20100527

Are we suffering from Bored Palates?


I just got through reading this article about how Americans are demanding more from their food flavorings. As I read along my reaction was this - we can thank the Food Network, the rise in the popularity of celebrity chefs and cooking shows for this. Americans have become foodies.

We love our television chefs, our reality cooking shows and we have become more sophisticated with regards to flavors and taste. We want more. That's the American way.

Of course, this shift in the food consciousness reaches out to the marketers and their response is to "pump up the volume" on their flavors. One chip manufacturer used the term "extreme" for it's new, hotter and more fiery chili flavored chips. Bolder was another term used. They are also tossing around the new foodie buzz word "Umami" like a ping pong ball. (Umami is a Japanese word that translates as "good flavor" and has been proposed as one of the basic taste sensations - which would include it among the original four: sweet, sour, salty and bitter.)

There's nothing wrong with extreme or bold, but, like the article stated, "As people crave intensity in flavor, some traditionalists are wondering if diners will become desensitized to natural flavors. Regular mangoes may taste bland when eaten next to mango-flavored gum or a mango energy drink, they say."

I find myself siding with this statement. I like new tastes, I welcome new flavor combinations and I love variety. But intensity is not the same as creativity - hotter & spicier is not the same as more flavorful and bold can sometimes become boring if you have too much of it.

And isn't Umami just a new, hip word for savory???

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20100512

Empty Plate Syndrome and CHOPPED - itis?

I am suffering from Empty Plate Syndrome. At least it's a cool plate though, huh? I have to admit I rarely serve food on this set as the design is too busy to compliment any food served on it but I had to have them anyway and they look nice on my kitchen wall.

It's been so long since I've posted a recipe here that I'll bet you thought I'd died of starvation, huh? Well, almost! I've been so bloody busy that I haven't tried out too many recipes lately - which means I'm not having as much fun eating. I have - OMG! - even hit the Crap in a Box windows a few times. You may beat me with a wet pad thai noodle now.

I am, by trade, an artist/illustrator/graphic designer and that has been keeping me away from my kitchen more than I would like lately. The one thing I did test out was a loaf of Peanut Butter Banana Bread because I had several overripe bananas to use. It turned out horrible - dry, crumbly and you can barely taste either the banana or the peanut butter. That was a waste of my precious cooking time as well as the ingredients. Anyone out there have a good recipe for peanut butter banana bread??

I have been able to catch my favorite cooking shows - Top Chef Masters, Chef vs. City, Iron Chef America and the often aggravating Chopped. Aggravating to me because sometimes I think the judges are a bit mean spirited - have you SEEN what they give some of those contestants in the "mystery baskets" to cook with, not to mention how little time they have to create a dish? That's not to say some of the contestants aren't a bit of a pain at times too and I'll admit it's fun to watch some of the inflated egos get "Chopped". I do like host Ted Allen and wonder every show why he isn't part of the judging panel.

The short cooking time and the contents of those dreaded baskets is a challenge to anyone's creativity and skills. This morning I watched last night's episode "First Things Worst" as I checked my e-mails and I had a great thought. Wouldn't it be fun if they would take the three judges - most often Alex Guarnaschelli, Aarón Sánchez, and Scott Conant - and put them to the same test? I would dearly LOVE to see them tackle a "mystery basket" under the same conditions, wouldn't you?

BTW, though I haven't had a lot of time to enjoy cooking or eating I have managed to still have some fun with food - check out my fun pop art Pop-sicles "CHILLAXIN'':




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