Saturday, January 31, 2009

Food & Music

I have a confession: I don't know a lot about music. If I hear something I really like on the radio, I'll try to find the artist and obtain the song. However, if you start talking about random artists, I'm probably not familiar with them. Sure, I have heard of the mainstream singers, people whose names are on the top 10 lists of many publications. Any names that aren't on that list are probably unfamiliar to me. I'm not going to wow you by telling you about some singer who you have to hear. I'm more apt to say, "did you hear that new Coldplay song, Trouble?" Imagine my surprise when you tell me that song is at least 8 or 9 years old (I had to look that up).
The truth is I tend to listen to the same music. Even if an artist I like releases a new song, I'm a little skeptical, but I won't venture out of my comfort zone. Someone might recommend some new singer, but it will be a real stretch for me to start liking someone new. When it comes down to it, I need someone who knows music to push me into other artists, to pull me out of the comfort zone, and assure me it's going to be all right.
Have you figured out where I'm going with this? Food isn't all that different. We are all used to the familiar foods we grew up with. There are certain restaurants we frequent, and we're never sure what to think of the new place that opens up in our area. When someone asks if we tried French food, we might turn up our noses and say, "I would never eat French." It's no different than the people who listen to all types of music, EXCEPT country. They're accustomed to think that country music is not "cool." The same applies for those who won't eat French food. The French are snobby, they hate Americans, their food is too pretentious. These are all excuses, but none really excuse you from trying it. I use French food as an example, but this applies to all types of food. How do you really know you wont' like French food? Maybe Escargot is the best thing you'll ever eat. We need a friend to make us try something new and to stretch us.
There is nothing more comfortable than that which is familiar, but there is nothing more exciting than that which is unknown. Expand your zone of comfort.

Now playing: Coldplay - Trouble
via FoxyTunes

Monday, January 12, 2009

America's Food Habits

I pondered an interesting question the other day: What does what we eat say about us? On a grander scale, what does what or how Americans eat say about us? I've mentioned my frustration with the new Jack-n-the Box being crowded 24/7 with lines of cars circling the drive thru. You know my general take on chain restaurants and their desire to push you out of their restaurant. Are you seeing the general theme yet? Think about this scenario, have you ever been at a restaurant and felt rushed as they bring out your entree when you're still eating your salad? Have you craned your neck trying to get the waiter's attention for your check because you're in a rush to leave? We lack patience, whether it be the waiter pushing us through our meal or our desire to quickly gulp down dinner. Life happens much too fast here. We're used to getting information at a high rate of speed. I recently purchased an iPhone and can get any tidbit of information right this second. I love it, but I'm spoiled by it.
Unfortunately, this attitude affects the way we eat. We want our food right now. We hate to wait for things to materialize. What's wrong with waiting? What's the downside of patience? When things get done quickly, they're often done in a sloppy manner. The end-result: a poorly made house, a botched surgery, a junky PC, or a less than appetizing meal. Patience can pay off. Waiting can win out. Who has ever told you their best meal was enjoyed after pulling out of the drive thru? What amazingly delicious thing came out of the microwave? Spend a day and gather some fresh ingredients and prepare a multi-course meal at home. Go out to a restaurant that respects your time, and enjoy a slow meal.
Some of the best moments in life occur when we slow down and wait. We hear things we never heard before, we smell new things, and experience tastes previously unknown. Perhaps, you'll learn a bit more about yourself and someone else. Relax.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Rant

With all of the food being served and made this holiday season, we inevitably deal with leftovers. Part of this is related to our desire to make more food than is necessary. There is the fear of not having enough food for people. I fall into this fear, but I wonder if this is somewhat of an American concept. We tend to view quantity as the important factor instead of quality. I recently visited Maggiano's Italian restaurant for a work-related lunch. For those of you unfamiliar with this place, it specializes in large portions. One of its notable traits is the family-style dining option it offers. My problem with this restaurant is the obsession to serve large amounts of food. I'm not sure that I've ever seen someone leave this place without a doggy bag. With such large portions, they tend to skimp on quality, and I'm not sure how they couldn't. This brings me back to leftovers. Most food is not meant to be reheated, and therefore, doesn't taste as good. Sadly, we have a fridge full of leftovers in which most will be thrown out. I don't like drying out meat in the microwave or hardening pasta. What's the solution, less is more? I'm not sure, but I hope to not get obsessed with quantity and lose my sight on quality.