Category Archives: cooking

The Imaginary Chef (Notes toward a Pilot Program Proposal)

My friend Charlie is assistant manager of a small grocery/deli/”sundries” store catering to guests of a Midwestern resort and nearby residents. This week a customer phoned his store, claiming that the chuck roast she’d purchased had not in fact been handed over with her other purchases and requesting that it be delivered to her home.

Charlie’s store does not sell chuck roast.

Delivery, he explained, was impossible because (a) there was no chuck roast available for delivery and (b) only two employees were staffing the store.

The customer returned the following day to pick up her chuck roast.

Charlie asked whether, if this happens again, he might phone me with a request to deliver a phantom cut of imaginary chuck roast to the woman’s home. I consented, adding that I might even volunteer to prepare it for her. Commandeer her kitchen, imaginary chuck roast in hand, and act out the preparation of Boeuf Bourguignon in the manner of Julia Child.

Sheila Ryan: The Imaginary Chef.

The Chicago Food Truck Saga Gets Legal

Chicago is the only big city that does not permit food truckers to cook on their trucks.

Long story short, in the battle of truck verses brick, a small group of those with a special interest are doing the best they can to fight the natural order of competition, free economy, and consumer demand by wrapping it up in veil of public health and safety. I understand the other side, and the other side has been my livelihood for the better half of my adult life, but at the end of the day it’s classic Chicago politics, and we are simply not comparing apples to oranges. As everyone on the panel agreed, there’s enough room in this city for both to coexist, and we have to wonder how long Chicago can sit on this fence when the rest of the country has jumped on board. I mean, when coverage of the city’s backward policies make the Wall Street Journal, ludicrous is right.

Cooking Up Change

They looked so young, the four college students who sat down and ordered coffee at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C., on Feb. 1, 1960.

Legal challenges and demonstrations were cracking the foundations of segregation, but a black person still couldn’t sit down and eat a hamburger or a piece of pie in a store that was all too willing to take his money for a tube of toothpaste.

Those four freshmen at North Carolina A&T College — Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair Jr. and David Richmond — sat until the store closed, but they still didn’t get their coffee.

But that day helped spark other sit-in protests — led by young people like themselves — that spread throughout the South in 1960, energizing the civil rights movement. And the Greensboro Woolworth desegregated its lunch counter later that year.

It wasn’t the first time that food, or the lack thereof, figured large in the movement.

Jonah Weiner interviews Louis C.K.

From The Write Around: A Series of Conversations with Writers

I worked [at KFC] for a year or something, and that was really hard work. I was a cook, and you had to do everything. I’d always figured it was some kind of frozen thing, but it’s serious chicken cooking. You get a big box of whole Perdue chickens in the morning, not frozen, but cold as hell, and you have to break them up into pieces. Some of them you break, and the little bones rip your hands up, it’s so hard, and then you marinate the chicken in this big metal drum. It’s a process, it starts early in the morning. The marinade is water and… it’s all MSG, that’s all it is, MSG and salt and some other stuff, and it gets turned in this drum to soften and marinate it, and there’s these packets that don’t say what they are, and a breading, and you throw it all in this breading, and there’s this basket you shake out until it’s just coated with the breading, and you put it in these cages, this cylinder, then you close the cage up, and there’s a drum-like deep-fry cooker, hot, hot, hot grease, and you drop it in there. When you drop it in, the grease burbles up, and there was a fucking thing where in order to lock it into place, after you dropped it, three-quarters of the way down, you had to turn it and then it goes in, so you couldn’t let go of the thing. They made these hooks that you’re supposed to use to do the turn with, but they just didn’t work. You had to just do it with your hands.