May it Please the Palate: "Alphabet Soup, Part II"

Monday evenings usually have me vacillating between legal work and writing "May It Please the Palate." This Monday, for example, I am allegedly preparing for a deposition. In the boldness of late night thinking, I decide "I will start asking all deponents what their favorite meal is, at the beginning of a deposition. Just to mess with them and throw them off. Let their attorneys object. I'll withdraw the question and move on. But they won't forget that I opened the battle with a question their attorney didn't prepare them for."

"Good morning, Mr. Jones. Has your attorney explained to you what a deposition is? Has your attorney prepared you for the fact that I'm going to ask you about your favorite meal? Didn't see that coming, did you? What IS your favorite meal, Mr. Jones? Huh? HUH?!!"

Of course, in the morning light I chicken out. But I can at least write about it.

Last week, I gave you Alphabet Soup, Part I, A-M. Today I will complete the exercise, and give you the rest of the alphabet. Without further adieu, let's swear the witness, shall we?

N is for Nutella, whose manufacturer recently paid a $3 million dollar settlement, and agreed to stop claiming that this jar containing mostly sugar and palm oil had any actual health benefits. Whoops--sorry if you're a Nutella fan, Mr. Jones.

O is for olive oil. The nectar of the gods, the lubricant of my people. Opa!

P is for the noble and unfairly maligned potato. Baked potatoes, scalloped potatoes, French fries, Krunchers jalapeno potato chips, tater tots, mashed potatoes, potato sticks from North Park pool, potato galette ... you get the idea. And SO much healthier than Nutella.

Q is for 'Q--short for BBQ or barbeque. Slow smoked, messy, and delicious summer fun. Or for you vegetarians, quinoa (KEEN-wa)--a tasty and versatile grain, but rarely found at BBQ cookoffs.

R is for ramps, sometimes called wild leeks, a pungent type of wild onion popular in the south. Along with garlic scapes (the curling green tops of garlic plants), they are this year's trendy food flavoring.

S is for SELMA Café, my regular Friday morning breakfast destination. Not only a delicious meal made with local and seasonal ingredients, but a chance to support local farmers (

T is for the Traverse City Cherry Festival, July 7-14 this year. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a good cherry pie.

U is for Ugly Dog vodka, handmade quality stuff made in Pinckney, Michigan. A fine example of the growing trend of small-batch distilleries (New Holland is another one.)

V is for vegetables. Eat them. My favorites are spinach, cauliflower, asparagus, and okra. And did I mention the noble and unfairly maligned potato?

W is for wine. Support Michigan wineries. Try a Peninsula Cellars Riesling or a Two Lads Cabernet Franc. Check out Joel Goldberg's

X is for xanthum gum, a common emulsifier found in salad dressings, sauces, ice cream, oil drilling mud, fake blood recipes ... best you not learn how it's actually made. Bet your grandma never cooked with xanthum gum.

Y is for YiaYia, my own grandma. "You too skeeny," she would tell me. "I cook you lamb."

Z is for Zingerman's, Ann Arbor's own world famous delicatessen, bakehouse, roadhouse, and all-around super-friendly mega-conglomerate food purveyors.

"What's your favorite Zingerman's sandwich, Mr. Jones?"

No further questions. Can we break for lunch?

Published: Mon, Jun 18, 2012