Jump to content
Sturgeon's House
Sign in to follow this  
Brick Fight

Food and Putting it in Our Faces

Recommended Posts

Shame about your fish-head soup, it's been one of my favorites wherever I go.

 

(Keep in mind I'm talking about majority of urban and suburban America, and many places don't apply to the generalizations)

 

Food in the US is getting better. Cooking five years ago is night and day compared to now. I work in traditional kitchens off-season these days, and I think I make one well-done or med-well a month these days, when both would dominate ticket line-ups (I'm not a snob, both have their places for certain cuts, but you get where I'm going) while I was still in college. Anthony Bourdain gets down on himself lately for Kitchen Confidential (and I mostly agree he should be), but he's more important today than 90% of chefs because he and Zimmern built a foundation of reviving taste in America. Seeing Zimmern smile and melt as he jammed a raw urchin into his mis-shapen head was more important than any cooking show barring Julia Child's.

 

I have cookbooks going back to the '40s or so, and you can see that around the mid '60s, there was a huge ingredient bottleneck. Half the recipes are usually tough beef cuts, chicken, iceberg, and celery. There was some kind of disdain for being seen to serve or eat anything that wasn't "clean" and plain. The '70s, when  chain restaurants and massive standardization of food hit, people could demand to eat the same thing throughout the entire year. The phrase "in season" pretty much doesn't exist in culinary books between the early '70s up to maybe the late '00s. It's only in the past few years that I've seen the words "seasonal" alongside words like "chops" or "offal" again.

 

Farmers' Markets are popping up all over. It seems like there's a new one every year in my area. Vendor testimonies corroborate some of my un-sourced ramblings. 25-35 y/o. generations and ones above the 70 y/o. mark buy up chard, ask if bread's been fermented, mark their calendar for strawberry season, and research what they can make out of lamb, goat, and pork/beef trimmings. There's still the gluten with the younger crowd, but it's dying down and GMO has thankfully been a wet fart in food controversy. Glassy-eyed baby boomers still demand year-round iceberg and open-mouth chew snap peas and sweet corn while scoffing at poblanos picked the day before. For once, I'm interested in being where I am, and I owe it to two formerly-homeless cooks eating meat jelly for the Travel Channel.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fish head Filipino-stye requires a sour base to counteract the oil. This is also why Singaporean fish-head has a red curry base, while Chinese has a salty soy-based sauce.

 

I'm guessing you can't find tamarind in Alaska, as that's the traditional souring agent.

 

Also, the best Filpino dish isn't fish head. It's chopped pork face:

 

https://c1.staticflickr.com/9/8025/7898043890_7034e91deb_b.jpg

 

========

 

Oh, and until Guy Fierri suffers a heartattack, America is going to have to endure terribly-cooked over-complicated food that's based on gimmicks rather than solid, fundamental cooking.

 

Actually, scratch that and until all Guy Fierri-style shows suffer horrible ends you're going to end up screwed. The difference between Masterchef America and Australia in particular is like night and day. Masterchef America is about making drama out of cooking food. Masterchef Australia shockingly enough is simply about cooking food.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Food in the US is getting better. Cooking five years ago is night and day compared to now. I work in traditional kitchens off-season these days, and I think I make one well-done or med-well a month these days, when both would dominate ticket line-ups (I'm not a snob, both have their places for certain cuts, but you get where I'm going) while I was still in college. Anthony Bourdain gets down on himself lately for Kitchen Confidential (and I mostly agree he should be), but he's more important today than 90% of chefs because he and Zimmern built a foundation of reviving taste in America. Seeing Zimmern smile and melt as he jammed a raw urchin into his mis-shapen head was more important than any cooking show barring Julia Child's.

 

 

 

The Manila restaurant scene has, rather shockingly, been getting better too. We fortunately never had a Guy Fierri phase despite abundant cable, and our Travel shows featured mostly Bourdain, Zimmern, and Brown. But we had a lot of pretentious crappy restaurants five to ten years prior; mostly because of a very narrow upper class that spent too much time in America. The call center generation - the new middle class - by contrast seems to have much more discerning tastes.

