Thursday, November 6, 2008

And Now....Guest Bloggers!

Although most people wait until their blog is famous to ask other people to join in the fun and gain notoriety, however, I am lazy, and would willingly allow just about anyone to post on my blog as long as the material was somewhat relevant and my general guilt at my complete posting inadequacy was assuaged for a while. That being said, I am going to be featuring two guest blogs in the coming week. Each are very different in tune and style, but each deal firmly with the matter at hand: the consumption and criticism of food. Our first guest blog comes from 'Cultural Laureate, Cecilia' from Stars, the Moon, and Missing You. So sit back, relax, and open wide :).

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Restaurant Review: Ichiban

As previously mentioned, this is a guest blog written by Cecilia of Stars, the Moon and Missing You. Thank you Cecy for your thoughtful and delicious contribution!!

Highlights: Yum Yum Sauce, Lunchtime prices (even on Saturday!)

Lowlights: Playing seal

Price: depending on time of day: lunch (11), dinner (20)

The first time I ever went to Ichiban, it started with a number of missed phone calls. I had been reprimanded openly at work for something I had done months prior was communicated about at the time. I was furious and drove a co-worker to their home while considering my options.

"I'm going to quit." I demanded in the car. My co-worker only looked at me and then looked ahead, waiting anxiously to finally be dropped off. As I drove from the home, I checked my messages and found that my sisters were waiting for my at a restaurant that had recently opened, a local hibachi grill very close to where I was.

I pulled in very soon and walked in, finding our group of eaters surrounding one of the eight grills, waiting for the cook to come. I sat and received a delicious salad with a mayonnaise sauce, a theme followed throughout the meal. The hibachi chef arrived and made the meal into an altogether experience with lay and some involvement of the spectators. My least favorite of the events was when we were meant to play seal, and catch vegetables with our mouth. The best part overall of that experience I could not define- perhaps it was the spectacle of our meal, perhaps it was the mayonnaise that accompanied our shrimp (yum yum sauce), perhaps it was just being around the people I love on an extraordinarily difficult day.

very low-res picture of steak hibachi - we could really use a better flash :(

I have been back countless times, for lunch mostly, on bad days, rainy days, and even my birthday. I have had a range of experiences, none altogether disappointing, and would recommend to anyone to try out their lunch and DEFINITELY try the yum yum sauce (seafood sauce).

Actual level of excitement re:yum yum sauce

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Even If It's Just A Smile

Poverty stinks - that's the long and short of it. Millions of people world wide go to bed hungry (if they even have a bed at all) and they struggle to meet even their most basic survival needs. The majority of the world's wealth is held in the hands of the minority and that isn't fair. I don't believe that anyone should have to beg for food or shelter, and all people should be given equal opportunities to thrive. That being said, it's difficult for me as one person to feel as though I can make a difference in any quantifiable, sustainable way. Often, I find the issue overwhelming - I know that it's out there and I know that it's terrible, but I feel ill-equipped to make a change and therefore am crippled by my own sense of helplessness.

I combat this incessant negativity by doing something...anything. I realize that just like the saying "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" so too does the journey to end poverty. I cannot erase poverty, and I cannot make the world fair, but I can make life different for just one person today...and so I try to do just that.

When I can afford it (as a social worker that isn't as often as I'd like, but meh) I buy an extra $5-$10 worth of groceries at the store and donate them to the local food bank. Furthermore, I make a point to research the policies of the companies that I do business with to ensure that I am supporting economically just businesses. And I also donate my time to various agencies in the community aimed at ending poverty and improving the quality of life for all. More than anything, however, I honor my own contributions - however small they may be. My contributions don't have to be your contributions, as long as we all do what we can.

Don't get caught up in the trap that leads you to believe that incremental change isn't worthwhile, because that just isn't true. All change is meaningful, and any change makes a difference to those who need it most. So get out there (or stay in there) and do what's within your power. Use your own skills and passions and make a change for someone else.

Remember: each day is a new day and a new opportunity to help someone.

What will you do today?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Pledge to Myself

I pledge to myself to take better care of me. I deserve at least an equal amount of time and energy that I’m willing to give to others, and by taking better care, I will ultimately have more to give.

