Blog And You Shall Receive

Last week I received a very nice e-mail from an editor at National Georgraphic Traveler. He told me that he enjoyed my website and that in his line of work he received many stacks of food books that just lay around. Would I like him to send some to me?

I wrote back: “Yes, Oh God, Yes Yes Yes!”

I can be very enthusiastic over e-mail. Today I received the package:

Let me walk you through the contents:

First, there is a CD (not photographed) called “Sahara Lounge.” I have yet to listen to it, but it features such savory tracks as “Soap Kills” by Dub4me and “Toufic Farroukh” by Yasmine Hamdam. The latter is good, but nowhere near as titillating as “Yasser Habeeb” by Elama. I’m just saying.

Then there are the books. The first book (on the lower left side of the photo) is Robb Walsh’s “Are You Really Going To Eat That?” This is actually a legitimate, newly published and well received book hot off the food stands. So in terms of things in the package I’ll actually read, this is highest on the list. So if you were to ask “Are You Really Going To Read ‘Are You Really Going To Eat That?'” I would answer: Yes. Unless it was over e-mail, in which case I would answer: Yes, Oh God, Yes Yes Yes!

And then there are the others. Moving counter clockwise, there is “The Unofficial Guide To Ethnic Cuisine and Dining in America.” This book seems useful, until you read (or, in my case, skim) the Preface. Here is the money quote: “Western European cultures have a tendancy to look down on societies that eat with their fingers, although they themselves only gave up the habit–reluctantly–a handful of generations ago….Eating with the hands slows you down, makes you concentrate on and enjoy your food more, so you actually eat less.” I find it highly offensive that these authors undermine western civilization by assuming we will react with disdain when it comes to hand eating. But allow me to speak for all of western civilization when I say: ewwwwww! That’s so sick, dude!

The next book up the pile is “Blue Trout and Black Truffles” by Joseph Wechsberg. The subtitle is: “The Peregrinations of an Epicure.” The Peri-what-ations? Let me look this up.

According to, peregrination means: “To journey or travel from place to place, especially on foot.” In my mind it means: “to use really pretentious words on book covers.” And for that reason, we’ll toss this one aside.

And yet, when we see what remains we claw our way back to the Peregrinations. The last book–“Indonesian Street Food”–is such an atrocity, that it’s difficult to believe anyone invested time or money in its production. The inside cover looks like a cross between a brain and the Print Shop “Paisley” design from my AppleIIgs.

To be fair, the book contains recipes, journal entries from trips to Indonesia and a CD-ROM. To be sassy, though, the recipes are for strange things like “Bakmi Goreng” “Sambal Goreng Jipang” and “Oseng Oseng.” Does using these names to humorous effect betray my own hidden xenophobia?

Perhaps, but listen to this guy’s prose: “I am listening to a growling conversation in my stomach as I gaze out the open window of a crowded bus headed for Malang in Eastern Java.”

Or: “A cool darkness has fallen. The bus pulls into a station and screeches to a halt. We all rise and ride a human wave down the aisle, out the narrow door, and several meters along the gravel pavement.”

Now, call me a prose snob, but Joyce he is not.

And, should this review paint me ungrateful, please erase that impression from your brain. I am anything but! I am simply being thorough. I will treat all other things sent to me with equal thoroughness. So please do not be discouraged from sending stuff. In fact, I encourage it. For more information, e-mail me by clicking the button “E-mail Me” on the left.

Thanks George at National Georaphic Traveler! I’m off to make some “Sambal Goreng Jipang.”

Public Apology: Marshmallow Chronology

It came to my attention last night, by way of site reader Seth, that my Marshmallow film: “How To Make Marshmallows In Reverse!” has a serious flaw. The film, as most of you know, plays backwards: beginning with the eating of marshmallows and ending with the preparing of the pan. Well, that is until at the very end you see me holding up a reassembled torn-up piece of paper that says: “THE END.” That’s where Seth (and other readers, perhaps) have a problem: if the film is told backwards, this should be the beginning! “The End” should come at the start!

I shall now publicly acknowledge that this is indeed an oversight. For those of you who were troubled by this inconsistency, I apologize. If it’s any consolation, at the end of “Memento” they play the credits. Think about it.

Another Milestone!

