February 28, 2012

Why Spain?

This is my first real trip to Europe (2 hour layover in Hamburg doesn't count), and my first as a professional cook/chef. Some might say that France should have been my first priority. Growing up, I always thought I would go to Italy first. A few people were surprised that I chose Spain.

While I'm wide awake due to jet lag, I'm going to fill in the blog as much as possible. Click the link below for more about why I'm here in Spain.

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June 17, 2008

Favorites From My Library

I have a problem. I collect cookbooks and I can't stop! At present, it's probably upwards of 350 cookbooks. I'm going to begin a list some of my favorites, with links to Amazon. If you happen to decide to buy them through these links, I'll get a little Amazon credit, and you can be my enabler. Thanks!!

For Everyone:

This is the classic American cookbook. There's actually a bit of drama surrounding this book. In the 90's, it was revised and expanded to include all sorts of new cuisines, to mirror what was happening in American food. The family of the original authors apparently didn't like the new expansion, and later took editing control back. But this is the version I have, and I love it. The recipes are structured in a sequential way, which I think is brilliant, since most cooking is process oriented.

Another great all around cookbook, written by David Rosengarten. He was one of the original Food Network hosts, who would do extensive reseach on the particular dish at hand. I also like this book because it discusses the aesthetics behind the recipes and the choices.

Although there is science in it, a very readable and usable reference to help anyone figure out why a recipe isn't working.

This is a helpful book about the creative process - in whatever medium you choose - not just painters and novelists and musicians. I find it so valuable that I've probably given it away to over 25 people over the years. HIghly recommended.

For Professional Cooks:

As Bourdain says, the argument ender. Although rooted in European food, contains at least simple entries to just about any ingredient as well.

For all the lip service that cooks and chefs pay to the importance of sharp knives, a surprisingly large proportion don't REALLY understand their knives or the sharpening process. As far as I'm concerned, this book should be required reading for every culinary student and every professional cook.

For me, this is a timeless book, with elegant ideas taken to the nth degree. I'd say one of the most influential on me, even though his style is so different.

This is the best book I've found so far on Spanish used in kitchens and restaurants. Besides food words, there's phrases for interviewing, giving instructions, and other situations that might come up if you were a chef, manager, or owner of a restaurant.

If nothing else, read the first few chapters, which offer an eloquent rebuttal to vegetarianism, and discusses the politics of meat in general.

Although this is a new book, it's become one of my instant favorites. He has a powerful mix of traditional technique, global perspective, and originality that results in some dynamic and wonderful food.

Although there are a ton of books about French techniques, this is the daddy. Yes, you've probably seen a lot of it on TV already, but this is the source.

June 04, 2007

Obesity on TV

Just a quick tidbit: are there as many shows in other countries about weight loss? I don't mean shows to exercise with - I mean shows like the Biggest Loser and Celebrity Fit Club. In the case of the former, people are practically canonized for eating less, going to the gym with a trainer, and awarded sums of money for losing the most weight. It's like the lottery with a moral. In the case of the latter, B and C list "celebrities" take a second or third stab at fame by exposing their struggles with the last 20 pounds between themselves and life in the spotlight.

I would bet there aren't. There's something wrong with the way Americans relate to food. Beyond that, there's something disturbing about the way it's made into "entertainment." There's nothing novel about either of those statements, but to really think about all the implications is unsettling.

October 11, 2006

Why I Watch Project Runway

My overlong and unstructured ramble-

It may come as a surprise to some that I not only watch, but am hooked on Project Runway, a "reality" show about fashion designers who compete for a chance to show at Fashion Week, which is apparently a big deal. Clothing isn't that high of a priority for me. I'm pretty utilitarian when it comes to clothes, but I know what I like and what I don't like.

I actually started watching it because last season, there was a show called Top Chef. And while it had it's problems, it was about cooks and cooking, and I will watch almost anything about cooks and cooking, including shows in other languages, infomercials, and shopping channels (it's quite sad, I realize). The channel that airs both shows is Bravo, and their strategy of scheduling is to re-air each episode of their shows several times each week, I imagine to try and find viewers by a shotgun approach.

These two shows are made by the same production company, so they have a few things in common, and they often sandwich Top Chef between Project Runway to get the lead-in viewership and cross-pollinate the audience. Every few weeks, they'll run a marathon of the shows in a block so it's easy to catch up on episodes you missed.

It worked on me.

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