Posts tagged ‘The Man Who Ate Everything’

Veggie Wars: Raw vs. Cooked

So with the recent popularity of raw diets, many have the belief that cooked vegetables are worthless.  There is some truth to that.  If the vegetables are cooked to the point of being soft that means the fiber has cooked out, fiber is good.  With the fiber goes the bulk of the nutrients.

At the same time raw may not just be boring but also a little dangerous.  In his groundbreaking book, The Man Who Ate Everything,  Jeffrey Steingarten explored some of the hidden dangers in raw produce in a chapter titled Salad the Silent Killer.  He found that many common veggies have nutrition blockers that prevent absorption not only of their own nutrients but any others also residing in the digestive tract.  Among these are spinach, red cabbage, beets and brussels sprouts.  These inhibiting chemicals can be neutralized by heat, cooking.  Eat them raw and not only are they not healthy but they rob the nutrition of anything you consume with them.

Steingarten is a slave to research and is one of the best resources on the planet for food knowledge.  I rank his opinion high above the combined efforts of the FDA and USDA.  The author draws his conclusions from scientific study and medical research whereas the two bureaucracies rely on lobbyist influence to form policy.

Another reliable source is noted Phoenix surgeon Dr. Terry Simpson who has this to say on the subject of raw vs. cooked vegetables:

Advertisements

December 11, 2009 at 7:07 am

My Summer Reading List: The Man Who Ate Everything

Originally posted on The Well Fed Network on September 3, 2009.

The unifying theme of the books on my reading list has been the narrative – my life in food. Ruth Reichl’s journey from awkward youth to renowned food critic (Tender at the Bone), Anthony Bourdain’s autobiographical “adventures in the culinary underbelly” (Kitchen Confidential) and the article that turned into a career change and then a best selling book (Heat) for former New Yorker editor Bill Buford. This cannot be said of Jeffrey Steingarten’s The Man Who Ate Everything.

In 1989, Steingarten was just your run-of-the-mill Harvard power-lawyer working for an average, everyday Manhattan mega firm when he was offered the position of food critic for Vogue magazine. I knew this from watching Iron Chef: America, where he is the curmudgeonly judge with an opinion about everything. I also knew that The Man Who Ate Everything was both a James Beard Book Award Finalist and a Julia Child Book Award Winner. But before he could assume his new post, he had to agree to eat everything. No small task for a self-proclaimed finicky eater.

The Man Who Ate Everything, unlike the other books on my list, is a collection of essays about food. Some are related to one another and even in chronological order; most are neither. When reading, one is left with two impressions about Steingarten’s skill as a essayist: he is a brilliant investigative writer and he is damned funny. He takes little information at face value, preferring to research all information on any given subject. He was one of the first to observe the contradiction between the French fat-laden diet and France’s astonishingly low occurrence of heart disease, now known as the French Paradox. 

Steingarten does not hesitate to punch holes in long accepted beliefs on diet and nutrition, after all he does far more research than many of the so-called experts. Often he takes the USDA to task for their lack of knowledge on health issues. More importantly, he underscores that though they have not done their homework, they still issue doctrine about what homosapiens should and should not consume. Among the myths he debunks are the unfounded beliefs that salt, alcohol or cholesterol cause heart disease. For instance: The French Paradox cannot be dismissed. It should have been noticed decades ago. And its contribution is to encourage researchers to discover the many other common causes of heart disease besides the saturated fat in our diets. The French Paradox is an embarrassment only to those nutritionists and physicians who had refused to recognize the obvious. We have known for some time that half of all heart attacks occur in people with average or low cholesterol, and that half of all people with high cholesterol never have heart attacks.

In addition to providing much fact-based insight, the author also does a wonderful job of painting pictures with words. His journeys to Italy, France, Asia and Tunisia leap off the page with metered narrative, but he is also very proficient (as Iron Chef: America fans can attest) at dry wit and one liners:

Miguel de Cervantes once wrote, “La major salsa del mundo es la hambre,” the best sauce in the world is the hunger. Cervantes had obviously never tasted ketchup.

I have little doubt that I will read this book again and again as it is packed with knowledge and wisdom. I am grateful that Steingarten traded jurisprudence for food writing. The world is lousy with lawyers and has precious few gastronomic writers.

The unifying theme of the books on my reading list has been the narrative – my life in food. Ruth Reichl’s journey from awkward youth to renowned food critic (Tender at the Bone), Anthony Bourdain’s autobiographical “adventures in the culinary underbelly” (Kitchen Confidential) and the article that turned into a career change and then a best selling book (Heat) for former New Yorker editor Bill Buford. This cannot be said of Jeffrey Steingarten’s The Man Who Ate Everything.

