Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cooking Up Bad Ideas

A few days ago I took a class at the Brooklyn Kitchen labs called Cooking Up Bad Ideas. Hosted by the friendly and talented Tom (pictured above, who I had previously met at a pig butchering class he taught also at Brooklyn Kitchen) and Millicent, I knew it was my kind of class when the first thing they did when I walked in was handed me a PBR and a Koozie.

The class was super fun - we were fed all sorts of glorious and inglorious food concoctions and learned the five pillars of CWBI, which I will share with you here:

1) Re-appropriating prepared food items and combining them in novel and unexpected ways (ex: Hormel chili + fritos = frito pie).

2) Stuffing (or injecting) one food item into another (ex: the lauded and feared turducken).

3) Making junk food out of otherwise totally unadulterated and high quality foodstuffs (ex: Kobe beef Big Mac), while being careful not to attempt to re-engineer foods which are already the Platonic ideal of that food (ex: Heinz ketchup).

4) Brazenly adding flavors to food by soaking, salting, brining, marinading, injecting, or otherwise applying flavoring agents (ex: Kewpie mayo, Sriracha, Frank's Red Hot, or any kind of seasoning salt or rub).

5) DEEP FRY IT. I feel that this needs no explanation, but one useful tip was provided that I will point out: have a fry buddy. Someone needs to ask, "Yes, we can deep fry this, but SHOULD we?"

Tasty examples and lively discussion were provided. I would recommend this or any of the other classes at Brooklyn Kitchen - I have taken two and they were both great. Additionally, it has been a great cooking shop (on 616 Lorimer St. in Brooklyn, NYC) for some time now. The location of my most recent class was the bright and shiny new Brooklyn Kitchen Labs (100 Frost St., around the corner and up the block from the old store, which still exists), which includes, in addition to classroom spaces, a butcher shop with real, live, knowledgeable butchers (the Meat Hook) as well as HOMEBREW SUPPLIES! (In case you can't tell - I'm excited. Finally a well-stocked homebrew supply shop in NYC!)

I appreciated how casual and fun the class was, and it helped me rediscover the fun part of cooking (remember fun? it used to be your primary occupation in 2nd grade?). Food is a complicated mixture of sustenance, personal preference, history, and culture. After CWBI, I am going to try to ask myself more often while I am cooking: how can I make this more fun, and does it taste good?

P.S. My experience at CWBI has also inspired an upcoming series of posts unapologetically celebrating uniquely American concoctions. Await them with mouthwatering anticipation!

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