Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Book Review: Something to Food About

Been a long time since I have done a cookbook review. There haven't been a lot that has got me excited about food and I am not sure why not. What I am sure about is that even though this isn't a cookbook, it has got me thinking about food again.

This is a book where Questlove interviews ten food people and caps it off with a meal by those Modernist Cuisine people. Why would that be interesting and why was I excited to pick this book up from the library?

Okay, maybe some free form stuff that will eventually connect the dots or not. While I am writing this I have Nardwuar vs Questlove cued up and listening. Now you may know Nuadwar as an intrepid interviewer who asked Rollins about his soup can dick or as the guy that has been embraced by hip hop and rap as he dives into the crates of their past. He asks a few history questions and pays respect to the past and the people he is interviewer. It can be a bit off putting. Let's leave that there for now.

BTW, Questlove is talking about how hip hop artists found out about sampling from the Bill Cosby show. It affected many young rappers at the time.

Okay, next up. Food is the New Rock is a podcast that has the idea that the same way that music used to occupy us (and that whole deep crate diving before the internet) is the way that food and chefs occupy us now. The idea that both music and food are performance. However, you can record and package performances now but you still cannot record and playback food. So, he showed up there for me. Action Bronson is on Food and on Nardwuar as well. There are plenty of crossovers.

My son is watching Fresh Prince of Belair and just heard Questlove talk about the guys who twirled Will Smith in the opening.

If you want to have fun going through history told by another white guy, Ed Piskor, Hip Hop Family Tree. It is another under represented era on the internet and worth looking into.

I have the Modernist Cuisine at Home and Myhrvold is the first interview. The end of the book is the meal they had there. The interviews have a similar set of questions about first foods, racism and sexism, inspiration, aging and changes in approach, and local foods and fads.

Questlove spends a lot of time drawing parallels between his career and music and cooking. At first this seems like self promotion until you realize that he is really into these chefs. He is really into food. I had some of that background given the rest of the stuff but it eventually became clear as you went through it. Of course Jiro Dreams of Sushi is the film and the chef that kicked this all off. In case you didn't know, Anthony Bourdain who writes the intro wrote a graphic novel based on a sushi chef called Get Jiro!

I got two good ideas from this book that I am going to write about at some point and time; pickled strawberries and using movies as a reference point. There is a cool story about a Twin Peaks dinner that Questlove attended with Lynch to Ryan Roadhouse, the chef. Also, found out that Ludo Lefebvre may have started the pop up craze and stuff about Daniel Humm and... it was like listening to a foodie interview by Nardwuar.

I guess my point is that is some ways this is like crate digging with a friend on a Saturday afternoon, making connections and feeling smart by what you know and blown away by stuff you didn't. A great read for Something to Food About. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Strawberry Sandwich

I've been meaning to post this thing about strawberry sandwiches. It seems silly to type out a recipe that is really about strawberries on bread but I got to thinking...

Been reading Something to food about by Questlove and he likens food to performance based music. You only get one chance to experience it. There is no way to record an eating experience in spite of the the Instagram and reviews.  I'll have more to say about that later.

I wonder how much of this leads to more nostalgia about food. In particular, I am thinking about strawberries. While I am writing it long past the wild strawberry season, we have found a way to approximate a seeming berry and sell them year round. A hint that I have made use if time and again has been to add a little orange blossom, sprayed or dropped, into a bowl of strawberries to give them a wildness that is missing.

I used to go picking berries on the side of the road with my grandmother. We hopped out of the car and headed to the edges and picked. Some if the berries were dusty and those were often warm, even in the morning, from the sun. Popping them into the mouth when. Grandma wasn't looking. Heading to the undergrowth where the berries were cooler and juicer or taking an occasional green or white berry for their sourness. There was nothing uniform about these little bites.

When we had git them home, we would be happy if we picked them clean without the stems or we would spend more time cleaning the berries. A small snack would be put in a bowl with sugar spooned over top to sit in the fridge until lunch or snack.

Two white bread slices, berries, and some of the juice. That was all.

So with much ado, I present the modern version that my grandmother would not recognise.
Take strawberries, clean and slice. Sprinkle sugar generously with sugar. Add a dash of vanilla and orange blossom water. Set aside, unrefrigerated for at least an hour. (This is called macerate if you want to be fancy).

Take two slices of white bread, add berries. Enjoy.