Brain Rumbles To Ponder 2014.2…..A Long Time Comin’

Sep 10


Chef Alain Ducasse

…..a long time comin’. I felt it was about time for me to offer up some factoids and miscellaneous bits of this and that after so long away from Yolksonus. I have spent most of my writing time ” conjuring up ” for Stories and Glories in Word and Rhyme.

Now I had better be considerate and share all of these thoughts and rememberences that have been collecting dust and gently cluttering up my mind.  I can not forget the myriad of Post-it notes that are scattered about my desk.  Hopefully I will be able to compile them in a decent, understandable way and share them with the only people who matter, my readers. In the process I will try my best to not bore you and have you switch off your attentions to Facebook or your latest marathon video game contest in your garage that has been a popular pastime by you and your friends all this summer.  It’s back to school here in early September, most vacations are over and your dead beat friends, whose unemployment checks have stopped arriving, won’t be able to find you anymore with his pathetic and continued hat-in-hand requests for, ” Dude, can I borrow some bucks, I want to hit Subway?  Can I bring back something for you?  Twenty…. no thirty bucks should do it.  My tank on the old Toyota is gettin’ pretty low, I think……..and I missed my chicken and green chile burrito and Big Gulp for breakfast. “

HERE WE GO FRIENDS ( in no particular order ) :

GRIPING 101-**  Sargento cheese commercials with the owner and his son. Touting the low calories of their pre-sliced cheeses.  GIVE ME A BREAK, for heaven’s sake.  All they did was slice it thinner. Of course, a slice will have less calories. How incredibly stupid do they think we are? **  On the road cooking shows where the chef or owner of the restaurant is raving about their fabulous French Onion Soup on the menu, ” It’s one of our signature dishes.” I agree, who doesn’t love a good, rich French Onion soup, loaded to the brim of the bowl with toothsome onions and topped with a crispy garlic crouton covered with wonderful hot and melted Gruyere or Emmanthaler cheese.  They proceed to go through all of the steps to make it…..and each recipe is different, and I have no problem with that. What gripes me is when they are using a cheap brand of salty Beef Base, or worse yet,  just plain water.  The onions!  You have to caramelize them and this takes several minutes. ( A tip-slice onions and toss with a bit of salt and sugar for 1/2 hour, put in heavy skillet and let sit before turning them and they will color perfectly ) The ones that they end up using are a yellow, insipid, limp blob of stringy mess. Ouch!  Then they interview a customer at their table who can’t say enough good things about the restaurant, the owners and especially the soup.  Ouch again!  My guess?  This guy is  the brother-in-law spreading the word for the TV viewers.** Cutting boards! Back to TV cooking shows.  Every single show I have ever seen……they all seem to break the rule. We all taste with our tongues-right?  Who wants to taste onion with our fresh pineapple garnish, or worse yet,  garlic flavored pound cake slices. Chili peppers, Oh My Gosh!  Absolutely no fruit or vegetable I am aware of in existence can benefit from the taste on the tongue or the heat of a Serrano chile after it has been trimmed, chopped or cut on the same board with any of the fruits or vegetables.  A swipe with a wet cloth doesn’t get it,  Mabel.  All of this can be solved by simply marking the boards with a permanent marker, or a way that I have used for years- green boards for chiles, red for onions and garlic and white for all else. One may use both sides if using wood boards.  All in all,  these are simple solutions.  Education is the key.  If only the cooks knew these facts ( and if they don’t, go back to being a Barista at Starbuck’s ).** When is Agave Syrup going to go down in price?  Enough of this for now, or I might go on and on for pages.

Don’t you love the late summer when the Honeycrisp apples come to the market?  It seems that they are much cheaper, especially here in Oregon, this year than in the past.  I recently purchased some that were 60 % cheaper than what I have paid in the past.

I love hamburgers. Who in the US doesn’t.  Not a big fan of trying to enjoy them when made with ground turkey, or a 93% meat and 7% fat.  Dry and tasteless, I don’t care if you have made a wonderful ketchup and added lots of tasty toppings…….it will still not have a satisfying result for the consumer.  We have to prepare them with an 80/20% mix or, better yet, 75/25%.  The best ones are made with the 75/25% mix 6 oz. patty, grilled or cooked however one prefers, served with aged Tillamook cheddar cheese ( if it is a cheeseburger ), and on a soft buttered and toasted bun.  The additional add-ons to your sandwich make it better if you are the one buying or making the hamburger. **NOTE – I have always contended that the hamburger is still the way to succeed in the restaurant, no matter what style, business in the United States. Set me down in Cut and Shoot, Texas, Bemidji Falls, Minnesota or Pioneer Junction, Montana and I am going to succeed with a little hamburger joint… long as there are people with a few bucks and they are hungry.

