Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Chef Jamie and why I love Anthony Bourdain

So I didn't end up watching the No Reservations premiere last night...totally fell asleep after posting. A friend said it was a good episode so Jamie and I made time for it this evening after he heated up some homemade Kapusta from his dad.
Not exactly the most photogenic dinner, but it's pretty damn tasty...especially with a piece of crusty bread. Here are some thoughts from Chef Jamie on kapusta...

Growing up with a Polish grandma and half-Pole for a father, I was force fed a meal synonymous with comfort for a lot of Poles: Kapusta. I didn't enjoy kapusta at all when I was younger - my nanny (grandma) wouldn't let me leave the dinner table until my bowl of thick soupy cabbage and sauerkraut was entirely gone. I would have to force it down my throat to get to my dessert. Call me crazy, but that soupy mess was not appetizing at all. When I started living on my own in college, however, I started to crave it....probably because my dad makes some great Kapusta and all I have to do is re-heat a frozen container to satisfy my urge. I could count on it to provide a hearty couple of meals when times where tough and I had to conserve my precious quarters to pay my bar tabs. Eating Kapusta always makes me happy which is why I always make sure to grab at least three containers when I visit my dad. It also reminds me of good times spent at my grandparents' house in Maine. I guess that explains why I like it so much...it satisfies my stomach (important customer #1) and satisfies my heart and mind. The name "kapusta" is acutally misleading, because the literal translation from Polish is "cabbage." The soup (or stew) that I'm in love with is actually a slowly cooked combination of cabbage, sauerkraut, onions, pork, kielbasa, pepper corns, mushrooms, and basically anything you want to throw in the pot. Some people may refer to it as Bigos, but I tend to think that has a lot more spices and other ingredients. Whatever you call it, I call it delicious in a bowl. Either way, they key is to cook it a long time to simmer the flavors of the fresh cabbage w/the sauerkraut and whatever meats you use. I have thrown my own twist in there and started adding red pepper flakes when I defrost my dad's recipe (I have yet to learn to cook it on my own - that is what Karena is for). You can serve it with a big chunk of rye bread but I think any good and crusty bread goes just fine.

Now on to the Bourdain...

I'll admit it,
I have a mini Bourdain crush. Go ahead, laugh. Jamie might have one too...who knows. Yes, Bourdain can be arrogant and is most likely a dirty old man, but there's just something about him that's really fun to watch and read about. He eats pretty much everything, drinks, smokes (or at least used to), and hangs out like he's not 50 years old. Um, hi, awesome.* I was first hooked on Bourdain when I read Kitchen Confidential a few years ago. *also not awesome since a friend met him once and said he was a total douche in person...let it be known said friend was a guy.
I heard a bunch of things about this crazy chef talking about all the stuff that went on in the kitchens of NYC restaurants and HAD to read about it. I thought it was great, but not as great as his other book - A Cook's Tour.
I believe it was written while he was traveling/filming the Food Network show of the same name (that wasn't as good as No Reservations). I think the reason why I loved this book so much is because it combined two of my favorite things -
traveling and food, with a side of snark! You should definitely check it out if you're a No Reservations fan...it kinda reads like the show, but a little heavier at points.

It shouldn't come as any surprise that I've watched No Reservations since Season One and that Jamie and I actually
referenced his China/Japan and Shanghai episodes for places to eat in Beijing and Shanghai. When we found the fried soup dumpling place in Shanghai, you bet we took a picture of it...and ate like 10 dumplings at once.
There's no denying that the man knows his food...I'd trust his opinion on pretty much any pork dish (totally salivated when the episode opened with lomitos). I also like that he tends to go off the beaten path, unlike his fellow Travel Channel hosts (bye, Samantha Brown). He gives you a sampling of the culture and cuisine of a city without sugarcoating it and leaves you wanting more. I know I've watched episodes for places I never really thought about going to and walked away thinking hm, I want to check that place out!

Speaking of international places I'd like to visit...
  • Chile
  • Croatia
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Seychelles
  • Turkey
  • Greece
  • Vietnam
Figured it was only fair since I asked the question of my fellow bloggers ;)


B.o.B. said...

my roommate thinks mr. bourdain is a douche. but, he's also a guy. i think jealousy is a play here. lol!

i'm with you on his taste. he knows tasty.

Mel @ She Runs Brooklyn said...

2 thoughts:

1) That soup definitely did not photograph well, but I would eat it in a second. My food wouldn't photograph well either I'd imagine!

2) Anthony Bourdain is one lucky mofo. Lesson: Taste food and be a jerk about it, and people will seek to please you. Noted!

Love the post :)

Julia said...

Bourdain recently came to my town for a talk; I really wanted to go, but naturally, it was sold out.
I would totally want his job, or Andrew Zimmern's or Samantha Brown's. They pretty much have the best jobs ever.
I'd really like to visit Rome... or anywhere in Italy, Spain, and re-visit Australia. Gah I wish I had more $$ to travel!

Jamie said...

thats the short list, right?

Anonymous said...

My boyfriend lived in Turkey for a couple months when he was 14 or 15. His dad is a Historian and taught there for a year! :-) He also had his appendix taken out in Italy! How's that for interesting.