Tag Archives: Anthony Bourdain

The Cove

19 Mar

When The Cove won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Film, the first thing I thought of when I heard the title was the grimy bar at our school.  The issues of this film are far from college drinking habits.  The documentary follows the investigatory grit of Ric O’Barry and his crew in Taiji, Japan who are exposing “the slaughter of more than 20,000 dolphins and porpoises off the coast of Japan every year, and how their meat, containing toxic levels of mercury, is being sold as food in Japan and other parts of Asia, often labeled as whale meat” (www.takepart.com/thecove).

As a child, my father had us subscribed to Dolphin Log and Calpyso Log — two magazines started by the Jacques Cousteau Society that I devoured.  This year marks the 100th anniversary of Jacques Cousteau’s birth — I can only imagine what he would have to say about the atrocities in Japan.  I used to cry when bugs hit the windshield as we drove in the car, making any trip a tragedy for me.  My most vivid and earliest nightmare was of a circus stealing and harming elephants.  These early sensitivities have waned over the years but have been re-enflamed by this documentary and images such as this:

While I watched the ongoing investigation unfold, I started to piece together a few things:

1.  Aptly named L.A. trendy sushi spot, The Hump, had been illegally serving Sei Whale — an endangered species.  They said they were sorry.

2.  Anthony Bourdain’s show No Reservations was in Panama — shiny new fish market paid for by Japan (Mercado de Mariscos) , “a favor you later have to cash in” as Tony’s local fixer puts it (3:10-3:30).

The images are crippling, the cover-ups appalling and the continuance of a joint government and business practice are disgraceful.  At the very least I urge you to watch this documentary from start to finish but if time is of the essence watch from the 6:59 mark onwards.

WTF AB?

9 Mar

I just watched the new No Reservations episode, Obsessed and it pissed me off to no end.  First of all it fixates on obese men, some on the verge of death, who spent most of their lives nursing themselves with burgers because they weren’t getting laid.  Don’t think I’m being an ass either, because this is exactly how they describe themselves.  This is supposed to represent the diversity of food bloggers?  Bourdain’s assault on these people is akin to a friendless young child who then went to college found a group of equally pompous people, telling the kids he used to be what losers they are.  NEWSFLASH: you are the star of a FOOD SHOW with cameras doing those exact same close-up shots of every meal you’re eating!

In Praise of Foie Gras

30 Nov

It’s a beautiful thing and all you have to do is force feed a duck to fatten up its liver for it!  Sometimes I wish I could feel bad about that, but then Anthony Bourdain does a little expo and shows that it’s not so bad and plus it’s just so scrumptious that the sinner in me is a happy to be ingesting such a smooth delight.  I had only one bad experience with foie gras and that was in a very lovely little ristorante around the corner from my apartment in Milano.  Apparently, in Milan and perhaps most of Italy, foie gras is prepared very differently — it’s not the deliciously hot grilled fatty lobe I’ve come to love.  I believe it was a paté and I’m sad to report I really just couldn’t finish it: the richness alone and in that quantity was overpowering and it was cold which threw me off too.  With the kind of foie gras I love I feel like a nice lambic or maybe even a sour would be a fitting pairing with this creamy, fatty, buttery gift from the gods.

However,  I had a gorgeous rendition of the heated type in Toano, VA at Dudley’s Farmhouse Grille.  If you’re ever near this place, go!  They specialize in wild game and have a small seating area which provides for a more intimate atmosphere, which is furthered by the owner who is also the chef.  I wish my liver could wind up in such a happy state after I’m gone.  Anyways, the foie gras was my primo and my secondo was a mixed plate of venison, wild boar and quail.  Then I slipped into a loverly food coma.

Happy Makers

24 Aug

I was watching No Reservations: Montana tonight, which along with The Hills is my monday night tradition, and Jim Harrison said something that struck me:  “You eat what you grow up eating”.  Thankfully, I didn’t grow up eating spam.  These are the foods I find myself still cooking and coming back to, they make me happy.  I also find myself cooking them to make others happy as I have an intense urge to feed people whenever they are down or in my immediate vicinity.

So, ok we continue to eat what we grew up eating to some extent.  Is the same true of beer?  Do we grow up drinking what we drank as young un’s or what our parents drink?  My dad was a big one for Guinness but the last one I drank was 3 years ago.  This is not the beer I come back to nor is a case of Natty Light.  Is this solely because I was not bottle-fed beer as a child and therefore do not have the necessary sentimental/nostalgic attachment to certain beers I grew up around.  The beers I tend to lean towards are those that remind me of my family orchard – especially Cantillon Vigneronne and Jolly Pumpkin Luciernaga(The Firefly).

