Running around this past week, visiting blog pals, doing housework, revamping and re-moving storage of paintings and junk, and clothes and cooking two huge vats of soup for Stagg's lunches...and wanting to just sit and read. The cable and internet went out this morning...no no don't worry, the personal digital recorder is still recording my daytime tv. There is really something decadent about calling the cable company in the middle of the day to report the tragedy of cable problems, and that you are at a job or location where you need both in the middle of the day. Cable and internet. I was calm. They gave us a free day of service too...and while braising chicken and squash for a coconut mil red chili paste feast tonight I tucked my self like Proust into bed to read and write. Squash was sometimes buried with Native Americans suggesting it was a food with many values to their livlihood. I have been craving squash so here goes. Squash has anti-oxidants, lots of vitamins and omega acids and is associated with preventing cancer, heart attacks and stoke. It is difficult to find heirloom squash but it is worth the attempt. I am on a diet, and today I found out lack of sleep can cause weight gain...so into bed I crawled to read about FOOD!
A potboiler. I don't want to put it down. Tuffy P and Mister Anchovy gave it to me and if you read and enjoyed Kitchen Confidential, this is every bit as good and funny. Heat: An Amateur's Adventures As Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher In Tuscany, by Bill Buford. Now I never got into that whole phase in the 90's of Tuscany obsessed yuppies, but I love food as y'all know. And this book attracts the food rebel that I am. Buford squirms his way into the very famous Mario Batali's Manhattan kitchen of Babbo. The memoir of sorts begins by an account of the Picaresque life of chef Batali, mixed in with how Buford made his way into his kitchen.
Take a peek....
After two years at the Clift, Mario was invited to work at the Biltmore in Santa Barbara, a stately old Spanish colonial hotel the Four Seasons had just bought and wanted to revitalize. Mario was brought in for all the obvious reasons ("energy, edge, fire, youth," according to Brian Young, the manager who hired him), was given his own restaurant, La Marina, and became, at twenty seven, the highest paid young-chef in the company. Andy Nusser, a computer designer at the time, met Mario at a late-night druggy party(Batali drinking tequilla from a goatskin boda bag, the liquor splattering all over his face). Someone had brought foie gras but didn't know how to serve it, and, rising to the challengethat a good cook should be able to make a meal with whatever is to hand, Mario prepared a sweet, vinegar-like reduction of Orange Nehi soda and Starburst candies. ("First you remove each Starburst fruit gum from it's wax-paper wrapper and put the candies in a saucepan, where, over low heat, you melt them slowly until you have a bright-colored syrup, and then, separately, you cook the soda, until it's reduced by half.") Nusser insists that the result was very good, and was so impressed that he decided then and there to become a chef.