Latin is the known as the “master language”, because it forms the basis for other languages, such as Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, French, and Italian. And because the Legal and Medical professions have existed since antiquity, much of the professional jargon for both is still heavily influenced by Latin.
Since Latin was rumored to be the hardest foreign language to learn in high school, I opted for French instead. Ironically, I probably know more Latin than French, due to its heavy influence in modern language. I bet you know more of it than you are aware of, too.
If you are or ever were a practicing Catholic, or simply attended Catholic school, you probably know more Latin prayers and songs than you ever cared to, even if you don’t know exactly what they mean. Sing along if you know it…”In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. A-a-a-a-men”
And considering the proliferation of Latin in legal, medical, and scientific professions, it has made its way into everyday lingo.
Consider for example:
—et cetera; You may know this as “Etc…” It means the same thing as “yada yada yada”
—ad hoc; Normally on my blog, if you see this phrase, it would read “add hock”, and it would be the time in the recipe to add the ham bone to the soup. However, if at work someone asks you yo be a part of an ad hoc committee, they are not asking you to join a potluck. They are asking you to join a special committee that was created for one specifically intended purpose. It translates as “to this”.
—Carpe Diem refers to neither large goldfish, nor to the flooring in the bedroom. It means “seize the day”. Go for it. Don’t let moss grow in your shadow.
—Alter ego; while I have known plenty of people whose ego needed altering, in this case the phrase means “other I”. Mr Hyde was Dr Jekyll’s alter ego. My alter ego is a woman called Christine, who uses pre-packaged foods and eats Captain Crunch. Luckily, I don’t let her out much.
But one of the latin phrases that I have always loved, is Veni, Vidi, Vici. Julius Ceasar is thought to have said this to his Senate, while announcing his swift victory over Pharnaces. It means “I came. I saw. I conquered.” I find it to be a great reinforcer of the idea that you can do whatever you set your mind to.
Through my culinary adventures, I have had to find strength and confidence to achieve some of my successes. I have had to overcome some big obstacles, most notably myself, in order to learn to appreciate some foods that I wouldn’t have before.
When I was younger, I didn’t like quiche because it looked like buttermilk pie, (which I love) but it tasted like breakfast. I loved breakfast too, but not when it was shaped like pie. Call it a perception problem, but when I got out of the way of myself, I found I loved quiche.
Another food perception problem for me has been the feasibility of cold soup. Literally, the idea of cold soup used to make my jaw lock up. I don’t even drink V-8 without heating it, because it smells like vegetable soup. In fact, when my husband really wants to torture me, he eats canned soup. Cold. Right out of the can.
I did not overcome this cold soup aversion overnight. Instead, it was through a series of baby steps. I started off with cold fruit soups. Seriously, what’s not to like about a creamy, sweet, fruit-based soup? It’s like a smoothie in a bowl.
The next step, and this was a significantly larger step, was that I found I liked Gazpacho. Gazpacho is a Spanish soup made of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peppers, celery and spices, and always served cold. I was able to try it by convincing myself that it was simply another take on salsa fresca, which is consumed with both reckless abandon and plenty of corn chips in restaurants and homes across Texas.
But Vichyssoise (veeshy-swozz) has been more difficult. Vichyssoise is a soup of leeks, potatoes, and cream. Leeks are those things in your produce aisle that look like giant green onions. I love leeks, potatoes and cream..But I love them hot.
If you make a living, or in my case, a hobby, out of trying to get people to expand their culinary horizons, you can’t so easily dismiss a dish of such culinary standing. So, I had to try it, and I had to try it cold, as the Cooking Gods and Mother Nature intended.
And I liked it. It is rich and creamy, but at the same time refreshing. It feels light, despite the cream.
But I didn’t LOVE it. So, as I usually do, I locked myself in my culinary laboratory and started tweaking the formula. A little less of this, and little more of that. Throw in some skillet fried corn for texture and sweetness. And of course, I would be remiss in my duties as a Texas chef if I didn’t throw in a little jalapeno.
So, I beat it. My fear of cold potato soup. But I also like it hot.
Veni Vidi Vichyssoise!
And remember, cooking is ART, not Science. You paint the picture however you wish, so if you want to eat it hot, eat it hot!
Texas Fusion Vichyssoise
- 2 leeks, chopped
- 1 ½ cup yellow onion, chopped
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1 ½ cups diced potatoes
- 2 1/3 cups chicken stock
- 1 t salt
- ½ t ground black pepper
- 2 cup fresh cut corn
- 1 large fresh jalapeno, seeded and minced
- 1 t sugar
- 1 1/4 cups cream (I use fat-free half-and-half)
In a dutch oven over medium low heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter, onions and leeks. Cook for 10 minutes until the onions are clear, but not brown. Add potatoes, stock, salt and pepper. Increase the heat to medium and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
While the potatoes are cooking, heat a skillet to medium high heat. Add the remaining butter, corn, and jalapeno. Cook for 5 minutes. Add sugar, and stir constantly, cooking until corn starts to turn golden. Remove from heat and set aside.
When potatoes are cooked, remove from heat. Process the soup in a blender, in batches, until smooth.
For traditional serving: Cool the soup completely. Stir in corn and cream just before serving.
For serving hot: stir cream into pureed soup, return to dutch oven and heat thoroughly. Add in 1 ½ cups of the corn, reserving the rest for garnish. Ladle soup into bowls, and top with reserved fried corn mixture. Taste, and add additional salt or pepper if desired.
BONUS POINTS! Serve it hot, and top it off with lots of cooked crumbled bacon.