Monday, March 27, 2006

Food Answernaire.

Hello, FoodFriends. It's Schoboats. Delighted to be with you.

Let’s get the questionnaire out of the way. I omitted a few questions (e.g. influential artwork) because I didn’t have answers, and others because it was just too long, but otherwise, I did my best.

When was the last time you ate an entire, full-size candy bar? What kind of candy bar was it?

I don’t eat much candy anymore, and almost never go full-size. I’m guessing it was a Snickers, probably some time in 2002, bought in a gas station and consumed while driving.

What is a food you ate all the time as a kid, but which now disgusts you?

My tastes have only broadened as I have aged. There are many things that I used to hate (sauerkraut, Brussels sprouts, etc.) that I now enjoy, but nothing that has really fallen out of favor. Though I crave and eat far fewer sweets than I used to (cf. above), it does not rise to the level of disgust.

A quirk of fate leaves you in each of the following cities for long enough to have only one meal. What/where do you eat? Boston, Cambridge, New York, LA.

Less for food than nostalgia, Boston is Dom’s. Meal TBD.
Cambridge is the Porter Square Anna’s Taqueria. Chicken super burrito.
My dining experiences in LA are few, but I trust a kind FoodFriend could direct me to some good cheap Mexican food? (NYC’s great failing. Sorry, Dubs – Burritoville sucks.)
NYC is tough. But I’m going to go with al di la. Swiss chard-ricotta malfatti.

What is a recent food impulse buy which you regretted? Which you were delighted by?

Regret: Attempting greater lunchtime health, an apple from an office-adjacent bodega. Mealy, internally bruised, disgusting.
Delight: A nice bunch of beets. Roasted, put in a salad with some chevre and walnuts.

What was the most satisfying meal you ever prepared for yourself and ate while totally drunk?

Red beans and rice with chorizo. More than once.

If you had to have one of the FoodFriends design your diet for a week, whom would you select?

Mattpod seems to have some nice meals, and I share his fondness for a Vietnamese sandwich from Nicky’s, but I’m going to go with MMW.

What are the shows you watch the most on Food Network? What are your thoughts on: Rachael Rae, Alton Brown, Nigella Lawson?

There was a time where I watched 10+ hours of Food Network a week. These days, not so much. Good Eats is my now-and-forever #1, but I don’t re-watch ones I’ve already seen any more, and the switch to DV for the new season is still slightly off-putting. (Also, I would like slightly less scripted comedy and more science, but I'll take what I can get.) Rachael Rae grates on me. Her enthusiasm is so clearly a put-on; she’s always raving about how things taste before they’re even in her mouth, and the pretense of the “first-time” meetings on $40 is annoying. (She just walked in off the street? Then why is there already a camera set up in the effing kitchen?) Nigella I’ve never really followed, but I like her recipes in the NY Times. The newer shows (esp. Ham On The Street) seem pretty uniformly bad.

What food staple would it be most difficult for you remove from your diet?

Pasta. I eat it several times a week.

If I told you that you could only eat one of the following for the rest of your life, but you could always get whatever you chose as fresh and as good as possible, which would you choose? Also, assume that whichever you chose would be seedless. 1. Oranges. 2. Clementines. 3. Tangerines.

Oranges, more for juice-drinking than actual eating.

Also, do you prefer plastic wrap or aluminum foil?

For actual food storage I prefer plastic wrap, but it’s hard to beat the feeling of tearing off a nice sheet of foil.

Name a fruit, meat, soda, and candy you despise.

Exotic Fruit: Durian.
Standard Fruit: Pomegranates.
Exotic Meat: I had some Icelandic rotted shark once. Not good.
Standard Meat: I like them all.
Soda: Canfield’s Diet Chocolate Fudge Soda is poison.
Candy: Peeps.

I have a teleporter, and can send you anywhere in the world for dinner. Where will you go, what will you have?

You’re paying? I think I might just want to go to the French Laundry, and put my trust in a chef’s tasting menu.

Name a food that evokes a strong memory of a particular time and place in your life.

I know some folks who share this opinion: A cup of (admittedly terrible) Adams dining hall coffee is maybe the closest thing I have to a Proustian blah-blah whatever.

What is your relationship to caffeine?

I drink my fair share of coffee and diet soda, but caffeine does almost nothing to me, at least in terms of wakefulness/alertness. I can drink several cups of coffee and go straight to bed. Even NoDoz doesn’t get it done. However, if I drink a lot of coffee on an empty stomach, I do get a weird enervated feeling in my forearms and shoulders, like a palsy.

What is the best burger you've ever had?

I think the best burgers are those you make yourself, preferably in a back yard or on a rooftop, but those are admittedly more context than cuisine. I’m going to say it was the inaugural Double Shackburger I had on my first trip to the Shake Shack.

Are there any foods that would receive an F- grade from you?

Liver served as a dish unto itself (I’m fine with giblet gravy).
Lapsang Souchong tea.
Harpoon Winter Warmer Ale.

Based on what you've read of the diets of each food reporter, which food reporter would you eat?

