Me: Do you have any shanks?
Stoned Farmer's Market Dude: Oh yeah, sure, we got shanks.
Me: Good, it says on the chalkboard that you have shanks.
SFMD: Yep, we got some shanks. (Rustles around in a deep cooler full of lamb.) Yep, some nice shanks right here. (Pulls out part of lamb, definitely not a shank.)
Me: That's not a shank. A shank is part of the leg. It looks like it's part of a leg. What is that?
SFMD: It's a shank, oh, wait, let me look at my inventory. (Pulls out legal pad, scans it.) Nope, you're right, not a shank. Didn't bring any shanks today. This is a neck. You don't want that. How about this nice rack of chops?
Me: (Spying price on bag containing rack.) Does that say $60.00? How much is the neck?
Me: I'll take the neck.
I took the neck indeed, made a delicious stew out of it with potatoes, tomatoes, onion, carrot, and yogurt. Threw in some of the strange (to me) new spices Brigid gave me for my birthday, in particular the beguiling asafeotida, or 'devil's dung,' harvested in Afghanistan from a flower and used as an onion/garlic substitute by Jainists, who apparently try not to cook with onions or garlic. It's got some funky, mountainous Middle East umami thing going on. Also lends a nice yellow color to a stew.
With the above we drank a bottle of Ojai Red from the Ojai Vineyard. It's their 'Table Wine' cuvee, made from a slightly different blend of Rhonish grapes each year. Made up in Santa Barbara County, this comes pretty close to expressing hometown terroir here in Los Angeles. It's powerful stuff, up around 15% alcohol. Those of you who have been following these posts have witnessed my conversion––I am officially a fan of big fat New World wines. Something about the Los Angeles winter makes them particularly satisfying, sweet and good.
That sweetness and alcohol comes at a price, though. Headaches are a little swimmier in the morning. Like the price paid for most good things, they're worth it.
A few of you West Coast readers have asked about Trader Joe's recommendations. I shall oblige in coming weeks. S.K.