 

The big change really had been the explosion of the Japanese restaurant scene, which had formerly been relegated to the little Tokyo quarter but is now found nearly everywhere and is considered fine dining. Although they charge $10 a meal (as opposed to $4 for a Big Mac meal), and the fare is very simple like tonkatsu (breaded pork cutlet) the Japanese restaurants have been able to admirably import Japanese cooking skills and technique and make the most out of these offerings. Everyone else had to basically step up their game to compete.

 

So now we've got all sorts of decent food from all over the world. Just this weekend I tried out a Peruvian place who gave us the best ceviche and roasted chicken I've had so far. There are now decent Italian, Spanish, American, Chinese, and even French restaurants I can name. Our canneries, operated mainly by old Spanish families, are also beginning to realize that they could do those pricier (and tastier) Spanish canned goods like sardines in olive oil while still making money.

 

Those serving local dishes are also doing pretty good, albeit if you want really good Filipino food you should head outside of Manila (which is really becoming too international).

 

That said the call center generation has been having a tough time learning how to cook - most of them simply don't know how to and can't even if they want to (too little space in tiny condos). I had to teach myself to cook by reading Alton Brown, and my cooking setup is pretty tiny and just consists of one induction stove and one toaster oven.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fish head Filipino-stye requires a sour base to counteract the oil. This is also why Singaporean fish-head has a red curry base, while Chinese has a salty soy-based sauce.

 

I'm guessing you can't find tamarind in Alaska, as that's the traditional souring agent.

 

Also, the best Filpino dish isn't fish head. It's chopped pork face:

 

https://c1.staticflickr.com/9/8025/7898043890_7034e91deb_b.jpg

 

========

 

Oh, and until Guy Fierri suffers a heartattack, America is going to have to endure terribly-cooked over-complicated food that's based on gimmicks rather than solid, fundamental cooking.

 

Actually, scratch that and until all Guy Fierri-style shows suffer horrible ends you're going to end up screwed. The difference between Masterchef America and Australia in particular is like night and day. Masterchef America is about making drama out of cooking food. Masterchef Australia shockingly enough is simply about cooking food.

 

Yeah. There certainly wasn't anything else. Anchorage has a lot of foodies/hippies which have moved up there and no doubt the availability is easier. But here on Bristol Bay, that ain't happening.

 

It could just be bad cooks/bad recipe and I'll keep your advice in mind for the future.

 

On the other hand, boy that soup sucked.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's definitely the lack of tamarind and, if you can get you hands on it, some miso.

 

In a Filipino food court you can buy a salmon head soup meal for only $2 and despite the salmon being not the freshest it generally comes out decent as long as the soup was soured by tamarind and flavored with some miso. Add some tomatoes, onions, and some greens (especially spicy greens like mustard leaves) and it becomes very, very good.

 

Also, as a general rule of thumb, Filpino dishes must be served with rice. A lot of Filipino dishes need rice to moderate the flavor.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Guy Fierri is not the food scene in the US. At all. Those Gimmicks might work for TV show ratings and the throngs of waddling tourists from middle America but not for those of us who actually care about food.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Guy Fierri is not the food scene in the US. At all. Those Gimmicks might work for TV show ratings and the throngs of waddling tourists from middle America but not for those of us who actually care about food.  

 

Yes but he's indicative of the mindset which creates the trashy cuisine and worse he's the face of the Food Network - which tries to turn food into a spectator sport instead of something you eat. And like it or not it's selling - with his absolutely terrible New York restaurant making a ton of money with bad food based primarily on heaping together as many artery-clogging ideas that sound good on paper but ends up being just a monotonous parade of "salted grease" on the tongue. And note this is a generation where even McDonalds is starting to experiment with kale on its menu.

