Drinking vinegars—or “shrubs”—are quietly coming back into fashion, and will, as well as doing your gut some good, get you ever-so-slightly pissed.
We’ve all got our issues with the term “foodies.” In many cities, it’s hard to turn a corner without accidentally stumbling into a charcuterie workshop or getting lectured on growing heirloom herbs. But sustainable foods and farm-to-table highbrow trends aren’t the only wave of the future, and as they say, “a rising tide lifts all turds.” Alongside the fancier culinary explorations we might associate with the foodie stereotype, there is also a darker underbelly of food enthusiasm gaining momentum: I’ll just simply call them “outrageous foods.” Eaters and restaurants following this trend are pushing the boundaries of supposedly outrageous ingredients that can be smashed together, stuffed with bacon, and fried. In the process, they are redefining the art of crappy food and the image of the foodie in popular culture.
We headed to Toronto, Canada to hang with the Momofuku crew, the thriving American restaurant brand impressively stretching its wings into Canada in the midst of a burgeoning Toronto food scene, complete with pressed duck, lobster mac & cheese, and a giant whole rib eye.
Everyone knows how to make a basic weed butter. We took New York chef, David Santos of Louro, to Denver, Colorado to show us how to make sous vide pot butter. He then used it to create the best marijuana meal the world has ever seen: perfectly roasted chicken with sautéed wild mushrooms and a pain perdu from the weed—ahem—pan drippings.
Just in time for Easter
The Rôti Sans Pareil Is 17 Birds Stuffed Inside Each Other and It Is Delicious
To most people, the turducken, a solid slab of flesh created by stuffing a turkey with a duck, and that duck in turn with a chicken, epitomizes the egregious complexity and gluttonous obsession with meat that makes up a large part of modern American cuisine. But most people are pussies. In the historical world of engastration (stuffing animals inside other animals) and chimera (melding animals together) cooking, this 15-pound bird-block is about as interesting as a flaccid boiled hotdog. The true king of culinary absurdity comes from L’almanach des gourmands, an 1807 cookbook written by Alexandre Balthazar Laurent Grimond de la Reyniere, a man so outlandish he faked his own death to see who would attend his funeral. His creation was called the rôti sans pareil—the roast without equal—and it is everything that has made the half-dead art of engastration increasingly popular today: ambitious, ostentatious, and alluringly, inevitably delicious.
His recipe calls for a bustard stuffed with a turkey stuffed with a goose stuffed with a pheasant stuffed with a chicken stuffed with a duck stuffed with a guinea fowl stuffed with a teal stuffed with a woodcock stuffed with a partridge stuffed with a plover stuffed with a lapwing stuffed with a quail stuffed with a thrush stuffed with a lark stuffed with an ortolan bunting stuffed with a garden warbler stuffed with an olive stuffed with an anchovy stuffed with a single caper, with layers of Lucca chestnuts, force meat and bread stuffing between each bird, stewed in a hermetically sealed pot in a bath of onion, clove, carrots, chopped ham, celery, thyme, parsley, mignonette, salted pork fat, salt, pepper, coriander, garlic, and “other spices,” and slowly cooked over a fire for at least 24 hours.
We Need to Quit Our Obsession with Meat Before It Kills Us
On Sunday, March 9, Pitt Cue Co.—the meat mecca just off London’s Carnaby Street—hosted a special evening, a one-off “Highland Beef Night” that featured a nose-to-tail menu of beef dishes made from a pair of Highland cows the restaurant bought a year ago from a Cornish farmer. The animals spent two months dry-aging, their flesh and bones eventually finding their way into dishes like beef scrumpets, beef and bone-marrow pasties, and the king of all cuts, rib of beef.
All of it was fucking fantastic. Not many places in London do the things to pigs and cows that Pitt Cue does. But with everyone smiling at each other—lips slicked with grease, teeth like fence posts that live animals had been fired into—I couldn’t help thinking that there was something a bit culty about a group of humans gathering together to eat two specific cows.
Locavore obsessives will kick their hooves at this. Speak to any chef, food critic, restaurateur—whomever—and they’ll give you the eat-better-meat-less-often argument, droning on about where the animals lived, what they ate, how humanely they died, which artisan coffee they drank, etc., etc. All of that is irrefutable. If you’re going to eat meat, you can do your part by eating the best quality available and, when you can, consuming the animal’s less popular parts (neck fillet, onglet, cheek, trotters, that kind of stuff) and not just the common cuts.
Meanwhile, we’ve become increasingly obsessed with meat. If an event like Highland Beef Night had been touted even a few years ago, there’s no way it would have pulled in the people it did on Sunday. Meat is now highly fetishized, especially among young people. Burgers are the new tits—if you look at any social media platform, there are as many 20-something men posting photos of ground flesh covered in neon sauce as there are sharing that zero-gravity Kate Upton video. We’ve become a society of rabid carnivores, and it’s not just getting tiresome—it’s fucking killing us.
In the Male Chef kitchen, I’m always looking for new ways to manipulate, play with, and eventually ingest my meals. After running a food blog for some time, me and the rest of my Male Sous Chefs have been invited over to VICE for a chance to explore the rear-end of food culture even further.
I wanted to kick things off by exploring the idea of “food hacking,” or finding the fastest and easiest ways to change your cooking habits so you can maximize your life’s efficiency. Bearing this goal in mind, I turned to one of the most efficient environments I could think of: the corporate office.
The common provenance of qartaand chitterlings from within the intestinal tract does lead to similar problems with fecal smell or taste. Chitterlings often solve this problem through judicious rounds of blanching, followed more often than not by deep-frying (which, as This American Life recently proved, is a great way of hiding the stubborn flavors of pig anus). But in the case of qarta, one simply washes the rectum without removing the fat, turning it inside out to scrub down the interior. Although the chef has the option of smoking the rectum for 24 hours and/or drying it for 48 more, many have turned to simply boiling the tissue on a slow fire for two hours, cutting it into rounds, simmering it in meat bullion for half an hour, and serving it garnished with salt, green pepper, and dill. Believe me when I say that this short cleaning and cooking process hardly dulls the taste issues inherent in a lot of intestinal cooking. But Alma Kunanbaeva, a Kazakh nomadic food anthropologist at Stanford University, expressly cautions against over-stewing the rectum.