Food Tastes Better When It Has a Good Story

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We ask many things of our food. We ask that our food is clearly identifiable (anything strange and murky immediately turns us off); we ask that our food is reasonably healthy–even if that means laying a redemptive tomato on a greasy, heart-crushing 5-pound burger. We ask that our food is prepared in a clean kitchen, we ask that our food is served hot, or at least reasonably warm. We ask that our food is tasty, that it is filling, that it has good value ($20 for two scallops does not a happy customer make). Mostly, we ask that our food fills that very primal need for gastronomical satisfaction. What we don’t often ask is for our food to have a story.

What did you have for lunch today? Where did you get it? Ok, you got it from the sandwich shop, or you made it yourself, but what went in it? And where did that come from? What’s its story?

The plate you see in the above photo has a fantastic story. If I told you it’s just ribs and coleslaw, that might be enough for you–in fact, that’d be enough for most people. When I was growing up, a special treat was a trip to Bobby Rubino’s (A Place for Ribs) where the ribs and coleslaw were plentiful (and relatively cheap) and anyone who asked, “Do these ribs have a story?” would be socked on the head. I’m sure the ribs at Bobby Rubino’s have a story, it’s just not a story you’d want to know. But the story of the plate above is a story that should make you happy. Let me tell it to you.

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My Alice Waters Moment

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After watching that Alice Waters video last week and reading the accompanying article, I was determined to recreate the meal she made for NYT author Kim Severson. I’m not sure I recreated it exactly–I added too much oil to my aioli so it broke a bit; and I used purple carrots just because they were fun. But this was a simple, delightful, and mostly healthy dinner. Although, come to think of it, I did fry the potatoes in oil: but c’mon, who prefers boiled potatoes to fried potatoes? And don’t carrots and radishes cancel out fried potatoes? If you do the math, this did more good for me than bad.