If you are going to have a hearty snack, it's a bit hard to beat the deep fried mac and cheese. Photo: David Reist
''Homemade and made-from-scratch foods are the new hipster foods trends taking off."
What? I read this recent headline from a news website and thought, "well then, maybe I’ve been a hipster all my life, just didn’t realise it. So much time and money wasted trying to become an adherent to a UFO-based religion, when I could have just dressed like my grandparents and drunk kombucha."
I’m reading through the column, asking if there is some sort of test I can give myself. Has the tribe I’ve spent my life trying to find finally surfaced in heavy rimmed glasses, beards, drinking cocktails so smugly from mason jars?
Let’s see, based on this investigative, up-to-the-minute column there are a number of food "trends" that hipsters are calling their own. Makes own butter, yep I do that, not all the time but when I can. Pasta from scratch, sure, but like you could also be, you know, Italian? I think they’ve been at it a while too. DIY sourdough? A weird way of putting it but yes I do make my own "do it yourself" sourdough religiously, daily. Also makes own tomato ketchup, jams, pickles, cures own charcuterie, particularly bacon, and has a “once the domain of the middle-aged” veggie patch.
The only thing about this column is that the author, Kate Gibbs, talks mostly about women doing this amazing "hipster food". This is strange because as you know hipsters appear only as males - not sure how they breed, some form of trickery, that they no doubt also invented, like agamogenesis. Maybe they are like geese, really hard to tell the sex until spring when the males get all ornery.
I know I’ve been carrying on about these new age bohemians lately, but like other fads and sects, as in the slow food movement, raelists and vegetarians, once you start calling yourself something and acting accordingly, well it can be open season. As the old saying goes: How do you know someone in the room is on a paleo diet? Just be patient, they will tell you.
Thinking more about this dietary approach to hipster-hood, we, as in the other local writers who have shared this space in this paper for a long time, well maybe we are all just a bunch of hipsters in disguise?
There's Food and Wine's Owen Pidgeon. Wild, wild Owen, surely with an orchard and a huge knowledge of everything that can be turned into cider, he would be hipster material. Susan Parsons: pickler, preserver, hipster. Diana Lampe, with a bountiful garden and an expert in cooking the harvest, well again she's surely in the team. Lastly, Chris Shanahan, with his encyclopedic knowledge of beer, both artisanal and craft, he must be a demi-god, with camps of en-scarfed hipsters, and their never-too-far-away food vans, outside Chateau Shanahan waiting on sage advice about the latest IPA.
All this said, a cautionary word, if you are thinking of shopping at Vinnies for old clothes and starting a kimchi ferment, the world is onto you. The Huffington Post is leading the surge to reclaim all these foods like pickles, beer and bacon. You can actually have green juice and cold pressed coffee – they're just food and beverage that everyone can own and share, you don’t need a fixed-gear bike or a typewriter.
The exercise of learning more about what it is that is popular amongst this nostalgic group, hasn’t been a total waste of time. I did learn about some foods that are part of the hipster diet and that I have little experience with.
Having just taken into my possession a benchtop deep fryer, I was surprised by the extent of its use within this diet. I suspect hipsters may put pressure on our shrinking health care system in the not too distant future, if foods like deep-fried mac n cheese, bacon wrapped hot dogs and tater tots are a major part of their food intake. Granted, these all sound like pretty good snacks to have with a glass of New Belgium Brewing Co's "Lips of faith" coconut curry hefeweizen. So let's give it a go.
Bryan Martin is the winemaker at Clonakilla and Ravensworth.
Deep Fried Mac and Cheese
50g plain flour
2 cup milk
100g grated gruyere
150g grated cheddar
½ tsp salt
Good grind black pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1tbsp Dijon mustard
2 eggs, well beaten
Panko bread crumbs
Peanut, grapeseed or sunflower oil for deep frying
Extra grated parmesan for garnish.
Line and grease a loaf tin or casserole dish. Cook the pasta as directed. Meanwhile, melt butter and add flour after a minute or so, stirring quickly so no lumps form, and cook for another minute. Add milk and bring to simmer squashing out anything lumpy. Lower the heat and cook for 20 minutes, stirring regularly. This béchamel sauce should be pretty thick but still flowing. Add salt, pepper and mustard along with the cooked and still hot pasta. Then add the cheese, slowly so that it melts but mindful that heat is the key to continuing the melt. Have the lined, greased loaf tin ready. Pour in the pasta so that it is about an old-fashioned inch thick. Cover and chill completely. Turn out and cut into cubes. Arrange separately on a tray, cover with cling film and freeze for an hour or two. Place the flour, then eggs and finally the breadcrumbs, in three separate bowls.
Dust the cubes of mac and cheese in flour, shake. Dip them into the beaten eggs. Drain and dredge in breadcrumbs.
Heat the oil to 175C. Cook the mac and cheese cubes in batches that won’t crowd the fryer. Fry until they are crispy and have that golden brown look. Serve sprinkled with parmesan and home-made tomato ketchup.
Optional: add some crispy fried bacon, finely chopped to the mixture with the cheese. This will be a powerful pheromone to any hipsters ironically hanging out nearby, so be very careful, you’ve been warned!
Spiced tomato and herb ketchup
1kg ripe tomatoes
1 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tspn dried chilli
90ml red wine vinegar
Oregano, parsley, basil, all or any chopped fine
Saute onion and garlic in oil until soft, add chilli, vinegar and sugar, then cook down until the sauce is reduced by two thirds. Stir in tomatoes, cook over a very low heat until it is thick and stir in the herbs. Pulse with a blender to a chunky sauce.