If it were an Alive-type survival question: MMW, again.
If it were a Fear-Factor-gone-wrong death sport: Strach, mostly because she seems to consume about 500 calories a day, so I’m guessing there’d be less of her to choke down than if I picked someone else.

Along the lines of "Salt," "Cod," and "History of the World In Six Glasses," what foodstuff would you most like to read a book about?

I would like a book about various eponymous recipes – peach Melba, fettuccine Alfredo, beef Wellington, etc. Each section would start with a nice photograph of the dish, and maybe a recipe, followed by an account of the history of the dish in a form sufficiently brief that you could read it on the subway or the toilet.

Is there any food you are embarrassed about how much you like it?

Not really. I am very fond of Velveeta, which some people find disgusting. (I like to mix little chunks into pasta sauce, and my mom sometimes makes that great hot dip which is basically just melted Velveeta and salsa.) And I will eat things that other people deem too aged. But no shame.

What was your favorite meal in the Harvard dining halls? How much would you pay to eat this meal tonight? If this meal were available in Staten Island, would you be willing to travel there to eat it?

Freshman year, I ate pasta with olive oil and parmesan at virtually every meal. By senior year, they had ushered in a more lenient grill ordering system, and I routinely got two Chickwiches from HUDS-hero Winston in Adams – I would dress one with spaghetti sauce and cheese, and one with tomato, lettuce, and self-mixed honey mustard. Chickwiches would be forgone for chicken fingers, popcorn chicken, or beer battered fish wedges (not fish fingers, though). I would pay $6 for a dining hall Chickwich, or $10 for two. I would travel to Staten Island to do so, but only in good weather, and only because I enjoy riding the ferry anyway.

That is all.


Blogger Jack said...

I wonder whether MMW or Zachkay has a greater mass of edible muscle...

Also, strongly agree on citrus issue.

11:13 AM  
Blogger Jack said...

Two follow up questions -

1) Where and why did you eat a durian?

2) Do you use regular, ie, Goya, chorizo, or do you use special deli chorizo?

11:30 AM  
Blogger mattpod said...

These were consistently great answers. I think I would also choose French Laundry by the way (I am not considering international options right now).

Here is a question for you. I thought you did an admirable job on the turkey for the yankee gift swap, what are your thoughts on brining and what is your typical preparation for roasting fowl?

11:37 AM  
Blogger schoboats said...


1.) A wee bite while visiting my brother in Kuala Lumpur. Having heard of its legendary loathsomeness, I couldn't pass up the opportunity. I should have. Otherwise, SE Asia is a wonderland of exquisite fresh fruit available for mere pennies.

2.) I have used a variety of chorizos in this preparation, both Mexican and Spanish. I don't think I have a particular favorite.

11:41 AM  
Blogger schoboats said...


Thank you. Credit for holiday turkey must be shared with AO. We have tended to brine it in recent years (just salt, no other seasonings), and we have sometimes brushed/basted with Worcestershire but I think the real key to that turkey is good sourcing. The past two years I have gotten a fresh bird from Ottomanelli and Sons on Bleecker. Expensive, but vastly superior to a supermarket bird.

Turkey is pretty much a once-a-year thing for me, but I like to roast a chicken now and again. I don't brine chickens. Kalustyan's (Lexington @ 28th) sells excellent preserved lemons that I like to throw in the pan with the chicken. Plus carrots, onions, potatoes. Maybe a little butter on the skin to crisp it up. And yes, per Amelie, I do like to remove the "oyster" from the chicken's back and present it to someone as a treat.

12:01 PM  
Blogger SC said...

Schoboats, great posting. Any good food books you'd recommend? Want to go to Anna's T. with me during PW?

1:28 PM  
Blogger zachkay said...

In light of the relative maturity and articulateness which you displayed in your responses, I apologize for what I am about to write. The turkey that you prepared for the holiday party was delicious, and I had probably 3 to 4 times as much as anyone else, and probably 10 times as much of the skin. However, it led me to the discovery that when I eat skin from the underside of a bird, be it turkey, be it chicken (I later discovered), I produce a horrible amount of gas, which is so potently noxious that I was forced to get a cup from the kitchen and hold it over my nose and mouth to prevent me from inhaling. I also apologize for the confusion of tenses in this comment.

1:55 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

Good safety tip, ZK. Everyone, bird tummy skin makes ZK have the farts, so play safe out there.

2:11 PM  
Blogger schoboats said...


Haven't been reading as much lately as I would like. For no-frills info/recipes, I like the good old "Joy Of Cooking." Bittman's "How To Cook Everything" is fine, but I'm not 100% on board. "Pig Perfect" is fun for pork fans, but it's one of those non-fiction books that feels a little padded -- too long for a magazine article, too short for a proper book. I wish someone would just sack it up and publish popular non-fiction pamphlets or booklets. Alert Malcolm Gladwell.

Anna's is a yes. I hope I can make it up.

2:48 PM  
Blogger SC said...

you should pitch that book.

7:23 PM  

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