Monday, August 29, 2011

op ed

Bourdain: Always cracks me up. He’s a bitter old line cook who eats crazy food around the world. His latest hijinx, when asked, “who’s the worst food network chef,” involved a monologue debasing mogul Paula Deen, for her [terrible food and encouragement of US obesity], in short.

US Obesity: The debate of fault reminds me of the tragedy of Columbine and the blame placed on Marilyn Manson. If L&O SVU has taught me anything, it’s the fact that Deen never put the fried chicken in the hands of the obese. I side with the group that says that both Deen and Bourdain are entertainers. Her show, “Paula’s Home Cooking,” is not meant for everyday food, just as eating an 18 course French Laundry meal (also calorie heavy as well as pocketbook breaking) is not meant for everyday food. After working at Williams-Sonoma, one of the main things that I took away is: meat sells. cream sells. Vegetarian, Healthy, Fish accouterments get the nix before they even get tested. Maybe Deen can have an influence on the health of America, and I hope that she tries something to help Americans with food discipline. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? I’m in the mind, though, that it’s not just food we overindulge on (technology, cars, jets, salaries, bigger, faster, greed, sigh).
Bougie Foodies: Ugh. This is something that I actually do not miss, at all, from the Bay Area. It’s like living and working in a land of Monday morning quarterbacks. I think it is wonderful that anyone and everyone who can take time to make meals at home, experiment and share, does. I love seeing facebook photos of what people eat, have made, or blogs about kitchen disasters. But the ‘bougiefoodie’ is a pretty descriptive stereotype of self-made food critics with no culinary background and a subscription to some Michael Pollan newsletter, someone not in “Middle America.”
In the food service industry, most of my staffs have never eaten in a fine dining restaurant, including the one that we work in. In “Medium Raw,” Bourdain takes a butcher from a busy NYC restaurant to dine in the same restaurant, and ponders the class division: how can this man, who works with fish for 8 hours a day, never have the chance to try it? Cooking, albeit with so much fame, to make decent living out of it is tough, especially for people who want to spend time with loved ones. It’s also not all glamorous and sous vide. The USARMY doesn’t even peel their potatoes anymore. How this is outsourced is a different topic entirely, but I mention it just to note that “cooking” requires so many facets, and many of them are not exciting or intellectually challenging.
Living in Nicaragua, there is no competitive food industry, nor a competitive food knowledge non-industry (see: bougiefoodies). It is less complicated for me to balance my home eating, what I cook for clients and what I teach others to cook, all with with simple, organic & clean products and techniques. I am working in small ways, like teaching my staff to cook a great filet mignon, but also, how to give lots of vegetables (definition: produce with a bright color) to load our employee meals with healthy vitamins. Obesity is not a problem here, nor are snotty culinary-know-it-alls. 
2 great things about Paula Deen: #1: her family. She may cook with a ton of butter, but her kids and grandkids are always helping out, which is so heartwarming. Eating light and healthy is important, but the most important ingredient for a meal is love and sharing it, too (see, Carla from Top Chef). This goes for a shaved saffon geleé, or just cooking for friends at a backyard BBQ. #2: Paula Deen’s retort for Bourdain’s comments was just amazing: “[Maybe] someone had just peed in his bowl of cereal that morning and he was mad.”

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