Archive for November, 2014

Episode: 115

Sometimes…all I need is the air that I breathe…and a plain yogurt


Today, on an all-new Let’s Get Real… “Sometimes…all I need is the air that I breathe…and a plain yogurt”. You know how we’re in an era of “everybody wins” and “it’s all about showing up” and nobody loses or gets picked last or gets any grades anymore, lest we damage their fragile egos? Well, add into that toxic mix a childhood full of overindulgence and incredible advantages and life lived in a bubble of extreme wealth and privilege…and you’ve got, well, you’ve got some pretty precocious, full of themselves kids. I only say this because I’ve been on a stretch of teaching those kids lately, and some have been great, and some have been nightmares. Kids today, at least the affluent, upper-middle class and upward ones, are very sophisticated about food, and that’s good. They’ll be the policy makers and chefs and doctors of my old age, so hopefully their interest and enthusiasm about food will help determine the future of food in the US. But because they’re sophisticated about food, they think they know-it-all about food. They watch Master Chef jr, and endless Food Network, and eat at way better restaurants than I ever do, and go on family trips to Michelin starred restaurants, and they must be getting their egos stroked so furiously in their private schools and at home that they can’t imagine that they’re wrong about anything. Especially food.

I’m only bringing this up because I want to talk about air. Yes, air. Hot air, puffed up air, air added to food. I’ve taught, in the last few months, two different girls who have both said to me, and I quote, ”oh, I make soufflés at home, ALL THE TIME!” Now I know teens are prone to hyperbole, I certainly was, I can’t believe some of the sh*t that came out of my mouth at 14 or 16, but seriously? Who are you talking to here? You make soufflés ALL THE TIME? Uh huh. Just. Shut. Up.

This occurred twice, whilst I was teaching the two different girls about whipping egg whites for a cake. Learning to whip egg whites in an important skill, we all should know how to bring egg whites to a soft peak and know when to stop whipping, but really, “ALL THE TIME”? I know I’m being a little silly, but seriously? No, you don’t, so just STFU. And then, while teaching a group of 11 year old boys a few weeks ago, one of them actually turned to me and said “ next month, we should do an ALL TRUFFLE menu”. STFU you, too. It’s like the mommies and daddies stuck their hot air pumps into their wee ones little tushies, and filled ‘em up with the same toxic gas that they’re full of. The same gas that caused the housing bubble and the tech bubble and the stock bubble we’re in now, and the sub-prime mortgage bubble…and now the overinflated child ego bubble. Is it wrong that I want to want to carry a pin around with me?

So all of this got me thinking about hot air. The parents of these kids are full of it, the kids are full of it, it seems everyone is full of it. Violent-bravado-spewing “entertainers”, sanctimonious GOP winners lying about working together with the president, law enforcement agents in Ferguson MO, fundamentalist anythings, maybe what’s causing global warming and climate change isn’t the overabundance of other greenhouse gasses in the air, maybe it’s all the CO2 we’re exhaling with our long hot streams of bullshit.

Ok, enough of that. I’ll calm down and get to the point. The point is, while land and fuel and water and housing and food and everything else seems to cost us money, air is still free. For now. For now, you can breathe as much air as you like, free of charge. It might not be clean, or fresh, but it’s free.

Chefs have used air forever as an ingredient in foods, what makes bread rise, puff pastry puff? Chicken skin brown? Air. Nothin’ but hot air. Maybe air is the originally Foodiness™ food? Who knows? Well you will, if you tune in.

Episode: 114

And Lisa says, but we’re in Idaho, just go dig one up!


On this episode of Let’s Get Real…”And Lisa says, but we’re in Idaho, just go dig one up!”… Oh America, you never cease to amaze me with your ways. You way of producing more food than we can ever eat, your ways of eating more food than we can ever need, and your ways of re-interpreting the classic quote about water…something about being everywhere but nothing to drink? Something like that. It applies to a lot of stuff we do, and produce. Like potatoes. So, on today’s show since it’s fall, and almost Thanksgiving, and suddenly “ridic” cold outside, it’s the potato show! Believe it or not, we’ve never done a show about potatoes, even from waayyy down here, underground in the Foodiness™ Fallout Shelter. We’ve even got our own potatoes growing down here, but don’t tell Monsanto, I think they now own the genes of all potato plants on earth, and they’ll bust me for these outlaw spuds…So shhh. Keep it quiet and I’ll bake a few off, and meet you later in the fallout shelter. Get the butter.

Episode: 113

So, this cricket walks into a bar…


Today, on an all-new Let’s Get Real…So, this cricket walks into a bar…

I’ve dealt with my share of roaches and mice and other vermin over the years, but twenty years ago, when I bought my (mercifully) cheap loft in Brooklyn, I seemed to have found my vermin-free paradise. My theory was that the angry-faced, scary-surly Romanian super who I thought hated me (turned out I just wasn’t tipping enough to get a “like” from him) was keeping the bugs and critters out simply by being his surly, stern Eastern European self. I figured he basically bullied and terrorized them into staying away.

I was so scared of him I thought the vermin were, too. I saw nary a roach for 17 years. One or two big so-called “waterbugs” would scuttle through each summer, but I’d quickly dispatch it with the heel of my chef’s clog.

Then something changed, and suddenly we got buggy. I’m pretty sure it was some construction in the building that caused it because suddenly, we had roaches. Big ones, baby ones, weird-looking ones of a species I’d never seen, it was classic NYC all over again. So we got the exterminator in, since despite my fear and loathing of all things chemical, sometimes you gotta call in the big guns. And now, instead of scuttling, running, hiding roaches, we have staggering, upside-down flailing, dying roaches. It’s pretty. It looks like the civil war battlefield scene from the end of “Gone With The Wind”, acted out by insects. A cast of thousands…of roaches.

Now, as a chef, and person who makes her living screaming at (ok, exhorting) people to eat real food, the irony of killing and discarding these potential sources of protein who were freely roaming my kitchen, like tiny wild-raised game animals, or miniature grazing pastured cattle just there for the harvesting, was not lost on me. I know all sorts of insects are eaten around the world, and they are a valuable and sustainable source of protein for bazillions of people…just not us.

80% of the world regularly eats over 1,600 species of insect. But We Americans, we don’t do bugs.

Oh, we’ll stuff our chubby faces with unlimited farmed shrimp at the buffet, or pay $17 (!) for a tiny lobster roll from a food truck, or spend sweaty summer nights hitting crabs with a mallet and picking out annoyingly small bits of meat and shell (why I love soft-shell crabs, btw) but those are all ok, because they come from the sea. If it crawls across the ocean floor, we call it a delicacy. If it crawls across your kitchen floor, we smash it with a shoe. We discriminate based on evolution; as merely possessing the ability to breathe underwater designates a creepy-crawly thing with a hard shell and buggy eyes and multiple legs a tasty, epicurean delight. Land breathers, we step on you…but not always.

So on this show, come along with me to Ohio, to the Roots Conference at the Chef’s Garden, where I ate all kinds of vegetables, all kinds of underused proteins, and one kind of bug.

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