 

Compare and contrast for instance to Alton Brown (who pretty much carries the whole Iron Chef show). Brown for instance isn't above using potato chips as breading to make some trash cuisine, but he does it in a way where the pork chop still comes out good because he's making something to eat. And he's very careful to point out that people do trash cuisine primarily because they lack money for fancy panko crumbs in the first place. Guy Fieri... just adds buffalo sauce on everything.

 

The Manila food scene used to be much of the same which treated food as status symbols instead of something to be eaten, in large part because all of the cooking and food shows (and the entertainment industry in general) were dominated by an upper class with Spanish colonial nobility sensibilities, and who generally frowned upon provincial/rural food.

 

That's why Bourdain and Zimmern were so important not just for the American food scene, but the Filipino one as well. They made eating good food for the sake of eating good food cool again. Bourdain's one episode about the Philippines for instance pretty much forced the Manila food scene to (finally) accept the reality that they did not make the best lechon (crispy roasted pig), and that it was the rural Cebu version with its greens that was in fact the "best pig ever". Indeed, most viewers can't help but notice how miserable Bourdain was eating Manila food and processed fishballs, and he really lit up when he was eating rural food like chopped pork face.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes but he's indicative of the mindset which creates the trashy cuisine and worse he's the face of the Food Network - which tries to turn food into a spectator sport instead of something you eat. And like it or not it's selling - with his absolutely terrible New York restaurant making a ton of money with bad food based primarily on heaping together as many artery-clogging ideas that sound good on paper but ends up being just a monotonous parade of "salted grease" on the tongue. And note this is a generation where even McDonalds is starting to experiment with kale on its menu.

 

Compare and contrast for instance to Alton Brown (who pretty much carries the whole Iron Chef show). Brown for instance isn't above using potato chips as breading to make some trash cuisine, but he does it in a way where the pork chop still comes out good because he's making something to eat. And he's very careful to point out that people do trash cuisine primarily because they lack money for fancy panko crumbs in the first place. Guy Fieri... just adds buffalo sauce on everything.

 

The Manila food scene used to be much of the same which treated food as status symbols instead of something to be eaten, in large part because all of the cooking and food shows (and the entertainment industry in general) were dominated by an upper class with Spanish colonial nobility sensibilities, and who generally frowned upon provincial/rural food.

 

That's why Bourdain and Zimmern were so important not just for the American food scene, but the Filipino one as well. They made eating good food for the sake of eating good food cool again. Bourdain's one episode about the Philippines for instance pretty much forced the Manila food scene to (finally) accept the reality that they did not make the best lechon (crispy roasted pig), and that it was the rural Cebu version with its greens that was in fact the "best pig ever". Indeed, most viewers can't help but notice how miserable Bourdain was eating Manila food and processed fishballs, and he really lit up when he was eating rural food like chopped pork face.

 

 

I can get cripsy pork face at John Tesars place right down the street and it is amazing. I don't watch the Food Network often. The Cooking channel occasionally, the shows on Travel channel, and Cooking network are better anyway. 

 

There are tons of awesome chefs with amazing menus that aren't gunning for air time on cable networks. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes but he's indicative of the mindset which creates the trashy cuisine and worse he's the face of the Food Network - which tries to turn food into a spectator sport instead of something you eat. And like it or not it's selling - with his absolutely terrible New York restaurant making a ton of money with bad food based primarily on heaping together as many artery-clogging ideas that sound good on paper but ends up being just a monotonous parade of "salted grease" on the tongue. And note this is a generation where even McDonalds is starting to experiment with kale on its menu.

 

You could make money with literally anything in New York as long as it's got a name the tourists recognize. When we went there for the once in twenty years to see if it was a tourist trap check for Sardi's, their cannelloni were practically cardboard compared to what was two blocks away from our house, but it was packed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We're mostly at the stage where we have to drag the dullards kicking and screaming into the right places, but it's certainly easier these days. If I can sell nopales to Pennsyltuckians, then we're on a good track.

