Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Guerrila Gourmet, A Manifesto

Part One

I grew up with good food, and lots of it. Both my parents loved to cook, and every night of the week was a succulent feast. My dad favored the Frenchish cooking of Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey. My mother preferred more california/mediterranean fare plucked from her library of Gourmet and Bon Appetit magazines. A typical week’s menu might look like this:

Monday: Tortellini Carbonara
Tuesday: Teriyaki roast chicken with crispy potatoes and snap peas.
Wednesday: Veal Piccata with pasta and arugula salad
Thurdsday: Broiled Halibut with pesto. Orzo with cherry tomatoes and zucchini.
Friday: Steak Diane, (usually filet mignon) with mashed potatoes and spinach.
Saturday: Tequila marinated shrimp, with Mexican rice and calabacitas.
Sunday: Bratwurst with garlic potatoes and sauteed cabbage.

I may be seeing the past through rose-colored glasses, but there was meat every night, and nothing (not even meatloaf!) was boring. Sounds good, right? I loved it! So when I graduated college and left the school cafeteria’s steam-tray chicken-fried steak behind me for good, I was ready to cook for myself. Pretty soon, I got a job in the big city (at Starbucks) and a great (studio) apartment. The menu that first week on my own probably looked something like this:

Monday: Mushy tortellini in bacon grease with still-frozen peas. (Was I supposed to pour the fat out?)
Tuesday: Singed chicken in soy-sauce puddle with burned potatoes and chartreuse mush. (I guess I'm still working out a few kinks...)
Wednesday: Ramen and hard boiled eggs. (Wow, I already blew most of my grocery budget.)
Thursday: Ramen and hard-boiled eggs. (My mouth is all dry; how much salt is in that season packet?)
Friday: Ramen and hard-boiled eggs. (Isn't there a can of chipped beef in the back of the cupboard?!)
Saturday: (I know I shouldn't blow my money on a pizza, but...)
Sunday: (My god I’m hungry. I wonder what Mom is cooking tonight...)

I learned two lessons that week. One, I couldn’t really cook. Two, I couldn’t afford to eat like I had at home. So I did my best with Trader Joe’s frozen dinners, and variations on the ground beef and onion theme. My belly was full, but I was not happy. Soon I began to sense that I could do better, that gourmet eating was within my grasp, but that it would take nothing less than a revolutionary approach...


Jaimoe said...

The gorilla gourment, eh? So, what, does that make you, like, vegetarian or something? ;)

Nice work, champs. You're going in my bookmarks.

Much love,