It's been almost a year since I desperately needed a break from the four walls of my apartment and sought out the Culver City Farmers Market. It was a spur of the moment decision that has had enormous impact on our lives. I can say that most of our produce is not purchased at that farmers market or another. I've been serving a lot more fresh fruit and cooking a lot more veggies. I am certain that those changes are why I had dropped a nice bit of weight before my last visit to the oncologist. The weight loss was a delightful surprise, because I did not practice moderation of any sort during the holidays. Oh my, no. I was eating everything in sight that was bad. But the good food and the walking staved off a weight gain and helped me lose some. I've really enjoyed just getting out around people and watching the children at the market. The outings got even better when Marie began joining me. I had been missing my friends during my very long recovery. While I am very grateful to have networks like Facebook to keep in some contact with civilization, there is nothing like a face to face conversation. I'm certain that aside from strengthening a great friendship, the Farmers Market outings helped jump start Sybaritic Press. The martinis may have had a small role in that as well. We each have stressful lives. It is lovely to get together and shop and let our wonderful bartender and the staff at the Culver Hotel pamper us for a couple of hours. I really miss the uber cute porter who used to kneel to serve us, but what can you do. He may be on his way to being a movie star. Yes, he was that uber cute.
Life in a Bite – Part One
I was very excited to see two of my favorite food related celebs, Anthony Bourdain and Nigella Lawson, were in a new show together. The Taste is a competition show in which the contestants must make the perfect single bite of a dish. I'd seen similar challenges in other competition shows like Chopped or the Next Iron Chef where it is asked that the chef demonstrate their cooking philosophy in a single bite of food. I will say right now that I am not interested in a food competition of any kind. I am wide eyed and hopeful or arrogant enough to believe that I can get to cook for those chefs I admire without the trauma and potential humiliation of a competition. Still, I became obsessed with my cooking philosophy (do I have one) and whether it could be expressed in a single bite. Jon had an eating philosophy of a bit of croissant with butter and honey on a spoon. I thought of something that would have a bit of complexity. It would be a recipe that I had mutated and fused with other cooking cultures I've explored. It should be something that means a lot to me personally.
I had an idea that would work reasonably well, but it seemed to be too simple. And then, I saw Bourdain on an episode of his newer travel show, The Layover. And there I found the missing elements. I figured out an original recipe that was very much from my roots while reflecting all of the methods of cooking I'd learned from other cultures. I even involved my father in its creation. He's been very much pro-cultural fusion in cooking since I gave him beef short ribs Boeuf Bourguignon style. And he helped me with that final element that really shows some creativity. I am mid-way through executing the recipe for the first time, so I can't reveal much more. I hate to be a tease, but I want to pull this off before I really start crowing about how clever I may be. What I wanted to talk about today is how absolutely giddy I felt figuring out an original recipe. There are many recipes that I've put a spin on, but this one is made of groupings of ingredients and procedures that are my own. It is writing of a sort. Chefs have said over an over that cooking can be storytelling. One element of this epic bite of food is collard greens. Each time I make them, I think about my grand uncle KC and how he taught me how to cut the leaves. Of course, thinking about him involves tomes of some highly entertaining Warner family history. Or I think about how my version of collards was a direct result of my Mother's stroke at age 46. In the aftermath, I took my immediate family through a tectonic shift in how the traditional foods were prepared. I started using olive oil, garlic and smoked turkey to flavor veg like collards or black eyed peas. This dish is definitely the story of a world traveler who has wandered mostly through foods of different places and peoples. This excitement is the same as that of writing a story when it's going very well. I wanted to share. The next blog will have full documentation of how I made the dish and how it turned out. There may even be a video. It's my plan to make sure that the chefs I kibitz with on Facebook and twitter have a read.
Jon and I begin our marathon journey this weekend. Remember, we take any donation. It's for the entire walk as a unit – not per mile. Donations go directly to the organization. https://www.justgiving.com/Deborah-Warner . I should have the interview with Sean Hepburn Ferrer done by next weekend. I'll also have a couple of cooking videos aside from the one bite up next weekend. And I am really, really hoping for the safety of everyone near me that I can find the time to write some fiction.