My June culinary trip courtesy of my subscription to the online spice purveyor, Raw Spice Bar was to Jamaica. With all the summer fun and travel, it was August before we had the chance to use the delicious recipes and accompanying spices. The delightfully light and tropical menu involved jerk fish tacos, mango corn salsa and banana fritters. The fish tacos were layered with smoky and fresh flavors, as was the ginger corn salsa. The combination of heat and fruit gave the meal a distinct island feel. Really good. My food writing is not doing the meal justice. The recipes taught me a few new techniques, like grilling the corn in the husk for 20 minutes for the salsa. And, that salsa can have warm, hearty flavors like ginger and paprika. I also learned that white flaky fish can stand up to heavily spiced marinades and the substantive chew of corn salsa. These were not dainty and delicate fish tacos. I have to confess, like my first experiment and trip to Peru, the dessert was not my favorite. But, I was happy to be challenged by the unusual spicy sweet banana fritters. What a wonderful way to spend an Indiana summer evening on the porch with friends tasting far away flavors together! Thank you, Les and Kara for gastronomically traveling to Jamaica with us and bringing the pina coladas.
If as philosopher Levi Bryant writes, “A recipe is a machine that performs operations on a cook, leading that cook, in her turn, to perform certain operations on various cooking utensils and ingredients” then this culinary trip to Jamaica made me mindful of all the negotiated details that involved the spice packets, the recipe directions, the ingredients, the cooking methods and utensils, the cultural tastes, my skill level and taste preference, online shopping, reliable mail delivery, producers and collectors of the spices, and more. It mediated a different organization of familiar ingredients. I’ll be thinking about the gravity and media of Jamaican Fish Tacos for a while. More later on recipes as machines, ala Levi Bryant’s machine-oriented ontology.