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Fans of Tony Bourdain, rejoice! January 22, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. As longtime readers know, I love cooking. And I love watching (and screaming at, I mean, offering helpful advice to competitors and judges) cooking competitions like “Chopped” and “Iron Chef America” when our friend Ben and I are on the road and staying in hotels that actually get The Food Network. I also enjoy watching Anthony Bourdain’s series “No Reservations,” though I have to order it from Netflix.

But it’s frustrating not to be able to get any of these shows at home, since we don’t have cable reception. We get three PBS stations, and PBS has cooking shows, too, but in order to see them you have to have, you guessed it, cable. Grrrrr!!!

So you can imagine my excitement when I read that ABC—a station we actually receive—is airing the premiere of a new cooking competition series, “The Taste,” tonight from 8 to 10 Eastern Standard Time. (It will subsequently be aired in hourlong episodes, presumably at 9.) And one of the judges is none other than Tony Bourdain! (Fans of Nigella Lawson, you too can rejoice. She’s also a judge, along with Ludo Lefebvre and Brian Malarkey.) I hope the dynamics between the judges play out well, and that Tony is his usual snarky self.

From what I’ve read of the show, it’s unusual in that the judges coach teams of both amateur and professional cooks. I’ll be interested to see how that plays out. as I know from my own cooking, the skill sets required of amateur cooks and chefs are very different. I’ve never had to face the challenge of delivering four completely different meals to a table at the same time, all at the perfect temperature and perfectly cooked. It’s enough for me to get the same meal to everyone at the table at the perfect temperature and perfectly cooked! And imagine multiplying that table of four by 10, by 20, by 30… Yikes!

All a home cook has to do is dream and create great food. A chef has to be a general, overseeing his or her army of cooks, servers, busboys, and the like. Not my idea of a good time! Give me my peaceful kitchen, where I rule alone (at least, until the meal is over and poor OFB has to do the dishes, ugh), my music, my beautiful ingredients, and let me combine them and touch them and smell them and delight in them in my own good time. It’s quite a contrast to the hot, steamy, lightning-paced work that goes on behind a restaurant’s kitchen doors. But I digress.

At any rate, I’m really looking forward to tonight’s premiere, though admittedly I’m wondering how they’ll fill a movie-length program and keep it exciting. But if anyone could do it, that person would be Tony Bourdain! If any of you watch the show, please share your impressions with us.

‘Til next time,

Silence

Knitting up a storm. March 5, 2012

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Silence Dogood here. Knitting means many things to me: relaxation (I love the soothing repetitive action); comfort (the warmth of wool on my lap on a cold day as I knit, or one of my scarves keeping me or our friend Ben warm as we brave the winter blasts); beauty (the gorgeous colors and textures of the yarn); wonder (to see how it looks knitting up); sharing (the joy of creating a scarf for someone in colors and textures I know they’ll love). So I’m always thrilled when someone gives that gift of joy to people who need it most.

This morning, I read an article in The Wall Street Journal, “Japanese Elderly Knit a Safety Net.” It’s about how a group of tsunami survivors formed a knitting group, Yarn Alive, in the temporary box homes to which they’ve been moved, sometimes indefinitely.

Having watched as all they owned washed out to sea, losing loved ones, homes, and businesses, and now living in 210- to 320-square-foot spaces in prefab housing with small hope of recovering their lives, hope must have seemed an alien concept to the 326,000 people whose lives have been reduced to these bitterly cold boxes. According to the article, as many as 30% of these people are elderly, living alone and on a pension, with little chance of affording another home or getting another job.

But now, thanks to Yarn Alive, a number of them (using yarn, knitting needles, and crochet hooks donated from around the world) are creating community through the knitting club, making new friends, and finding new purpose. Each week, they have a special “homework” project, such as knitting scarves or blankets for others whose lives have been shattered by the tsunami, or making legwarmers and other knitted wearables to sell in Tokyo to raise money to help rebuild their town, Shichigahama. 

The ladies of Yarn Alive, the recipients of their work, and their town aren’t the only ones to benefit from the project. Those who send yarn and supplies also have an opportunity to participate in bringing joy to others’ lives, often in incredibly thoughtful ways. Take Zonna Fenn, a member of a church knitting group in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, which sent yarn and supplies to the Yarn Alive group. Ms. Fenn “says she heard it was hard to get bright-colored yarn in Japan… [so she] made a point of picking out multicolored, variegated yarn—the kind she said looked ‘fun to work with’.” If you know how much fun it is to pick out special yarns, fabrics or jewelry for yourself or as gifts, imagine the delight of choosing something special for someone who would really appreciate it.

