Just a little something I whipped up.
Earlier this year, I wrote about some of my shortcomings as a “foodie,” a term that I don’t so much call myself but rather that I get called. A lot. To which I cringe and politely acquiesce. But you know what? I am a foodie. I am such a foodie.
I’ve made pasta from scratch. Flour noodles, egg noodles, rice noodles. Tortellini, linguine, hand cut. Plain, spinach, cuttlefish ink.
I’ve made bread from scratch, with and without gluten.
I love gluten.
I love offal.
I’ve never been really grossed out by anything I’ve cooked. Cow tongue, mussels, and gluten free breadsticks have come the closest, though.
I buy all of my meat and vegetables fresh, not frozen, except for peas, because they’re hard to find fresh and are great for icing cooking burns and bruises.
I am really good at grocery shopping and cooking interesting foods on a tight budget.
I only buy organic meat and cage free chicken and eggs.
And I don’t buy organic boneless skinless chicken breasts.
I am obsessed with fish chins, cheeks, and collars.
I’ve personally killed a lot of lobsters with a knife through the head.
I stopped ordering salmon at restaurants a couple of years ago because I was unable to find salmon I liked better than my own.
I’m a certified supertaster. Which means that I bought a test a few years ago and administered it to myself and to my parents and husband to make sure the test actually worked, because I suspected there were only-average tasters among us, and there were. But not my husband. And he’s still very bitter that this shocked me so much. (Of course, this means I avoid a lot of stuff most people seem to like, like coffee, beer, classic cocktails, cola, rye bread, lemon, grapefruit, kale, raddichio, endive, and “ripe” bananas that aren’t yet brown all over.)
I drink a lot of wine, and I know a lot about California wine. Like a lot a lot.
Favorite activity when drinking wine by myself? Reading about food.
I subscribe to Lucky Peach, Bon Appetit, and Food and Wine.
And Tasting Table, Eater, Epicurious, Food52, FWx, Squid Ink, LA Times food, Time Out, LAist, InsideHook, Yelp… basically everything except UrbanDaddy, Thrillist, and Daily Candy because I outgrew them.
I read the New York Times Dining section every week. And I have strong opinions about the food critics of the last ten years. (Frank Bruni. So Frank Bruni.)
And I have almost always read the Tables for Two column in the New Yorker, before, during, and after living there.
I have a really good collection of cookbooks going. Marcella Hazan, Roberta’s, Scarpetta, Roy Choi, Edward Lee, Pok Pok, El Bulli, etc. Plus the Joy of Cooking and two editions of the Best Recipe Cookbook. And I actually use them!
But I still refer to Epicurious the most.
And when I do, I look at a few recipes and at what’s in my refrigerator and just make something up that I know I’ll like.
I basically never follow recipes unless there’s a chemical reaction involving proteins and exact amounts and times matter.
In addition to a liberal notion of what qualifies as a pantry staple, like sesame oil, anchovies, and dried ancho chiles, ingredients I always keep around include a few kinds of rice, a few kinds of pasta, fish sauce, tomato paste, shaoxing cooking wine, dry sherry, MSG, truffle salt, at least two good cheeses, at least two fresh herbs, kimchi juice, pickle juice…
No microwave for more than two years now.
I keep track of every restaurant I’ve been to in Los Angeles, and I did the same when I lived in New York. At almost four years in LA, it’s around 250. It would be higher but I like cooking too much, and besides, I’m still paying for all those New York City meals I put on my credit card. (Seriously.)
I have waited tables in New York City, Austin, and Charlottesville. Including for a James Beard recipient.
My first job was at my local library because you could work there when you were 15, but my second job was at a bagel shop. It’s always been the food with me.