Cool video by another “fat kid” - Erwan Heussaff. Love how well done this is—between the editing, music (and agree on using the local Pinoy track-that is awesome) and gotta say, am impressed by the knife skills!
Looks like a really fresh dish with great Mediterranean flavors.
And I think describes the way I feel about food more accurately and eloquently than anything I have read.
Tamar Adler writes that Julia Child once said,
“Certainly one of the most important requirements for learning how to cook is that you also learn how to eat.”
It rings very true to me—like any creative pursuit, to truly master it you have to get to know and understand your materials. Towards that end, there’s a neat book called Culinary Artistry that suggests various ingredient pairings that go together, if anyone is interested. But to really get to know food and think up interesting combinations you have to eat!
That’s part of what I love about food so much—the adventure of it. (Though I also love the comfort that comes from familiar beloved dishes. I guess it is possible to love two almost opposite things about something—it must be possible, since I do.) Especially back when I was cooking more, I would become obsessed with one, new ingredient and then want to make tons of dishes with it. One time in cooking school a classmate made the most delicious black beans that were elevated to another level by the addition of cumin. For a while I was cooking everything with cumin—I bought Claudia Roden’s cookbook Arabesque and made lots of Moroccan food—after a while my family got kind of sick of cous cous. Then for a while I was into everything blackcurrant—but that was ended sharply by about half a bottle of Absolut Kurant drank on a train to Carnival in Spain.
This article makes me feel like Julia Child and I were kindred spirits—Adler writes,
[she was] someone who cooked well but not perfectly, whose tastes ran the gamut, and who didn’t make exceptions or put foods into categories according to what she was supposed to like but didn’t, or what was theoretically “good” but in some way “bad.
I don’t consider myself a great cook—I can make things that taste good, yes, and my friends seem to like what I make (compared to many people my age just knowing how to cook using various methods I suppose seems impressive), but having had a couple stints in kitchens I know I’m not destined to be a chef and I don’t find my food “delicate” or perfectly presented. My knife skills were never perfect and I make a big mess when I cook, and timing wise things don’t necessarily end up done at the same time. But my food is homey—and always in huge portions (since I am a glutton and fear running out).
The thing is, I don’t love to cook. I enjoy cooking, but usually for other people. I do find it soothing for myself if I have time and get hit by the urge, but most of the time I can’t be bothered to do much beyond an omelette, a salad, a steak or pasta. (Also, I like cooking a whole lot more when I don’t have to do the dishes. Dinner for one means cleanup too.) For me cooking is made worth it by having someone to do it for, by bringing happiness to them. People ask, “Do you have a specialty? What do you like to cook?” I say, “I cook what people like to eat.” I guess that should be qualified—people who aren’t picky. I don’t like to cook chicken fingers for ignorant eaters.
Also I love the way the article brings up how our society seems obsessed with putting normative values on food, and how awful that is. It’s like we demonize certain foods because of their fat content, and then end up eating this super processed fake cereal just because it has like 0.5g of fat and 5g of fiber. Newsflash—you are eating chemical cardboard. I get very specific cravings for things—like right now I feel all good because I went to the gym and I’m craving broccoli and zucchini stir fried in butter and garlic and chicken broth with maybe some asian twist to put on the leftover rice in my fridge…and generally just try to listen to them. And I try not to eat lots of processed junk because, well, it’s gross to me but also I find I gain more weight eating powerbars than I do eating bone marrow and pork belly.
Anyways… I digress. What really brought this article all together for me, and made me feel like it expresses my beliefs in food and eating, is the ending. I should preface this by saying that I hate the word “foodie” because I find a lot of foodies super annoying, and like they are doing something to be cool or that they don’t really know about and they are all caught up in the social aspect of being a foodie rather than just sincerely loving food, which is totally antithetical to what I love about food, eating, and restaurants—which is, lack of pretention… and I may sound like an asshole, but the whole point of this is—I’ve heard gourmand used as an alternative, you know, implying someone who’s actually serious, and sort of avoiding that yuppie connotation. But you sound like a real dick saying “I am a gourmand.” However, Adler writes that Julia Child’s translation of the word “gourmand” is such: not a word implying snobishness, but simply, “happy eater.” And that’s it. That’s what I am. To me, food brings such joy.
And ok, maybe I’m still not going to go around saying “I am a gourmand,” but at least in my head, at least privately, between me and Julia—and Adler—I can say it. I have a name for it now. Thank you Julia Child, for that.
For Easter I went on a roadtrip to Montreal and literally gained five pounds in the space of three days. It was pretty incredible.
French Canadian cuisine is heavy. I guess something’s gotta counteract the bitter cold. I have this image of fur traders eating tourtiere—an all-spice laced meat pie—and drinking maple syrup during long treks across the Canadian shield…
Anyways, the truth is I don’t really know the history behind Quebecois cuisine. But I do know that I love poutine, one of Quebec’s iconic dishes—and have since I was a kid, when it was my favorite ski-lodge lunch. I don’t understand how anyone can think french fries with cheese curds and gravy sounds “gross.” It’s like…potatoes with cheese are good. Potatoes with gravy are good. What part of this are you missing?
See Ex. A:
Poutine from famous 24 hour joint La Banquise. It’s not just any cheese—it’s fresh cheese curds, which are a little salty and must have a “squeak” to the bite. And its not just any gravy—it has some bbq sauce in it. Also the fries are my favorite kind—thick and squishy and the potatoes have a lovely soft texture that is so satisfying… We had this as a SNACK while waiting for one of the most amazing dining experiences I have had in my entire life…
A little while back I had dinner with my friend Drew, who I met freshman year when he was my Editor at Let’s Go. After graduating, Drew took the road much less travelled by the Harvard student, and went into the restaurant industry.
He started out in Boston with (get ready for this rock star list) Jody Adams at Rialto, then with Tony Maws at Craigie on Main, and finally with Barbara Lynch at Menton, before moving to New York. He’s now the beverage manager at Momofuku Ma Peche, which is conveniently located a block from my office, and we had been meaning to get a meal and catch up for a while.
So, on a rare night off for him, we met at Momofuku Noodle Bar to eat and chat, especially about that road less travelled. Is it ironic to feel so lost when you’ve chosen to follow the crowd?