Thursday, February 17, 2011

food war? srsly?

Apparently two brothers in DC have competing pizza restaurants, and now they're "jumbo slice" is going to be on tv as they compete to see who has the best.

Food competitions sorta bother me.  I watched and enjoyed Top Chef when I had the good cables, but the competition aspect always bothered me a bit, and sometimes it irritated the shit out of me.

On a personal level it's not uncommon for cooks/chefs to have to feel like they are the best.  It's part of the thing, and it's probably completely natural.  Maybe it's just a guy thing because many of the guys I know are like this while few of the girls are, and by guys and girls here I mean those with whom I've worked in various kitchens.

The only reason the tv and show are even on behind me is that I'm just too lazy to go turn the damn thing off.  The remote works mostly, but the power button doesn't tend to.  Sometimes if you mash the button hard enough and enough times in quick succession the tv will turn off and then back on, but generally it's just easier to walk the couple steps to the tv.

Everyone likes different foods in different ways and for different reason.  And there is no single food that every single person on the earth is going to like.  Cilantro is a great example of how we taste.  I personally love it.  I feel like too much is almost enough.  But many people don't like it, and in fact they will often taste is as having a chemical like flavor.

Do you win by pleasing the greatest number of people? or do you win a food competition by having the best food?   or do you win by being happy with what you've made?

Maybe there's my real problem.  I'm my biggest critic, and if I'm happy with something I've made then I'm satisfied that I've created what I wanted.  I don't always feel like I've created what I set out to accomplish, but I'm also a good enough cook that I can make people happy while not feeling like I got it right.

Here's another example, chicken and dumplings.  Momma and I both make really good chicken and dumplings, but we make the dish somewhat differently, and we end with fairly different versions of the same thing.  We've also put some amount of time over the years moving our own personal chicken and dumplings recipes into our own territory where we play with the different variables to further create the dish as we imagine it.

As a side note I didn't really grow up with chicken and dumplings.  It just wasn't in my mother's repertoire, so it wasn't something I ate a lot.  If anything this just means that I'm less wedded to an ideal that I'm trying to recreate and/or perfect.

How about a final example?  Take a pound of green beans and trim them then steam them just right so that you've just brought out that lovely shade of green.  Half of that pound goes into an ice bath to stop the cooking while the other half gets tossed with a bit of butter and some sea salt.  The plain cold bean will have a nice crispness and sweetness to it.  It will almost seem to pop in your mouth, tasting just like itself.  The other bean has that bit of salt and butter, the salty and fatty being two things we tend to crave as humans.  Which is truly better?