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the punch line

18 Jul

I have a bad habit. I laugh at my own jokes. Like, a lot. Once, Josh and I got caught in a short hail storm in Washington DC, and as we peered out of the car windows at the little ice bombs dropping from the sky, I shouted with mock indignance, “OH HAIL NO!”

I almost died laughing at that line–and not just a “funny ha ha” laugh, but the deep-bellied Gina laugh some of you might recognize as especially, ahem, boisterous–while Josh just had to sit and wait my laughter storm out. (Confession: Sometimes one of us will bring this little anecdote up, and I laugh all over again. I’m pretty sure you know you’ve got a good joke when it still cracks you up years later. Even if you’re the only one laughing. …Right??)

I think they meant to use the “Chelada” font to spell the word “Gross”

Fast forward to last night, when my sweet husband drove me to the grocery store to get some mint cookie ice cream. He had been craving a beer himself, and I suggested he get a can of Bud Light & Clamato–one of his favorites (despite earning an official Beer Advocate score of Awful).*

Josh shrugged. “I don’t think Bud Light & Clamato will go well with the ice cream.”

“Um, Bud Light & Clamato doesn’t go good with itself,” I shot back.

There was the tiniest silence before it happened. I roared–I am so witty you guys!

“Gina… that wasn’t even that funny.” Josh noted tenderly between my giggle fits.

And you know what? I kind of see his point. But it was too late, the Gina Joke laughter dam was broken.

 

* This review sums up the Bud Light & Clamato nicely:

It’s somewhat tolerable, didn’t make me gag too much and I might’ve been able to nurse it until it was gone, except you weren’t kind enough to put it in a regular 12-ounce can.

Oh no.

Instead you decided to put your clammy concoction in a huge 24-ounce aluminum jug, making it impossible to finish without it getting warm, which makes the Chelada feel like someone rinsed their mouth with it and spit it back into the can.

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and then josé andrés and i became BFFs

15 Apr

When we got to Atlanta in December, one of the first things Savory did was join a science meet-up group. We’ve gone to science trivia and a couple of lectures at bars (I know, we’re hard core.), but as a guy with a Ph.D. in physics and a gal with a food blog, we were especially excited when they held an event a few weeks ago titled “The Physics of Cooking.” So cool, right?!

I was pretty stoked when we walked into the lecture hall at Georgia Tech and they had a whole lab table set up next to the podium–but just about went into complete freak-out mode when the emcee casually mentioned that, along with two physicists from Harvard, José Freaking Andrés was presenting!

tapas: a taste of spain in america, by jose andres

my ultimate guide to spanish cooking

I was first introduced to JFA when I received his tapas cookbook as a gift. Dudes, the tapas in that cookbook are beyond legit. His flan recipe is the best I’ve tasted (close second: the flan from Colombia restaurant in Florida). Best of all, I finally found a recipe for croquetas that truly reminded me of those sauteed pieces of heaven I so frequently enjoyed when I studied abroad in Spain. I make those croquetas once or twice a year, and I am not exaggerating when I say it is a spiritual experience.

So what’s a famous chef doing with some geeky physicists? Turns out, JFA is as passionate about innovation as he is about food. He teamed up with Michael Brenner and David Weitz from Harvard and they put together a class on culinary physics.

For Andrés, the pairing of food and science “opens new highways to creation” in the kitchen. They did some cool experiments with food and talked about the importance of collaboration and reaching beyond the boundaries of your discipline–but what really made the experience unforgettable was JFA himself. I don’t know how to describe it except to say that his storytelling is as delicious as his food; when he speaks you just get entirely engrossed by his absolute passion, a mix of both urgency and joy.

As soon as the presentation was over, I rushed the stage to meet him–the man whose tapas have been a delight to me for years, at whose restaurants I dined at with friends and forced every single one to order the flan for dessert, and whose stories of the next food frontier left me completely entranced. And as I shook his hand with a grin that threatened to devour my entire face I blubbered, “Mucho gusto. Can I get a picture with you?” Then, as I dragged the two professors from Harvard into the photo and Savory snapped the picture,  “I have a food blog. You’re going to be famous.”

Really, Gina? I have a food blog?? You’re going to be FAMOUS??? JFA humored me despite what a pompous lunatic I must have looked like, and I could barely contain myself as I literally skipped out of the auditorium and into the street before shouting “OHMYGOSH I GOT A PICTURE WITH TWO PHYSICISTS AND JOSEFREAKINGANDRES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Jose Andres visits Georgia Tech

josé andrés, pre-'hot plate' fame bump

best foodie moments in film

19 Mar

What are the best foodie moments in film? My favorite is the episode of True Blood where Sookie’s grandmother dies. Sookie is berieved, but constantly surrounded by others and unable to grieve. Finally alone, she sits down at the kitchen table and eats an entire pecan pie her grandma made. I love this scene, because it feels like the first moment she gives in, bite by bite, to her loss–savoring the last of her grandmother’s earthly delights.

True Blood_pecan pie scene 

Ironically, the only place I could find the video was on a blog bashing the scene as "completely devoid of emotional impact."

