I've been thinking lately about foods that are one thing, but masquerade as something else. It's sort of performance artish, I think, and kind of cool overall.
My train of thought started last week, when I made fried green tomatoes and threw in some fried eggplant, as well (I'd just come back from the farmer's market). The preparation was simple - I just dredged the vegetables in egg then cornmeal spiked with cayenne pepper, and fried them in vegetable oil.
The tomatoes turned out as expected - they were little and cute and tangy. But the eggplant was something of a surprise...because it tasted exactly like softshell crab. I didn't even realize it at first, until Cooper pointed it out. Then I couldn't shake it. What a totally simple (and cheap) way to get that softshell flavor and texture.
I sort of forgot about the softshell eggplant for a few days, until last night, during dinner at Petit Louis. I was with Jen, Alicia and Mary for Mary's birthday and dinner was predictably excellent. (I started with the yellow squash soup and had a rockfish special with heirloom tomatoes. So fantastic. The tomato menu alone is a good reason to get there soon. It's restaurant week, but none of us ordered off that menu and, looking around the place, I didn't get the impression that a lot of people were there specifically for the event. Oh, also, we had a bottle of Domaine Lafond rose and it was really perfect - exactly balanced between full flavor and a crisp texture. Great summer wine with food.)
I'm digressing. Here's what was tricky about the food last night: the cheese. Specifically, the Mimolette. Or, as we called it (and I'm sure we weren't the first): cantaloupe cheese. It looks like a cantaloupe, down to the rind and the bright orange color, and our server scooped it out like he was scooping up melon with a spoon.
Of course in the end, the cheese was totally un-fruitlike, with it's sharp flavor and waxy texture. But oh, how it looked. It was great, by the way. I also had a fairly mild blue cheese that was amazing and Jen decided that she's going to close out every meal with a cheese course from now on. However, I think Mary's dessert won - she ordered the local white peaches with creme anglaise and whipped cream. So simple and so delicious.
So anyway - artsy. I have this vision in my head now, of hosting a "deception" themed dinner party and serving only foods that look or taste like something totally different than what they actually are. It'd be kind of Surreal, right?