What is it that makes the difference?  What food and what beer make you happiest?  Let’s ignore for the moment or forever that all the lady mags/shrinks tell us that food and booze shouldn’t make us happy.  They are obviously idiots.

Food Porn

26 Jul

As previously stated, Anthony Bourdain had a positive influence on me starting in high school. So, I was terribly happy when I found one of his episodes called Food Porn.  This might be one of my all time favorites.  Now I’m realizing that I have a dirty addiction, which would explain my Filthy Meat Lust.  I love the talk of the voyeurism of eating and cooking.  My persian roommate in Milan loved to watch people eat.  Our other friend was so taken with the perfect bite that she reveled in the finding and sharing of them.  I definitely share these sinful pleasures and it certainly includes good beer.  I love exposing craft beer virgins to their first really good beer.  This is where food and beer will always win out over wine for me:  wine can only be so complex and have only so many varieties, but beer is infinitely diverse just as much as cuisine.

And then there’s the idea of cooking and brewing with love.  It sounds so cliché but I truly believe if you intentionally and actively insert love into what you create, you can taste it in the results.  And why not?  Chefs, cooks, brewmasters and homebrewers the world over are passionate about their creations from process to presentation.  Here are professions and hobbies that demand a full blown love affair from their partners.

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The Food Pushers

21 Jul

II. So I’ve been reading two books this summer that my mother recommended, A Mediterranean Feast by Clifford A. Wright and The Rituals of Dinner by Margaret Visser.  And it lead me to think about how we view food, and food coupled with drink.  Myself, I am a slave to pastas of every variety and the blue and yellow of a DeCecco box are enough to make me swoon, but what about everybody else?  My 4 months abroad in Italy gave me a chance to make some lifelong friends and alter some of my perceptions while strengthening others.  Everyone had different tastes, many of which I found amusing.  My dearest roommate, a Persian pescatarian who didn’t cook, relied heavily on Buitoni pre-made pizzas, gelato from Chocolat (I am happily, equally as guilty) EXY — the local vegetarian take-away store — and hard boiled eggs.

She is not a fan of cooking but she is a lover of food and would eat anything I put down in front of her never shying away, even when I brought out the Srichacha chili sauce.  Her pescatarian ways also challenged me to produce meatless meals and remold my brain from its strong convictions that a meal isn’t a meal without some meat.  It was a running joke when she would catch me hunched over my computer for hours looking up recipes for our next dinner party or sniffing out the new Italian microbreweries/brewpubs around Milan.  There were still others in our friend group who would order plain cheese pizzas, something I’ve never understood, and a Becks. However, when sat at our kitchen table they too ate what was in front of them and enjoyed it.

Back in the states, I had an illuminating conversation with a dear friend of mine who is also an avid cook and a lover of good beer.  We had a discussion about how we were raised when it came to food and drink.  Her family rule was no matter what you were served you were expected to eat.  In fact, she and her siblings would become the catalyst for other families’ picky children to try new foods when faced with the attention-creating prowess of their eating habits.  This too was how I was raised and we both benefitted from parents who could cook, who were adventurous in travel and diet and with the money to do so.  Is the blame or the responsibility for “good eating” shouldered solely by the parents as Willy Wonka would say ?  Are we faced with a combination of good parenting and personal choice or are some people naturally inclined towards, as Visser would say, neophilia – the pursuit of the new?

We also talked about the idea of the “food pusher”, or one who forces food upon one’s guests consent given or not.  She places herself in the  more aggressive streak of food pushers whereas I find myself in a more insidious position:  if I invite people to dinner, I place all the food on the table equally in front of everyone and food in the middle to be eaten by hand.  The arrangement uses unseen peer pressure as the trigger for the others who lag behind.  For example, if everyone is eating fettunta and you are the only one not, you feel kind of stupid and HUNGRY when everyone else is making those lovely yummy sounds and wolfing down the few pieces left.

From a personal stand point, I have never been afraid to try new foods and actively crave the seeking and eating of these new morsels.  A pivotal book in my high school years, was Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential: the one line of advice I took away from the book was to never order something I’d had before.  Even in my baby diary my mother wrote (besides, “she cries when is told No.”) that my new favorite food was mulligatawny soup.  I have the same craving when it comes to craft and microbrews.  The emotions I feel when confronted by a wall of pasta are much the same when I step into a beer store for the very first time.  I’ve been compared to a kid in a candy store when I shop for beer: in the beginning, I had no control and could spend $100 on beer, oops!  My drive for the new usually means I try a beer and move on to the next, so that drinking a beer I’ve already had feels counterproductive — like I’m wasting my time on a beer I know, when I should be plowing through to discovering unknown breweries.  However, this urge too I have learned to control and recognize the benefits of coming back to some beer to dig a bit deeper and create a better understanding of it.

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