Category: cooking

Eulogy for a Celebrity

I don’t understand how a person who could inspire so many people, who possessed the single-handed ability to stir up so much passion among the masses, a person who inspired an entire generation of cooks, chefs, and hospitality industry personnel, could hate themselves to such an extreme extent that they end it by self-strangulation. This contradiction is so unfair that it sucks the wind out of my sails, leaving a feeling of discontent stillness, a feeling of what the fuck?  How could he not feel the joy that he gave to so. many. people?

I am not alone in not being able to understand this dichotomy.  True, he was not a pinnacle of stability: he was a bad boy, went against conventionally constructed rules, he unapologetically bulldozed his own path, but nobody thought his mild on-camera destruction was indicative of a very deep level of self-destruction.

In his narrative, the underdog is always the hero.  In his narrative, the humblest of foods are the most complex.  Food is life, and no one explained and demonstrated that better.  He did not laud the best chefs in the best restaurants, he did the exact opposite.  He went into the streets, into people’s homes, he interviewed the outcasts of the culinary world.  He opened up a new social consciousness by exposing culture, both socially and politically, through a bowl of food.

His other impact, one that I personally encountered, was his strong influence on this generation of chefs and cooks.  Every single person that I know, every colleague, has been greatly inspired by his books and were continually impressed by how he rose above kitchen stardom to make food meaningful on a large scale.  Everyone wants to be him and he remains a role model for an entire industry.  His original viewpoint on what makes food great, his eloquence with words, his ability to take the industry and completely change it with a simple book is what makes his career so impressive.  His passion reached into our hearts and ripped them open with a sheer love of what food represents and what it gives.

I, like everyone else that I know, am weirdly affected by his passing.  Yes, I did meet him once, and yes I read his books.  And yes, they definitely helped prepare me for the restaurant world:  I do not think I could have thrived in the professional kitchen without his tips. His premature exit of this world has left a large void forcing us all to realize just how much his work has affected us.

I want the focus of his legacy to be his belief that food should not be taken too seriously.  Food is a reflection of a larger thing.  It is an experience.  It is tangible love that you share with people that you care for.  Truly, food is not about the newest restaurant with the trendiest flavors.  It is not about your dishes in magazines and likes on Instagram.  At its core, food is a reflection of people, it is a way of life, it is an artistic expression of a person’s surroundings.

Anthony, you affected more people than you could ever imagine on a deeper level than you ever intended.  I am sorry that we did not tell you this in a way that could make you happy.  Food sustains life, it should not lead to destruction.  You of all people know this the best.  The tragedy of this story is hard for me to swallow.

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Appetizing

Why are people eating Tide Pods? You know the dishwasher tabs, a type of soap you put in a machine that washes your dishes so that your hands don’t get wet?

And why do I even have to ask this question?  Throughout history, people consistently say that the world is the most crazy at that certain time, but does this not take the cake?

I did, I fucking googled “why are people eating tide pods?” because I was too embarrassed to actually ask someone.   I am just the type of person you would expect to ask this question: a very un-tech savvy mid-30’s lady who is pretty much consistently in a bathrobe.  Yes, I actually type into the google search box: why are people eating tide pods?  Question mark and all- I just HAD to know.

And you know what I found out?  Nothing.  I still have no idea why people are eating dishwasher tabs.  One explanation is that they vaguely resemble candy.  An explanation which raises even more questions than it proposes to answer, but I do not have time to dissect this new wormhole right now. What I do know is that I have read about it enough times to google the Tide Pod phenomena.

The Mystery will remain until someone takes the time to explain it to me.  But since you didn’t ask, here is my explanation:

“The internet is not making us smarter, and this is the evidence. Direct fucking evidence.  No need to litigate, this question is sufficient proof to win the case of “The Value of the Internet V Reading a Book.”

Smartphones are making us addicted to their bright screens and moving content, but all this fluidity is keeping us distracted enough to not actually care about the content.  We just like to dive into the internet zone- a place where we are entertained in whatever fashion we fancy,  distracted from the world around us where we can judge other people’s bad life decisions, a comforting spot where we can put off our chores and the horrors of having to take care of oneself.  Smartphones with their vivid screens are addictive- the more you dig, the deeper you need to go.

We use our smartphones for everything and all the time.  It has become an extension of the self to such an astonishing degree.  One does not do anything without the phone in hand-eat, poop, socialize.  ne does not leave the house without the phone in the pocket, one does not ride the train without eyes glued to the glowing screen, one does not waste time in any other way besides the comforting hand-hug of that indispensable phone. Many people sleep with them in bed at night.  When was the last time your trusty phone has left your side?  When was the last time you left it out of arm’s reach intentionally?

It’s like why read Shakespeare when there is Netflix?”

-Marigold

Focused on the Blur

After so many first times, it must, at some point, level out and start to get easier to do things for the first time.  It Must. Right? Or is it like how getting fully submerged in a cold lake on a hot summer day never gets easier no matter how many times you shock dry skin into the heavy wet water?

I have a great salt and pepper blend of confidence and humility, but I get nervous-I am not graceful on my feet.  I am a behind the scenes person, I am the focus of my delusions, but secretly super shy.  Interviewing a chef is like photographing Sasquatch, we are creatures not fully of this dimension and most times talking is hard.

