Last week was American Thanksgiving. My favorite holiday! My mom sent me a bag of stuffing, fried onion topping for green bean casserole, and a few of my other favorite things (like those dried mangoes encrusted in chili powder at Trader Joe’s–do you know what I’m talking about? OMFG) for good measure.
While at Costco with my friend Louise picking up the rest of our Thanksgiving fixings, I got it into my head to make sage sausage stuffed mushrooms like my mom does for holidays. They’re pretty simple–sage sausage mashed with cream cheese and spices spooned into a mushroom cap and baked. I love them.
Like most of the world, Louise thinks of meat in a tubed casing when someone says sausage to her. I call that a hot dog or a specific name like kielbasa or bratwurst.
For Americans, ground (usually pork) spiced meat formed into a round and then sliced into patties is sausage. Apparently Koreans don’t have this, not even ones shopping in a Western wholesaler. Damn. We made do with ground pork and they were a hit at my Thanksgiving celebration that was nearly devoid of Americans, but the fact that sausage as I think of it (oh Jimmy Dean) isn’t an option kept bugging me.
Living in Korea, there are foods I miss, sure. Most things you find a decent substitute for or eventually just forget about the longer you go without. But occasionally, a food grips me and I can’t stop thinking about it.
I call that a food fantasy.
Most things I think about in passing (fresh mozzarella, mangoes, Granny Smith apples) but when a food fantasy takes a-hold of me, they’re always insanely specific and thus, impossible to satisfy.
For instance, a North Carolina style pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw on top, but only coleslaw made with Helman’s Real Mayonnaise. The little plastic tub of extra vinegar-y sauce you get at BBQ joints that have picnic benches instead of real tables is also a necessary part of the taste sensation. The side has to be hush puppies, but not the weird elongated ones that look like fried thumbs. They have to be the round kind that steam rises out of when you pull them apart.
Or, when extraordinarily expensive strawberries started popping up in grocery stores here, the idea of a toasted English muffin spread with Caromont Farms goat cheese and topped with thinly sliced strawberries speckled with freshly cracked black pepper held on to me ferociously.
Do you see what I mean when I say these fantasies are specific? Like really, really specific.
Can you see where this is going? Maybe but you’re only partly right.
I need sausage biscuits and gravy.
I need them like I need water and air. I can’t ever decide what I want to eat anymore because the one thing I absolutely want I cannot have.
But, they have to be from this place back home that was between my house and college campus called 821 Cafe, but referred to by Richmond natives simply as 821. I spent most of my high school and college years a vegetarian, so my desire is not for the typical, greasy Southern version of sausage biscuits and gravy (although the lack of meat sausage set off the craving), but their incredible vegan ones with protein crumbles and soy milk comprising the white gravy. Their biscuits are humongous and square shaped and uniquely crispy around the edges.
My saliva production has increased as I type. I am consumed by the memory of their taste.
So how do we tie up this entry about my weirdly specific, insatiable food obsessions? I have no idea. I can’t even think clearly now. I just hope y’all don’t think I’m too weird.
Oh, and feel free to share your food fantasies. I know I’m not alone…..