Monday, January 8, 2007

The L.A. Food Blog WITH Bias

I love Chowhound but as a site devoted purely to “deliciousness” it doesn’t promote a local forum for addressing pursuit of deliciousness from within the larger framework of eating mindfully and all the messy political and philosophical debate with which that is fraught. We are not afraid! Ironically, one of the intents with which I am starting this project is to put an end to a long and self indulgent orgy of personal writing. That said, I will begin by telling you about me. First of all, I love to cook and I love to eat and I do so regularly and own up to having unresolved personal, cultural and spiritual issues with regard to food, feeding and being fed and therefore am publicly opening myself up to scrutiny and direction.

I almost never shop at big chain supermarkets. I was in the Pavillion’s in South Pasadena recently and I was staggered by how little food there I would actually eat. I am a hypocrite. I shop frequently at ethnic markets all over the city. I select ingredients there with a lower standard than I would at the Ralphs. I would never buy Kraft salad dressing but some of the weird sauces I pick up in Koreatown are probably just as toxic, it’s just that the unfamiliar packaging looks exotic and adventurous, and not trailer trashy. And I serve my (incredibly fussy) family about 14 hand prepared meals a week based on ingredients plundered from all manner of international purveyors. And I talk to people when I buy my food. I find out how to use different ingredients and share in return some of my own weird fusion techniques. I am very idiosyncratic about what I will and will not eat. I go to temple perhaps three times a year yet I avoid pork products and shellfish but think nothing about accompanying a brisket with a hefty side of macaroni and cheese. I buy Kosher meat (except steaks) whenever possible. I buy kosher or organic/free range chickens. But I love the short ribs from the 99 Ranch Market. At $1.99 a lbs. these are not kosher nor I’m sure connected in any way to anything sustainable, but it allows me to feed a crowd quickly and easily and is one of the surefire things I can get the whole family to eat with gusto. One of my very favorite inexpensive meats to use is turkey thighs. I have never seen these available in a free range nor organic version but I was able to purchase about 6 lbs. at Gelson’s (the most reliable source and the least expensive) for less than $5.00. The secret of these is to slather them with some highly flavored sauce (think anything which would be compatible with pork) and slow roast for several hours and remove the skin when it cools down. This week I baked some thighs in a raspberry salad dressing from Trader Joe’s--good, but I prefer something more spicy/molassesy. The first night I served the meat sliced up with some of the cooking liquid with some pasta and a carrot salad. Last night I stirred some of the chopped meat, some chard, olives and lemon into a nice risotto. I still have a ton of meat left and I’m going to use it in a big pot of chili with white beans and lots of cumin to take to a party. And, I do admire vegetarians. And I yearn for the day when vegetarianism will be the logical alternative in terms of convenience, flavor and economics, but I accept that it will probably not come in my lifetime. Does that really make heading in that direction less desirable? What inroads is the militant vegan community going to make with its separatist antagonistic agiprop to any portion of world citizenry except those with prosperity problems? I would rather the working mother who fills up her cart with processed lunchmeat and canned vegetables at the Super A know what she can easily and deliciously accomplish with 5 bucks worth of (not organic nor raised in love) turkey. Life is a series of ethical and moral trade offs. Oh, that we could eat food that was purely delicious and produced in a purely human, earth and spirit friendly fashion. But I’m willing to confront and be confronted as I sermonize about what I like to eat and why it’s ok.

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