Today, our site hit the 200,000 mark in total visitors. Pretty crazy for a site only 4 weeks old!

[NOTE: For those of you savvy enough to click my sitemeter on the lower left, it will seem that I’ve only received 91,485 visitors in total. That’s because we installed sitemeter after the first huge influx of Janet Jackson cupcake visitors. The 200,000 number comes from Typepad which has been there from the beginning. Thank you.]

Thursday Night Dinner Song: DELAY

Due to extenuating circumstances (my roommate is sleeping and I just got home) the Thursday night dinner song will not be available until tomorrow.

In it’s place, however, may I present the sultry stylings of one of the world’s greatest singers: Wing!

Here’s her version of last week’s dinner song: Don’t Cry For Me Argentina.

Coming This Weekend: The Amateur Gourmet Goes To Florida!

All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go. My Airtran Flight leaves tomorrow afternoon from Hartsfield to West Palm Beach. My parents will be waiting for me at the airport and our weekend of eating will begin. I plan to keep you updated continuously: minute by minute, bite by bite.

Here are some meals for you to look forward to:

– Dinner at Cafe Max in West Palm Beach. Apparently, my mother told the maitre’d that her son (moi) is an important food writer. That should be interesting.

– My parents favorite Boca haunt: New York Prime. A steakhouse that features sizzling steaks and eccentric clientele, including (but not limited to) Don King.

Those are the biggies. Check back here for updates on my weekend of gluttony.

The Birth of an Amateur Icon

Are you sick of competency?

Of food blogs run by competent people with flawless track records and no history of salmonella?

Are you tired of not having salmonella?

You’ve come to the right place.

I’m The Amateur Gourmet: a completely untrained, unaccomplished culinary lout with absolutely no expertise in anything having to do with food. I have an immature palate, an understocked pantry and a penchant for purchasing food that’s already been prepared. In my defense, I watch Martha Stewart religiously.

Why, then–you may be wondering–have I sired a website dedicated to food? Mightn’t I have sired a website seeking the removal of the word “sire” from everyday parlance? Removing “parlance” from the parlance as well?

The answer is easy. Despite my lack of knowledge, I have a great deal of curiosity when it comes to all things food related. A piddling passion, so to speak. My friends, unfortunately, think this is silly.

“This is silly,” my friends say. “Can’t you focus on something interesting? Like trashy romance novels?”

[In their defense, my friends have a trashy romance novel reading club. On second thought, that doesn’t really work in their defense.]

But my passion is persistent. Already, I have made several meaningful contributions on established food sites like Chowhound and eGullet. The time has come for a forum of my own. A place where I can hang my hat and say: “Thanks for holding my hat.” And I think this is it.

The Amateur Gourmet (that’s me) has three major goals with his site:

Goal #1: To encourage young people (ages 2 through 7) to dine out at really nice restaurants. Too often, young Americans (David Bowie included) think of fine dining as something their parents do. They don’t realize how exciting and invigorating a really great meal can be. Thus, The Amateur Gourmet will feature a section titled “Youth Culture Out To Dine” in which he takes his unsuspecting peers out to nice restaurants, recounting the experience in great, almost annoying detail.

Goal #2: To encourage young people to cook more. Using my digital camera and my stove, I will serve as your very own private Lewis and/or Clark; stalking my way across the knotty kitchen terrain, attempting recipes your own mother wouldn’t dare and then reporting back. Hopefully, you will be so inspired by my derring-do that you will drop the computer you’re reading this on and go cook something yourself. (NOTE: I am not responsible for any dropped computers).

Goal #3: To become an internet phenomenon. Look, I’m not going to lie. I’m a third year law student without any desire to practice law. When people ask me what I’m doing next year, I stare at them dumbly and mumble hoping they think I’ve swallowed a chromosome. The truth is that the one thing I’m good at, the one thing that I care most about is writing. And this website allows me the opportunity to wrap my words around something that we all care enough about to do several times a day: masturbation. I mean: food consumption. Thus, my third goal is selfish. Love me, love me, love me!

We have now reached the end of my long, eye-numbing introduction. Hungry yet? I hope you will join me in making The Amateur Gourmet the greatest website the internet has ever known. Please post comments in the comments section and forward the site on to your friends. Happy Reading!


The Amateur Gourmet

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