From the Heart

7th May, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in Editorial

Great food, truly soulful food, is important. It doesn’t come from the head. It doesn’t come from technique, or from architectural presentation, or through years of training, or coming up through the brigade. It comes from the heart.

A friend was over for supper one night, and mentioned, somewhat casually, “You’re always so happy when you’re cooking.” He’s not wrong. From the planning, to the shopping, to the preparation, and through the cooking, I’m filled with joy when making food, especially when it’s destined to be shared with those I love. Even at the peak of the orchestrated chaos that arrives in the final stages of getting an elaborate meal to table, when I’m rushing back and forth, playfully barking instructions like a temperamental chef to the informal brigade assembled in the kitchen after being recruited at knife-point to mash, plate, serve, it’s when my spirit is most joyful. Read more…»

The Fireclown

11th February, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in Chiliheads, Editorial

Several years ago (could it be over a decade?), I was eating with some friends at one of the local Indian restaurants that I’d become quite fond of. I’d come to know the people there, and there were often tasty treats available to their friends that were not on the menu. Most of us were willing to put our collective culinary fates into the hands of our waiter. As there were about half a dozen of us that evening, an excellent feast was promised, and I had little doubt it would be delivered.

One of our party, call him The Fireclown (with apologies to Michael Moorcock), had to have his own way. He often took great and foolish pride in proclaiming that a chile had not been bred that could best him. (This was long before the development of the Dorset Naga, a fruit I’m sure would have sent even him scurrying to find the nearest tequila-charged fire extinguisher.) He would brag to anyone who would listen about his superhuman tolerance for hot food. His asbestos lined tongue, it seems, was a legend in his own bouche, immune to spice that would make any mere mortal beg for the mercy of death. And, it wasn’t just about his tolerance for the pungent fruit. He was an equal opportunity braggart.

Read more…»

Too Hot to Handle

26th January, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in Chiliheads, Editorial

It’s no secret that I love spicy, fiery hot foods. I enjoy the virtues of the hell-borne Habanero, the potent Pequin, the artful Ancho, the raucous Red Savina. But, even to the most dedicated hothead, it’s possible to go overboard; too much really can be too much! Ben Franklin suggested things be enjoyed in moderation. An experience with the infamous “Habanero Hamburger,” a few years ago, painfully proved his rule true, at least for me.

Some friends and I, dedicated chilephiles, had been talking for weeks about experiencing “The Hottest Habanero Hamburger in the World” at the now unfortunately shuttered Prince of Wales Pub in Menlo Park, California. Talk is cheap, we figured. Anyone can make audacious claims, but could they back this one up? Could they challenge the champions of Capsaicin (the chemical responsible for the “heat” in hot peppers)? There was only one way we were going to find out. We went. We ate. We were conquered. Read more…»

It Doesn’t Always Work Out

21st January, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in Editorial

Exploration is one of the great joys of cooking for me. Trying new things. Playing in the culinary sandbox. Getting an idea into your head that won’t let go until you make it real. It’s almost constant in my kitchen, and fortunately for those I feed, things generally work out more often than they don’t. Mostly. Sometimes, though,  even well conceived plans fall just a little flat, and don’t deliver what we expect.

Monday, I had it in mind to make manicotti with a pumpkin creme sauce. Family was coming, it was cold and raining, and was the perfect night for a hearty, delicious dish to satisfy hearty appetites. A big pot of minestrone and a loaf of crusty bread would fill in any gaps. Manicotti ai crema di zucca it would be. Read more…»