8.5.2002 by , every Saturday.
I'm sitting here on Via Rail train #46 bound for Ottawa munching on some Jalepeno Mrs. Vickies chips reading the latest issue of Food and Wine magazine. Like most food mags it has an ad for Rolex on the back and the inside is peppered with ads for expensive SUVs, Cadillacs and booze. Who reads this stuff? Happy people, that's who! (Well ok, rich people if you want to get technical.)
This got me thinking about food writing in general and how abstract it is in many ways. They say writing about food is like dancing about architecture, at least that's what I say. But when you think about it isn't reading about food a lot like reading porn? Here's why:
-They both cause you to salivate like mad.
-You might be prone to think "gosh I'd like to try that"
-Or "Gosh, I wish I had one of those"
-Or "I wonder what that tastes like"
-Or "I'd like some of that hot beef inside me right now!"
-Warm apple pie comes to mind.
-Wine bottles too.
-The pages might stick together.
-Nice pictures but nothing like the real thing.
-Words like "whip" and "cream" are used often.
Of course it makes sense that we'd have food-porn crossovers, they're both basic human needs just one comes free and the other you've gotta pay for (even this area is a little grey for people like Charlie Sheen and students living with their parents).
Anyway, yes, there are recipes in these magazines but often large portions of these mags are devoted to raving about the latest food trend or gawking at appliances nobody can afford. Food is a local thing, not national or global, I wanna know where in my town I can get all these fancy ingredients and where I can try X foodstuff and what the best restaurant for it is. I want a food publication that'll tell me there are awsome peaches down at the Parkdale Market this time of year and I'd best snatch 'em up before someone else does. (I also want a mag that'll tell me how well that dashing new lunch cook at Juniper is doing.) In fact, all these national publications do is go on and on about how important it is to cook locally grown organic produce etc. but none of them can properly inform you on this sort of thing because they're all from New York City! But then who am I to talk being the big Food writer guy on the internet, globally disseminating whatever it is I disseminate. All I can say is I'm sorry, the internet's not much good for this sort of thing but they say write what you know so here I am.
Here's what I propose, a monthly (possibly to be upgraded to weekly later), free food paper! Chalk full of local restaurant reviews, reviews of local markets, produce stores, specialty shops and delis, local farm reports and interviews with farmers and chefs alike. I imagine ad revenue wouldn't be too difficult to come by from all the local producers and restaurants. I think Ottawa would be a great city to try this, who wants in?
In the spirit of newspapers this week's dead-easy recipe is for fish and chips:
Beer-Battered Whitefish (stolen from Oyster Boy)
1. Mix 2 cups flour, 2 tbsp baking soda, 2 tbsp salt and enough beer to give a slightly-thicker than pancake batter consistency.
2. Heat fryer to 360.
3. Dredge fillets in flour then in the batter and fry until golden brown.
For fries see this entry on my blog.
That's it for this week kiddies! If you'd like to contribute an article, idea, recipe or comment to this column please email me.
"Dressed with a rich, deeply-flavored Tuscan olive-oil and little else, it is a dish that lingers in my memory"