 

We're doing sous vide for all of our meats on the truck now, and I have to say I've been converted. I wasn't at all impressed by the few times I'd seen it, and I never imagined it to be conducive to a business that cooks in volume, but I'm sorely mistaken. Throwing a pork shoulder into a bath and letting it go for a day or so cuts at least two hours off of a prep shift, and results in a shoulder that lets me pull all the meat off with my fingers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We're mostly at the stage where we have to drag the dullards kicking and screaming into the right places, but it's certainly easier these days. If I can sell nopales to Pennsyltuckians, then we're on a good track.

 

We're doing sous vide for all of our meats on the truck now, and I have to say I've been converted. I wasn't at all impressed by the few times I'd seen it, and I never imagined it to be conducive to a business that cooks in volume, but I'm sorely mistaken. Throwing a pork shoulder into a bath and letting it go for a day or so cuts at least two hours off of a prep shift, and results in a shoulder that lets me pull all the meat off with my fingers.

Sous vide is legit as fuck if you have the time to do it properly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It really depends on where you live. Many American towns and cities are a vast wasteland of chain restaurants and fast food. You start getting much outside most major metro areas and aside from a few Mom and Pop places, your dining choices are pretty limited. I think there are serious rumblings for some change though and there are people stepping up to fill that need. 

 

I do A LOT of leisure travel and most of it is planned around food. I could take someone around places like Chicago, the Bay Area, New York, LA, New Orleans, Boston, Dallas, Austin, Houston, Seattle, and a bunch of off the map towns across the US and introduce them to places putting out some really innovative menus as well as really good traditional comfort foods. 

 

I live on the edge of DFW metro area and I could eat my way across this city and not be disappointed once. We have a number of spectacular food trucks, talented chefs opening great restaurants, and a city chomping at the bit for quality food. We have a developer here that opened an old trucking terminal and turned it into a incubator for new restaurant ideas that has already spawned on James Beard semi finalist this year. 

My wife grew up around the culinary world, her father worked with a number of the original "celebrity" chefs like Hubert Keller and Wolfgang Puck. She is a baker in her spare time and runs a sweets related blog that has a pretty decent following. Food is has always been a big part of her life. Me? I just like to eat things that taste good. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Food trucks are all the rage these days and some are pretty good. What's your company's hook Brick? And are you employee or owner?

My friend was working for a bakery, and the owner of said bakery bought a food truck. The owner didn't really want another project, so my buddy offered to take it over to make authentic Mexican food (he's a huge Rick Bayless and Diana Kennedy nut). He was given complete autonomy to run it, and hired me up to help. We do tacos, tamales, drinks, and guacamole. Everything is from scratch, including stuff like the tortilla and tamale doughs, which we take from local corn that we soak and grind ourselves. We'll do more complicated dishes for when we cater, too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

"I'll take a Double Triple Bossy Deluxe on a raft, 4x4 animal style, extra shingles with a shimmy and a squeeze, light axle grease; make it cry, burn it, and let it swim."
 
Double Triple Bossy Deluxe:
Double Triple = 6 patties, Bossy = all-beef, Deluxe = everything on it.
 
On a raft:
Toast in place of burger buns.
 
4x4:
Previous 6 patties x 4 = 24 total patties, with another 24 slices of cheese.
 
Animal style:
Patties cooked in mustard, 24 layers of everything.
 
Extra shingles: 
Extra toast, 2 per layer, 14 total.
 
With a shimmy:
Jelly spread on toast.
 
And a squeeze:
Orange juice to drink.
 
Light axle grease:
Light butter on the toast.
 
Make it cry:
Extra onions.
 
Burn it:
Patties are well-done.
 
Let it swim:
Extra special sauce.
 
The result-
 
 
TST1j.jpg
 
 
 
Heres the damage
 
BubbleBassBurger.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×