Thursday, February 19, 2009

And so it begins.

I've been talking about doing this for a long time, and have finally decided to have a go at it. My own food blog (hmmmm...a flog? I think I've just coined a new term). Anyway, what's the point? What's the purpose of yet another blog about food? Especially another flog (there, I'm already using it) written by an unknown author (blauthor? OK, I'm getting carried away) with absolutely no credentials?

The point is, I do have credentials. No, I'm not "trained" in the traditional sense, and no, I'm not a "foodie" (a term I despise), but I'm the guy people come to when they have a question about food and all things kitchen related. I'm the guy who can save you a bundle on a knife purchase (ask Tom). The one who can tell you where to get lamb liver (ask Marie). I can pair wines with an extremely eclectic five-course dinner (ask Jane) and can direct you and your friends to an inexpensive, authentic Bangladeshi restaurant in Queens (ask Deb). I can lead you to a supermarket that caters to the Latino or Arabic or Subcontinental community (ask Dave) or tell you where to eat based on what subway stop you're getting off at (ask Evan). I'll even ask you to save your poultry carcasses (ask John or Fran) so that I can make soup. Besides, I've been cooking all my life. I started by helping my grandfather mash basil and garlic in his mortar. I helped my grandmother and aunt forming meatballs and frying veal cutlets. One of my fondest childhood memories is the smell of lamb roasting on an Easter Sunday.

So what? How does that separate me from any number of other guys out there? Frankly, it doesnt. What does separate me from them, however, is that I love doing these things. I love baking bread. I love making a turducken as someone's birthday present. I love teaching friends the difference between sharpening and honing their knives. I love talking about the different uses for stainless steel and cast iron; how a skillet, a saucier, and a saute pan all differ. Pretentious? I don't think so. At least I hope not. I think that these things are important.

I said I despise the term "foodie," and it's true. A friend of mine and I were talking about this once, and I realized that the term, like all diminutives, trivializes the individual in question. It makes them seem less powerful, more easily controlled, and not to be taken seriously. There's a scene in The Music Man where Charlie Cowell is trying to seduce Marian Paroo. In that scene, Cowell refers to her as "girlie girl." That's always made me feel a little uneasy. It's obvious that she's the one in power, the one who is calling the shots, and he can't deal with that, so he demeans her. That's how I feel about the term "foodie." What's wrong with "food lover" or even "gourmand?"

OK, so what's this blog ultimately going to be? Well, I'm not sure yet. I'd like to publish recipes. I'd like to discuss technique. I'd like to rant (I'm getting started!). I'd like to talk about people in the food industry whom I respect. I'd like to talk about the way food connects us, the ways in which it helps us understand one another. I'd like to talk about the cultural and social importance of food. And most of all, I'd like for all of you, dear eaters, to get involved. Let's talk. Let's trade. Let's eat together. Let's feed one another.

About the name of this flog: it comes from the musical Oliver! In the first big number of the show, the poor, half-starved urchins burst forth in song and dance over the idea of food. It's quite the number. "Hot Sausage & Mustard" comes from the first chorus:

Food, glorious food, hot sausage and mustard.
While we're in the mood, cold jelly and custard.
Pease pudding and saveloys, "What next?" is the question.
Rich gentlemen have it boys, in-dye-ges-ti-on!
Food, glorious food, we're anxious to try it.
Three banquets a day, our favorite diet.
Just picture a great big steak, fried roasted or stewed.
Oh, food, wonderful food, marvelous food, glorious food!

That pretty much sums up how I feel. Food is wonderful, marvelous, and glorious. It's what nourishes us, sustains us, and what gives us life.

And so with all that said, I invite you to join me here at my virtual table. Come in; pull up a keyboard; have a favorite libation; tuck in; and most of all, get comfortable. I hope you like it here.



  1. Okay. I got hungry just reading that.

    I very much look forward to reading your posts. Will you entertain questions from the audience?

    (I realize now that was rhetorical, since I've already asked one.)

    Here's another:

    My youngest daughter is growing approximately 800 pounds of basil in my garage for a science fair project. I borrowed a grow-lamp from work, and Nature is working her magic. Alas, Amber's control sample is outgrowing the fertilized pots. Discussions of sample size and controlled variables notwithstanding, we're going to have a hell of a lot of basil in the house for the foreseeable future.

    Would you happen to have a recipe for something that uses (plenty of) basil?

    I experimented the other night by sauteing an onion with a half cupful of basil to top grilled pork chops.

    I learned why sweet basil got its name. There's obviously no significant amount of sucrose, fructose, or any other -ose present. Would citrus juice throttle back the sweetness?

    Love the blog. It's now occupying hallowed ground on my Firefox toolbar. Keep it coming!


  2. Pretentious? Ohhh yes, and how! But in a good and satisfying way, and anyhow, isn't that rather the point?

    Of course, I've been living on frozen pizza and mass-produced doughnuts for the last six months, so I really don't have much of a voice here. ;-)

    Congratulations on your inaugural post. I have several questions about tinned fishes that I'm saving up for the 3rd week lull.

  3. I'm much better at eating than cooking.

    Cooking burgers and hot dogs on the grill pretty well sums up my experience, and the burgers always taste better when my wife preps them first.

    So I'm looking forward to learning a lot here...bring it on!


  4. I'm really looking forward to reading your flog. Make sure, at some point, to discuss the various sauces for grilled peaches. YUM! Thanks again for all of those great idea last summer by the way.

  5. To me, the distinction between a foodie and a gourmand is: "foodie" has a sort of pinch-faced, anemic connotation -- think Anton Ego in the movie RATATOUILLE; "gourmand" sounds a lot more jovial, someone who's full of life and in love with all of its experiences, culinary and otherwise.

    You are definitely the latter, so please keep 'em coming! Good work so far.

  6. Oh, and a request:

    How about a bread-baking entry? As in, if a random blog reader, named, say, "Tom," wanted to start baking, what would he or she (okay, the "or she" is unlikely) need? What are the merits of different flours? Baking stone or no baking stone? The list goes on and on.

    Please advise!