In 1989, Steingarten was just your run-of-the-mill Harvard power-lawyer working for an average, everyday Manhattan mega firm when he was offered the position of food critic for Vogue magazine. I knew this from watching Iron Chef: America, where he is the curmudgeonly judge with an opinion about everything. I also knew that The Man Who Ate Everything was both a James Beard Book Award Finalist and a Julia Child Book Award Winner. But before he could assume his new post, he had to agree to eat everything. No small task for a self-proclaimed finicky eater.

The Man Who Ate Everything, unlike the other books on my list, is a collection of essays about food. Some are related to one another and even in chronological order; most are neither. When reading, one is left with two impressions about Steingarten’s skill as a essayist: he is a brilliant investigative writer and he is damned funny. He takes little information at face value, preferring to research all information on any given subject. He was one of the first to observe the contradiction between the French fat-laden diet and France’s astonishingly low occurrence of heart disease, now known as the French Paradox. 

Steingarten does not hesitate to punch holes in long accepted beliefs on diet and nutrition, after all he does far more research than many of the so-called experts. Often he takes the USDA to task for their lack of knowledge on health issues. More importantly, he underscores that though they have not done their homework, they still issue doctrine about what homosapiens should and should not consume. Among the myths he debunks are the unfounded beliefs that salt, alcohol or cholesterol cause heart disease. For instance:

The French Paradox cannot be dismissed. It should have been noticed decades ago. And its contribution is to encourage researchers to discover the many other common causes of heart disease besides the saturated fat in our diets. The French Paradox is an embarrassment only to those nutritionists and physicians who had refused to recognize the obvious. We have known for some time that half of all heart attacks occur in people with average or low cholesterol, and that half of all people with high cholesterol never have heart attacks.

In addition to providing much fact-based insight, the author also does a wonderful job of painting pictures with words. His journeys to Italy, France, Asia and Tunisia leap off the page with metered narrative, but he is also very proficient (as Iron Chef: America fans can attest) at dry wit and one liners, “Miguel de Cervantes once wrote, ‘La major salsa del mundo es la hambre,’ the best sauce in the world is the hunger. Cervantes had obviously never tasted ketchup.”

I have little doubt that I will read this book again and again as it is packed with knowledge and wisdom. I am grateful that Steingarten traded jurisprudence for food writing. The world is lousy with lawyers and has precious few gastronomic writers.

Next I will conclude my summer reading listwith Michael Ruhlman’s The Making of a Chef.

September 5, 2009 at 8:38 am 1 comment

My Summer Reading List: Heat

Originally posted at Paper Palate on July 08, 2009.

Last time on My Summer Reading List, I reviewed Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Cheflebrity Anthony Bourdain. Beyond all of the hype Kitchen Confidential is simply a book about a chef who becomes a writer. This time around I am reviewing Heat by Bill Buford. All awards and accolades aside Heat is simply a book about a writer who becomes a chef.

Oh those midlifes. In my first 40 years on earth I’ve been a musician, a dot com guy, a writer and a chef.  I wonder what 50 holds for me?

I could sit here all day trying to wax poetic about the transformation Buford made from literati to culinarian. but I don’t have to. I’ll just steal Buford’s words, “In the beginning, there was a writer, the ghost was the chef. In the end, there was the chef, the ghost was the writer.” Heat reads like two different books. The first is one of those culinary adventures that are so en vogue and the other a biography of Mario Batali.

The idea for Heat began when Buford threw a dinner party back in 2002. Batali was a guest at that party but by the time it ended the then-editor at the New Yorker had decided that someone needed to do a profile of the Iron Chef. Unfortunately Buford got no takers so he resolved to do the story himself. A fateful decision to say the least.

Buford elected to take six months to work in the kitchens of Babbo, Batali’s three star Italian restaurant located in New York’s Greenwich Village. When the story was done, Buford wasn’t. He resigned his post at the magazine to continue work his way up the ladder at Babbo. Before long he was on a plane to Italy to learn the old ways. His journey would find him hanging with Marco Pierre White in London, hand rolling pasta in Tuscany and butchering a pig in his New York apartment.

Heat is very well written as one would imagine from a writer of Buford’s experience and does a wonderful job of showing his journey from white collar to chef whites. Those thinking of making the career change to the culinary arts would be well served to read this book before turning in that letter of resignation.

Next: The Man Who Ate Everything by Jeffery Steingarten.

July 9, 2009 at 6:04 am

My Summer Reading List: Tender at the Bone

Originally published at Paper Palate on June 4, 2009.

Recently I ventured over to amazon.com and purchased a box full of foodie books to read over the summer. As I complete each one I will review them here for all to see. The list is an impressive one and I have chosen to lead it off with Ruth Reichl’s 1988 opus Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table.

