The new year has arrived and so has everyone’s long lists of resolutions that might prove to be fulfillable – yet mostly unfulfillable. Of all the bad habits I have -- gluttonizing, drinking and smoking won’t even make it past the first week of my ‘temporary resolution period’. So might as well try to stick with something I can improve: anything related to food. Here are my resolutions for 2006. And I don’t think it’ll be too hard to follow through with them since they orbit the our food universe. God, I’m such a food perv.
Explore and cook more ethnic cuisines.
Almost every day of the week, you can find me sitting on my dining table with the Food Network on, eating some kind of stir-fry, rice and soup noodle dish within the Asian culinary realm. Tofu, papaya salad, fried rice, pad kee mow, Chinese beef noodle soup, etc. Frankly, I’m tired of it because it’s just too easy and fast to cook. And I think my roommate would appreciate a day or two each week of fresh air devoid of fish sauce, kimchee and shrimp paste. I’ve become really interested in Middle Eastern food (Persian, Armenian), Indian and of course, South American (Brazilian, Peruvian). Initially, I had been hesitant about eating Indian food because of lamb/mutton but love it now. Reading all the wonderful reviews about places like Mario’s Peruvian and Café Brazil has really whet my appetite for South American food as well. Time to save up some cash for all the new spices and spice rack. Personally, I don’t think I have the room to fit it in my kitchen.
Buy more cookbooks for research and motivation.
Some people deem cookbooks merely as instructional guides. Not for me. These precious gems should inspire and stimulate you. A lot of work has been put into perfecting a dish that may require no more than five ingredients. Why not four ingredients? Why not six? Because food is good in its simplest form. Mealcentric has written a great posting on how food has been bastardized by ‘trendy’ ingredients just to cause a commotion. Sure Vietnamese spring rolls are good, but do you really need to add Alaskan lobster into the filling and shave truffles on top of it? As good as it may sound, we’re dismissing the foundation of the dish: spring rolls. What I love about cookbooks is that you can try making a dish and adding your own twist to it to call it your own. Currently, there are a good 20 cookbooks on my Amazon wish list and I’m hoping to get as many of them as possible this year. Look at how many books J of Kuiadore has. They’ve played a huge role in her passionate pursuit for perfection and immaculate presentation of her dishes. J definitely inspires me. Looks like I’ll be going to Ikea very soon for a bookshelf and spice rack. Spiceflügenak rack: $79. Presentation is crucial and you can learn an awful lot from your culinary textbook. It's amazing how you can make a dish of macaroni and cheese look great with the addition of a parsley sprig and tiny, Canadian bacon cubes (brunoised). When your eyes become stimulated, so does your stomach. Ever heard the saying ‘Your eyes can be bigger than your stomach’?
Improve presentation and photography of my food.
God I cannot stand my photos. I shoot my photos on a reddish/brown dining table I got off Craig’s List with a standard, GE light bulb that emits vanilla/cream colored light, causing all my photos to look extremely red. I have to use Photoshop to adjust the color curves all the time. So annoying. I noticed a lot of people are fortunate enough to have abundant light coming into their houses. This may be the reason why my rent is so damn low in West LA -- because I have ZERO light coming into my batcave! Nor can I shoot my food on a weekend afternoon because, as most of you know, I’m busy on the weekends working. I’d love to have more fancy silverware to shoot on but I actually like my white dishes. It’s a canvas… all it needs is some paint on it. I’ll probably start out resolution #3 by buying a white light bulb and checking out more photos from Kuiadore, Delicious Days and Nordlijus.
Cook for as many friends as possible.
In addition to cooking, I like cooking for people during the week. For Christmas, I cooked a few dinners for friends as a present – which they really enjoyed. One of my biggest fears is cooking for more than four people because of my limited kitchen space but I think I can overcome it if I just sit down and plan things out better. A good cook can toss spices here and there, but he must know the cooking times of every ingredient so that they can all be plated at one time. Ok, it takes about 8-10 minutes to grill asparagus in the oven so I should start with the chicken because it takes 15-18 minutes in the oven to make it perfectly juicy. I prefer cooking at home versus a restaurant because first and foremost, it is MUCH healthier. Secondly, home cooked food means more to people. Thirdly, I can play anything I want from my iPod and avoid the Muzak you probably here at restaurants. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to the same restaurant, only to hear the SAME, EXACT music playing. The employees must go nuts. And finally, I can get completely wasted during dinner and just pass the fuck out. No chance of DUI there haha.
Meet the food bloggers.
The past six months have been really great. I’ve learned a lot about food outside of my own culture, and kitchen for that matter. Made it a point to try something different every time I go to a restaurant, instead of sticking with something safe. Since I started writing, Chicken Gizzard yakitori sounds way more comforting to me than say, a steak. You have all made me exhume my writing hand after reading all of your blogs. You guys can truly write and I admire that. I still cannot stand reading the food reviews in LA Times and LA Weekly. It seemed like it was a medium for self-absorbed writers to show off how many SAT words they’ve learned since going to Princeton Review classes. I appreciate eloquent writing, but only if there’s a reason for its usage. Most people do not speak like that – its not English. Shit like "Per our conversation..." Food is sustenance for life and I love reading about its connection to things that matter to you. Why is it that a simple bowl of Chinese porridge can make me happy and make me wanna call my mom? What I’m saying is that it’d be nice to meet everyone over a nice dinner someday.
Happy New Year to everyone. Thanks for reading.
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
Posted by e d b m at 12:26 PM