The Republic of Less favours good food that doesn’t take long to prepare and doesn’t require too much skill. Simple food, small amounts, immediately satisfying, and ready within 30 minutes fits the bill. Consider this.

Above image from here

It’s bread and tomatoes, perfected in Catalonia, where you’d call it Pa Amb Tomaquet made from this: crusty bread, fresh tomatoes, garlic, salt, and olive oil.

You just toast the bread–BBQ is ideal, but toaster or oven is OK–then rub a halved clove of garlic over the bread, then smush a halved tomato into the bread, top with coarse salt and olive oil and eat. And smile. Above image and further description from Spanish Journeys. For more see http://www.fortheloveofgarlic.com/2009/08/

I first learned of it from a neat little book called Portable Feasts by Clare Ferguson.

The idea of the book was to provide examples of good food that could be taken on a picnic or a hike and assembled with a minimum of fuss once you got to the beach or the meadow. Clare Ferguson has done many useful, good looking food books, collaborating with photographer Jeremy Hopley. The one called Street Food is fairly new:

In my town there isn’t a lot of street food. Mostly just hot dogs of one kind or another. But the current city government says it wants to change that. I say good, since I’m often on the street and often hungry. Apparently they were inspired by the many foodcarts of Portland.

Lots more at foodcartsPortland

But if you’re stuck at home (blogging your brains out, for eg), whipping up your own quick off-the-street food fast is what you want to do. All you really need is potatoes. Cooked yesterday.

Put mashed potatoes from yesterday into a pan with some oil and butter, mix it up so the butter gets into the potatoes, add salt and pepper if needed and some nutmeg if you want, flatten it out to form a large pancake, and cook carefully for a few minutes. When the bottom starts to get crispy, you can give the handle of the fry pan a quick sideways jerk to the left and the right to loosen the potato cake bottom from the pan.

Put it out on a plate and eat. You can take it a step further by trying to flip the whole thing over and cooking the other side, but that’s tricky–skip if you’re really hungry. You can do several small cakes also.

Above from here

So if you’re stuck at home this weekend, maybe try some Pa Amb Tomaquet or a potato cake, or two. Or, if you can get away, maybe head to Portland (or New York or LA or ) for some street food. Or if you’re lucky, maybe you can find a nice little bar that will serve you up a small plate of something wonderful nice and quick.

In my town, the place for that is called Sciue, which means good and fast in Italian. Image above from here

If you get to Milan, go to any bar at about 4 pm and they serve great great snacks at no extra charge when you buy a drink. Known as apertivo, see story from NYT

Above a tapas bar in Spain. And seeing it, I have to say that I am declaring the official food of the R of L to be tapas. And if we ever get around to building the capital city of our republic, it will have a street like the one below right down the middle. Close to my house.

Image from here of Calle del Laurel in Logrono, Rioja, Spain. 50 tapas bars on one street. Story from the Guardian paper here

We think a lot about art and design here at the R of L. But you have to eat well to think well. Have a tasty weekend. Eat small, eat well, eat often.

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