Others on my summer reading list include Kitchen Confidential (Anthony Bourdain), Heat (Bill Buford), The Man Who Ate Everything (Jeffery Steingarten) and The Making of a Chef (Michael Ruhlman).  I know what you are thinking, “Shouldn’t he have read those already?”  The answer is yes I should have.  You know what?  I haven’t seen Rainman or Switch Blade yet either.  I’ll get around to it.  But first, Tender at the Bone:

First published in 1988, Tender at the Bone was way ahead of the curve.  After all, the phrase foodiedidn’t really even exist at the time nor the Food Network for that matter.  Bobby Flay was still in Culinary School.  Emeril LaGasse was only known for being the guy who replaced Paul Prudhomme at Commander’s Palace.

Tender is the story of a lifetime immersed in food, a coming of age tale a lifetime in the making.  When reading, one feels that Reichl is telling you her life story over a bottle of red and a plate of brie and grapes rather than leafing through an autobiography.  On more than one occasion I was left thinking, What an amazing life – she should write a book about it.  That’s how easy the prose is, it reads more like conversation.

Ruth Reichl grew up during an amazing period of strife and growth in America’s history but she was not bystander; she was in the thick of it.  While hypocritical Northerners ridiculed the Deep South while  keeping minorities at a safe distance in their own lives Reichl was color blind.  While many hippies dreamed of joining a commune, Reichl lived in one.  And through it all there was food.

Tender at the Bone is a must read for anyone who loves food and believes in the force that food can be in a person’s life.  There is a reason why Reichl sits at the head of the table of food writers with the likes of Bittman, Ruhlman, Steingarten and Burford.  The reason?  She is damned good at what she does.

Next I will review Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain.

June 5, 2009 at 7:48 am

Allez Cuisine!

Originally posted on Edible TV (edibletv.net) on June 12, 2008.

Iron Chef America Reviews:

Sunday before last Iron Chef Mario Batali took on old friend and protege Paul Bartolotta, a Milwaukee native, who runs the acclaimed Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare at the Wynn in Las Vegas.

I gage who I think will win by how many times the panel is unified in their appreciation of a dish. I call these home runs – with dishes that totally overwhelm the judges being of course grand slams.

Bartolotta took the approach of giving the judges a tour of arborio rice including several variations on risotto. Batali countered with a trip around the world on a rice junkette. Bartolotta’s offerings all carried with them the same description, “Perfecto.” As the episode went to commercial I was really thinking, wow, the guy brought his “A” game then I thought back to the judge’s comments. Bartolotta had met every one of the judge’s expectation. But he did not surpass them.

Batali did. Fried Paella croquettes, Korean Bibim Bap, and an inventive risotto. It was close but Batali proved to still be the master as he edged out his old pal by one point in each category. A great battle, by my score Bartolotta had five home runs but the Iron chef had five grand slams.

This week Bobby Flay took on a truly remarkable chef in the form of Marcus Samuelsson.  Born in Africa, Samuelsson has also worked in Switzerland and Austria but now is the executive chef and co-owner of Aquavit restaurant in New York City, all this by the age of 24.  He was also the youngest chef to ever receive a three-star restaurant review from The New York Times. In 2003 he was named “Best Chef: New York City” by the James Beard Foundation.  He is also the host of “Inner Chef” on Discovery Home Channel and is an adjunct professor in meal sciences at Sweden’s Umeå University.

Very impressive credentials indeed, but Bobby Flay brings himself to the table.  The culinary demi-gods smiled on Flay as the theme ingredient was unvailed, corn.  Judge Jeffrey Steingarten said it best when he stated something along the lines of Bobby Flay has used corn beautifully in every dish he has ever cooked.

Speaking of Steingarten he was the epitome of himself during the battle, whimsically annoying. For those of you who do not know Jeffrey Steingarten, he was a self-professed picky eater who had to learn to eat everything after leaving the law profession to become the food critic for Vogue magazine in 1989. He documented his transformation from finicky to gourmand in his 1998 James Beard Award winning book The Man Who Ate Everything (Vintage, 1998).

Samuelsson put together an amazing menu, unfortunately Steingarten was the only judge who got it.  By my count Samuelsson had one home run, a nice job considering he was using an alien ingredient and only one judge got his approach. Of course Flay had three home runs with his corn waffle with Bourbon caramel syrup being a grand slam.

When the secret ingredient is unveiled each week I rack my brain trying to think what I would prepare if I were the challenger. I am sure I am not the only one who does this. I cannot believe that neither chef did fish and grits – grits (made from corn), fried catfish (dredged in cornmeal), and hush puppies (a fried cornbread). But maybe that is my Alabama showing through.

The final score was lopsided with Flay taking a huge lead from the taste portion of judging. Samuelsson is an amazing chef with a truly international background that I would like to see more of; a rematch perhaps?

June 14, 2008 at 2:41 am


RSS NEW WannabeTVchef.com Blog

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

Stuart Reb Donald

Stuart is a celebrity chef and award winning food writer. Donald performs live cooking demonstrations and penned the cookbook Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor."

Twitterized

Archives

Watch me on ifood.tv!