Tuesday, April 21, 2009

No Reservations about Bizarre Foods

My son and I watched Anthony Bourdain’s show No Reservations last night. I would be a regular watcher but I always seem to forget when it’s on so I normally catch it the second or third time around which is OK too. If you’ve never seen the show before the premise is simple. Anthony is an author and a chef who travels the world, trying local foods along the way. I find Anthony very endearing in an intelligent yet innocent way. He seems to always be very respectful of the culture he’s visiting without being patronizing. If he doesn’t like the food he is being offered, he flashes the camera a worried look before he carefully digs in. I know how he feels, I’ve had the same experience at my mother-in-law’s house a time or two (sorry Nancy).

I also like watching Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods. His show is very similar to No Reservations but he travels the world eating, you guessed it, bizarre foods. Andrew seems to really love his job (and who wouldn’t) but I find his approach to these strange foods a little bit frustrating. He, like Anthony, happily (albiet with a bit more energy) rolls up his sleeves and takes a big bite of whatever’s on offer. Unlike Anthony, Andrew likes everything a bit too much: bird s**t on a stick, fantastic; coagulated blood served from a cow’s rectum, delicious. Come on Andrew; give us a little gag every now and then, OK?! Some of this stuff, you can’t possibly like. Hey, I have an idea! If you need a straight person, I’m available. You can happily eat the yak’s brain soup and I’ll be the one in the background with the worried look on my face.

Ok, back to Anthony Bourdain. On last night’s show he was in Egypt traveling with a group of Bedouins. I love the romance of the desert. I guess it all goes back to watching Lawrence of Arabia in high school. In my opinion, in that film, Peter O’ Tool was God’s gift to humanity in a gauzy white wrapper. It’s a shame that as you grow older, realism starts to set in and you begin to see things for what they really are. Due to the heat and lack of water in the desert, Lawrence of Arabia most likely had a less than romantic odor. Probably no matter how hard those Bedouins try, the goat that they killed on the show and spent a full day prepping and cooking, probably contained a handful of sand in every bite. To me this is the worst problem. I mean, I hate picnicking at the beach and eating a gritty ham sandwich every five years or so; so I can’t imagine having a sandy dinner every night. I wish Anthony would have asked them about that. My hat’s off to these hearty folks.

The one thing that I noticed missing in this episode was Bedouin women. There wasn’t a woman to be found anywhere. I know that they must have them somewhere. Maybe they were still back in Cairo trying to get the kids in the car. I know I have a hard enough time packing everyone up to take one of our famous road trips to Texas much less constantly being on the move. I’d like to think that maybe all of these deserving women were somewhere hanging out together laughing and giving each other pedicures while their children took long naps. I’m willing to bet that it doesn’t matter if you are a nomadic woman or a suburban housewife; our dreams are probably pretty close to being the same.

Now, tying this story to a recipe is going to be a stretch but I’ll do my best. Hmmm, I know, since I am fresh out of barbequed goat recipes, I think I’ll add my recipe for homemade barbeque sauce to enhance the flavor of anything you want to grill, barbeque, fry or bake. Give it a try, you’ll love it. Ciao!



Sweet and Spicy Barbeque Sauce

Believe it or not, I used to always, without exception, buy my barbeque sauce, bottled off of the shelf. After trying many different recipes, and believe me, there are as many recipes as there are stars in the sky, I perfected this one. There is absolutely no comparison between this refreshingly tangy sauce and the thick, sickly sweet bottled brands. Since very common ingredients are used, and the preparation is quite easy, give it a go for your next barbeque. You won’t believe the difference.

1 tablespoon (15g) butter
1 tablespoon (15g) light olive oil or vegetable oil
½ small onion (50g) onion, finely minced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 cup (250ml) tomato ketchup
½ cup (125ml) maple syrup
2 teaspoons (10ml) apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon (15ml) lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 tablespoon (15ml) Worchestershire sauce
2 tablespoons (30ml) water
¼ teaspoon (1ml) freshly milled black pepper

In a large saucepan, heat butter and olive oil over a medium heat. Add onion and sauté for approximately 5 minutes or until onions are soft and slightly transparent. Add garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes. Stir in the ketchup, maple syrup, vinegar, lemon juice, Worchestershire sauce, water and pepper. Bring to a slow boil then, quickly reduce heat to low to simmer. Simmer over medium low heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Serve warm.

Makes approximately 1 ½ cups (400ml)

If you like a spicier sauce, add a chopped jalapeno at the same time as the garlic or, add cayenne pepper a pinch at a time with the ketchup until the desired heat is reached.

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