on and, but I'll post again if I find any more info.