updated music to cook to with links for the artist information and links to purchase the albums from amazon. share and enjoy.
So, i’m reading this great book, My Last Supper: 50 Great Chefs and Their Final Meals… its a great little coffee table book for food lovers and the generally morbid. 50 chefs are asked the what, where, who and how of their imagined last supper on this earth. answers range from straight forward down to earth comfort food (which i admire) to in depth descriptions of very specific ingredients obtained from very specific sources (which truth to be told bores me a little). great photography as well, all in all a pleasant book.
ah but here is the rub, i started thinking… ok, this would be a proper mile marker for what would constitute a proper meal. all i have to do is play the last meal game, honestly figure out for myself what the absolute pinnacle of dining perfection would be, the one meal i would choose to have before i slip off this mortal coil. and then of course, make it and have a great time eating it.
but somewhere in that thought process, i got caught in a little conundrum… i’m not the kinda guy that knocks on wood or tosses salt over the shoulder or really does anything to fend off evil spirits of any kind. i’m not superstitious. but at the same time, i have a healthy respect for fate and the many forms of irony delivered in its name.
i’m not superstitious but think of it this way… i sit down and i have myself a nice long think about the one meal i would have before dying. i then cook this meal and eat it. is that not just tossing it out there, hey, i’ve had my last supper, i’m done, do what you will with me.
so, first off, if i ever figured out the perfect meal, it would be the one meal that i could never comfortably eat (internal strange loop in this statement). i think its best not to play the game and just to cook really good meals that i can enjoy while alive.
but really, i’m not superstitious. really.
ok, i may be getting a little stodgy in my advanced age… i might not be as cutting edge as i once was… but i can’t help it, i’m frustrated by the very concept of fusion cuisine.
ok, great, you take something from one genre, add either prep elements or flavors from another and bam! instant high class cuisine right? The theory is sound, if two things taste great, they must taste great together… chocolate and peanut butter… bacon and eggs, beer and pizza… you get the picture.
well, i think it points to a lack of respect for the ingredient you are working with. call me a traditionalist but my steak doesn’t need a mango chutney. as a matter of fact, my steak doesn’t need anything but a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper and about 3 1/2 minutes per side.
i think fusion is borne from a boredom with traditional methods and ingredients. its a result of people always looking for the next best thing. well, for my money, the next best thing is overrated. good food (as i am probably going to repeat a million times over the next year) comes from getting the right ingredients, as fresh as possible and preparing them in the manner that is perfect for that ingredient. no need to go crazy with bizarre combinations. respect your ingredients and bring out the best of what they are.
I’ve just received a french press as an early anniversary present. This and 9 pounds of coffee has made me a happy man. I had never had coffee made in a french press before but it is an eye opening experience. the coffee tastes so much fuller and richer. I am sold. I have made around a dozen cups since getting it yesterday and would willingly throw away my drip machine at this point. good ingredients + good technique = excellent beverage.
As i mentioned in my aside on beverages, there is a great pleasure in drinking locally produced beer. The small batch artisan beers with short transport distances reach your glass fresher and with a cleaner crisper interpretation of what the brewer intended. The same is true of the food on your plate. Good cuisine is not reliant on exotic ingredients but instead on taking the best quality ingredients and matching them with the best technique and flavorings to complement the inherent flavors, textures and characteristics of the ingredient. With this as an assumed true, it follows logically that the best quality ingredients would be those that you can obtain locally, less impacted by transport and storage times. The ingredients indigenous to your locale are going to provide you with the best results. I think we all know that but somehow, everyone sees things like chilean sea bass and assumes that even here in the middle of colorado, that would be an effective main ingredient.
There are those that limit their intake to items produced within a 100 mile radius of their home. Primarily, these are ecologically aware individuals that are trying to cut down on their carbon footprint. Makes sense, less transport equals less gas burned, storage, etc, etc… also makes sense from my point of you, fresher tastes better, eat and cook what you have available in your local area. Find a farmers market, explore it, learn the variety of crops that are relatively local. If you are lucky enough, track down a producer that grows heirloom vegetables… in addition to being grown locally, these will give you variations on standard available flavors and textures… remember the mantra, fresher tastes better… locally grown vegetables are without a doubt fresher.
so, i have been doing minor research on the agriculture of korea… being a peninsula, there is an abundance of seafood. i remember my first trip there, i was a bit intimidated by the open air markets and the general lack of refrigeration of the meats and fish. however, armed with the knowledge that the population of korea hasn’t died of some strange foodborne plague and the skills to identify fresh fish, i believe that i can safely navigate the minor dangers of buying on the economy. also, sad to say but since i’m only cooking for myself, if i get sick, meh, so what, i’ll live. i would be much more cautious if i were involving the rest of the family or guests but my own safety and comfort i am willing to sacrifice in the pursuit of culinary excellence.
in line with choosing the right ingredients, i would urge you to take your time with preparations. treat your ingredients and recipes with the respect they deserve and you will surely be rewarded. The foodie reaction to the fast food generation is encapsulated in the philosophies of the Slow Food movement. these guys really know how to take it easy and pay attention to what you are putting in your mouth. I first discovered them at the Great British Cheese Festival in 2004. the simplicity of the philosophy, pay attention to every aspect of food preparation, from start to finish, appeals to me on a base level. This is one of the foundations of my year long experiment, focus on the basics, choose the right ingredient, the right cooking method and create a wonderful meal.