I pledge to myself to become healthier. Although I have no desire to diet *shudder*, I am at least semi-conscious of the fact that when I eat better, I feel better – and there is nothing wrong with that.

I pledge to myself to be supportive when and if I can. This means no late night sabotage - rummaging through candy drawers to get that fix, and maybe even *gasp* suggesting that we go for a walk once in a while…or more likely suggesting a Wii sports tennis match!

Finally (and most importantly),

I pledge to myself to “keep it real”. I am who I am, and I need to learn to be okay with that. Everyone might not love my particular stripes, and that’s okay, but some people do, and I should too!

Here’s hoping that by sharing my pledge with all of you, I will do my best to honor these words. I know that with willful and intentional living, I will be a better person, friend, and (someday) mother.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

My Very First Internet Meme

There is nothing I loathe more than being inundated with hundreds of surveys featuring how daring, how sexually mature, or how musically snobbish my "friends" on various social networking sites are. I have absolutely no interest in comparing my sex life, drug history, or any other weird fetishes with these "friends" and can rarely read past the first few lines without completely losing interest. That's why this post proves several important things that are critical to your understanding of me. First, I am fickle – today's greatest thing could be tomorrow's lamest and I'm not afraid to admit that I rarely stay attached to likes/dislikes for long (it's just takes too much energy on my part). Second, I am (kind of) a hypocrite. Despite the fact that I would handily berate any associate for daring to make a post of "have-you-evers", I clearly am willing to commit the same atrocity on the same level, yet somehow expect a completely different result. Finally (and most importantly), you can combine food with virtually ANYTHING and I will embrace it. I bet, if they gave free samples at the Secretary of State – I would line up two or three times a week. If you told me that I had to listen to babies cry for twenty hours straight but afterwards I could have a free pizza – I would so do it. That's pathetic, and I am poignantly aware of my sad, sad standards.


That being said, here is my first attempt to participate in an Internet meme (or random chain floating from blog to blog). I found this list linked to a Slashfood post and decided to read it. Because I hadn't hear of many of these items and wanted to try a lot of them, I figured I would let my readers know where I stand on issues of culinary delicacies. Please note that bolded items are items I've already tried and crossed out items are things I would never consider trying.

Some quick observations: my bolding clearly tells a lot about me – I am a Midwesterner (venison, hare, roadkill [long story]), I am a fast food junkie (big mac, kripsy kreme), and I am a lightweight gourmet (calamari, eel, frog's legs).

The VGT Omnivore's Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwhich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat's milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald's Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S'mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs' legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Now tell me, which of these have you eaten and loved or hated, what's missing from this list, and in the name of all that's holy...

Where are the TACOS??

Friday, August 22, 2008

In all the world there is none so beloved as the one they called "Bacon"

Rather than slather on apology after apology that I haven't posted in FOREVER (over two months!) I felt like I should share with you my loyal readers one of my favorite things in the whole world - Bacon!!

Perhaps the most used meat in my household (much to the bane of my cardiovascular system I'm sure), Bacon provides a versatile alternative to more expensive meats that I would normally use in Pastas, Soups, or on Sandwiches. The plus side is, I save money and eat more bacon. The bad side is - wait, is there a bad side??? My fervent love of Bacon aside, I thought I would share with you some of the more inspired ways I have used Bacon in my cooking to enhance the flavor and/or texture of my meal.

(Photo not taken by me)

I have only made Bacon Wrapped Asparagus once, but it was TOTALLY AMAZING!! I never thought Bacon could so completely enhance the flavor of something and really bring it to a new level! The night Cecy and I made this, it was practically all we could eat for dinner! Being a bacon lover, my ratio of asparagus to bacon was 1:1, however the recipe calls for 4:1 - but whatever makes your heart sing :).

(Photo not taken by me)

Fried Rice, on the other hand, is a staple in my home. This is our typical fallback meal when no one wants to go to a great length for cooking, but we still want to eat something satisfying and savory. In our household, fried rice can be most of the different things you have in your fridge, but some ingredients are key: rice (obviously), eggs, bacon, and sweet onions (fried in Bacon grease). We often have this most basic of all fried rices, however, it's nice to add green onions, carrots, water chestnuts, and those adorable baby carrots if you have them on hand. Fried rice is a very faux-Chinese dish because it's mostly comprised of very American things (like bacon). The only thing even remotely Chinese about this dish is the soy sauce you add on top and the rice. But mmmm....bacon....

