Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Michael Ruhlman recently blogged about distinguishing between foodies and cooks. (On a side note, this post was part of a pretty unique media dialog. Michael Pollan wrote an article for the Times Magazine, inspired by the movie Julie & Julia, which is of course based on a food blog and the life of Julia Child, as documented in the public and private writings of Mrs. & Mr. Child. This article prompted Ruhlman to respond on his blog concluding, among other things, that food bloggers are continuing Julia Child's legacy. This post generated tons of responses on his blog as well as his Facebook and Twitter pages, which ultimately resulted in Ruhlman writing a follow up post responding to many of those comments. Media democratization at work!) Michael's basic point, is that there is an important distinction between foodies and cooks. Food is a lifestyle for foodies, but cooking isn't necessarily part of it. Cooks are, quite simply, people who cook food, and presumably, enjoy doing it. The two are not mutually exclusive, certainly many foodies are also cooks, but many are not.

Personally, I can trace my transformation from foodie to cook, and further to butcher, back to a specific moment. Bill Buford's wonderful book Heat, itself a memoir of the author going through this transition, was a huge inspiration to me, and surely to many, many others. Specifically, Buford's description of Dario Cecchini, the master butcher was a revelation. Buford is a great writer, Dario is a brilliant butcher with a flare for the theatrical, and the resulting combination is pure magic. Dario is a bombastic, larger than life kinda guy. Or at least that's how he comes across in the book, and now Bay Area foodies, cooks and butchers alike will have the opportunity to check him out in person! Meatpaper and Marin Organic are teaming up to brig Dario to Fort Mason for a meat cutting demonstration. Tickets are pricey, but likely well worth it.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pickled Okra, Batch #1

On my first trip to the Austin Farmers Market, it was clear that we were in the midst of a serious heat wave, not to mention a major drought. Variety was pretty limited, and you could tell that the farmers had been working very hard to get whatever they could to the market. Okra however, was relatively abundant, so i decided to by a bunch and try my hand at pickling them.

Pickled Okra is quite popular in Texas, and really should be popular everywhere. The okra loses its slimines as it pickles, but maintains a good amount of crunchiness and its flavor really pops. I made 3 different batches, each with a different recipe, and I'm quite happy with all of them.

Half eaten jar of pickled okra

For batch #1 I used a Southeast Asian flavor combination of lemongrass, ginger, garlic chili peppers and rice vinegar. This was Natalie's favorite. Their was a subtle sweetness that I really liked, but I would have liked them to be a hint spicier. Next time, more chili's!

Monday, September 7, 2009

A little help for our friends...

Soul Food Farm, one of Northern California's truly great farms, was recently hit by a wildfire. As most of you probably know, making it as a small farm is hard enough without any major catastrophes. The Ethicurean has a post about what is happening and what we can do to help. Please check it out and help if you can.