Monday, February 15, 2010

Our love affair with garbage.......

Where did we get our taste from? Honestly, as a regular ol' Amurican, where did it start? Let's get deep here. Really, let's get introspective, uncomfortable, and start pointing fingers. As a whole, we are finally starting to come out of it, whatever (it) is, and get on board the ship the seemingly rest of the world has been sailing on for centuries, but I want a witch hunt.
100 years ago this country was nothing more than immigrants and a select amount of townies who arrived a few hundred years before and cleared the slate of any native culture that might have proved somewhat established or interesting. So what happened? All of these cultures, fresh off the boat so to speak....I mean literally, check the records at Ellis Island; and 50 years later, their kids trade in a host of amazing food history for TV dinners? What happened? Was there too much? An overload of culture that refused to assimilate to the point of apathy? I love where I grew up. I love chicken wings. No really, I am using a word, to some The word about a deep fried bone wrapped in fatty goodness. I would use the "L" word on the 1st date with a chicken wing, even if it scared her off. Anyways, transplanting down here, I love southern food too. But the man/woman who created the chicken wing and the man/woman who created biscuits and gravy were not far removed from parents who came across the ocean with a host of food history and sure they created a new nitch but what about the off days? Were these people really ok going to Howard Johnsons or eating Stouffer's chipped beef?

When did these children of immigrants accept bastardized versions of what they grew up eating at home? Did the quick fix, land of opportunity, work till you drop, always on the go mentality that is America, assimilate the masses that hard? It makes me sad. Ask anyone young their backround. English, irish, polish, russian, latin american, african, phillipino, japanese; got to add Amurican on the end because so few even know who their ancestors were let alone what they ate like. That's where I make my stand. When did we non descript, mutts of culture call places like Olive Garden italian cooking? Whose ancestor decided that all authentic Mexican dishes were served slathered with sour cream, iceberg lettuce, a slice of tomato, and shredded white American cheese? Did Geneal Tsao even know that he had his own chicken?

So what happened? Did we just get lazy? The rest of the world has gone on with their food love, lore, and at large seems to have beaten off the commerialized American machine with a pretty big stick. Is that a gross overgeneralization........maybe not so much. Yes, there are infected markets with McD's and the like but I guarantee, 99% of the native people still know and devour their country's library of cuisine.

Where does that leave us? Where does that leave me? I remember doing a report @ Paul Smith's my alma mat......the place I graduated from, and no I don't remember how to spell that word; and I did a report on cooking after the birth of the microwave. Chicken, turkey, steaks, cakes......that's right, baking a cake in the microwave.

We veered of course. Thankfully cooks in America are fighting back. Not all of them and not everywhere. But there are pockets. We are drawing the battle lines. We will not put up with this forever. We will infect everyone we can with an overall urge, desire, we will hook them on real food coming from real places, and bring history and respect back to the mainstream. Every man, woman, and child should taste the true foods of where they came from, savor in them, and be proud.

And if us cooks can make a buck or two while we're at it, not a bad gig. Maybe one day we'll share bits we keep for ourselves like duck skin or the fatcap on a prime rib.

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