This is also a case where one person with a vision can make a real difference. Thinking about 326,000 people still living in unheated, unairconditioned, makeshift box homes a year after the tragedy that wrecked their lives and washed away their world, you may feel helpless. I remember how appalled I was watching an episode of “No Reservations” in which Anthony Bourdain visited New Orleans three years after Hurricane Katrina. The city was still in ruins, whole areas abandoned, its famous restaurant district a ghost town.

But Tony Bourdain made a difference by devoting an episode of his hit show to highlighting the city’s ongoing distress. Emeril Lagasse made a difference by keeping his restaurants open and finding work for all his employees either there or at his other restaurants across the country.

Yes, you may be thinking, but they’re famous. What about normal people? What could they do? Well, in New Orleans, every person who chose to stay, who chose to rebuild, or who chose to come and devote some of their time, skills, and resources to the rebuilding also made a difference. In Shichigahama, one American woman, Teddy Sawka, a longtime resident, had the vision for Yarn Alive and pulled strings (sorry, I couldn’t resist that) to raise awareness among knitting groups worldwide to make her dream a reality for a group of elderly widows who loved knitting and desperately needed a new vocation, new friends, and something to look forward to. “It cheers me up so much that I don’t even feel lonely at night, I just feel like knitting some more,” one 80-year-old Yarn Alive member was quoted as saying.

As it happens, I know firsthand what a difference one person with a vision can make. In my case, the time was October 2008, and the person was Kathryn Hall of the popular blog Plant Whatever Brings You Joy (http://plantwhateverbringsyoujoy.com/). Kathryn heard about a group of refugee children, many of them girls, facing a freezing winter in the foothills of the Himalayas. She decided to do something about it, and the Scarf Initiative was born. (You can read all about it in my post “Scarfing it up” by typing the title in our search bar at upper right.) Kathryn appealed to knitting garden bloggers and anyone else who wished to contribute to knit and donate a scarf to the children. At the end of the project, she had almost 80 scarves, and I was very proud to see a photo of mine displayed with the others before they were packed and shipped. I vividly remember the delight of choosing just the right yarn to make a small, cold child happy and brighten her life, and of course, the pleasure of knitting the scarf myself.

The Scarf Initiative was a one-time event, but the ladies of Yarn Alive would doubtless welcome your unused yarn, thrift-store finds, or, of course, treasures selected especially for them. I urge you to read more about it (and see a video of the group in action) at www.wsj.com.

And if you don’t knit, are colorblind, break out at the mere thought of yarn? Keep your eyes open for a chance to take something you love and turn it into a vision that will help others in need, in your community, your city or state, your nation, your world. (This of course applies to you animal- and nature-lovers out there, too; “others in need” isn’t just about people.) Yes, as one ordinary person, you may feel powerless. But remember: Vision is power. Passion and compassion are power. Community is power. So reach in, reach out, and use your talent, vision and passion to make a difference. It may make all the difference in the world.

            ‘Til next time,

                      Silence

My funny valentine. February 14, 2012

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Silence Dogood here. Our friend Ben and I exchanged Valentine’s gifts and cards this morning: for him, a board game, German Shepherdopoly (our beloved black German shepherd, Shiloh, also signed his card); for me, a copy of Tony Bourdain’s latest collection of kitchen-themed essays, Medium Raw. We were both not just pleased with our own gifts but eager to read/play the other’s, so I’d rank this as a successful Valentine’s Day.

All was not bliss, however, and not just because OFB forgot to clean the litterbox (as I recently discovered). We’d decided to postpone our Valentine dinner until Thursday, when we’ll go to Wild Rice, a favorite Japanese/Chinese/Thai restaurant. Tonight we’re going to celebrate with our Friday Night Supper Club friends.

I’d made a batch of my luscious spaghetti sauce this weekend (you can search for the recipe by typing “spaghetti sauce” in our search bar at upper right) and had plenty left over, so I volunteered to make and bring lasagna* and a yummy loaf of bread; our friends would provide salad and wine.

Not exactly stress-inducing, right? Wrong. Suddenly two extra guests were added to the list, bringing the total to seven. And unlike so many dishes—soups, sauces, chili, stir-fries, you name it—lasagna won’t expand to feed additional mouths.

