November 2nd, 2008, 18 Comments »
I never use salt and pepper. That sounds like an exaggeration or a boast, but it’s just a simple fact. I’m pretty ambivalent about food, and I guess nobody ever taught me how to assess whether something was appropriately seasoned.
I was thinking about seasoning the other day. It’s always struck me as a little odd. We go out and pay somebody else to make our food. On occasion, we pay a lot of money to have a highly skilled (or at least reputable) professional make our food.
Then, often before we’ve even tried it, we modify how that food tastes. In fact, there’s some kind of systemic thing going on with the pepper grinder. It’s specifically offered before we try the food. After all, there’s already pepper in there–why would we want more? And if it needs pepper, why isn’t that essential ingredient added, in full, back in the kitchen? I gather that it’s more about the customer service and the flare of delivering the pepper out of a big phallus, but it’s still peculiar.
The funny thing about salt and pepper is that we are, presumably, adding something to how the food tastes. We can’t, of course, remove salt or pepper that’s already been applied to the dish. We can only affect the front side of the bell curve of taste.
And why isn’t this constant taste adjustment an affront to the chef? The most common argument I hear is something along the lines of “I like my food saltier than the average person”. But the use of table salt is so prevalent–the average person adds salt–so that simply can’t be true. What gives?
18 Comments »
July 16th, 2008, 11 Comments »
I don’t drink. I did when I was a teenager, but that was mostly for show. I never really acquired a taste for alcohol. Plus, I’m kind of anhedonic. I’m not a teetotaller–go forth and drink up–it’s just not for me.
At various people’s urgings, I have, on occasion, tasted an alcoholic beverage. They mostly taste bad, but nothing tastes more foul to my virgin tongue than wine.
Of course, nearly everybody else loves wine. And that’s fine. I do find the snobby celebration of all things vino quite farcical. The frequent bollocks from wine producers, sellers and consumers gets kind of grating. Plus, I find that anybody who takes a single wine appreciation course becomes a confident assessor of the grape juice, and can hold forth at length about its ‘oaken, fruity frankness’ or whatever.
I’ve always imagined that it was just a twist of fate that made wine the most examined beverage in our society. Why not, say, orange juice? “My, the pulpy tang of this Valencia 2002 really sneaks up on you, doesn’t it?”
I can’t remember where, but I recently read a fantastic article about the moral superiority that now accompanies discussions of food and wine. Like, we’re better people because we eat organic chicken.
That’s a long, ranty introduction to this blog post entitled “How To Be A Snob: Drinking Alcohol” (thanks to Waxy):
Do not speak. Scent is pretty easy to verify, so if you guess wrong then everyone will know what a yutz you are. If someone ventures their own review as to what it smells like, frown as though you’re too busy concentrating on this intense bouquet to interrupt it with stupid words. This automatically gives you the edge, since as a conneisseur you know enough not to discuss anything until the full tasting is over.
I could follow these instructions, and just skip the drinking step.
UPDATE: Boris rightfully points up that this would be the perfect opportunity to pimp VinoCamp at UBC Botanical Gardens. He assures me that “itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s like wine tasting minus the snobberyÃ¢â‚¬Â¦or something.”
11 Comments »
January 14th, 2008, 3 Comments »
I just got back from Essaouira’s souk, where the locals shop. I bought:
- 6 eggs.
- A whole chicken breast (meaning, uh, all the white meat on the bird). The butcher pulled it from his refrigeration unit–a box of water.
- A mango, 6 plums and 4 apples.
- Some carrots, an onion and a green pepper.
- Some couscous.
- A couple baguettes.
All for 75 dirhams, or just under CAN $10. A little cheaper than Urban Fare, methinks.
3 Comments »
November 5th, 2007, 3 Comments »
I think I have a legitimate beef with the makers (that’s a nutty German website–don’t miss this chocolatey madness) of ‘Hit Choco Flavour’ cookies, don’t I?
If you look at a larger size, you can spot a worrying, random asterisk after the word ‘Flavour’. It’s a busy day, hence the few words and three photos.
3 Comments »
September 27th, 2007, 1 Comment »
Matt wrote an entertaining (for me, not so much for him) post about his discovery that he’s got a schwack of food allergies:
So let’s tally up: shellfish are bad, but regular fish is still okay. And even though wheat is out, rice is okay. And no dairy. So you’d think I’d be the perfect candidate for the all-sushi diet. Hooray! Which wouldn’t be too far off, but it’s still tricky.
You see, when they make the sushi rice, they do two things to it. They add mirin, a sugary rice wine. And they add vinegar, which, in addition to the sugar in the mirin, I’m also allergic to. And even if not, I couldn’t dip the sushi in anything, because I’m also allergic to soy. Sounds like no biggie, but do you have any idea how much soy you ingest in a day? (Hint: think vegetable oil Ã¢â‚¬â€ what kind of vegetable do you think it comes from?)
Dude, that’s a lot of foods. And a bummer about the sushi. Sushi is one of the few foods I really miss living in places like Gozo and Ireland, where sushi is unavailable and expensive (and lousy), respectively.
1 Comment »
May 14th, 2007, 7 Comments »
Somebody I know is starting the 100 mile diet this weekend. Until Thanksgiving, he’s going to try to only eat food produced within 100 miles (160.934 km) from his home in Vancouver. It’s an admirable pursuit. He loves a chore, so I expect he’ll do very well at it.
The purpose, in case you missed it, is to only consume locally grown food, reducing one’s impact on the environment. According to Wikipedia, food in North America typically travels 1,500 miles from farm to plate.
Here on Malta’s smaller island, we’re accidentally engaged in this eating model. Last week we were at the butcher buying some chicken breasts:
JULIE: Where’s your chicken from?
BUTCHER: They’re local. These were killed this morning.
Distance from farm to plate? Probably less than 5 km.
I’m really surprised by the diversity of food that’s locally produced. All of our chicken, fish, pasta, bread, wine, dairy, fruit and vegetables (from fava beans to asparagus, from bananas to watermelon) is local. Some of the canned goods–ketchup, for example–are produced in Malta. Heck, even the Coke I’m drinking is bottled on the main island.
There are certainly some exceptions. Oddly, our Dijon mustard is from Dublin and we’ve got biscuits from Germany. Still, I’d say 90% of our diet falls into a 100-mile radius. That makes me feel slightly less guilty about all the air travel we’re doing. We’re buying carbon credits, but it’s still sub-optimal.
7 Comments »