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Jul 12, 201810:31 AM
Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene

Waste Not, Want… A lot

I read an article not long ago that addressed food waste. We undoubtedly throw a lot of food away that we should be eating, and we certainly also aren’t using our resources as efficiently as we could. Raising cows for meat, for example, requires a lot more resources than the equivalent amount of calories we could get from various plants.

I still like beef.

I’ve lost the link to the story, but the salient point was when a chef was talking about using zucchini stems as a substitute for penne pasta. If you read this column, you’ll know I have a garden, and you probably won’t be surprised to learn that my garden includes zucchini plants. I stress the “plants” part of that sentence, because I have yet to grow a single edible zucchini.

So I was all in favor of using the parts of the plant I have grown, if only to satisfy myself that the whole thing wasn’t a complete disaster. Perhaps I’m growing a particularly difficult version of the stuff, but the stems I took from my plants the other day were not edible in any practical sense. They were more like straws made of pipe cleaner-strength fibers, but harder to chew.

I tried to remove the stringy bits with a vegetable peeler, but as it happens zucchini stems are not all that robust and the peeler ended up cutting straight through the stem, leaving me with a straw-shaped hole. In gustatory terms a straw-shaped hole is about as useful as an aircraft carrier-shaped hole. It’s a whole lot of nothing.

I did also try simmering some of the stems I’d scraped lightly with a paring knife to see if the fibrous strings would magically soften, but I didn’t hold out much hope and as it turns out my pessimism was justified. What’s more, the damn things not only had the texture of year-old celery, they had no taste whatsoever.

I guess my point is that you shouldn’t try to cook zucchini stems as a substitute for penne pasta, because zucchini stems may technically be edible, but life is too goddamn short to eat zucchini stems.

On the other hand, if you have successfully cooked zucchini stems please tell me your secret. I’ve got four or five plants left that are flowering like crazy but showing no signs of actually producing fruit, and I’d very much like them to end up as something other than mulch.



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Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene


Robert D. Peyton was born at Ochsner Hospital and, apart from four years in Tennessee for college and three years in Baton Rouge for law school, has lived in New Orleans his entire life. He is a strong believer in the importance of food to our local culture and in the importance of our local food culture, generally. He has practiced law since 1994, and began writing about food on his website, www.appetites.us, in 1999. He mainly wrote about partying that year, obviously.

In 2006, New Orleans Magazine named Appetites the best food blog in New Orleans. The choice was made relatively easy due to the fact that Appetites was, at the time, the only food blog in New Orleans.

He began writing the Restaurant Insider column for New Orleans Magazine in 2007 and has been published in St. Charles Avenue, Louisiana Life and New Orleans Homes and Lifestyles magazines. He is the only person he knows personally who has been interviewed in GQ magazine, albeit for calling Alan Richman a nasty name. He is not proud of that, incidentally. (Yes, he is.)

Robert’s maternal grandmother is responsible for his love of good food, and he has never since had fried chicken or homemade biscuits as good as hers. He developed his curiosity about restaurant cooking in part from the venerable PBS cooking show "Great Chefs" and has an extensive collection of cookbooks, many of which do not require coloring, and some of which have not been defaced.

Robert lives in Mid-City with his wife Eve and their three children, and is fond of receiving comments and emails. Please humor him.




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