Monday, July 7, 2008
there is a reason why there are seasons. there is a reason why vegetables are named after their seasons (winter vegs, fall squashes, etc!)
so under much influence, and just trying to keep up, i too have began growing my own plants, fruits, vegetable and herbs.
this actually started a little over a two years ago. jennifer bought a bunch of plants and seeds; planted them in the backyard and cared them patiently. i look from inside the house (it was way to hot outside!) half intrigued, half bored. i didnt get it. why go through so much trouble (and money!) to grow something you can easily buy at the grocery store. why?
i asked that question for months! slowly the plants started budding, baby peppers started growing, the seeds started blooming. it was an awesome sight! i was very intrigued, yet still a bit bored. i'm impatient!
day after day jennifer would be in the backyard taking care of her little plants. babying them.
then the day came. picking time. now i knew why go through so much trouble. its not trouble actually, its passion. the hard work, the long time, the heat, all for a moments pleasure. the taste of ripe fruits/vegetables picked seconds back from your garden. this was food.
in the french laundry, thomas keller mentions taking his chefs to butcher shops. makes his chefs watch the animal while alive and being butchered. it may seems gruesome and cruel, but you must understand where your product comes from. what your animal goes through to get to the table and into your belly. it makes your respect the animal. i never experienced that, but would like to.
growing plants and fruits may not be as intense as killing your food, but the principle is the same. respect what you eat. from seed to fruit is a long but worthwhile wait.
when i was at soma i did a citrus dessert, all the citrus fruits came from my backyard. it was a meyer lemon pudding cake, candied kumquats, lime-yuzu sorbet and keffir lime leaves spritzer. fortunately, misha dined with us on one of those few nights.
so as i was saying earlier. there are reasons i dont use some ingredients in my kitchen. all mostly due to personal reasons, chefs are a very vain and egotistical breed. heres a small list of my blacklisted items:
strawberries - why are they available year round?! their flavor is extremely bland and their sizes are unreal. i've only had one good strawberry and it was at dai due supper club.
coconut - im just not a fan of the stuff.
mango - im still a bit bitter about losing to a soggy nasty mango tart tatin on iron chef. i made a beautiful 4 part mango tasting - cheesecake brulee, souffle (made in the microwave!), parfait, lollipop (fried custard)
almonds - very common nut with bland flavor
liquors/alcohol - once you open a liquor bottle, every single person in the restaurant is all over you. watching you. its creepy. liquors also sometimes drown or mute the flavor of the main ingredient. if i do use alcohol it would be champagne or sake.
food coloring - if your food isnt naturally that color, why use food colorings? you can achieve color with natural ingredients. saffron - yellow/orange. herbs - green chlorophyll. annatto - deep orange/red. squid ink - black. beets - deep purple.
artifical extracts - they taste like alcohol and are nasty! get the pure stuff, its only a few dollars more but well worth it.
back to my original point. chefs should have the utmost respect for their food. they should know how it was grown, how it was kept, how it traveled and how it is handled in the kitchen before it goes out to the diner. what better way to control all that then to do it yourself.
as for my plants and fruits. in due time they will be featured in tastings.