Analyzing the Chermoula Marinade

English majors spend a lot of time analyzing single words or sentences from entire novels or four line poems in order to extrapolate extra meaning. At this point why did the author choose ‘extrapolate’ to express this idea?

This type of question wasn’t natural for me. Becoming an English major was a rather impulsive decision. I thought, hey I like to read; I like to write I can do this and figure out my life later. I forgot about the analyzing. Before those upper division courses I’d have read a book and asked myself “good or bad.” It seemed absurd to worry about a single word or to analyze an author’s decisions when I didn’t know this author.

Between then and now I, somehow, became the person that spends a lot of time writing essays that analyze. That’s kind of a key idea, because as an author (of sorts) I spend time deciding on best fit words, re-working sentences and paragraphs. Though not all of them. Which is why even after years of training I’d still rather analyze an idea.

Time spent marinating can be important for a dish. A tough cut of meat becomes a tenderized chew. Flavors are strengthened enhancing the eater’s experience. Say it’s a mushroom sauté where all the ingredients are tossed together in a skillet and served to a group of friends. This dish would still be tasty and the group of friends would enjoy it for the experience of eating a meal together. But, could this sauté stand up to the critic? Maybe not. In order to best survive the judge the flavors need time to stop being individuals and become a new whole. It’s better for the critic, better for the food.

I looked into a lot of different marinades in considering this post. None felt quite right this week. Meat has been a little too prominent in my diet the past month meaning vegetable friendly was an absolute must. Chermoula (or charmoula) is technically a marinade — a quick marinade achieving serious flavor by using strong herbs and spices. Even so many of the recipes drizzle or spoon it atop the food after it’s cooked. All this means is that it’s wonderfully versatile.

As recipes are apt to do there are lots of variations. Cilantro, paprika, some type of chili pepper and cumin seem standard. Out of all of those I perused only Crazy Water Pickled Lemons by Diana Henry included cinnamon. This version is a little of an amalgamation of pantry supplies and recipe searching. As you will learn from the recipe I have no idea how much I put in of some of the ingredients. All of the ingredients can be thrown into a food processor for quick chopping. Unless you’re me and find chopping herbs with a really sharp knife relaxing. What does that trait say about the author’s character?

Let me take a brief bragging moment and say that in my opinion this chermoula marinated eggplant was one of the best dishes I’ve made in a while. The eggplant was sliced thick, covered in chermoula and left alone for about 30 minutes. It then went onto a baking sheet, stuck under a broiler where it browned slightly on both sides, having been turned once. On the side was couscous mixed with finely chopped walnuts, dried cranberries, a good sprinkling of salt, and a small sprinkling of flax seeds. I have great mushroom-based plans for the leftover marinade.

Oh, if you care to read any extra meaning into this weeks post go ahead, I’m amused to hear what you come up with. All I will say in response is — let it marinate, stew, age, simmer, ripen, whatever but you will not be eating it yet ’cause it’s not ready.

Chermoula

1 bunch parsley
1 bunch cilantro
2 cloves garlic
half a serrano pepper
cinnamon (about 1 ½ teaspoons)
cumin seed (about 1 teaspoon)
paprika (about 1 ½ teaspoons)
sprinkling salt
several tablespoons olive oil
fresh lemon juice and grated lemon zest (perhaps about 2 teaspoons total)

Finely chop parsley, cilantro, garlic and chili pepper. In a bowl mix chopped ingredients with remaining ingredients.

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