Protein has been the subject of much debate around our dinner table lately. “You know,” said Craig when I served him pasta for the umpeenth time the other night, “if you’re trying to get in shape” (see newsletter) “you should probably serve more protein and less carbs.”
It’s a fair point, but here’s the deal: unlike most cooks who came of age in a pre-Pollan era, I don’t feel comfortable buying that mass-market plastic-wrapped factory-farmed meat you see in the grocery store. I don’t judge those who do–I’m actually envious of those who do–but, for me, I can’t shake images from Food Inc. out of my head. So it’s easier to cook pasta and rice and vegetables and beans because it doesn’t throw me into an ethical quandary (and it’s way cheaper); only, I eat so many carbs my body is now made up of 70% flour. I think that may be a problem.
Two Sundays ago, after a morning of bird-watching with our ornithologist friend Morgan Tingley, I ate my first soft-boiled egg. We were at Cafe Sabarsky, one of my favorite places in New York, and Morgan recommended the Wiener Frühstück for breakfast: a continental breakfast of orangensaft, ein weiches ei, weißbrot, butter, marmelade & honig von staud. Translation: coffee, orange juice, brioche toast, country bread, butter, jam, honey from Staud and, our subject today, a soft-boiled egg.
As a kid, I was a sucker for platitudes. Especially this one, which I heard at EPCOT: “If you can dream it, you can do it!”
Things don’t change that much, I suppose: this weekend I had a dream and I decided that I could do it. The dream was Bananas Foster Bread. I wanted the concentrated banana flavor of Bannas Foster integrated into a bread. I didn’t really know how to do this, but I used my intuition. I started by making Bananas Foster and then separated the bananas from the sauce, using those bananas as the bananas in the bread. Inspired? Insane? Something in between?
For the past six years, I’ve taken a picture of almost everything I’ve eaten.
Yesterday, for example, I took a picture of my lunch. I was at The New French with my friend Diana and I had an interesting salmon salad with escarole and a Muscadet vinaigrette: I took a picture with my cell phone. The night before I’d made a spatchcocked chicken and of course I took pictures. Lunch that day was a humdrum hummus at Hummus Place, but you get the drift: I take pictures of what I eat.
What does this reveal about me and my enjoyment of food? Is this a problem? Recently, several chefs and food writers have come out with a message that would suggest: “yes.”
It’s true that travel is an important component of any burgeoning chef’s education, but sometimes you go somewhere and the lessons don’t stick. For example, I spent ten days last summer in Spain–most of that time in Barcelona–and though we ate some truly extraordinary food, I can’t really say that it changed the way I cook. Yes, I use smoked paprika a bit more freely in my food and I’m very intrigued by the possibilities of pairing chickpeas with seafood, but beyond that? I’m still the same old me in the kitchen.
However, the trip I took in 2005 with my family to Greece (see here), stuck in a very important way: I now make a very good, very authentic Greek salad.
“Pete’s Dragon” is a movie I hadn’t seen since childhood. I remember being terrified of Shelly Winters, covered in all that mud, and bored by the Helen Reddy boyfriend-lost-at-sea subplot. But when my friend Chris Dufault stated recently that “Pete’s Dragon” is one of his favorite movies, I felt a sudden need to see it again. And so we made a “Pete’s Dragon night”: Chris would bring the DVD and his boyfriend Jonathan and I’d cook something appropriate that’d complement the viewing experience. What would that be? Why leg of dra…I mean lamb, of course!
If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter yet, you’re missing out. Today’s issue had a dirty word, a cous-cous salad, a bird-watching adventure, my mom’s restaurant reading glasses (they have lights on them) and brunch at Perry Street. Just because I’m feeling nice, you can read today’s issue by clicking here and then sign-up by clicking here.