Monthly Archives: May 2010

Risotto and Ritual

I know nothing about Italian cooking.

Well, let me qualify that with this: I know nothing about Italian cooking as it occurs in Italian homes, as true Italians practice it, or even as supposedly “authentic” restaurants interpret it. All I know about Italian cooking I learned from the back of a risotto box. And some books and other stuff, you know, relatively minor compared to the instructions from supermarket Arborio rice.

When I cook risotto, I follow a fluid procedure, one loosely derived from the broken English instructing me to not “drow [sic] the rice.” Give onions a little color, add the rice and saute it dry, then slowly, ever so gently add liquid and allow each grain to swell near to bursting before pouring in more stock, always stirring, stirring stirring stirring.

Yes, I’m using an oven mitt. Don’t ask why. Continue reading


Filed under Miscellaneous, Recipes

The Decisive Moment

Although Henri Cartier- Bresson died in 2004, his impact on modern photography has been incalculable. To Bresson, photography was intuitive and inherently creative- the “decisive moment” expressed the essential meaning of an event or action. To Bresson, photography was “putting one’s head, one’s eye, and one’s heart on the same axis.”

As I have become more and more involved with photography, I have realized that another still life of well-lighted fruit is all well and good, but engaging photography should include the decisive moment. Sure, one might look at an image of a beautifully iced carrot cake and say, “Wow, doesn’t that look delicious!” Yet, that person has not truly engaged with the image, they have merely paid it a passing glance. Continue reading

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Chronically Hungry: Food, Pot, and Addiction

In her recent New York Times article “Marijuana Fuels a New Kitchen Culture,” Kim Severson describes the infiltration of stoner culture into restaurant kitchens, specifically marijuana’s influence on the creation of snackable and craveable dishes. From a logical perspective, Severson mischaracterizes correlation as causation–yes, chefs do smoke weed, and yes, those chefs do happen to put out munchy-esque cuisine. David Chang’s pork buns. Roy Choi’s taco trucks. Meatballs, haute sundaes, and high end pizza joints. But Severson attributes this sudden explosion of what the general population characterizes as “comfort food” to contact buzz in the kitchen, when simpler and more reasoned explanations exist: changing economic times, backlash against big money, a glorification of “Mainstreet,” and a rebellion against nutritionism. (Ron Siegel apparently agrees, at least according to Severson.) I’m not writing in direct refutation of Severson’s claims, although her one-sided, biased, and hugely predictable collection of “sources” provides an easy target for attack. Instead, I take issue with the article’s hidden core, the subtext that informs the piece’s angle. Continue reading


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Sights of St. Louis

Check out this new post from The Ocular Omnivore.

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Comfort Food Is Fake

Comfort food is a sham.

I like matzo brei as much as the next guy, and expect me to reach for that last chocolate chip cookie. But when comfort food becomes depersonalized and taken to absurd extremes, count me out of the Luther Burger party.

Not to rain on the collective bacon grease macaroni and cheese hot dog parade, but the majority of so-called “comfort food” served in New York City and across the country exists merely to deceive. In fact, the next haute fried chicken leg or blackberry pie shake you consume will bamboozle your senses and confound your memory. Yes, comfort food usually tastes indulgently delicious, if cardiovascular assault. Yet, delude yourself no longer: you’re not eating comfort food, no matter how full and “whole” it makes you feel. Continue reading


Filed under Dining Suggestions, Miscellaneous

Grilling it St. Louis Style: Slow Food and Life on the Mississippi

Although I’m sure they exist elsewhere, thin pork chops seem particularly popular in St. Louis. In a city so obsessed with beer, baseball, and pig products of all kinds, one might expect to find big, honkin’ double cut chops walking across the average grill. Most St. Louisans that I know, however, prefer the skinny variety, less meat and more sauce. Typically, these chops come boneless, and pose serious bbq-ing challenges. How to get the pork well-seared while preserving juice and tenderness continues to stump backyard chefs armed with only a cursory knowledge of zone fires and food science. Continue reading

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Summer: Pickled Strawberry, Ricotta, Candied Almond

Back home, I’m able to cook much more frequently and with greater creativity than at college. Whether living in an apartment, traveling, or just hanging around with the parents, you can easily take the initiative and put together an unusual dish that shows off your newfound sophistication and faux worldliness.

Pickled Strawberry, Ricotta, and Candied Almond Salad

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