Popcorn for Breakfast and Other Minor Revelations

Leftover popcorn, I’ve discovered, makes a good breakfast. My wife often makes popcorn for the kids in the evening, and there it is in the morning, half a pot — the butter soaked in and coagulated. Like many things, it is better the next day.

I especially like the crunchy, half-popped ones that congregate at the bottom of the pan. My wife worries: “You’re going to break a tooth on one of those one day.” But I like to live dangerously, I guess.

I made another delightful breakfast discovery this morning. It’s soft-shell crab season — one of my most favorite of all foods. Last night, I made seven soft-shell crab sandwiches for our dinner party. I had miscounted, and there were only six of us. So my second course of breakfast was a reheated soft-shell crab sandwich. What a start to the day!

I haven’t been blogging so much lately. I’m not completely sure why — some combination of busy-ness and apathy. Sometimes I think I’ve run out of things to say about food. And then I consider: “How is that possible?” I’ve also noticed some of my other blogger friends suffering from a similar inertia (I’m looking at you, Gourmandistan!). Maybe it’s a seasonal thing.

I do periodically just tire of my own writing. “Oh my god, not that metaphor again!!” And need a break from myself.

I used to publish a post every Tuesday and Thursday. I was very consistent for several years. I don’t know how I did it. Now, I’m like, “Whatever!”

I was saddened by the suicide of Anthony Bourdain, although as a parent of young children, I also thought it was a selfish and cowardly act given that he has an 11-year-old daughter. That’s a hole in her life that can never be filled.

Leftover soft-shell crab sandwich

Like many people, my first introduction to Bourdain was through his book, “Kitchen Confidential,” which lifted the veil on the many horrors of restaurant kitchens. I worked in several restaurant kitchens and never experienced — nor perpetrated — anything too terrible.

The worst crime I ever committed against a customer was when I was a teenager working in an Italian deli. Every Saturday, around 5 p.m., the old Italian owner, Ron, would say, “Okay, let’s clean up and get out of here.” The deli closed at 5:30. And I inevitably had someplace fun to get to and was eager to split. So I would wrap up all the remaining cold cuts and cheese, put away the lettuce and tomatoes, cover the condiment tins, wipe down the counters and wash all the knives and utensils. And every Saturday, just as I finished, a skinny little plumber dude with greasy black hair would come in and order a pastrami sandwich with extra mayonnaise. Old Italian owner Ron was not one to turn down $5. So I would grudgingly get everything out again and make the skinny plumber dude his sandwich, cursing under my breath and casting daggers with my eyes.

One particular Saturday when I had something REALLY fun to get to and already practically had one foot out the door, skinny plumber dude came in and asked for his pastrami with extra mayo. “I’ll give him extra mayo,” I mumbled to myself. I was sure to hand the wrapped sandwich to the customer myself, as had it passed through Ron’s hands, he would’ve surely noticed that it weighed a good pound more than it should’ve. I must’ve used half a jar’s worth of mayonnaise.

The next Saturday when skinny plumber dude came in, he ordered a pastrami sandwich with regular mayo. Once again, I loaded his sandwich with a cup of mayonnaise, and again made sure to hand it to him myself. The following Saturday, he came in and ordered a pastrami sandwich with light mayo. This time, I barely brushed the bread with the faintest trace of mayo.

He never came in again.

Those are my thoughts and stories for a Sunday morning.

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Thankful (But Not for Grasshoppers)

I had just finished my last post about my pal Mike and his wife Bridget harassing me from Oaxaca with their photos and videos of delicious meals, when they returned — bearing gifts!

There was a lovely and colorful dishtowel, a jar of black mole paste which to this cook is as good as its weight in gold, and there was a small jar of chapulines — roasted grasshoppers.

Chapulines

Chapulines

On the adventurous eater scale of 1 to 10, I consider myself about a 7. I’m no Anthony Bourdain. But I’ve recently been venturing more deeply into the euphemistically named world of “variety” meats, have sampled the slimiest offerings the world’s oceans put forth, and am a fan of such culinary curiosities as Japanese fermented natto and the stinking durian. There’s not a lot I won’t try, at least once. But one taxonomic class I have steadfastly resisted ingesting is that of the insect. More

Skinny Girls Roadshow LIVE from Mexico — Black Gold

I had successfully taken over the kitchen at Casa Tres Coronitas — at least for a couple of our nights here. And Marilu actually seemed somewhat relieved.

At the PV Farmer's Market

At the PV Farmer’s Market

Out on the boat with our amigo Mario fishing, looking for whales, snorkeling and loitering on beaches, we’d caught a big red snapper and a couple of smaller fish that appeared to be in the tuna family. The little fish I made into a Mexican crudo with lime, chili, cilantro, onions and Jugo — the Mexican equivalent of soy sauce — while the larger fish I left to Marilu to grill, one of her specialties. (I didn’t want to steal her thunder. And her fish was delicioso, I could’ve done no better.) More

Priscilla & the Thousand Year Eggs

IMG_3082

Our friend Jon has a new girlfriend. Actually, she’s not all that “new” — they’ve been dating about a year now. But it took six months for him to introduce her to us. Before that, the only evidence of her existence was dumplings. And by that measure, things weren’t looking good.

“Do you want some dumplings?” Jon said one day at the kids’ school. “Priscilla dropped them by my house.” He led me down to his truck and opened the back. It felt illicit, like it was high school and we were going to drink a beer or smoke some pot. He pulled out some big bready bao and a couple cold pork dumplings whose steamed wrappers were crumbling off. More

Lighten Up

There are a lot of overly serious food blogs out there. What’s there to be so serious about? I hope people are laughing as they read my food blog.

I find “foodies” in general to be an overly serious lot. They make unfunny jokes about agrobusiness or sourcing free-range capon as they sit around trading cooking tips, sampling Asian tapas and sipping lychee soju martinis. I get antsy when people refer to me as a foodie. It feels like I’ve got some kind of ugly condition and people are whispering about me. I imagine them picturing me waiting in line at the latest food truck, and then Tweeting about it when I get home.

Yoga students and starlets tend to be overly serious about food, too — except in an opposite way from foodies. Rather than looking for the newest obscure Italian salumi, they spend their time scouring menus and ingredients lists, ever vigilant for things like butter and salt. Their lives become more about what NOT to eat, and how much fun is that?

Mario Batali, Julia Child and Colonel Sanders ala The Simpsons

I saw a recent episode of “The Simpsons” where Marge, Bart and Lisa become foodies and launch their own food blog. It was very funny. More