(Photo not taken by me)

Now I will be the very first to admit that this is an acquired taste - not everyone warms to chocolate covered bacon right away. But if you give it some thought (and a thoughtful taste) you may be surprised how right it is! The bitterness of the chocolate and the saltiness of the bacon play off one another with daring subtlety, creating a taste sensation so individual and unique that- love or hate it - you can't possibly mistake it for any other. Please note that successful execution of the chocolate covered bacon requires both quality chocolate and quality bacon. If either the saltiness of the bacon or the sweetness of the chocolate are allowed to overpower the overall taste, it will be ruined. Alas, this means that (as with most culinary adventures) chocolate covered bacon is something usually best left to the experts unless you are feeling particularly adventurous or have a particularly strong stomach :).

Finally, I would like to give Kudos to comedian Jim Gaffigan who inspired this post by his monologue on Bacon from the Late Show with David Letterman embedded below. After watching this clip I realized that if he can go on national television and profess his undying love for bacon, I can certainly do the same...on the Internet...on my blog...which no one reads :).

Regardless, enjoy the clip!!

Thursday, June 19, 2008


I received my first slow cooker at seventeen. I had just graduated from High school and was headed to college and apparently some relative of mine had the ill-conceived notion that college freshman do a lot of home cooking inside of their shoe-box sized homes. Needless to say, when I got the gift I was less than enthusiastic. I even vaguely remember being as ungrateful as to wonder aloud about the motives of the gift giver and his/her anticipation of a free meal. Karma, as they say, is a bitch – and it turned out that only a few short months later, at college I would come to realize how truly awful dorm food was and how much I missed the home cooked meals my father used to make me. In a fit of homesickness and boredom late one Sunday morning, I decided to try my hand at my first major meal: Roast. I convinced a friend to drive me to the closest Meijer where I picked up random ingredients that I vaguely remembered were part of my all-time favorite meal growing up. I had no plan, I had no recipe, and I had no experience. Just an empty stomach and the determination to eat something that made me feel comforted and safe again.

Trials and tribulations abound that afternoon, I attempted to brown the roast in the slow cooker pan on someone else’s Bunsen burner, I spent half an hour desperately searching for a masher for the potatoes and finally settled on a pencil jar, and I ended up trolling the dorm hall for supplies after I realized I had nothing to serve my feast in nor did I have any utensils; but it was all worth it when I came back to my dorm that afternoon and realized I could smell my dinner. It was the smell of celebration, the savory smell of victory.

Although I can’t remember what that roast tasted like, I do remember serving it to all of my friends and each of us sitting around my bed, listening to music, and I can remember how the whole room got silent right as we started to eat. As I looked around the bedspread at my newest and dearest friends, I saw more than one eye tearing up in the room. Finally, one of my friends uttered in a quiet voice what all of us were thinking, “it tastes like home".

(Photo not taken by me)

Hello New Readers!!

I just wanted to give all of my new readers a shoutout! Thanks for stopping by and leaving comments - it's great to know other people love eating (and looking at) food just as much as I do! Keep the comments coming!!

(Photo not taken by me)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I'm not dead!

Sorry for the complete lack of posts lately. I've been pretty busy celebrating my birthday and getting summer off to a dramatic start! Coming soon will be posts from my first annual birthday Taco Crawl and a homage to the best 'device' in my kitchen - the slow cooker :). For now, I'll leave you with some photos I grabbed off Flickr. I'm looking for inspiration to design my kitchen in my new apartment and these seem perfect! Leave me a comment and let me know what you think.
(Photo not taken by me)

(Photo not taken by me)

(Photo not taken by me)

(Photo not taken by me)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Next Generation Restaurateurs

I have lost countless hours of my life to this repetitive and mind numbing game yet I still can't seem to put my mouse away. I'll share my latest obsession (okay maybe addiction) with you in the hopes that you'll get hooked on it too and maybe we can start some kind of support group.

