Let me start by saying, I love Costco! I love the way you walk in for a case of toilet paper and you leave with $300 worth of food and some comfy new PJs. But there’s another food shopping experience that I cherish even more. My trip to the butcher.
I just returned from Guerra’s Quality Meats in San Francisco and let me tell you about it. Rather than purchasing a week’s worth of shrink wrapped chicken breasts, which I’d inevitably divide up into my freezer, I just stopped by and picked out my fresh petrale sole for dinner tonight. The osso bucco looked good, so did the rib eye and even the ground turkey caught my eye, but a few minutes of browsing led me to these pure white fillets.
But it’s not only the opportunity to really concentrate on the quality of my dinner centerpiece that gets me, it’s the human connection that comes with it as well. Call me old school, but how often do you pick up a purchase at a club store to hear, “great choice, just came in this morning.”? It’s validating. It’s also more difficult to acheive when we’re not face to face with a consumer, and the message remains equally as important.
The thing is that food can be a very intimate item. The first time someone special cooks you dinner it becomes pretty obvious. Somehow, we lose sight of this when we’re rushing to put another dinner on the table on a regular ol’ Monday night. As I picked up my package which had expanded with the addition of some sliced ham and turkey and a fresh baguette (but no PJ’s), the butcher sent me off with an “enjoy your dinner tonight”. I can honestly say I already have…and it’s barely half past noon.
As I get ready for the Jewish New Year to begin, I’ve been doing a little thinking over some chicken liver. It’s one of those foods, like prunes, that gets the shaft. But just like prunes (now more kindly known as dried plums), you change its name ever so slightly, say “chicken terrine” and suddenly you’ll have more takers. In fact, each year at this very time, I’m often struck by the numbers of closet liver lovers I meet.
So what is it that makes people shudder at the thought of chopped liver, while they indeed love the taste? It’s all in the name. Chopped liver gets no respect. No one wants to be treated like chopped liver, so why would they want to eat it? Chicken soup, on the other hand, is the sweet adored granny of the food world. It’s not only for the body, but for the soul. I mean, it’s good and all but come on…This is so unfair!
That’s when my marketing mind started kicking in. Chopped liver needs a new name, maybe a tagline and certainly better positioning. I am going to begin my new year with a campaign to change chopped liver’s image…without it Uncle Saul’s favorite food is going down.
Marsala Chicken Pate
1 pound chicken liver
1 tablespoons olive oil
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
3 tablespoons marsala
1 hard boiled egg, finely chopped
Remove any connective tissue from liver and pat dry. Heat oil in a large saute pan over high heat. When oil is just smoking, carefully scatter liver in pan, season with salt and pepper and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes without stirring. Stir in half of the onions and flip over livers so they brown on all sides. Cook for 2-3 more minues, then pour in marsala. Cover and simmer for 5-6 minutes, then transfer to a food processor. Pulse 3-4 times until pureed, but not entirely smooth. Stir in remaining onions and egg and place in refrigerator until chilled. Serves 6-8.