Tuesday, May 23, 2006

In Step With: Strach

When was the last time you ate an entire, full-size candy bar? What kind of candy bar was it?
Too long ago to remember. I am currently working my way through a king-sized Hershey's Special Dark, and I've eaten boxes of Good & Plenty and bags of M&Ms, but that's not the same thing.

What is a food you ate all the time as a kid, but which now disgusts you?
My favorite food was and probably still is tacos. When I was little and my mom would make them she would cook the ground beef and then cook the corn tortilla in the beef fat. I thought this was totally normal. It was unbelievably delicious, but I would never eat it now.

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? Portland, Cambridge, New York, LA.
Portland: This place Montage that's under a bridge and all the waiters wear funny white chef-like jackets and if anyone orders oysters they yell "OYSTERS!"
Cambridge: I'd like to think I would go to Darwin's, but I'd probably end up going to Felipe's.
New York: This is hard; I ate at a ton of good restaurants in NYC. I would probably choose Miracle Grill which is high-end Mexican. It seems weird to go to NYC for Mexican, but this food was great.
LA: For a variety of reasons I have not really explored the LA restaurant scene. I have yet to have a great restaurant meal here. So...Baja Fresh?

What is a recent food impulse buy which you regretted? Which you were delighted by?
Regretted: Granola bars from the 99cents store. They were gross and greasy. This is one of the few times I have been let down by the 99cents store.
Delighted: Ralph's brand animal crackers.
To be perfectly frank, though, most of the food I buy is on impulse.

What was the most satisfying meal you ever prepared for yourself and ate while totally drunk?
Not a meal, but I did my St. Patrick's Day baking totally drunk. The upside was that it meant my soda bread was very energetically kneaded and delicious. The downside was that it meant I thought it would be a good idea to triple the amount of Scotch in the icing of my stout cake.

If you had to have one of the FoodFriends design your diet for a week, whom would you select?
MMW for food. But I would have Jack design my alcohol diet for the week. Beyond quantity, I am impressed with the variety of alcohols Jack drinks. I feel like my own drinking lately has gotten pretty one-note.

What are the shows you watch the most on Food Network? What are your thoughts on: Rachael Rae, Alton Brown, Nigella Lawson?
I don't watch the FN much, so instead I'm going to talk about the food blogs I read every day. Slashfood is a great general blog for both news and recipes. Vegan Lunch Box, which I've mentioned before, is a blog I love. Bakingsheet probably has highest incidence of recipes I would actually consider making. Simply Recipes is good, too. Accidental Hedonist has news and recipes and I like the author's tone. I think Fresh Approach Cooking might be moving up my list of faves. The Spirit World is where I go for booze news; it's only so-so; I'm sure there are better blogs out there. The LA-specific food blogs I read ( la.foodblogging, Rate a Restaurant, and Eating L.A.) have not proved that helpful. Is My Blog Burning? is a blog about food blogging; I like to know what the insiders are talking about. There are a few others in my bloglines, but these are the ones I have a sense of.

What food staple would it be most difficult for you remove from your diet?
I would be angriest to lose lentils, which I consider the perfect food. Although, I have tried a few times to quit saltines, and found that to be an exercise in futility.

Also, do you prefer plastic wrap or aluminum foil?
I use plastic wrap more, but obviously I like aluminum foil better.

Name a fruit, meat, soda, and candy you despise.
Fruit: I will eat any fruit.
Meat: Despite what you might assume, meat doesn't gross me out. Although, once CB and I tried to cook pho, which involves boiling beef bones for several hours. You have skim grey-brown foam from the top of the pot, and the meat particles start falling off. This grossed me out pretty bad.
Soda: I don't like vanilla flavored sodas.
Candy: I won't eat chewy chocolate (Charleston Chews, Tootsie rolls)

I have a teleporter, and can send you anywhere in the world for dinner. Where will you go, what will you have?
I would go to India and eat whatever was cooking.

Do you have any well-loved or detested cookbooks?
I get most recipes from the internet. I have a basic vegetarian cookbook that I use. In NYC I had subscriptions to Vegetarian Times and Everyday Food, which I liked, and I cut recipes out to create my own make-shift cookbook. I have to say that while Bittman might be boring, his How to Cook Everything is a great utility cookbook.