Runner up: The egg scene in Cool Hand Luke.

What else deserves to go on the list?

katz curried oatmeal

27 Mar

Very often when I tell someone I have a food blog, the first question they ask is, “Why food?” The answer, of course, is because I love food. I love how sensory it is. I love that food can be both tradition and experiment. I love the different experiences it has to offer–whether you eat at home, at a restaurant or from a cart on the street. I love the peace of cooking, and of enjoying a meal I’ve made myself. But more than anything, I love the moments food allows us to share with others.

Several years ago I bought a book at a used book store in Daytona Beach called Eating Through Literature and Art. Grouped like a cookbook, according to meal type, each section includes excerpts, notes and recipes from people like Franz Kafka, Allen Ginsberg and John Cage. I was flipping through it a couple weeks ago, and this breakfast entry by Steve Katz, a response to the editor’s request for a recipe, captured just exactly the feeling. It’s stuck with me ever since, and I can’t help but share it with you here:

Katz Curried Oatmeal

I never expected to express this as a recipe. I like to think of it as the culmination of a morning mode, following the processes of eyelid lifts and other sophisticated exercises that result in eventual verticality. One happy result of following these instructions with some sincerity is that you will find yourself vertical by a seascape so beautiful I wouldn’t trust a description of it to the world’s best writers. That’s the shores of Cape Breton, preferably at dawn–erect at dawn , supine by sunset. You go there to get the oatmeal, Ogilvie’s Scotch Style Oatmeal, generally for sale at the Co-op in Inverness or at McLellans. You can probably get it at other stores elsewhere in Nova Scotia and Canada, but I can’t see why you would want to. If you can’t go that far, and want to simulate the recipe, I suggest you avoid Quaker Oats and find some loose steel-cut oats in a health food or bulk grain outlet. Quaker Oats don’t give you the nutty texture you want for the awakening this dish ideally provides.

To cook 1 cup of these oats you will need 4 to 5 cups of freshly drawn spring water. This water is best from the hills of Foot Cape, but I am sure you can find an adequate substitute. Many people like to cook the oats in a double-broiler or on a low heat throughout the night. I have tried that and it made for some soft oats, but I prefer the texture you get cooking them directly over the flame, and stirring frequently. Bring the water to a rolling boil, add the oats, lower the heat to a simmer, and stir frequently. The oats foam up and threaten to escape the pot at first, but you will find that as you tend them, they will calm down and become quite tame to your attention.

These oats take twenty minutes to a half hour to reach their optimum texture, which for me is more or less “al dente.” When they are about half way you can add the spices. If you have a preferred curry powder you can stir in 1/2 to a full teaspoon of that, according to taste. I’ve liked some curry powders, but what I have consistently used and preferred is the following combination of 1/4 teaspoon each of cumin, ground coriander, tumeric, and cayenne. The amounts of each can vary according to taste. Add salt also to taste. At least five minutes before the oats are ready add 1/2 cup of diced dried fruit. I enjoy a combination of raisins, black or golden, preferably not treated with sugar, and unsulphured dried apricots. After you add the fruit check occasionally to see how much water it absorbs, and if the pot needs it, add some boiling water.

To finish the porridge saute some raw sunflower seeds in butter. I prefer the lightly salted butter of Tatamagouche, when I can get it. When the sunnies are light brown pour them into the nicely bubbling porridge. You will hear a heavenly hiss from the disturbance of steam that for the moment will drown out the sound of the waves breaking.

Four to six of your friends are sitting outside the tipi, or on the deck, or with their feet dangling off the bank, as they watch the early sunlight come over the hill to touch the crests of the waves. This should fill a nice bowl for each of them, that will warm their bellies for much of the day. Serve it to them with a bowl of yogurt, and some coffee brewed with cardamon. They are your friends, and there will never be another morning like this morning.

1 cup oats (Ogilvie’s Scotch Style, or steel cut)

4-5 cups spring water

1/2-1 tsp curry or 1/8 tsp each cumin, ground coriander, turmeric, cayenne

salt

1/2 cup diced dried fruit

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

yogurt

butter


I am fortunate to know, and have shared a drink or meal with, most, if not all, of the people who read this blog. You are my friends, family and colleagues–and these are among my most cherished memories.

unexpected enchiladas everywhere!

23 Feb

Why can I totally see myself having this EXACT conversation?

Excerpt:

me: If I was driving a brain-car I’d make it go to Taco Cabana all the time and you’d be all “Where are we going? We don’t have time for this” and I’d be like “I’m not doing it! It’s the car. It must want enchiladas” and then I could get enchiladas all the time and you couldn’t yell at me about it because you couldn’t prove I was doing it on purpose.

Victor: When have I ever yelled at you about enchiladas?  WHY IS THIS EVEN AN ISSUE?

me: You’d totally yell at me if I suddenly veered off to get unexpected enchiladas. That’s why I’ve never even tried it. Because I know you. But just wait until we get our mind-control car. There are going to be unexpected enchiladas everywhere.