In a normal home, this wouldn’t be a problem: You’d just make either a bigger pan of lasagna or two pans. But ours is not a normal home. We have a vintage Caloric (yes, that really is its unfortunate name) gas stove, and its oven stopped working several years ago. I’m convinced that all it needs is a good cleaning, but finding someone who can still work on Caloric stoves is difficult and finding the money to pay them, or replace the venerable and much-loved stove with even a used model (it’s extra-wide), is impossible. As a stop-gap, we bought a countertop convection/toaster oven, which is usually ample for me and OFB. It is not ample enough, however, for either a large pan or two pans of lasagna. I’ve had to restrict my baking, roasting, broiling and etc. to pans, trays and the like that would fit into the toaster oven.

Big deal, you might think, just make two pans. But I only have one pan that would work for lasagna. It would be a huge pain to have to cook two pans one at a time anyway. And then there’s the issue of the ingredients. My homemade spaghetti sauce is rich, thick, chunky, incredible. But what if I don’t have enough for two pans? Will some diners get a luscious piece of lasagna made of premium sauce, and others get a boring serving made with store-bought? Aaaarrgghhh!!!

So of course I was roaming the house screaming and wringing my hands over this, much to poor OFB’s dismay. (I’m sure he would have loved to say “And happy Valentine’s Day to you, too!” but fortunately he resisted.) And I need to buy birthday presents for a good friend I’m seeing tomorrow and for our neighbor, whose birthday happens to fall on Valentine’s Day. Pressure!!! The day already seems far too short, and of course, the money far too tight.

I decided to focus instead—for a minute or two, anyway—on the pleasant, stress-free prospect of our Thursday supper at Wild Rice. OFB has a bag of clothes to give to Goodwill, which is just down from the restaurant, so I wanted to remind him to be sure to bring it.

Wait—Goodwill! Last time we went over there, I’d found a square Corning casserole dish and top that I knew would fit in our toaster oven, yet be big enough to make a good-size lasagna. I’d snapped it up, but hadn’t yet used it and had forgotten about it. Whoa, problem solved! Surely I can get eight squares of lasagna out of that dish without having to even try to make a second one. And one lucky person can have seconds!

What a relief. Looks like Valentine’s Day is going to be a success after all.

Wishing each and every one of you lots of love and joy today and every day!

               ‘Til next time,

                             Silence 

* I’ve been struggling with the lasagna/lasagne issue for several years, but have finally come up with a solution that satisfies me. In Italian, in this case, “a” indicates singular and “e” indicates plural. There are several pieces of lasagna pasta used to make the dish, so the pasta would be lasagne. But there is only one dish: lasagna.

Cast your vote: Tony Bourdain or Paula Deen. August 23, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in Uncategorized, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. There’s a food fight going on between celebrity chefs/TV icons Anthony Bourdain (author of cookbooks, travel/food books, and tell-alls, including the bestseller Kitchen Confidential, former chef at Brasserie Les Halles in New York City, host of the Travel Channel’s hit show “No Reservations”) and Paula Deen (chef/owner of the Lady & Sons in Savannah, GA, author of bestselling cookbooks and a tear-jerking bio, It Ain’t All About the Cookin’, and supposedly the most beloved chef on television, combining the appeal of Oprah and the latter-day Liz Taylor).

Bourdain is perhaps best known for not sparing the expletives in his tell-it-like- I-see-it commentary. But Paula is no genteel Southern flower, either. So when Tony called her “the most dangerous person in America” (“Plus, her food sucks”) and accused her deep-fried, high-fat cuisine of contributing to America’s obesity epidemic, she fired right back, telling him to “get a life” and asking if someone had peed in his breakfast cereal.

I have to give Paula props on this one, much as I love Tony. Now that he’s given up cigarettes, cocaine, heroin and etc., I’m not sure how he manages to remain so thin (ADHD, bipolar disorder, a rigorous exercise routine?!), but his on-screen diet of endless fatty pig parts and alcohol would hardly contribute to anybody’s health. Most people who took his food regime as an example would weigh 5,000 pounds and be courting diabetes, heart disease, and God only knows what else. He’s certainly not the one to point a finger at the queen of deep-fat frying.

But I digress. Returning this post to its true point, my question for all of you is this: If you could have Paula Deen or Tony Bourdain prepare a meal for you, then sit down and enjoy it with you and talk to you about whatever you wanted to discuss, who would you want to eat with? I know my choice. I want to know your choice. Please let me know! 

