Our fair burg pops up in the darnedest places. The latest is BBC Travel. Their website features a story about Rob Connoley and his Grand Center restaurant Bulrush. Written by T. J. Olwig, a St. Louisan, it focuses on Connoley’s continuing efforts to discover and explore what people were eating on the Ozark Plateau, mainly before 1870, and what he creates from his discoveries.
The BBC has never been aimed strictly at the United Kingdom. Like CNN, it has a worldwide following and one can sense that in their approach to the story. Note, for instance, that there’s absolutely no invoking of the hillbilly stereotype. Quite the opposite, in fact. Here’s a chef/owner talking about sociology and ethnobotanists, some of the tools used to identify these foods.
Olwig leads readers down the little-known byways of persimmons and pawpaws, pokeweed, and pecans. Connoley’s research is so painstaking that he held off on serving beef until he had proof there were cattle in the area in his chosen time frame. He points out that besides the common game of the time, like venison, possum, and squirrel, bear was considered meat, sometimes smoked. (None of these except venison are on the Bulrush menu.) His diligent searches have certainly paid off. At the Recorder of Deeds office downtown, he discovered an 1841 list of seeds and varietals being used locally. Washington University’s Natalie Mueller led him to a buckwheat relative called knotweed and wild quinoa, known as lambsquarters.
This is just the sort of unusual story that the BBC frequently shares around the world. This was a fine choice. Connoley’s work deserves to be brought to a larger audience. We say kudos to him and to the Beeb for recognizing a good thing when they found it.
Currently, Bulrush is offering in-house Cooking Demo Dinners each Wednesday (Ethiopian cuisine is featured in December), as well as a seven-course tasting menu Thursday through Saturday (which can also be ordered for curbside pickup or delivery). All available by reservation only. Details here.