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Culinary News of the weird and Useful: March 26, 2010

March 26, 2010

by Monsieur Anton

Why is this gin different from any other gin? Ah, the culinary delight of the Passover Seder. The light, fluffy matzo balls in the savory chicken broth, the roast chicken, the matzo, the macaroons, all washed down with the syrupy sweet Manischevitz wine. Well there’s something else to wet your whistle this Passover. Normally many liquors are not kosher for Passover because they contain grain. Distiller No. 209 has introduced a Passover-friendly gin with a sugarcane vodka replacing the usual grain base. Additionally they had to replace he prohibited cardamon with California bay leaf giving the gin a slightly sharper taste. A bottle will set you back $39.

Monsieur Anton says: Now that’s one Seder I want to be at. Can we replace the four glasses of wine required during the ceremony with four martinis? And before you ask, yes there is a kosher for Passover vermouth made by Kedem.

Chef Gusteau: Still trying to get a handle on the whole Passover tradition and keeping kosher. I do like the idea of a martini over that “wine”, but not sure if I’d be ruining it all (Passover that is) by dropping blue cheese stuffed olives in the martini. At that point, screw it and give me the scotch.

Dear Lord, can you super size me? A study by Brian Wansink, the director of Cornell University‘s Food and Brand Lab finds that the depiction of the portions served in artistic renditions of The Last Supper have increased over time. The study, co-authored with his brother Craig, a biblical scholar, studied 52 versions of the iconic religious painting. They found that the size of the plates increased over 65%, the size of the entrees on the plate grew 70%, and the bread portions were up 23%. They used the size of the apostle’s heads as a reference point for their finding which were published in the International Journal of Obesity.

Monsieur Anton: Who knew Morgan Spurlock was a prophet and that McDonald’s was a place of worship? Would you pass the communion fries please?

Chef Gusteau: I’m just waiting for someone to notice the glass of Coke, or the martini (see above) with olives, next to the pager with ESPN sports ticker on it. If you look closely, you can see the Duke T-shirt under Jesus’s robe…because he is a Blue Devil fan as everyone knows.

Gourmet matzo to go with that Passover martini. New York Times food writer Mark Bittman has fashioned a Passover-friendly matzo based on a Sardinian flat bread carta musica-sheet music. The flat bread replaces the yeast (forbidden during Passover) with olive oil. Whether it is truly kosher for Passover is questionable.

Monsieur Anton: Who cares if it’s kosher for Passover. It has to be better than the usual flavorless cracker. Pass me an olive oil matzo to go with my No. 209 martini!

Chef Gusteau: See why I don’t get Passover? Just look at the food below…it doesn’t scream “eat me” but rather, “you want to know about suffering and cutting back, eat this stuff.” I understand the importance of tradition, but at some point someone had to realize that making this all look and taste better isn’t such a bad thing. When I see someone lathering up a piece of Matzo with jelly, I have to think, “friend, there’s got to be a better way, that just looks plain goofy.”

Everything’s bigger in Texas. The Cowtown Diner in Fort Worth, Texas is serving up a meal that has

been certified by The Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest chicken-fried steak. The entree checks in at ten pounds and is served with six pounds of mashed potatoes and a loaf of Texas toast. The meal which is around 10,000 calories sells for $69.95, but is free if you you finish the whole meal, which nobody has been able to do. Cowtown’s owner Scott Jones admits that the meal “was never intended to be serious.”

Monsieur Anton: That’s a lot of bull! I’ve been known to put away a lot of food in my day, but my arteries are begging me to not even attempt it. As a side-note, instead of an after meal dinner mint, they give you a month’s supply of Lipitor.

Chef Gusteau: Do chickens even have ten pounds of meat on them? How the hell are you getting a single filet that big? And if you did, I have to think that the chicken-fried steak preparation of it would be the equivalent of eating a shovel full of lard and chasing it down with a big tall glass of melted butter. Sounds tasty, right?

Mama Mia, that’s a spicy meatball! Not to be outdone by the Cowtown Diner, staff and students at Glen Oaks Community College in Sturgis, Michigan attempted to make the world’s largest meatball. About 327 pounds of beef chuck was seasoned and cooked for 32 hours and was taken out of the oven and placed on to a scale with a forklift. The final product weighed in at 400 pounds. The first 250 pounds were cut up and donated to Meals on Wheels, with the rest served to the audience of 400 people. The whole project did not totally succeed. The inner part of the meatball failed to reach the required 160 degrees meaning it was not fit to eat, and thus not counted toward the record. Organizers cut around the undercooked area and served up 254 pounds of meatball, which would be a record by 30 pounds. Certification by Guinness awaits.

Anton says: Does anybody else think Alka Seltzer should revive their classic spicy meatball commercial. At least this publicity stunt was for a good cause. This just in. The Cowtown diner is planning a 700 pound bowl of spaghetti.

Chef Gusteau: Now, just look at that picture closely. Sorry to get gross, but it looks like King Kong took a dump in the room. Who the hell would eat that??? I don’t know how they got the internal temperature of that big boy either…did they tape a thermometer to a javelin and throw it in? I appreciate it was all for a good cause, but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that even Meals on Wheels clients said, “Sorry, man, but I’m not that hungry to eat that mess.”

Preheat the Nintendo. Nintendo is coming out with a new game for its Nintendo DS platform. America’s Test Kitchen, Let’s Get Cooking is due to be released soon. The game includes 300 recipes and is light on the play aspect, and heavy on culinary minutiae.

Anton says: Screw the game. Just get the kids in the kitchen and cook with them. We’re raising a generation of video game addicts who live their life through a video screen. Make the kids get out and play sports, and yes cook.

Chef Gusteau: Agree with Anton on this one. Kids will learn the love of food and cooking through examples set within the family. I understand that kids love video games and the thought of reaching them through that avenue seems obvious, but unless the game involves slaying beasts made of hamburger (or giant meatballs from Texas), they won’t play it, and thus won’t learn about cooking…or worse, think cooking is boring. Cook with your kids and see the satisfaction in their eyes as they create with you.

Saturday March 26th…National Spinach Day

Sunday March 27th…National Spanish Paella Day

Monday March 28th…Something on a Stick Day

Tuesday March 29th…National Lemon Chiffon Cake Day

Wednesday March 30th…Turkey Neck Soup Day

Thursday March 31st…Tater Day

Friday April 1st…National Sourdough Bread Day

“I’d get stabbed in this country if I charged that! Even if the chicken had its arse wiped every day by the farmer and they said its feathers were shampooed by John Frieda – I’d be shot.”

  • Gordon Ramsay on Overpriced Chicken.

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