I remember the first time I split and scrapped a vanilla bean- a long, thin, small, precious, and plump, ready to create a subtle explosion of flavor- I was hands shaking with my pairing knife, afraid to waste any one of the million seeds, knowing that this was a turning point in my life- one small step, the first one really, into a study that I so enthusiscitcally pursue.  So everytime I do something for the first time, I remember how natural it is for me to split a vanilla bean.

The Year of the Garlic Clove

It’s the small details, those things that you take for granted, that seem so commonplace place, that you never think about where is comes from, but yet you put inside your body, use everyday in every meal, everywhere, so ubiquitous that you don’t even consider the source.  Today’s eye opener is about garlic- where it comes from and why the self life is so long- why all the garlic cloves look exactly the same, why all the pockets of hidden garlic cloves are the same color and same shape and same size.  These manufactured monsters seem more like robots than food.  I have never consider the fact that all the garlic I eat and all the garlic I handle comes from China, from the other side of the globe, with a shelf life that is so long that the bulbs do not have to be date.  Yet here we are, in the middle of cold America, trying to call ourselves as local as we can be, but we cannot even manage to keep an easy crop like garlic on hand.  It looks like the garden is going to get a new addition this year.

Push It

My head is officially feeling extremely full at the moment.  I cannot even think about all the details surrounding the upcoming events, I am banking on blind faith that all the pieces will fall into place.

There is much to be done this week, a lot of work and a lot of fun to be had.  So there is this Easter holiday coming up, which means that in addition to family dinner, there is padded celebration all weekend long because for most people this is a chill time.  The social demands are no joke, following up after a long weekend of excitement, with opportunities to have fun all week long- but alas to these I must decline.  Too many errands before the rapidly approaching weekend.  Saturday’s day long activities have been booked for months, now there is a very fun sounding after party.  Oh great, wh0 needs sleep these days?  Sunday morning will prove to be a challenge because the restaurant decided that it would be great to host brunch.  So early bird in to get everything baked before the brunch cooks arrive, then hustle to get out to start family dinner.

Oh but that is not all- new dessert on the menu so there is added work for that change.   You make the test, then test the tweaks, then make the dish, then you have to make it again because the batch sizes are small due to potential error.  So, currently we are at the stage of making everything again for the 5th time.  But, I think it’s going to be a winner, stayed tuned to Marigold for the detailed post, including photos!

But that also is not all- the new restaurant experiments and menu development is getting rolling.  Plans are being hatched, and I really need to pick up the pace on getting the menu ready, experimented, tested, tweaked, photographed, and blogged.

This long rant is one of happiness and looking forward to a great week fun of food, fun, and family.  It’s my own fault for going overboard, wanting to do everything, being a perfectionist, a lover of the wine and the dance, and I would have my overactive to-do list no other way.

Dissecting Microscopic Details

What I like about working with a controlled and highly selective area of cooking is that it really lets you dive into the diversity of a singular resource.  For example, I use many different kinds of sweeteners in my dishes.  I resort to refined white sugar only when necessary when make a caramel or meringue when you absolutely need pure sugar for the process to be successful.  Other than that, I use all sorts of raw, unrefined, fruit sourced, and naturally occurring sweeteners to add a unique flavor profile that highlights the quintessential sweet sensation of the last course.  My desserts are not just sweet, they are interesting, which in turn makes them memorable.

I have been thinking a lot about alternative fat resources, which includes using coconut oil a lot more.  Bacon has a been a recent dessert phenomenon, a movement which I have embraced, but what about other animal fats?  Sheep, cow, duck?

I have also been thinking about how yeast can affect the flavors of the final product. Baking yeast is highly commercialized, serving a function more than a flavor.  You increase the yeasty flavor with time- as in sour dough and fermented yeast, but think about how brewers use different strands of yeast to change a define a flavor of their brew?  Can I do that with baking?  With bread?  With cake?  Crossings, brioche, muffins, doughnuts?

Personalize Diet Plan, Named

Real food diet, ground to mouth, that’s my plan.  Simple foods, minimally processed and whole singular ingredients only.  Although the ingredient list many be long, that is not because of what is on the label of the can or plastic packaging, it is because I strive to eat a very diverse amount of meat, vegetables, fruits, roots, seeds, nuts, spices, vinegar, fats.

Bread, you say, has but 4 ingredients: flour, water, yeast, and salt, so why then are you of the skip-the-bread clan?  How can this easy list go wrong?   The problem with bread is that the flour highly processed. It offers no nutritional value per se and now I am sure that all flour has come from a GMO crop, and almost all of it has been bleached, stripped completely of any traces of minerals and vitamins.

I also try very very hard to limit my cheese consumption which I difficult given my Dutch blood.  Although cheese has but two ingredients: milk and culture, the problem with dairy is how the cows are treated, what they are fed, the medicines they receive to produce a lot, and what milk has gone through to get to the table: homogenization, pasteurization, and overall low quality.  Nothing about the dairy farm is natural.

So when people ask me how I eat, I don’t want to say Paleo- that sounds limiting and also the worst diet name ever.  I eat real food, whole foods, minimally processed, like you cook it some and it’s ready to go. Real food doesn’t have any ingredient list, that’s my diet.  Real food doesn’t specific what’s not in it (growth hormones or preservatives) and definite does not come in plastic.