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Chanterelle Tacos, City Bus

August 14th, 2012

First thing’s first: thank you, from the bottom of my heart for your sweet words on this post. All of your comments meant so much to us! Now, onto today’s post…

I don’t ride public transpiration much anymore, but every time I do, I seem to meet a character. The other day, I was on my way to the dentist’s office reading a book my friend gifted me called Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott. The lady next to me leaned over and asked me if I was a new mother and I said ‘no’ because going into more detail than that is not recommended on a public bus. Then she proceeded to tell me she had 10 children and they didn’t come with any operating instructions. I wondered if she was lying to me.

It’s not that I can’t fathom that someone can actually have 10 children but I have never in my life met anyone who really did. For the rest of the ride, I couldn’t concentrate on my book (the singing man sitting across from me none withstanding). I just kept thinking about what it would be like to raise 10 human beings. I used to write these types of little mini stories down in my journal. Perhaps because I thought one of them might inspire a longer piece one day. Maybe a short story, or a book.

As much as I love my mornings with a cup of coffee and NPR, I sometimes miss the kookiness of riding the city bus. No one ever wants to be bothered; lest you question this, you can take a look at the number of people listening to their iPods. But these small instances of human interaction — the interaction with strangers — are something that seem to increasingly be fading into obscurity. There is a liveliness to interacting with a total stranger, a bringing down of walls, and a questioning of your own opinions and ideas. It rattles you a little, in a good way.

I find that cooking can be a lot like writing in that you can easily get stuck in the known — not jotting down sporadic ideas or questioning the ingredients you pair together. For years, I had never eaten chanterelles — my favorite mushrooms — in any other way but the way I’ve been eating them since practically the day I could chew. My mom would sauté them with onions and potatoes to make something reminiscent of a hash (I posted the recipe here). Before we launched the Pairings Box, I didn’t trust myself much with cooking anything other than the familiar. I closely followed recipes from cookbooks and websites, and hardly ever came up with anything original — not because I couldn’t, but because I had never been forced to put myself in this unknown situation in which I had to ask myself, “But what if?”

After I started creating original recipes, I felt like ideas would rush to me at all hours of the day. Recipes would jump out at me from every cookbook, begging to be tweaked. Jars of exotic preserves I’d spot in a little shop would inspire me. And the smell of a certain herb or spice would set me off on a path of writing out a list of ingredients that would complement it. It is my favorite way to cook and few things upset me more than feeling uninspired.

I don’t know how much Heidi Swanson rides on public transit, but she sure seems to ingest inspiration from every nook and cranny of the city that we live in (not to mention her many travels abroad). The recipe I’m sharing today is adapted from one in her latest cookbook (a favorite). Perhaps what I love most about this book is that it doesn’t just excite me to cook the recipes, it inspires me to take them and make them my own. It empowers me to make bold decisions with flavor combinations, textures and assertive spices, herbs and condiments.

Chanterelle Tacos
adapted from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson
*serves four

12 ounces of chanterelles, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of aged cheese (we used Kerrygold Dubliner, which I highly recommend)
sea salt and freshly-ground pepper, to taste
1/2 onion, chopped finely
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/4 cup of sliced green onion
warmed corn tortillas for serving

1. Add the olive oil and butter to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Stir in the onion, garlic and a bit of salt. Cook, stirring, until the onion is soft.
2. Dial up the temperature and stir in the mushrooms, cooking until they begin to brown lightly and the liquid that they release cooks off. This should take roughly 5 minutes. Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper, to taste.
3. To serve: spoon mushrooms into warm tortillas, sprinkle with cheese and top with sliced green onion.

Musical Pairings: Aesop Rock – Skelethon + Chanterelle Tacos

More on the Turntable.


  • Molly

    I grew up in a small town with no public transportation, but have been in big cities since I left home at 18. There are some bus lines that are full of shmoozers, and other lines that people intentionally avoid eye contact. The same can be said for the drivers, although I get a little worried when my driver has long conversations with other passengers. But I’ve never met anyone on the bus with 10 kids. Not yet, anyways.

  • rohicks

    My grandma had 11 children. 11th one died at birth leaving 10 living ones. I have a big family on my mom’s side.

