Monday, March 29, 2010
The original squash soup recipe was created at Treadwell, a Farm-to-Table restaurant – not a new type of cuisine, but rather a revisiting of an old one. Though it began out of necessity – country folk eating only what they could produce themselves, barter for, or buy at the local market – it was recaptured in the last few decades by a generation of Europeans (and more recently, Westerners) seeking to reconnect with the land and rebel against internationalism. Bolstered by recent publications, such as the Omnivore’s Dilemma and Fast Food Nation, and promoted by organizations – Slow Food and CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) networks, for example – there is an emerging mandate to know and appreciate where foods come from.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Maple Roasted Squash Soup
· Inspiration: The story of my first taste at Treadwell and how I appropriated the original recipe.
· Nutrition: How I made the original recipe healthier. A comparison of before/after and relation to daily nutritional requirements.
· Local Sourcing: Maximizes and enhancing seasonal fall foods in Canada/ trademark Canadian products. Used this recipe in Washington D.C. at Solar Decathlon dinner competition.
Peach, Basil and Comfort Cream Pizza
· Composition: Proportion of toppings to crust, balanced flavours, unique combinations of flavours
· Presentation: Balanced colours and textures of toppings, timing to ensure
· Local Sourcing: Variations on the 3 ingredients to suit seasons and personal tastes – show a progression, changing one ingredient at a time…
Tilapia with Cilantro Lime Sauce
· Nutrition: Low fat, Salt-free, Sugar-free protein
· Cost: Best value for fresh boneless, mild, “meaty” fish. Sauce costs next to nothing.
· Preparation: Poaching, light flaking for better sauce absorption
· Composition: sweet and sour flavour combination
Banana Blueberry Bran (Triple B) Muffins
· Nutrition: Sugar-free, fat-free, high fibre, anti-oxidant rich
· Preparation: Pre-prep of wet and dry, moistening, key to muffin preparation is what not to do (do not over-stir)
· Ingredient Properties: Regionally sensitive, highly concentrated nutrients of wild blueberries
Seasonal Salad with Honey Mustard Tarragon Vinaigrette
· Presentation: Aesthetically pleasing colours/textures layered/balanced on plate.
· Composition: Balanced sweet/sour flavours, flavour pairings
· Local Sourcing: Seasonal Ontario adapted for Washington D.C. – find similarities between available fresh produce and highlighting them.
· Ingredient Properties: Rich colours/textures of salad greens
· Inspiration: Mulled wine from Epicurean (cafe in Niagara), Grandma’s canning
· Ingredient Properties: Niagara Wine, fruit and canning Industries
· Local Sourcing: relationship with fruit vendor/grower at side of road.
· Presentation: served whole, simple, perhaps with ice cream.
Curried Chicken and Spinach Strudel
· Inspiration: Curried chickpea salad from Melville’s, greek pastry, ingredients available at home.
· External Parameters: pre-made, homemade, quickly prepared, warm finger food.
· Preparation: Thawing of filo, layering of filo, sealing of strudels - dealing with moisture, "adhesives", leakage, etc.
The original French phrase 'Qu'ils mangent de la brioche' was most reliably referred to by French Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), a key figure in the Enlightenment in France, in Book 6 of his 12-volume autobiographical work Confessions: “At length I recollected the thoughtless saying of a great princess, who, on being informed that the country people had no bread, replied, "Then let them eat pastry!" Though the phrase is frequently attributed to Marie Antoinette, the “great princess” Rousseau speaks of is more likely Marie Therese (wife of Louis XIV) – a better fit considering supposed time frame and context.
Apparently stated in response to news that famine had robbed French peasants of even their bread, the statement poignantly shows the pampered ignorance of the French monarchy at the time – if the people have no money or supplies for basic sustenance, surely replacing it with butter-laden dessert bread would be both impossible and ridiculous. Also implied, however, is the realistic ranking of delicacies and culinary non-essentials in the search for survival and happiness; the delight that comes from the sweet, rich treat (that which the monarchy was accustomed to and took for granted) pales in comparison to the greatest pleasure of all – the relief from hunger. Severe hunger doesn’t discriminate between nuances and qualities of food, but focuses, instead, on obtaining quantities of it.
“The gastronomic must no longer serve as mere metaphor for the arts, but must take its place among the muses.”
Weiss, Allen S. “Culinary Manifestations of the Genius Loci.” Eating Architecture. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. 2004, pp. 25.
Isidore of Seville, in his seventh century work Isidori Hispalensis Episcopi Etymologiarum sive Originum, reminds us of the relationship between cuisine and reason: he etymologizes the word sapiens (wise, rational) and proposes sapor (taste) as its source, explaining that “just as the sense of taste is able to discern the flavours of different foods, so too is the wise man able to discern objects and their causes since he recognizes each one as distinct and is able to judge them with an instinct for truth.” Taste, defined as such, is the interdisciplinary means for assessing and appreciating all that exists – and thus the instigator of creativity and change.
The acquisition and development of taste can also cross between disciplines. Though I have no formal culinary training, I am keen, curious, and can cook with infinite artistic freedom as often as I like; conversely, I am educated in architecture, but have limited opportunity to practice what I’ve learned. As both architecture and the culinary arts stem from judgment and invention – and as even architecture students need to stop working to eat – cooking has naturally become my daily outlet for expression and experimentation.
In the kitchen I can be the designer, the craftsman and the client, all at once. As the designer, I consider the tools and ingredients available, and find creative ways to accommodate both personal taste and nutrition. I interact with suppliers in my search for sustainable resources, and determine their proportion and composition to maximize performance and aesthetics. As the craftsman, I draw on self-taught skills to create the proposed dishes. More importantly, however, I first investigate what potentials are embedded in each ingredient – for, in the words of Richard Sennet in his book The Craftsman, all of my “efforts to do good quality work depend on curiosity about the material at hand.” As the client, I set parameters at the beginning and evaluate the results at the end.
The dishes that come out of my kitchen vary according to my resources, requirements and appetite. They are expressions of my personal taste and yet reflections of my world. My recipes are dissections of methodology – a self-integrated design process – and illustrate how and when I incorporate nutrition, community responsibility and delight. Ultimately, this “recipe book” is the story of how architecture has enriched my cooking, and how cooking will make me a better architect.