          ‘Til next time,

                    Silence

Beatles or Stones? August 17, 2011

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Silence Dogood had once again dragooned our friend Ben into watching an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s travel/food show, “No Reservations.” Why Silence, a passionate vegetarian, is so obsessed with this show, which seems to focus entirely on killing and eating meat, I can’t say. Whole episodes pass in which not a single vegetable is consumed. The show’s host loudly and constantly abuses and despises vegetarians. I can only conclude that one of Silence’s life goals is to cook for Tony and force him, not to convert to vegetarianism, but to recant as far as his antipathy to all things vegetable is concerned. 

At any rate, this episode was a bit different from the others we’ve seen in the series in that Tony interviews four “contestants” at the start of the show to determine where he’ll go next (in the event, to Saudi Arabia). At one point, interviewing a musician who’s trying to lure him to Buffalo, NY, Tony asks: “Beatles or Stones?” When the musician answers “Beatles,” it seems to seal his fate as a non-contender.

This of course set our friend Ben and Silence off bigtime. If Tony Bourdain had asked us this question, the answer would have been an unhesitating “Zeppelin.” We despise the Beatles’ hokey, self-indulgent ballads. Our friend Ben almost committed murder when taking acoustic guitar lessons after the instructor announced that the lessons would be based on the Beatles’ thump-thump playbook. (Silence does acknowledge that George Harrison became pretty cool once he managed to escape from the band.)

As for the Stones, our friend Ben simply found them discordant, loud, and boring (the latter trait shared with the Beatles), but Silence was totally revolted: “Vile, vulgar, ugly, and gross! Who would find that attractive?!” The Stones don’t give us no satisfaction, for sure.

Give us Led Zeppelin any day. Great music, great drama, no sappy, sentimental whining or pathetic pseudo-macho posturing disguised as music. Zeppelin was genuinely sexy. And it made genuinely fabulous music, thanks in large part to musical genius and founder Jimmy Page. If there’s another song from the entire rock era that can even approach “Stairway to Heaven,” we’d like to know what it is.

So, Tony, take your Beatles and Stones and eat them. Then listen to some real music. And think about expanding that famous “no reservations” attitude to include some vegetarian fare. It’s not brown, boring “health food” any more. And you don’t have to apologize* for killing a baby camel or trembling, terrified armadillo to enjoy it.

* Not that we’d expect a meat-eater to apologize for eating meat, but for whatever reason, Tony does so fairly often on the shows if the animal is killed on-air before being prepared and served, especially if it’s inherently appealing.

Skip burgers, save gas. August 16, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. Anyone who reads, watches TV, or goes online knows that there are health and environmental drawbacks to eating too much meat. Despite the rise of offal-loving chefs like Tony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern and the popularity of meat-based diets like Atkins and Paleolithic, eating 67 pounds of beef annually as the average American does—not even counting poultry, fish, pork, and all the other meats that are dietary staples—is asking for every sort of trouble.

Disclaimer: This was definitely not true in hunter-gatherer times, for all you Paleo aficionados. But that’s because meat wasn’t farmed then, it was simply hunted. Farmed herds of cows, sheep, pigs and the like weren’t using up disproportionate amounts of land and resources, being doused with toxic chemicals and dosed with antibiotics, or growing fat in factory farms and feedlots. And if you were a hunter-gatherer, the likelihood of eating “too much” meat—or anything else—was extremely remote.

Okay, okay. We’ve all read/heard/etc. that you can feed the whole world by raising crops for people instead of critters. But what you may not have heard, and I certainly hadn’t, was a statistic I just read in an article on Yahoo! Shine called “How much protein do you really need?”

I’ve read all my adult life that it’s way less than we Americans tend to think, and the article reiterated that: no surprise. The surprise was provided by a stat from the Environmental Working Group in their new Meat Eater’s Guide that noted that if you gave up just one hamburger a week, you’d save the environmental cost of driving your car 320 miles. (In their words, “if you ate one less burger a week it would be the environmentally-positive equivalent of taking your car off the road for 320 miles.” Whatever.) That’s pretty shocking.