Oh, and I highly reccomend the "Relax Mode" - wouldn't it be nice if I could do my real job as slow as possible without risk that the customers could leave? Call it a little passive-agressive roleplaying :).

Friday, May 9, 2008

May is National Burger Month!

There is nothing in the world that can make my mouth water quite like the smell of a thick, juicy, quarter-pound burger piled high with cheese, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, ketcup, and mayonaise. I've tried for over a week to write this post and nothing would come together. I had found all these beautiful photos of hamburgers and cheseburgers but no words with which I could express my admiration of, obsession with, and frankly worship of this masterful piece of meat. Finally I realized that hamburgers didn't need me to talk for them. That if I posted them here in all of their succulent, savory, tender glory - they would say more for themselves than I ever could. So feast your eyes on this:
(Photo not taken by me)

(Photo not taken by me)

(Photo not taken by me)

(Photo not taken by me)

Monday, May 5, 2008

It's Crazy McDelicious

Today I read a really interesting post over at Grocery Eats blog. I found his post both awe inspiring and gut wrenching. On the one hand, I can almost imagine the meaty awesomeness that is this burger in all it's glory. On the other, I can feel my stomach churning at the thought of putting this steamy heap of garbage inside. If I was having such a strong and visceral reacation to this post, I couldn't even begin to imagine what other people thought, so I purveyed the comments. There were your usual "you're a terrible person for eating this" and "woah dude - awesome", but within the comments I found a particular gem that cracked me up so much, I just had to create an homage to this wonderful sandwhich and hillarious comment. Here's to you Angie :).
The Big MacChicken

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Nostalgia of Food

For me, food is in large part nostalgic. A taste of a juicy quarter pound hamburger instantly transports me to summers outside, dad on the grill, playing with my sisters while waiting for dinner. Ice cream reminds me of summer softball games and home runs. And steamy chili evokes memories of chilly winter afternoons snuggled up in front of the television with my family, watching game after game. With each dish comes a new memory; with each meal I try harder to re-live the past.

The true irony is that I am nostalgic for a past that didn’t exist. Yes, we ate chili, ice cream, and hamburgers. Yes, we grilled, played softball, and watched t.v. together. But those memories are laced with an air of togetherness that we never had when I was a child. My family was a confederation of independent states – not a cohesive nation. When we ate together (usually in front of the television) it was some of the only time we spent together as a group, but our isolation never ebbed. I spent so much of my life yearning for togetherness and fighting for independence. Meals were a truce, a time when everyone put down their arms and came together to eat because we needed sustenance to keep the battle going. Eventually, after mom left, meals became hollow and empty – a time for ‘catch-up’ and were the only time we communicated for days on end.

For a long time I looked back on my life and was proud of our confederation, I honored the isolation. Now, however, I can see the loneliness that was in my heart all along. I feel it every time I make tacos, cookies, or bologna soup. I feel it in the fabricated memories and the false sense of togetherness. I feel it in the realization that what I remember didn’t really happen, and that what happened wasn’t really worth remembering. And I feel it in the empty longing that I still have to connect with others despite my stubborn pretense of independence. Now, I know the truth – and it haunts me.

But it also propels me forward. Years later, my family and I still bond over food. It is impossible for us to spend more than two hours together without consuming food of some sort and most of our get-togethers revolve around a shared meal. We have moved forward with our lives and are now in a place where we can share joy, love, pain, and dinner with each other. Each meal is an opportunity to create a new experience, a new memory – and damn it all if we don’t strive for just that! I do not mourn my childhood, I celebrate my awareness of how precious each moment - every morsel, every crumb, and every sip really is in helping me to make new associations and renew my love of food.

Nostalgia is a combination of the way things were and the way we wanted things to be. It’s a fondness for the past that can never quite meet the expectations of today’s experience. Although I will never be able to disconnect my consumption from my memories of the past, I hope that with each preparation those associations loosen and become less binding. That gradually, instead of acting as a portrait of what the eating experience should be, the memories season my food and become a flavor like any other that merely colors my meal and sets the stage for my epicurean encounter.

To honoring the past, shaping a better future, and embracing every opportunity to make new memories today.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Monday, April 21, 2008

So Full of Want - Taco Edition

Sometimes I browse sites online and I become overwhelmed with what I call "want" - the irresitable desire to own something that I have no practical use for and probably no place to store, but need to have all the same.

