TOAST’s Web “Thing”

Saturday, 2006-11-25

Food theme for 2007 – Cut the sheeyat, back to basics.

Filed under: Cooking / Eating,Hong Kong,Zen — by Toast d'Béchamel @ 1:12 am

Those of you who’ve read some of my previous work know that I have some very strong opinions regarding cuisine.  For the past few years, I’ve had a few different themes regarding the sorts of things I’ve been working on (cuisines from different areas, or concentrating on stocks/sauces or whatever).

And I just found out that Gordon Ramsay (my goddamned hero) was in town when I was overseas.  I am really spitting chips.  Strap yourselves in.

I’ve been quite disheartened at a lot of the food I’m seeing these days in Sydney.  There’s an awful lot of pretense out there.  So much fusion/frusion, crap service, high prices, lack of knowledge and generally inedible stuff out there, that I’m compeltely fed up with the whole scene and am turning my back on it all.

Yes, a lot of this is based on my recent stay in Hong Kong.  In Hong Kong, I didn’t really have the ability to cook, so I had to eat out almost every meal.  In short, I came home healthy, stronger, vibrant, satiated and without killing my finances.  I never got sick once (save an allergic reaction I gave myself that ended up with me in the back of a police van, but that’s another story), no diarrhea, no food poisoning, nothing.  Restaurants (and eateries, food courts, “holes in the wall”, blokes with cart) realise that food is for EATING, not looking at, not just tasting, not trying to outdo someone, just EATING.

If you were to eat out every night for a year (or even a month) in Sydney, you would end up:

  • Broke
  • Dead
  • Still hungry
  • Pooping

It’s a vicious cycle as well.  The food is pretensious, expensive and not satisfying.  So people don’t go out to eat as much.  When they do go out, they want something “special”, forcing the industry to go even more pretensious, weird, more frusion, cheaper staff (even more stupid), worse service, more expensive meals, causing people to go out even less.

That’s the upper half of town.  The lower half seems to have an obsession with so called “value for money”.  Sure a schnitzel and chips is now $30, but it’s bigger than the dinner plate.  This is value ?  Sure you can take the left-overs home, eat deep-fried cold chicken for the rest of the week, give yourself a nice dose of the runs, whatever.  Or just chuck it.  No point in changing, I’d pay $30 for something nice and corn-fed, with a nice drop of wine, some nice turned vegetables, some fresh bread and a little cheese, but the punters wouldn’t.

Who do I blame ? Most everyone:

  • The restaurants, for playing the game.
  • The punters, for putting up with it.
  • The media, who have turned cooking shows into the new pornography.

So, in 2007, I’m turning my back on the whole thing.

  • No restaurants where humanly possible.
  • No fusion/frusion.
  • No truffles, no foie gras, no quince paste, no saffron, no lobster.
  • Less ingredients, more love.
  • More cheap cuts, more offal, no frozen vegetables.
  • NO CHICKEN BREAST.  Whole chickens only, or wings, gizzards, arseholes and beautiful, beautiful BONES.
  • More BONES.  Sweet nourishing, delicious, wonderful, beautiful BONES !!!
  • Waste NOTHING.
  • Don’t use the supermarket as a basis for food purchase (although, they can be a goldmine for things that the everyday folk leave behind).

Who’s going to help me ?

  • My local butcher.  I can see he suffers with me, but there’s plenty of hope out there.
  • My local fruit and veg market.  There’s love there.
  • My local delis.
  • My local ethnic food purveyors.  They stay clear of the scene BS.
  • My local supermarket.  I hate a lot of what they are and do.  I love a lot of what they are and do.  The main thing is that they’re fast and responsive.  If the public want it (or don’t want it), it’ll be changed the next day.  Sometimes within hours.

I’m not looking to change anything or anyone.  Just avoiding the mess.  Let them do what they like.

So, what happens now then ?  Well, I’m itching to head into Ashfield tomorrow and see what’s about.  Grab a nice Vietnamese pork roll with chilli.  Get the stuff I need for making congee and lotus leaf rice wraps at home.  Find some good garlic, buy a nice yellow chicken, some choi sum if it looks good, a bunch of spring onions if I can find them for less than a buck, a little piece of blue cheese and some heavy, heavy bread.

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