So how much protein is ideal, you’re asking? Apparently 65 grams a day for an adult male and 55 grams for a woman. If you can visualize a gram, you’re way ahead of me. But according to the article, that translates into an egg, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, and 2-3 ounces of meat (that deck-of-cards size) or 1/2 cup of beans a day. Yeesh, that’s not very much. In our culture, it would take a real concerted effort to avoid getting adequate protein. So maybe giving up that one burger a week isn’t too much to ask.

             ‘Til next time,

                           Silence

Questions for Anthony Bourdain. February 3, 2011

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Silence Dogood here. For a fan of Anthony Bourdain, host of the Travel Channel’s “No Reservations,” author and chef, surely a dream come true would be the news that Mr. Bourdain was turning up in your vicinity, or at least reasonably close. Such was my good luck when I heard that Tony would be appearing at the State Theatre in Easton, a mere hour from here, on February 11.

Better still, our local paper, the Allentown, PA Morning Call, was sponsoring a contest for free tickets to see Tony at the State Theatre. The contest winner would get two front-row tickets plus dinner at an Easton restaurant of note, and the runner-up would receive two tickets to the show. Not being one to sign up for contests in general, I went online and signed up for this one. And, I have to assume, now that February has arrived, my usual luck attended me and I didn’t win.

Well, heartaches, nothin’ but heartaches, in the immortal words of my friend Edith. (Though I suspect our friend Ben is probably still wiping his brow in relief.) But then, yesterday, Morning Call food editor Diane Stoneback interviewed the famous chef prior to his visit in an article called “Chef’s tongue can be sharp as a knife” (head to www.themorningcall.com to read it). OFB, perhaps to make amends for his ill-disguised delight that we wouldn’t be going to the actual talk, brought me the section of the paper specially.

The part of the article that really caught my attention (besides, of course, the giant photo of the very easy-on-the-eyes chef himself) was that Tony will apparently be taking questions from the audience at the end of his talk. He’s asked that people please not ask him “What’s the grossest thing you’ve ever eaten?” or how he stays so thin. (I’m convinced it’s because he eats one appreciative bite of each dish for the camera, then lets the crew finish the dish. But maybe he just has a fast metabolism.)

Instead, Tony told Diane, “I’d much rather be surprised by difficult, awkward or embarrassing questions than keep answering those questions again and again.” What an irresistible challenge! For those lucky folks who have $39.50 to $49.50 to pony up per ticket, live close enough to get to the State Theatre in Easton (www.statetheatre.com, 610-252-3132), and are free at 8 p.m. on Friday, February 11, it’s time to start making your list.

But not going isn’t about to stop me from making up my own list of questions! I don’t know if they’d be awkward or embarrassing—hopefully not!—but they’d certainly be difficult if Tony took them seriously. Here goes:

* What’s the deal with you and vegetarians?! I get that you feel a great chef must be prepared to sample every food the world offers, without prejudgement,  in order to prepare the finest food. I don’t have a problem with that outlook, I just wish you’d extend it to vegetarian food. Come eat a meal at my house before you issue another blanket condemnation!

* If you had reached the final episode of “No Reservations,” where would you go to shoot it? I myself would like to see you at home in your own kitchen, shopping for and preparing a meal for family and friends, including some of the folks you’d gone adventuring with on earlier episodes.

* What chefs do you respect most? I know you think highly of Mario Batali and his family, but who else? If you had to go back to school, who would you want as the ideal set of chef-teachers?

* Who do you consider the greatest chef of all time, and why?

* If you had it to do all over again, would you still become a chef? And if not, what?

* What’s your idea of the perfect meal?

* Is there a dish you absolutely love that you’ve never been able to make or make well?

* If you had to eat one regional cuisine for the rest of your life, drawn from anywhere in the world, what would it be?

* If you could go back to one place in the world and live there, where would it be?

* What do you see yourself doing with the rest of your life?

Gee, I guess that’s about enough to ask anyone! Maybe I’ll go back over them and consider my own answers to at least a few of the questions. The answers might give me some ideas! And on February 11, I hope the audience asks Tony some great, provocative questions when they get the chance. And I hope Diane Stoneback is in the audience to share his answers with us!

          ‘Til next time,

                       Silence

How sweet. December 16, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in Uncategorized, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. Alert readers will have noticed that I have a thing about Anthony Bourdain, the bad boy chef-turned-TV-travel-adventurer. Our friend Ben has certainly noticed. And far from pitching a fit, OFB recently asked if I’d like for him to get us tickets for a February appearance by Tony Bourdain at the Easton, PA State Theater as a Christmas present for me. He was genuinely shocked when I said no.

