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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Inside the mind of a fanatical foodie

Lin Denise 11 103435

“The best way to execute French cooking is to get good and loaded and whack the hell out of a chicken. Bon appétit.”

These words of wisdom, spoken by the late culinary icon Julia Child, epitomize my love for cooking.

“Why are you so grandmotherly?” you might ask, picturing me helping some mild old ladies salt pots of collared greens. And in response, I say, child, you are much mistaken, for there are many reasons for the saying “if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.”

My culinary fetish can be best compared to the race car obsession most men in their 20s and 30s have (or so I assume). While they drool over the sleek waxed exterior of a red sports car, I daydream about the silky smooth finish of a Thai coconut soup or the pucker-inducing punch of a key lime pie made from REAL key limes (as opposed to normal limes, which are darker green and not as tart).

It’s the doggone truth … I am captivated by food, and the people and journeys behind it.
Most people don’t realize that those clean ceviches and pans of slow roasted pork shoulder are created in a cutthroat field led by a group of some of the most talented chefs. Or, at least this is the impression reality shows like “Top Chef” and “Chopped” have given me.

Numerous times, I have witnessed contestants slice open their hands with enormous butcher knives, grimace a little, wrap bandages a few times around their wounds, and then continue working with unwavering determination. I imagine that one of my peers or myself, upon suffering a similar injury, would faint at the sight of blood on the counter, or shriek at the presence of a decapitated digit lying forsaken on the cutting board. Needless to say, I regard these warriors with extreme awe, as one might humbly acknowledge someone who has earned a black belt in karate.

This awe has apparently changed my life.

The milestones in my life have all been “foodified.” Rather than thinking in terms of awards, surgeries, and athletic achievements, my subconscious decides to place importance on events such as the first time I tried a Paulette macaron, my gradual progress of learning culinary jargon, and the time my friend and I spent three hours making beef bourguignon.

In fact, most of my memories are clouded by this strange obsession. For example, I recall going on a trip somewhere with my family many years ago, and staying over at a family friend’s house. I do not remember which country I was in, my host’s name, or even her facial features, but I do remember that I ate cantaloupe, which is not even a particularly exciting food. At an early age, I already had my priorities straight.

In my opinion, there are few things better than watching Ina Garten from Barefoot Contessa frying up batches of zucchini pancakes made from adorable farm fresh zucchini. Or, for all you rebellious youth, there is something so incredibly appalling yet awesome about seeing Southern food diva Paula Deen take a slice of cheesecake and some coarsely chopped chocolate, place them on a wonton wrapper, wrap it all up like an eggroll, deep fry the monster, roll it in powdered sugar, drizzle the entire thing with strawberry and chocolate glaze, and then dust it with even more powdered sugar. I mean, who knew this elderly Southern lady was such a tough cookie?

So the next time you are scanning the menu and are thinking about opting out of the stuffed squash flower or the mangosteen sorbet because they seem too “feminine,” just realize that all the action happening in the kitchen probably makes up for it. So just relax, ignore the haters and enjoy.

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