Tiburón -Shark- Žralok

Tiburón -Shark- Žralok: Writing Cooking Traveling

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How to Slow-Roast and Carve a Whole Pig

When roasting a whole pig on a spit, the first step is to organize a family party. Any party constituting less than 15 people with the same last name is not considered a family party, its considered Saturday or the night you all go watch the boxing match. A real family party happens no more often than once a year, ideally at someone's farm. If you do not have a farm, a large beach property near where your grandparents grew up will also do. Otherwise, you'll have to go to Florida and then you won't be able to roast the pig properly.

The second step is to acquire the pig. If you are at the farm, then this should be part of the package, if you are not, then there are farms that will sell you a whole pig. Make sure it is slaughtered, gutted, and cleaned when you pick it up. You will then use your family's particular adobo recipe-- this usually include garlic, ajíes, salt, pepper, onion-- and rub it all over the pig the night before the party so that the flavors penetrate the skin and muscles.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Easy Pizza at Home

My Dad is an honest man. He's I-want-to-hit-you-over-the-head honest. Yes-you-look-fat-in-that-dress honest. So I value his input on the things that I make because I know he's not going to sugar coat his opinion or take into consideration my, you know, feelings or obsessive desire to please. So here's a recap of my culinary exploits and my dad's subsecuent review of them:

- Libyan Spaghetti-- "I don't like it, it tastes weird."
- Fried Rice-- "Its too spicy, why did you make it spicy?"
- Salad-- "Doesn't taste like much."
- Cassoulet-- "You added way too many beans." (He repeated this to me at least ten times over the next day or two.)
- Moroccan Stew-- "I don't like that it has a sweet smell, I'm going to have a steak."

So you can imagine my relief and feeling of utter triumph when last night he finally, really, truly, without reservations or critiques liked something I made: Pizza.

Friday, April 16, 2010

My Grandmother's Cooking

My grandmother might be one of the best cooks around but I wouldn't know it. While my brother and I were raised by my grandparents on endless portions of vibrant and savory rice and beans, fresh tostones made from both plantains and pana, fork-tender meat I've never seen anyone be able to reproduce, and chicken that actually had flavor and depth, my grandmother didn't do much more than reheat it in the microwave and serve it to us. All my childhood food memories, and my current lunches on Tuesdays and Fridays, come from one of the best cooks I know: Carmen.

**Three recipes at the end of the post.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Ick Factor

For strictly research purpose, I've been watching old episodes of Julia Child's The French Chef show. Needless to say, its amazing. As RX (R's new title on the blog), once pointed out, "She could not get on television today." And its true. She couldn't even get on television in Britain back when she was a star (they thought she was drunk on camera). What's wonderful about her show is all her quirks and the overall lack of polish (except when it comes to the food, of course)-- she's out of breath halfway through the episode, she drops things, and she often forgets what she's going to say and glares directly into the camera. I'd like to think the sheer amount of butter and oil she pours into everything would make modern cooks blush but then Paula Deen, or as I like to call her, Satan, does unfortunately exist in this world. (Deen is the inventor of the Lady's Brunch Burger.)

But what blew me away about Julia's show is her embrace (girly as it is) of what I've dubbed the Ick Factor. She starts off the Boulaibasse show with a close up on a giant fish head which she then rips the gills out of to show why you shouldn't cook with them (they're full of "impurities"). In the same show she tosses whole fish into broth and continually refer to them as cute. When a live lobster protests against being boiled alive by slapping Julia's fingers with its tail she turns it into a little goof by adding sound effects-- pampampampam! Yes, adorable. In the age of icanhascheezeburger and Hello Kitty, cute as edible wouldn't exactly fly on mainstream television and neither would putting a face to what you're eating. At least not for your standard American audience.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spanish Hamburger

I'm not really a vegetarian. R's stepmother was the first to point this out to me during a rather tense dinner during a rather tense trip to Bali. My sweet, charming "mom-in-law," who I got along with as famously as territorial cats get along with each other, said she didn't see how only eating fish qualified me as a vegetarian because she also only ate fish and didn't call herself a vegetarian. I decided to give her match point and ordered the filet mignon. I try not to be a sore loser.

But she did make a point and I think many "vegetarians" such as myself have tried to cover up the ifs and buts and onlys of their diet by inventing all sorts of terms like "pescaterian" and "locavore." At the end of the day, you're still killing an animal for food and crowning yourself humane just because its not a cow. So why did I, and to an extent still do, call myself a vegetarian?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Food Nazi

Yesterday I engaged my family in a mini-WWIII. As a card carrying CSA member and vegetarian who makes exceptions for humanely raised meat, I'm firmly anti-processed foods and I've joined the party seeking to eliminate them from the face of the earth. Stepping off the plane in my knee-high boots and black coat, venturing into my Burger King obsessed homeland with unusually straight posture, the food nazi in me decide it was game on.

I stormed my parent's house like the Gestapo, proclaiming everything in their fridge an offense punishable by death-- I'm not exactly exaggerating since processed ham and cheese products, "Whole Wheat White" bread, and sugary box cereals are in fact killing the US... but I digress.

But my Dad, the Winston Churchill of daily meat intake and ice cream doused with cognac, armed a defensive strike against my blitzkrieg by making fun of me and shaking his head while laughing at my young, hippie ways. The processed ham would stay. The family fridge officially became Poland.