one man's ceiling
Monday, January 15, 2007
  10 questions
my zuska tagged me on this. anyone who feels moved to propel this forward please let me know so i can see. i wouldn't mind a link back as well and would do likewise.

1. If you were stuck on an island and could only eat one cuisine (e.g., French, Italian, etc.) for the rest of your life, what would it be? Why?

i'm presuming, of course, that there's a full kitchen, endless supplies and perhaps a nice kitchen staff stuck there with me. and it would be... italian. sure, i'd miss burgers and fries but in the end i think there's a whole world of pasta and sauces and gellato and all kinds of meats and cheeses that wins me.

i flitted with the idea of german cuisine but only for the beer and bochwurst. that would get tired after a while. and there are plenty of chinese dishes that also gave some pull, but no, it's italian. ask me tomorrow and i might say mexican.

2. What is the most unusual food you've eaten?
i've eaten bugs. deliberately. and not in a foreign country. the first time i was going through some boy scout wilderness training and was offered crickets, sauteed in butter and included in pancakes. not exactly roughing it, but i did eat them. crunchy, like sweet nuts. but don't eat the heads. they're very bitter.

the second time was in college. i was living in a student co-op in berkeley and we had an entomologist phd living in the house. one night he prepared a snack feast that included all sorts of insect goodies, all lab-raised and clean. applesauce surprise cake (the surprise was earthworms), chocolate chip chirpie cookies (crickets again), royal mash on biscuits (bee honey and larvae), and a couple other things i've since forgotten.

3. What is the most unusual food you've eaten and liked?
ah, liked. that's the tricky part. for most people nopales (cactus) might sound unusual, but growing up in california you get used to seeing those flat green succulents in the produce section.
sounds kinda wimpy to say, after the bugs and all, but i do like a good bison burger when i can find it. last time was up in portland, maine, where zuska and i stumbled onto allagash.

4. What foods will you avoid eating (either because of a dietary choice or allergies or just plain don't like)?
liver. brussels sprouts (though i did prepare them recently and they weren't bad, but i really don't like them). okra. rubbery ocean foods like calamari and squid and octopus. it's gonna be a long time before i try paella again. sangria always sits wrong with me.

5. Do you cook (and by that, I mean prepare a meal that you'd serve to friends)?
i cook on average five nights a week. i serve that food to my family. i'd serve it to friends but i'd be anxious about it because i always want for people to have good culinary experiences. i hate the thought that people will walk away from my table thinking something was lacking or that they just choked down what i prepared to be nice.

i have made complete thanksgiving dinners from scratch -- both traditional and vegan, side by side -- to feed my staff when i was a theatre manager.

6. If yes, what is your favorite dish to prepare to impress someone?
i have a basic tomato-based pasta sauce that i think rocks, and another that incorporates chicken and butternut squash. zuska reminds me that i once impressed her on valentine's day with fillet mignon with a cherry sauce. i've got a pasta-free spinach-mushroom lasagna i'm fond of.

7. When you go to a restaurant, what's your ordering strategy/preference?
first, i like to sit facing the door, away from the kitchen, where i can peoplewatch. i try not to look at the prices of main courses until i've narrowed down what interests me, and then rule out anything that looks overpriced -- it usually means it's all about presentation.

for specific items i like to look at things i know i would never try at home, or things i am familiar with if i think the restaurant can show me something amazing. i like traditional fare that's made simply but upscale, or just simply done. i have discovered that a local pub that serves food is more likely to both surprise and delight me than a fancier place because i hate the pretentiousness of most upscale dining experiences. boston is full of people and places that highly prize their upscale eateries but wouldn't last a new york minute in most other metro areas around the world.

8. Have you ever returned a dish or wine to the kitchen at a restaurant? Why?
only when the order was wrong, and even then i've not always returned the plate. returning a wine that hasn't actually spoiled, molded or corked is plain asinine.

9. How many cookbooks do you own?
between a half dozen and a dozen. some aren't practical (i should feature some of the appetizers from a 1950's bar guide) and some are a little dated (the 1930's louisianna rotary woman's cookbook uses odd ingredients and terms) and it really comes down to the bh&g, the whole foods cookbook, occasionally the joy of cooking for reference and a bunch of loose recipes culled from the food network and various web sites like slashfood.

10. What is one food that you wouldn't want to live without?
chocolate. or garlic. i suppose i could live without chocolate, but to have to cook without the option of garlic is unfathomable. could i live without pasta? perhaps, but it'd be a slow death.

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Can you make me that pasta-free lasagna some time soon? It is delicious.
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recipes and musings on food -- and anything else for that matter -- from a guy with a sticky brain who likes food. perhaps he likes food too much.

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