I’m 33, which is about the age at which people begin losing friends to their preferences for babies and boredom, a desire for weekends in, indifference to checking out. This is a problem for me. Not because I’m finding this rut, but because so many of my friends are beginning to. Whereas I have a…
Category: Food Science
How to Grill Meat
Simplicity in food has come to mean something antithetical to complexity. Simplicity is bad and complexity is good. Simply prepared foods are not delicious and probably lack flavor whereas elaborate, complexly prepared foods have deep flavor. I’m not sure where this idea came from, but it couldn’t be more wrong. By my view, complexity is a hiding place for lesser cooks.
Some Plays on Lyonnaise
Among my earliest memories was peering over the counter, watching my mom make quick work of dicing an onion. While all the other boys enjoyed spectator sports and rolling around in the dirt, scarcely able to stay still, I found myself more at home in the kitchen, fascinated by the preparation and the transformation of…
Rethinking Sunday Gravy, the American Frankensauce
With fall around the corner, it’s time to start talking about warming sauces. And no sauce is as warming as the Italian-American classic of Sunday gravy, a sauce with deep roots in big city American culture, where Italian-American immigrants tended to settle. Although Sunday gravy didn’t originate in America, all Americans have heard of it…
Canned Sardines, Three Ways (Reader Question)
Despite having already posted a simple and delicious canned sardine preparation in my brunch article, I continue to receive some variation on the following question from many of you: I always hear how healthy sardines are and how delicious canned ones can be, so I sprung for a six pack of good ones. After my…
Techniques in Meat
Risking sounding immodest, whenever I serve meat to friends and family, the first thing anyone says immediately upon tasting it is, “Wow.” After some processing time, they’ll follow up with a question: “What did you put in this?” My response, to their general amazement is, “Salt.” Strangely, no one has ever asked exactly how I cooked the meat they think is so delicious. The point, then, is not what you add to the meat that’s important, but rather it’s the meat itself and how you choose to cook it. No marinades, no additional seasonings are required, aside from salt, if you’re using good ingredients and you know how to cook them.
Your Meat Sucks.
One of my known mental failures is that I have a profound weakness for dualisms. I often see the world around me in the rigid terms of distinct dichotomy. There are right and wrong answers to the problems we face, good and bad decisions, wise and foolish outlooks. Over the years, I’ve found one particular dualism applies, without fail, to all of my close friends. There is one group of friends whose company I enjoy, with whom I indulge in food and drink and varied conversation. For the second group of friends, all of the above is still true, except they also require that I come over to their house and try their shitty cooking.
I Hate Brunch (And So Should You)
I have no deep or novel insights into human behavior. But I tend to try. And I honestly cannot fathom why people love brunch so much. Asking around, I got a response in the form of a combination of the following three factors: Bacon; Having sweet and savory items together, sometimes in the same dish;…
Pasta Sauce, Improvised
Italians obsess over pasta (and for good reason). The subtlety of detail that goes into making excellent pasta–from the types of flour used to the liquid employed to make the dough to the well honed skills of kneading and rolling and cutting–can be a life’s work. In the U.S., however, it is said that all…
The Iron Triangle of Pasta Sauces
In project management circles, especially in academics and business, there is this conceptual tool known as the Iron Triangle. It identifies the constraints surrounding any project, what’s possible to accomplish given limited resources, contouring the limitations of a team in terms of time, expense and quality. You have three sides of a triangle, each representing…
Getting Culinary with Cocktails
I could spend the rest of my life drinking nothing but five classic cocktails and never get bored. The reason, as I’ve previously discussed, is that technique and the freshness of ingredients often matter more than fancy spirits. People get this wrong all the time. I’ll trade a bunch of expensive spirits for a skilled hand and citrus squeezed a la minute any day of the week.
But kids these days want novelty and exotic flavors. While you can certainly go out and stock your bar at considerable expense (which I have done, for the record), there are other ways to bring some (thoughtful) novelty to your cocktails. Culinary ingredients, including fresh aromatics and juices, are the perfect way to do this. As it turns out, your grocery store has plenty of delicious things to include in your cocktails. You just need to know how to go about it.
On Shaken Cocktails
On my first trip to Japan over a decade ago, I had just come off my final, glorious night out in Tokyo. With an early flight out the next morning, I was wandering around the Ginza neighborhood, hoping to stumble upon a taxi stand. Instead, I happened across a gorgeous, oak paneled, dimly-lit den of a bar with more bottles of alcohol against the wall than I had ever known to exist. You don’t turn down encounters like that in Japan as a rule.