Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Is Being a Food Snob A Bad Thing?

I enjoy a good meal.

I think there should be craft invested in my consumption. I think there's value in understanding cheeses which I still don't. I think culinary school are important. I think an innovative chef ought to be rewarded financially. I think about what the White House chefs must have to create for midnight presidential hunger pains. I'm impressed by our newly opened Fresh Market grocery store and the way their bakery selections have an obscene variety of goodies.

I can even appreciate a deep fryer, however I think both doctors and gastric connoisseurs would agree that it should be used carefully. Of course I tend to think more about the food experts advice than the medical one.

But the timer beeping at the local hamburger joint does not make my mouth water and its attendant rushing to raise the fries from the fat does instill my love for what's dripping with fat.

Perhaps it's because of my father's genes which possess him to think of the evening meal upon waking in the morning. Apparently he stares at the ceiling thinking not of work or difficult world issues unresolved, but of what combination of meats, vegetables and starches would be perfect to end that day's events. This skill admittedly, I am far from perfecting.

Or maybe because my mother cooks without a measuring cup. She bakes without one as well. I've seen the infamous Paula Deene give fellow cooking experts hell about not using measuring spoons and cups. My mother does not follow Paula's advice. Instead I have seen her apply seemingly random dashes, pours and combinations to create consistent yummy dishes. I am not so gifted. I do however tell her that this lack of skill is entirely her fault as childhood memories do not include much, actually any, cooking as a youngster.

Despite my lack of hands on training, I've managed to move on with occasional success.

I am happy to report that I have made many a chocolate chip pancake for both college roommates and my children. Both my roommates gained weight while I worked that pistachio enameled stove. And I am happy that they gained weight... forgive me but it still sounds like success.

Speaking of college, a favorite memory is hosting a party at my apartment that did not, solely, center on debauchery... but on creating a jambalaya so spicy that the first few seconds of consumption pleased my guests until the fire within the dish surfaced a full 5 seconds later. I still smile remembering their rush to extinguish the flames in their mouths. I am still proud of that multiple pepper combination I created like an experiment in a separate bowl. I will add that I underestimated how quickly that keg of beer was consumed. I also remember that everyone in the townhouse seemed happy. First "dinner party" - success.

I've known people unfamiliar with foods not labeled on an overhead menu. Those golden arches pass my by without a moment's hesitation. I don't appreciate the fast in food.

I do appreciate the effort spent on each item on my plate however I am not referring to the way a hamburger is expertly wrapped in milliseconds by a teenager in the food prep and wrap station. while I wait in line like a cow in the milking barn. I dislike those lines. Now I understand the necessity of waiting and the virtue of patience. I question the worth of patience in this situation.

I prefer instead to wait in line at the butcher's shop in a sleepy little German town. From my occasional trips to the home of my ancestor's I appreciate the banter between the housewife and the butcher. Now is the conversation the wife's attempt at getting a better cut of beef and the butcher's opportunity to flirt I know not... but I appreciate it enough to eavesdrop from the corner. In my desire to take in the atmosphere I often forget to make the vital decision about cold cuts or cuts of pork... I try to return to looking at the selection under glass. Hmmm... maybe a smoked sausage link that I can nibble on while I continue to the next merchant.

All this brings me to wondering whether appreciating a good, dare I say small portioned, meal outweighs one in which endless amounts are available at the local buffet. I completely understand that good is defined subjectively thereby the issue.

For some it is defined by the most available for the least purchase price. For others it isn't so much the smallest portion for the highest price but appreciating each bite consumed. Is this the food snob I have become?

I know the latter sounds healthier and I might even pull out the healthy card in my defense.

But there's this meal I'm thinking of now. A mere two hours after I've risen from bed while I sit here typing with a steaming cup of coffee beside me.

I've introduced to my household a dish referred lovingly as Moco Loco -- another college memory. Macaroni served alongside sticky rice which is covered by a beef patty hidden under a fried egg submerged under brown gravy. Oh, and perhaps a large slice of New York cheesecake.

Now wouldn't you also like a "healthy" portion?


Perry Lynch said...

Moco loco? Sounds like a good combination. And yes, your Mom is an amazing cook! I still get hungry for spetzle and roulladen from time to time.

Mr. Hughes said...

YEA! You finally posted after EONS of not. Love it. Great thoughts about food and the relationship we all have with it (some love-hate, some love-love, and even some that are hate-hate). Thanks for the comments as well. Take care and do post more often, it's enjoyable to read.