Aug 24, 2014
Butter will be the death of us, folks.
See, people have this idea that baking is an art. That artisan (that’s real artisans, not the word some marketing suits at Panera decided to put in front of every item on the menu) people passed down croissant-making techniques for decades and guarded them with their lives like they were the secret formula to Pepsi or something. I’m not gonna dispute that those people know what they’re doing, because they very clearly do. The chances that one of them can make a palmier better than me are infinitely high; that much is obvious.
I get this question a lot, especially when I cook for people not overly familiar with areas south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
“Where did all this tasty stuff come from? Whose idea was it to fry green tomatoes or make chicken and waffles?”
And the answer’s simple. We stole it.
I have a special hate for the term “beer snob”.
People who use the term, 99 times out of a 100, don’t have a damn clue what a snob actually is. When you hear someone get called a beer snob, it’s not because they scoff so hard their suspenders fall off when they see you drinking a 7.2% IPA instead of a 6.2%. It’s because you don’t drink piss-water, frat-ogre, terrible beer.
And that’s the only reason.
If I walk up to you and call you a “snob” for enjoying a delicious steak instead of hemorrhaging yourself stupid off of McDonalds quarter-pounders, you’d call me an asshole, and be completely right. But for some reason, as soon as I turn down a beer that comes with a “Vortex-Filtered Swirly Neck Thing” and has the consistency (and taste) of dish water, I’m suddenly the jerk. I suddenly get the “oh, you think you’re better than me because you don’t willingly drink garbage?” look. And you know what?
I think I’m better than you if you drink crappy beer, just like I’d think I was better than you if all you ate was Cheetos and pre-made frosting from those little cardboard containers.
However, just because a beer’s on the cheaper side doesn’t mean it can’t not suck. Usually I despise fruity beers because they taste like a juice box with an iota of beer in it, but someone turned me onto a cheaper grapefruit beer that actually didn’t completely offend me. Hopefully you’ll like the beer blondies I made with it.
I root for the underdog.
It’s not because I’m one of those old guys who gets all misty-eyed every time Rudy throws the ball extra far and some lame VHS soundtrack swells in the background; if I really wanna get sad I’ll just tromp on down to the frozen food section at my local whatever-mart.
No, I root for the lesser-known stuff because the mostly-known gets boring. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing good or wonderful about getting some really tasty, familiar food. There’s a place in the darker parts of this country (read: Florida) that has a Cuban sandwich I would commit a multitude of crimes for. And I’d do it every. Single. Time. It’s that good.
It’s also repetitive.
You can get good flavor nearly anywhere, but getting the spark? The “holy shit, what is that?” as a side dish to a quality main course? That’s rare, friends. That’s something you only get from being slapped in the face with some food you’ve never, ever heard of before.
I’m giving you that food this week, and it’s called Haitian food.
I’ve heard people rant and rave and spit over Colombian food, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Brazilian, Mexican, every damn type of food you can get with a tilde over the name except for Haitian, and that’s a complete crime. And the reason’s simple: that other stuff has been done to death. It’s still tasty, but it’s been iterated, iterated, and reiterated until it’s been turned into a five dollar special at Applebee’s.
Sure it’s a shame nobody’s tasted the goodness that is Haitian food, but that comes with a nice double-edged sword effect: the stuff is pure. Untouched. There’s no Haitian-Style Goat Nibblers clogging up the chain restaurants, and that’s a good thing. Eat up the stuff; just don’t put it through the copyright wringer over at Strip Mall Menus Incorporated and we can all get along.