Name a food that evokes a strong memory of a particular time and place in your life.
There was a period of time sophomore year of high school when I was playing a lot of Mario 2 and eating a lot of red licorice (I was really awesome in high school.).

What is your relationship to caffeine?
I didn't really get into it until college, but I think it's amazing. I think modern American industrial and financial and intellectual success is built on it.

What is the best burger you've ever had?
I really liked Better Burger's veggie burger with sauteed mushrooms.

Describe a work of art that inspired or affected your eating.
In one of the Nine Stories (Uncle Wiggly?) people are eating cucumber sandwiches and it made me wish I liked cucumber sandwiches. F. Scott Fitzgerald short stories make me wish I drank high balls all the time.

In my family we often took to calling Ramen Noodles "Trash Noodles." Do you have any cute food nicknames?
My grandma used to make me and my cousins a thing called a dog house. She would scramble an egg and that was the dog, and over it she would stack srips of heavily buttered toast (the brand of toast was Russian Village and it was sort of like English muffin toast, really absorbed the butter), and that was the dog house. It was my favorite thing. Another thing she makes for the little ones is sliced up hot dogs sauteed in butter and she calls them weenie pennies. She is a pretty spectacular lady.

Based on what you've read of the diets of each food reporter, which food reporter would you eat?
MMW. He is like the beautifully reared Kobe beef cows, or whichever ones they feed gourmet food and beer and massage so that the meat is perfect.

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 have a soft spot in my heart for foods like Root Beer and Graham crackers and other offspring of American Temperance. I would like to know more about what crazy foods crazy religious people created that they thought would counteract feelings of lust and cultivate moral character.

Is there any food you are embarrassed about how much you like it?
I am pretty embarrassed about the quantity of saltines I eat. Recently I was up to two boxes a week (that's eight columns). Sometimes I try to go for awhile without buying them, but I'm only human. I'll stop buying them when perfection stops existing.

What was your favorite meal in the Harvard dining halls? How much would you pay to eat this meal tonight?
I loved taco/nacho bar days. I would pay 5 bucks to have access to a nacho bar.


Blogger Jack said...

One caveat to the young diner who wisely allows me to give structure to their drinking: When you see me list a wine's name in these pages, there is a 50/50 chance that the wine is horrible, just horrible, and that I got it for free and still complained about it. The other possibility is that I enjoyed the wine.

5:10 PM  
Blogger strach said...

Jack, you are preaching to the choir. I buy 100% of my wine at the 99cents store. It all tastes like salt water.

8:53 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

Then, Fontana, may I fondly urge you to as soon as possible (particularly given the kind consistent warmth of your home) mix yourself a pitcher of white wine spritzers? I have declared (you may have heard it hear first) the official drink of both this and every Summer. Better start practicing now for that ol' Summer. Set yourself outside with a book and as many cigarettes and friends as you need, and put a big ol pitcher of white wine spritzers in the middle of the table, or just the makings, and you will not be sad for the results.

Uncle Jack's Can't Miss Wine Spritzer
Club Soda
White Wine (Chardonnay, Chablis, "it" wine of the year Viognier, and Sauvignon Blanc are all recommended. So are all German white wines. So are all other white wines.)
Slice of lemon

Proportions are magically insignificant in the preparation of a wine spritzer. Consider - you want both of the things. You want white wine. You want club soda. You want something in the middle of that continuum. It is impossible to fuck this up even by drinking directly from the bottle of club soda. One quick and dirty way to get things done is to mix one part wine with one part soda. Add ice as you like (some ice helps) and a lemon wedge garnish. Maybe you want to squeeze the lemon into the the drink, and then plop it right in the glass. That's a great way to do this.

Maybe you just put a big 1.5L bottle of white wine, and some club soda, and a small plate of lemon wedges on the table along with some glasses for your buds. Maybe there's ice in the glasses, whatever. You drink the wine spritzers. It is awesome.

Guys, have a fucking great summer.

11:04 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

Pursuant to a thought that just occurred to me reviewing danoo's FQ, where and how did you learn to cook?

11:42 PM  

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