Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Food, Glorious Food!

I haven’t had a food blog in a while.

This is actually pretty amazing given how much of my thought processes are devoted to food. I won’t share it with you because it’s a bit ridiculous but, well, let’s just say that whenever my brain is not focused on something specific, it tends to go to food.

It’s actually quite amazing that I’m not a 600 pound blob. I did get a bit blobby there for a while but fortunately thanks to self-discipline, I’ve managed to lose a little of the blobbiness. Also, it was most likely also due to the fear of my blobbiness showing through when I shed my winter clothing in all of its fabulous camouflaging layers in favour of a far less forgiving summer wardrobe.

Currently, my food obsession is due to the fact that for her mother’s day present, my mum is letting me cook dinner for her and my dad. I’ve decided to do a 5-course tasting menu which translates as five small courses. Since I want it to be surprise for her, I’ll wait until next week before I reveal my menu but needless to say, I’m a little too excited about it.

Planning a meal like this is a lot of fun for me. Not only do I get to plan the menu but I also get to go shopping for the ingredients and make out my time table. Then I get to cook.

This sounds a little nerdy but the fact is, I do know this and as I (and GI Joe) always say , knowing is half the battle.

I’m planning a menu that is geared towards my parents’ taste. It’s simple flavours that require a little complexion in cooking which is my favourite way to cook.

I still find it ironic that just a couple of years ago, my idea of cooking was to open a jar of spaghetti sauce and serve it with premade garlic bread and a bag of salad. Nowadays, I refuse to buy a jar of sauce- it’s so much easier to make your own and way tastier. Also, I’m a snob. I like to chop the veggies for the salad. I like to make my own garlic bread.

Nowadays, thanks to the wisdom and guidance of Mario Batali, Top Chef and the Food Network, I now am in love with cooking. It’s fun. It’s therapeutic.

And, best of all, you get to EAT. I love to eat.

So, planning an elaborate meal is a treat for me. I’m very organized, I think. I have a little notebook that I use. It’s actually a handmade notebook that my good friend at RadLinc crafts made for me. It’s very useful. I write down my ideas for the meal first. Then I figure out my ingredient list. Then I plan the shopping and where I need to go to get the ingredients. Finally, I figure out what preparation is involved, the schedule for cooking and how long it will take.

It sounds complicated. It is, I suppose. Yet it works. My mother and I employed this method during our last two thanksgivings and it made cooking for 14 people much, much easier. It’s very micro-manager-y but, well, whatever it takes.

Sometimes, I think it might have been fun to be a chef. Then I realize that it would not only involve having to work your way up in restaurants where you’d work with arrogant chefs who aren’t exactly the kind and cuddly type. I mean, just listening to Gordon Ramsey shout “YOU F-ING DONKEY!” and watching the cheftestants on “Top Chef” and their horrible behavior is enough to put me off for life. Granted, it’s a cooking competition so they’re not at their nicest but some of those chefs are MEAN.

I’m a realist. I think if I had my own little café where I had a changing menu that wasn’t too extensive would be fun. However, it’s not likely to happen because restaurants are hard work, no matter what the size. Also, while I adore cooking at home, I think the bloom would fall off the rose quickly if it became a ‘job’ and not a hobby.

So, I’ll stick to my pretensions at home and leave the restaurant cooking to real chefs.

Still, I do enjoy getting to cook for other people. It’s a lot of fun and it’s nice when they like what I cook.

Also, if I steal ideas from cookbooks, it’s forgiven for a home cook. Apparently, according to Gordon Ramsey, it’s a cardinal sin for a chef. I’ve seen him berate restaurant owners more than once for using cookbooks on Kitchen Nightmares. While I still use cookbooks, I’ve started to branch out and focus on ‘flavour profiles’ rather than straight recipes. This basically means knowing what works with food combinations and what doesn’t and then working with that. It’s a learning process but it’s definitely something I’m enjoying learning.

I don’t like Gordon Ramsey. I think that might be clear. While I think he probably is a good chef, I don’t like the way he shouts at people. I don’t like that he gets VERY close to them and makes them look at his sweaty face so he can Teach Them a Valuable Lesson. I also don’t think he makes very good Yorkshire puddings but that’s sort of irrelevant. Finally, I don’t like that sometimes on Kitchen Nightmares, he uses his high falutin’ chef ways to insult people instead of stopping to think that maybe what they were doing wasn’t necessarily wrong but just different to what he knows.

I digress. Anyway, I also don’t like that Gordon insulted my beloved Mario Batali. That’s probably really why I don’t like him. Mario taught me to cook so he is my Yoda. He doesn’t know he taught me to cook but that’s ok. I’m happy just using his fabulous recipes and techniques to make good food.

I’m actually also excited because at the end of this month, my friend Saz and I are taking a 20th ‘Friendiversary” trip to New York. Obviously, we’re celebrating 20 years of being friends. I actually managed to get us a reservation at Babbo for a decent time. Babbo, of course, is Mario Batali’s restaurant. I know he won’t be cooking there but it will be enough for me to eat from a menu he created.

In short, if you haven’t figured it out, I love food. This is why I blog about it quite a lot and why I think about it so much. It’s something to share and something human beings all have in common: We all need to eat. It’s a universally safe topic for most people. It represents culture. It represents geographic region.

It represents humans. I think that’s a pretty cool thing.

Happy Thursday and thanks for reading!

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