This shirt, for example, is absolutely adorable.

Or this plastic serrated chef's knife (safe for all non-stick surfaces) that would be stylish and functional!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

"Gimme a Piece of that Cheesecake"

Once while on vacation in Chicago over Fourth of July Weekend, my sisters and I attended the annual “Taste of Chicago” celebration. While there, we saw that Eli’s a famous bakery in Chicago was offering free pieces of a giant cheesecake they had baked in honor of their anniversary (100 maybe? I’m not sure). Eager to share in the festivities and taste the legacy that was Eli’s; we waited in line for almost two hours to receive our free cheesecake. The line was incredibly long and it was a very hot day, but the worst part of the wait was the music playing over the speakers in the park – “Gimme a piece of that, Gimme a piece of that, Gimme a piece of that cheesecake” over and over and over. By the end of the two hours (and for days later) that song was permanently embedded in our brain. In the end, the cheesecake was a six-foot tall, ten-foot round, fifteen-layered disappointment. The crust was awkwardly crunchy and the filling was almost bitter. Apparently, adjusting a recipe times a thousand isn’t as easy as it sounds. My sister and I lay in the grass afterward, feeling less than euphoric (translation= gassy).


Flash forward to present day. Based on the empirical evidence provided by a glossy photo in a cooking magazine, I had decided that cheesecake was my new best friend and I; ever the cheesecake evader would now claim this territory as my own and embrace the silky deliciousness that is our diary dessert. Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but I think you can see where I’m going here. Five hours, a nap, and a large dinner later, I had lost all enthusiasm for “operation cheesecake” however I had already bought all the ingredients and my helpers were geared to go, so we forged ahead – enthusiasm be dammed!


The first step in a cheesecake is to make the crust. In the recipe I chose, this meant go to the store, buy a bag of Oreos, and smash them up…or something along those lines – I get blurry on the details. Essentially:

Amanda's_first_cheesecake_003 + Amanda's_first_cheesecake_006 = Amanda's_first_cheesecake_015

The next step was to prepare the inside of the cheesecake. The instructions told me to melt the chocolate in the microwave (in a microwave safe bowl) which I was skeptical about, but actually worked really well.


The directions did not, however, indicate how I was supposed to soften the cream cheese, and for the novice cheesecake maker that I was – that would have been a really handy set of instructions. I left the cheese out on the oven for twenty minutes or so but then I got impatient and decided to start the filling with slightly hard cream cheese against the better judgment of the recipe (and my helpers). I put the cream cheese into my bowl and tried to beat it until it was soft. Note to self: this is not an expedient way to soften cheese, in fact, it might have been faster if I simply leaned down and cupped my hands against the cheese and let out short gusts of hot air from my diaphragm “huh, huh”. Not only did softening the cheese with my hand mixer take forever, it also didn’t work really effectively and resulted in lots of tiny cheese curds in my filling. Then the recipe instructed me to add one egg at a time. I am unsure if it really matters whether I add one egg at a time or all eggs simultaneously, but the raging success of my earlier recipe modification, I decided to just do what they told me to. After adding each egg, my batter was…well…unappetizing.


But I wasn’t worried – I forged ahead, added my melted chocolate to the batter (note the white filling along the sides of the bowl – I probably should have tried harder to scrape the sides)


and poured the filling into the pan – how beautiful is that (minus the cheese curds)?


I baked the cake for 45 minutes, checked the top and saw that it needed more time, and baked it for an additional 15 minutes (for all of the non math majors that’s an hour total). Then the recipe said that I should turn off the oven and let the cheesecake stand for another 30 minutes in the cooling oven. Now, at this point it was like 2:30 a.m. everything was all good earlier when I was watching the ‘Made for TV Movie’ on lifetime, but now it was over and I was so ready for bed. I let the cake sit for like 20 minutes and then I grew impatient and pulled it out (hmmm….is that becoming a theme?). Don’t worry too much though, because the cake was gorgeous!


