Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Anthony Bourdain

Of all the shows that I watch on tv, there are mainly two that I cannot miss: Good Eats and No Reservations. Last night's show had Anthony Bourdain interview and ask bloggers, chefs and foodies, why they are obsessed with food and writing.

I think my excuse doesn't follow an idea of obsession, other than to help people make good decisions. I learned recently that speaking bad of a restaurant wasn't a good idea and people don't want to hear about which places to avoid but which places to attend.

I have been obsessed with food as soon as I could drive as I wanted to explore the city and move out and away from the small circle where I was only previously allowed to be. College helped me with this as then, I had my own car and could drive with friends anywhere. I moved from going to MacDonalds each day and started to go to Applebees, which had a very good variety and quality of food versus the previous fast food location. While going to college, I worked as a manager at an all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant and saw the workings of how a restaurant should be run, from ordering the right amounts of meat to cooking the meat properly and serving it to the customers on the line. I learned how to order meat based on previous days' guest count, I learned how to prepare the meats once from the cooler for cooking and learned how to serve them.

While in College, I went for almost 2 weeks to Ireland, for a quick tour and enjoyed myself as well as the food. It was European style and a bit like the American food I was familiar with. It was in college that I fell in love with and married a Lebanese woman and jumped right into the Mediterranean food cuisine. A few months later came my first trip to Japan and I experienced what Japanese had to offer in the way of food and also saw how girls in Harajuka really dress, not like Gwen Stefani envisions that they do.
About a year after that, with my mother-in-law opening a spa, I worked on a degree in holistic nutrition so I could help out. On my own also, I worked on a certificate in Catering, which gave me the culinary knowledge to do what I could with strange and unusual ingredients that were healthy and not used in normal cooking. About this time is when my father-in-law was diagnosed with diabetes and when he couldn't enjoy desserts and my frequent snacks which I prepared at home and brought into work, it upset me. As a chef, I don't like to just make food, but I like to make food and watch people enjoy it. I don't care if I don't even get one serving, as long as they enjoy it. But what do you do for someone who can't have sugar or high GL foods? You do math.

Math: the bane of my existence and the enemy of so many other people, was the only way I could change the recipe formula around so that it still worked when I substituted and changed things. Well, along with science...

With my holistic degree knowledge behind me, I started to look at sugar substitutes and finally found one that is perfect. I also looked at things and ways to substitute one kind of flour for another so there is less GL's. The baking and the jam making, with no sugar and low GL's is still just another obsession in making people enjoy my food in every way they can. A trip to Lebanon also showed me what items could be made with sugar, as the dessert capital of the world, they had more sweets available than anyone else and with these sweets, I came to see many sugar-free possibilities.

So, is that the only obsession? When paired with writing, it is. I love to write and while I may not be very good at it, like all skills, practice makes perfect. My stories may not be technically correct but at least I can write a small article about something, like the dangers of high fructose corn syrup. This collection of writings has become my new obsession as I try to make favorite desserts into sugar-free designs and then blog about it for everyone to read about, hoping that someone who is diabetic will see and then buy my products in the future.

On the show, Bourdain spoke with many food bloggers who had low self-esteem and write about food as when girls were not there for them, food was. I can't say that and actually say quite the opposite and in the case of food, like them, I want people to go to the best places, so I rate them and their dishes in hope that people go there. Over the two, I admit that for about a month, I was obsessed with making a sugar-free and low fat gooey butter cake, which sounds impossible. How do you take almost a pound of butter and sugar and make something that tastes as good without either one? I admit, I failed in every attempt to deconstruct all of the ingredients and then replace them back without the butter and sugar, took a couple of attempts and decided to quit for a month or so until I have better ideas. But overall, my boring time at work, in between normal working and the random photo shoots, I do try to recreate dishes I see on tv, in the movies or hear about. That is my obsession.

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