Sunday, June 5, 2011

Bisque Management

The Friendly Fish Lice (Louse?) enjoying
Trout Almondine'
One recent morning I was checking email at our kitchen island when I had the chance to observe my younger daughters packing their school lunches. What at first appeared to be run-of-the-mill meals I soon realized would be totally stand-up fare at French Laundry in San Francisco.

Their backpack-style lunch boxes were being stuffed with plastic containers of lobster bisque as well as about 2 pounds of mixed strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. I was impressed by their taste and wondered why I was left to fend for myself with hot pockets and expired salami.

I didn’t realize it before that morning, but it appears my children are participating in a school lunch subsidy program, the primary benefactor of which is ME to the tune of over $17.67 per meal. I know high level executives who don’t get $15 per diems and are forced to study the McDonald’s value menu in search of something that will pass muster with the CFO.

But not us. We’ve taken a “no child left behind” mentality when it comes to the quality of the noon time meal. When I questioned my wife about this she informed me she got a good deal on the bisques at Costco. She said the intention was for the girls to split one of the containers. The girls evidently didn’t get the memo.

I remember my school lunches growing up. It was a special day indeed when my mother cut my PBJ diagonally instead of straight across. The diagonal cut was especially wonderful when it did not reveal a hidden heal of the loaf. It was also really cool when I got an individual bag of Fritos or Lays instead of fumbling through a baggie to find an amalgamation of chips and pretzels and such. The piece de resistance was finding a Twinkie or even better, a chocolate pudding Snack Pack.

But there’s nothing too good for our children. We don’t trifle with processed foods…only the best to feed the brains of our young scholars. Next we’ll be fetching in gourmet lunch boxes FedEx from Curtis Stone.

Our family’s choices of school lunches unfortunately raised other more pressing questions, the most glaring of which was: What is bisque, anyway? I assumed it was French for “things that can be mopped up with a biscuit. I guess I did know it was some kind of soup, but I didn’t know the difference between bisque and soup and chowder and etouffe and stew and bullion and bouillabaisse and chili and genetically engineered Hormel canned chili.

So instead of continuing my work and attempting to make real money, I researched the definition of bisque. I found one which best suited this column, which was from gold standard Wikipedia. It said: Bisque is a smooth, creamy, highly-seasoned soup of French origin, classically based on a strained broth (coulis) of crustaceans. Basically bisque is a soup made up of ground up lobster claws and such, or she crab guts, or crawdad pinchers. But as the definition explains it can be made up of any crustacean “parts,” which leads us to another even more gut-wrenching question: What…is a crustacean?

We’ve all heard of the most famous crustaceans—lobsters, crabs, crawdads (crayfish/crawfish), shrimp, etc. These are generally aquatic animals. But what about the “lesser crustaceans?” These would include both “parasitic crustaceans” and “terrestrial crustaceans.” You’ve maybe heard of some of these. The parasitic crustaceans would be critters such as fish lice and tongue worms while the most famous terrestrial crustacean is the friendly woodlice (a distant cousin to the kindly “roly-poly”).

I’m appalled that these crustaceans do not have their very own bisque named after them. After all, I’m sure these creatures can be ground up into a very formidable and tasty coulis of their own. Yes, I know their names wouldn’t just roll off your tongue and may not look good on the menu of a French restaurant, but you have to admit the price point of TONGUE WORM BISQUE would be much more affordable for the family of a real estate broker during an economic downturn.

But I guess until a cheaper version of crustacean coulis becomes available, or until I’m ready to go hunt for some fish lice to make my own, my wife will continue to search for bargains at Costco. We will settle for only the best for our young scholars. Bring on the bisques and the berries and the Crème Brulee for a school lunch that will be the envy of all my kids’ friends.

And all the while I’ll be back in my office wondering...If the salami has yet to be opened, did it really spoil four months ago?

1 comment:

  1. Great job, funny, but TMI. :-) :-) I'll never look at lobster bisque the same way again.