But “no” seemed the only sane answer. If Tony Bourdain suddenly showed up here at Hawk’s Haven, I’d be delighted to cook for him and see what he thought. I’d love to chat with him about his life in and out of cooking. But pay for the privilege of sitting in his presence? No way. Or sure, if OFB and I had unlimited resources. I’m sure it would be fun.

But right now, we’re struggling to pay for our Christmas presents on top of our usual bills. Adding a frivolous large expense right now would simply put us farther underwater. Instead, I can always order the next season of Tony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” series on Netflix. I’ll enjoy it, and we won’t be incurring an insane amount of debt for a transient pleasure. Maybe OFB can get me some lovely high-end olive oils and balsamic vinegars instead, something we’ll both enjoy for months and months as I prepare salads and meals. Or put that money towards occasional dinner nights out.

Tony, if you’re reading this, I really would love to host you. Otherwise, Ben, I can only say, how sweet. Thanks for surprising me with an offer of an expensive treat you knew only I would enjoy. That makes it even easier to say no, let’s save our money for something both of us can love.

             ‘Til next time,

                           Silence

What about that pizza crust? November 3, 2010

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Silence Dogood here. The other night, our friend Ben and I watched Anthony Bourdain’s Pacific Northwest episode from his series “No Reservations.” (Thanks, Netflix!) We thought it was one of the better episodes, showcasing both the unique foodie/artisanal approach of Oregon and Washington State and Tony Bourdain’s entertaining persona and unending flow of bon mots.

But while OFB and I were enjoying the show, something struck me: There’s room for improvement in pizza crust creation. Say what? OFB and I are serious pizza fans. We like to go out for pizza and order it for takeout. We love homemade pizza. (OFB consistently praises my own-made pizza as “the best ever,” forgetting that our friends Delilah and Mary both make much better pizzas on their grills.) I love to improvise by spreading olive oil and/or pesto on the crust before adding tomato sauce, cheese, herbs, and toppings. But it never before occurred to me to consider adding things to the crust itself.

All this changed when I saw Tony Bourdain heading to a pizza parlor, something that, even loving pizza as I do, I’d never have expected, on-air at any rate. But this wasn’t just any pizza parlor. It was a restaurant owned by a chef who was determined to make the perfect pizza. He makes his dough by hand so the crust will be light, crispy, and crackly. (“Nobody does that!” said Tony about professional pizzerias and handmade, from-scratch pizza crusts.) He allows no more than three toppings on his pizzas. And he closes the restaurant once the dough for that day runs out. (“Don’t you care about making money?” “No! I care about making pizza.”)

Watching all this made me think. Why doesn’t anyone add ingredients, enhancements to the pizza crust? Olive oil and Italian herbs (rosemary, basil, oregano, thyme); Parmesan cheese; kalamata olives; sauteed onion and/or roasted garlic; roasted peppers or sundried tomatoes. Maybe a crust with lavender or minced truffles, pepitas or cumin seeds. The possibilities are endless.  I can imagine a luscious crust with a simple assortment of toppings, all working together for the ultimate goodness. Yum!!!

But I’ve never heard of anyone doing this. Do you? If so, what do you do? If not, what do you think of the idea? Please let me know!

          ‘Til next time,

                      Silence

Not a chef. September 30, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. I was reading a review of Anthony Bourdain’s latest book, Medium Raw, this afternoon, and it began this way: “Anthony Bourdain is not a chef.”

Well, I beg to differ. The reviewer apparently felt that Mr. Bourdain is no longer entitled to the title of chef because he no longer works in a restaurant kitchen. To me, that would be like saying Beethoven was no longer a composer because he skipped a few years between symphonies, or Gertrude Jekyll was no longer a garden designer because it had been a while since she’d designed a garden, or Johnny Depp was no longer an actor because none of his films were currently in release.

Tony Bourdain was classically trained in the culinary arts at the Culinary Institute of America, and worked as a chef for 28 years, eventually becoming executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles, a highly regarded restaurant in New York City. (He also wrote their cookbook, as well as the sensational memoir of his life as a chef, Kitchen Confidential.) That he’s now traveling the world seeking culinary adventure for television does not mean he is not a chef. He’s simply no longer in the restaurant business.

Me, I’d say he’s a very, very lucky chef.

                    ‘Til next time,

                                 Silence

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