  • http://www.ladomestique.com Jess O’Toole

    I ride the bus once a week, and always end up with a kooky story to share with my husband involving a stranger I met. You never know who’s going to sit down next to you, and sometimes I think it’s a lesson in compassion, where I feel compelled to put down my book and just listen. As for the food, I agree that it’s easy to get stuck in the known, and these tacos would be a big departure for me too. They look very tasty.

  • Nicole

    My grandfather is the oldest of 10 kids, so I have a pretty large extended family. I don’t think it’s quite as common to have that many now though. :) I made these tacos from Heidi’s book a while back. Just lovely.

  • WithStyleGrace

    These are absolutely gorgeous! Makes me want to make them right now and I haven’t touched a mushroom since getting pregnant – so that’s saying a lot!

  • http://www.princesstofu.com/ chickiephi

    San Francisco’s city buses are a trip. I can’t get my boyfriend on one without a thorough coaxing but it’s always entertaining.

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    I love observing the passengers on public transportation and I agree with you, every line has its own vibe.

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Wow, that is impressive!

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    I think after taking a break from public transit, I find reading hard on the occasions I do find myself on the bus. Snooping on other people’s conversations is way more fascinating ;)

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Wow! I still can’t fathom that, even though Matt’s dad also comes from a very large family. I pretty much fall in love with everything I make from Heidi’s book..it’s truly something special.

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Ohh I can see how mushrooms can be off-putting when you’re pregnant…I think the cheese helps ;)

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Ha! Do you live in San Francisco? I can definitely see why someone would want to avoid the experience…but it’s an experience nonetheless :)

  • Nicole

    What a beautiful meal, Kasey! Thanks to Henry Ford, we lack public transportation in and around Detroit, but I feel my BART experiences could last me a lifetime :)

  • http://www.princesstofu.com/ chickiephi

    The best stories, if you seek them, are always on the 14. One time, I witnessed a man fight another over his Iphone: scuffles, fists, and blood but not a word was spoken.

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Ohhh, that’s a new one to me. Clearly, I need to get myself on the 14.

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Thank you, Nicole! Ohhh…BART is definitely a great place to catch some people watching action :)

  • http://www.aidamollenkamp.com Aida Mollenkamp

    Oh, the antics of public transportation in SF — one could devout a blog to that subject alone! Great photo of these tacos, Kasey. And I agree, Heidi does a fabulous job of find inspiration in the everyday.

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    I think there are actually blogs devoted to various transit lines in SF…and for good reason! Thanks, Aida :)

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  • Sarah

    Kasey, believe it or not, my dad is one of 17 (!) kids. It’s insane. I look at my (still-living) grandmother, who was a farm wife and lived a pretty damn hard life, and can’t believe she produced all those people. Who now have their own families. The miracle of just one baby is flooring, but so many? I’m with you. It makes you think. (I love chanterelles, by the way!)

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  • http://twitter.com/kitchconfidante Liren Baker

    My mother was one of 8, and while large families today are certainly not the norm, I will say that one lovely outcome of her large family was the resulting brood of cousins I have had the joy to grow up with! We recently had a family reunion at my sister’s wedding and it’s moments like these that make me wish I had more than two. But then again, two is more than enough for me :)

    These tacos are just my style. I think I will have to make it soon for my family of four (8, if you include the critters).

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Holy smokes, that is insane! I think it all depends on your perspective..maybe once you have 5, you an handle 17!

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    I bet it was fun! I’ve always wanted a large family, maybe because mine has always been really small. I think in the Bay Area, it’s hard to manage more than a handful of kids! The cost of living is just way too high. I always include the critters ;)

  • MikeVFMK

    A thing of beauty. Just staring it like I would art on a wall. And I’m dying to taste it.

    Btw, I rode the bus and trains through my formative years. I did it for the transportation but I also did as much for the chance to see strangers interact. Back then it happened with more frequency, today we’re all scared of our shadow and afraid if we say hello someone just might say hello back.
    Lovely piece here!

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Thank you so much! Can I just tell you how long I’ve been a fan of your blog for? So touched to see your comment here. I think your observation is very much on point…it’s sad how much we’re afraid of each other these days :( I’m glad this brought back some memories!

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