Sunday, February 20, 2011

Fucking Badass Guide to Eating Vietnam

As Americans (or whatever you are), the amount of food we eat without any prior knowledge is staggering. A hundred years ago, you rarely ate anything without knowing exactly what it was, why is was made the way it was, and in many occasions, what its name was before someone chopped its fucking head off. Today you can walk into any restaurant in America and point at something on a menu that you'll be eating ten minutes later. We're pretty spoiled in that respect, especially when you consider the vast array of international cuisine available to us. I live in Arkansas and can still manage to routinely eat food from India, the Middle East, all across Asia, and more. It's pretty fucking mind-blowing when you think about it.
With that in mind, I hereby issue this challenge: try not to be a fucking moron. Never again should you go into a restaurant, order something, and hope that you'll like it without much clue what or why it is what it is and what it tastes like. A little knowledge is a powerful thing and can make the difference between a good meal and a great one. Plus, the simple ability to pronounce a tenth of what's on the menu is sure to make your waiter or waitress at least slightly impressed. Maybe you'll even get a free fortune cookie. Here's everything you should know about food from America's original massively catastrophic military fuckup: Vietnam.

Shit You Should Know About Vietnam
1. We fucked it up hardcore in the 60s. All ready one of the poorest countries outside of Africa, we tried to spruce things up by dropping bombs and coating a generation of people with a chemical that was supposed to eat through trees but be safe for humans. If that sounds like a crock of shit, it's because it absolutely IS a crock of shit.

2. You don't speak the language. Unless you KNOW how something is pronounced, don't even fucking try. Whatever comes out of your mouth will be absolutely wrong and undoubtedly make the wait staff hate you. Trust me on this... they number shit on the menu for a reason.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Ground beef
Tomato sauce (two 8oz cans)
Tomato paste (one 6oz can)
Spaghetti noodles
Garlic powder
Italian seasoning
Cavender's Greek Seasoning
Shredded Parmesan cheese

It's odd for me to write this recipe down since I've been making it for nearly twenty years and it's extremely simple... but the preponderance of canned and jarred spaghetti sauces leads me to believe it might be helpful to someone. Pre-made spaghetti sauce makes no fucking sense to me... it's like buying a sandwich in a jar. It's much cheaper and better tasting to just make it yourself. The very existence of pre-made spaghetti sauce is an indicator of a huge problem with modern food... some things are just too goddamn convenient. Get up off your ass and learn some shit.
This is a basic meat sauce with lots of potential for variation. You can omit the meat for use with ravioli and on pizza, or substitute the beef for Italian sausage or ground turkey for a spicier or lower fat option.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Cherry & Apple Phyllo Strudel

Granny smith apples
Fresh cherries
Brown sugar
Phyllo dough
Graham crackers
Some sort of whipped or clotted cream would be nice but isn't required

Someone once asked me to do a dessert recipe. Unfortunately, I fucking hate baking and most desserts require a great deal of it. Why do I hate baking? For me, it's just too goddamn passive. You mix some shit, pour it into a pan, toss it in an oven and hope for the best. I like to cook actively... stirring and draining and flipping shit keeps me coming back for more. I like watching stuff change into other stuff. However, I've never been one to disappoint a pretty girl (and I mean that exactly the way you think I mean that) so here's a dessert with all the technical movement of a complicated sauce and all the goodness of those frilly little cupcakes all the morons are so fucking enamored with. Seriously, what the hell is up with cupcakes? They're just smaller than average cakes for Christ's sake. They actually have shops that make and sell NOTHING but cupcakes. What the fuck kind of ludicrousness is that? I couldn't open a sandwich shop and only sell club sandwiches, could I? You're goddamn right I couldn't. Anyway, here comes some strudel, but first:

A Word About Phyllo
It's just called phyllo, not phyllo dough. Phyllo is a paper thin Baltic/central Asian pastry that can be used in pretty much anything. It's the Swiss army knife of pastry... you can use it in desserts, main courses, snacks, and to repair your 1970 Ford Ranchero sedan. People tend to make a big deal about phyllo being "difficult to work with". In fact, when I told a friend I was making something with phyllo, they were inordinately impressed with my cooking skills. Don't buy into the hype: phyllo isn't difficult to work with assuming you're not a goddamn moron. The only thing you have to remember is to be careful with it and, if you start with frozen phyllo, thaw it very slowly (over 24 hours in your ice box) or it'll fall apart on you like your 1970 Ford Ranchero sedan.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Motherfucking Booze Time: Sparkling Wine

I was originally going to do this guide right before the New Year. Unfortunately, as you might remember, I was sick and didn't get around to it. Looking back, I'm glad I'm doing it now because one of the biggest points I'd like to make is that sparkling wine (including champagne) fucking rules. Sparkling wines should be thought of as standard wines and not some "special occasion" bullshit. The biggest issue to overcome here is champagne... that is, that all sparkling wines are considered inferior to champagne and the cost of a decent bottle of champagne dissuades purchase by the average wino (you and me). Don't fall into this group of slack-jawed swine fuckers. Think of champagne as a variety of sparkling wine, with its own pros and cons.

The History of Sparkling Wine or Why France is Stupid
Effervescence in wine is not new nor was it invented by anyone (especially not the goddamn French). Ancient Greeks and Romans wrote about it but had no fucking clue where it came from. They attributed it to demons, curiously never explaining why demons would use their terrible infernal powers to make little bubbles in booze instead of skinning infants or raining fire from the heavens. Wine from the Champagne region of France (today the only wine that can legally be called just champagne, which you would have known had you seen Wayne's World 2) had a tendency to both sparkle and explode (I'll explain why later). In fact, one exploding bottle would lead to a chain reaction that could claim an entire cellar and up to a half dozen French peasants. Yes, that does sound fucking awesome.The French didn't much care for glass shards  embedded in their little faces (pussies) and instead of trying to figure out why their wine was exploding, they, taking a page from the Greeks and Romans, just blamed it on the Devil. The volatile nature of the wine didn't stop them from shipping it to England, though. Why? Because fuck England. However, the English used stronger glass and cork stoppers when they bottled the wine, which kept it from exploding yet preserved the sparkle. In a big reverse "fuck you" to those French surrender monkeys, the English loved the wine and even figured out what made it effervescent. It's pretty likely that English merchants began producing champagne before the French using their grapes. The Brits taught the French how to do all this later... 200 years later.

So, what have we learned? Not only was sparkling wine not invented in France, those frogs didn't even fucking like it when they first tried it and probably weren't even the first to produce the shit with their own grapes. Yeah, France is full of morons.