I chilled the cake over night and then brought it with me to my Dad’s the next day for lunch. When I got there, I had to make the ganache topping. On a somewhat unrelated side note, we determined that there is no pleasant sounding way to say ganache with a Midwestern accent, it just sounds like “gan-ass-che”; the appropriate way to pronounce the term is with a snooty French accent (preferably with your nose in the air) and say “ghan-aw-sh” which was much more attractive in our opinions. Speaking of attractive, take a load of this stunning beauty


Now usually when I shout “who wants a piece of this?” it is followed with an uncomfortable silence and clearing of throats. In this case, however, everyone was excited to sample my cheesecake masterpiece


How was it? It was magical, amazing, earth shattering – it was really damn good! I was won over into the cult of cheesecake consumption and ready to give my soul for another piece. As I finished my chocolaty slice of heaven a single thought entered my mind that really summarized my feelings on this entire cheesecake escapade. Now THAT is a cheesecake worth waiting in line for!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Why Cook?

After a weekend of definite culinary failures (and a success or two) I started to question my love of cooking. Why bother cooking for oneself when it is so often disappointing and not worth the effort? Not to mention the massive pile of dishes waiting for you afterwards. What is the point of putting yourself through all that pain when at the end you will achieve, at best, mediocrity? The reason is that once in a while, you can make a dish that is, for lack of a better word, transcendental. A dish that takes you out of your secular world of “to-do’s”, telecommutes, and T.V. dinners and lifts you into the sacred world of culinary bliss.

Sometimes great food is intentional; it is a planned and precise process with careful steps and exact measurements. In my experience, however, the best food is stumbled upon by accident. Perhaps it’s the omission of an ingredient either in error or out of necessity, or perhaps it’s the modification of instructions to fit my own tools, kitchen, or lifestyle, or maybe it’s just sheer luck under which I stumble upon some of my greatest culinary successes. Either way I can resolutely declare that for me, it is not intentional. But when it happens….oh when it happens it’s as though the culinary gods have poked their heads down through the clouds of mashed potatoes and whipped cream with their hot chocolate mustaches and smiled down at me for just one second.

Of course, reality always follows these moments of fancy (whipped cream would make terrible clouds!) and I realize that it is a combination of success and failure that help us to become great cooks. Without failure, I would never learn that when a recipe says “sit over night” it damn well means it! Without success, however, I would’ve given up after my hundredth broken yolk and never learned how to properly fry an egg. As with all pastimes, cooking must be rewarding or it will never become a passion and it must be daunting or it will never push you to succeed.

Why cook? I could say that it is because I love the challenge, because everyone needs to eat, or because I am a glutton for punishment. The truth is, however, that yearn for those moments of transcendental consumption, the moments that resolve existential crisis and connect me to the universe, the moments that tell me who I am, where I belong, and whether or not my dish needs more salt.

(photo not taken by me)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Monday is Always Quesadilla Day!

That was the saying that was posted on my message board for almost three years. At first it was there so that I could actually remember that Quesadillas were on sale at a local restaurant on Mondays. Eventually, it became representative of me – a conversation starter and an easy way to let others know where I stood on the “food” issue. The message discreetly told all who entered that "the people in house worship at the altar of food and would not hesitate to sell your organs for tacos".

Okay, perhaps it doesn’t say all of that, but it does communicate a certain priority set that not all who consume food adopt. For me, food is first priority. From the time I get up in the morning until the time I go to bed at night I’m thinking about food, I’m imagining food that I could make or eat, and I’m looking up food on the internet (while I should be working). If I spent even half the time invested in my career as I do in what I eat for dinner, I would probably be a CEO at a Fortune 500 company by now – or at least I’d still be a size ten.

Size doesn't matter, though, because I’m dedicated to my craft and pursue it with the single-mindedness that only a true addict can have. In my lifetime, I have consumed well over ten thousand tacos, but the satisfying crunch of the shell between my teeth and the savory taste of melted cheese on my tongue is a habit I just can't seem to kick. It's so bad that I sometimes catch myself equating the value of things in tacos. "Sure, I could buy that video game, but that's like forty tacos!" Surely this train of thought is a sign that I have a deep-seated addiction and need serious psychological intervention, but I can't bring myself to care enough to change. The fact is, my relationship with food is as complicated as any relationship I could have with a boyfriend and (I suspect) infinitely more gratifying.

(Photo not taken by me)