Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Forgive Me, Foodies, For I Have Sinned

I am so grateful for my first restaurant job at Etchings in Morgantown, WV. I was in college and worked as a busboy and quite resembled the often-mentioned deer in the headlights. The service staff appeared to have been hired from a modeling agency and totally intimidated me. The kitchen staff was run by a giant of an Italian chef who terrified all of us. It was an amazing experience. That experience totally changed my life as well.

I always had a great appreciation for good grub but the fare was typically a combination of home-cooked favorites and fast food. Home cooking passed down through the generations is something to be treasured. Fast food is....well, fast. And cheap. I admit I have fallen prey to many a Mickey D's french fry, Taco Bell Meximelt or Popeye's Spicy Chicken. When I think of the amount of meals I have gotten from these type of outlets anymore I just cringe. That said, when I got that job in college....wow, did it rock my world.

Chef Andrew Iannachione and later, Chef Skip Luskody along with their many sous chefs, pastry chefs and assistants totally opened my eyes to what food could be. Tangy Shrimp Remoulades and sumptious pasta dishes. Spicy Cajun fare and velvety lobster bisque. Valentine's dinners that featured Chateaubriand for two. Chef Rose made the fluffiest dinner rolls I had ever tasted. I learned how to eat mussels and crawfish and oysters. Soon, I was promoted from busser to server and not long after we were trained to cook tableside. I was able to do pepper steak and fettucine alfredo and a dramatically flaming Strawberries Romanoff. I, along with my view of food was completely transformed.

So...how in the bloody hell did I ever go back to inhaling overprocessed fast food? Because it was fast...and cheap..and I was lazy. Several food jobs followed and I worked with many a talented chef and cook. Rest assured, I tasted and ate many a fine meal. Somehow, though, fast food kept showing up. Worse, it ended up falling into the comfort food category. Many a stressful day has morphed into an empty Quarter Pounder wrapper.

It took me forty-odd years to realize that I have missed countless opportunities to learn to cook many of my meals as well as trying out diverse and different eateries. Thankfully, when we travelled I did set out to try as many local specialties as I could. But, here in KC, which truly has an embarrassment of culinary riches, It's really dawning on me how I've barely scratched the surface. It's time to change all that.

I'm thinking my New Year's resolution will be to evolve in an epicurious way. For one year, no standby fast food. Mickey D's or other burger joints, KFC or Popeyes, Taco Bell or any other of the usual suspects will be off-limits. Exceptions would be the fast food emporiums with fresh ingredients like Subway or Noodles or Panera. They would be last choices, though, as local businesses would be first. Aspire to spend less time in chain restaurants. Walk the walk instead of just talking about supporting the places that help shape the character of our neighborhoods and towns. Trust me when I say this would not be an easy task for me. I'm thinkin' it would be a beneficial one, though. I would blog about it, of course, to keep me honest.

If I'm ever to be a real foodnik, I need to change it up.

2 comments:

Lisa Mandina said...

Wow, I wouldn't want to give up my Five Guys Burgers or Long John Silvers. And I've tried to cut back on my fast food while doing my weight watchers, but every once in awhile, I just need my McDonald's, and I love my Sonic breakfast that I have a couple mornings a week.

The Foodie Wannabe said...

If I do it, I would be cutting back on the fast food and cutting out the usual suspects. I would not include Five Guys as they always use the freshest ingredients including the beef which is never frozen. They don't even have freezers in their restaurants. No McDonald's, Long John's or Sonic, though.

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