…I also love fried chicken. We all love fried chicken, don’t we?  It would be crazy to try to go over all of the myriad of ways to prepare this delicious dish.  It is often told that fried chicken became popular after the Civil War when freed slave women would fry up some chickens, put them in shoe boxes and sell them through the windows of trains to hungry travelers waiting to leave in the stations in Virginia.  That about sounds right.  I am very happy giving those African-American ladies credit for one of our favorite foods.  Good any time and any way.  I do agree that brining the chicken pieces in a salt and sugar water solution for a few hours benefits the overall taste.  Whether one coats the pieces in salt and peppered flour and fries in an ancient cast iron skillet like my Mom did or some other method, the results should always be the same.  I say ” Gimme some of that chicken “!  I offer this non-PC opinion.  Use lard when making that chicken, like those ladies did in 1866, and you will notice a world of flavor difference.  But be sure and position one of your friends or a kid in the window as a lookout for the ” Fryin oil Police “, because they are sure to come a bustin’ down your door in full SWAT gear if you dare fire up your Fry Daddy deep fryer attempting to get some fried chicken ready for your family 4 TH of July picnic and you have a big ol’ bottle of canola oil sittin’ there!

RESTAURANTS!  Please do not put a lemon or lime slice in my water.  Don’t get me wrong.  I like my water that way, but if you haven’t sliced that lemon or lime in the last 15 minutes, it will have an off taste.  I liken it to licking an aluminum surface.  YUK!  How hard would it be to slice them as the meal progresses?  I’ll bet you that people just do not say anything…..they put up with it, do not drink any of the water after the first sip or while consuming it they make up their minds to never ask for water in your place again. 

The season is fast approaching.  I love soup, all types and kinds of soup.  We do not eat soup very often in the summer ( although I do all year long ). I will be again making soups for myself and my friends. I have some new recipes I want to try out on them.  I am looking forward to the fun.  I like to call a warm bowl of soup ” The Currency of Grandmothers “.

Flowers are good to eat. We all have eaten or heard about eating squash blossoms, sometimes stuffed with herbs and soft cheese, dipped in a light batter and deep fried.  Small colorful flowers are often served as a garnish in restaurants for extra color and accent. This I learned from my friend Julia while gathering herbs and tomatoes in her garden, one can eat the lily buds before they open and become blossoms, putting them in salads.  I always put my chive flowers in salads or an omelet.  Learning about the lily buds was surely one to remember. **NOTE – There are some flowers one must avoid eating.  Some parsnip blossoms, the oleander definitely, and often the daffodil or any flower that has been sprayed with pesticides should not be chosen for consumption.

SWEET TOMATOES – Have a garden here at the end of summer that is overflowing with tomatoes?  Starting to give them away to anyone who will take them off your hands?  Here is a simple salad idea that I have enjoyed for many years. Peel your tomatoes quickly and easily with an OXO  serrated peeler.  They cost less than $10. bucks and are also useful on peaches and tangerines. Diced the tomatoes into fine dice into a bowl.  add fine dice green onions ( please split them long ways before chopping for smaller pieces ) or fine dice red onions, some fine chopped Italian parsley. Drizzle with some olive oil and add some seasoned rice wine vinegar – equal amounts mix.  Add fresh ground black pepper for seasoning, no salt needed because it is in the vinegar.  Chill for one hour covered and enjoy with lunch or dinner.  This salad is especially toothsome if made with heritage fruit….be they red, yellow, orange, white or the purplish green variety.

STREET FOOD – In an article ( although written 4 years ago ) Portland Oregon is ranked #1 in the world for street food.  If anything is true we have gotten better.  If you live in Portland or ever come for a visit do yourself a favor and try one or many of our food carts or food trucks that are sprinkled throughout the city.  I don’t know how many countries or cuisines there are to choose from, but there is bound to be one that would be the one for you.  

25 YEARS AGO – I made myself a promise to celebrate my birthday with an elegant dinner at Le Louis XV in the Hotel de Paris in Monaco.  Alain Ducasse was the marvelous executive chef.  It is one of the most amazing structures, that is a hotel and restaurant in the world, in my opinion.  The decor and style are my favorites and harken me back to another era.  An era when high society, the privileged few, would spend every summer at the sea shore, gambling and gamboling as was their practice in the 19 TH and early 20 TH century. M. Ducasse has gone on to open and own many fantastic culinary outposts… NYC, Las Vegas, Paris, and other cities. Fernand Point has always been my culinary hero, he of La Pyramide restaurant in Vienne, France was a pioneer in the 20Th century and built on what Escoffier had started in the 19TH century.  Many of the very successful chefs of the 70’S and 80’S spent time in his kitchen learning M. Point’s wisdom at the La Pyramide ” piano “.  Paul Bocuse comes to mind…..a most famous chef in his own right.  I feel that Alain Ducasse is on the same track.  He is still a young man and will continue to make diners happy and garner accolades and awards.  He was the first chef/owner in history to earn 3 Michelin stars in THREE SEPARATE CITIES at the same time.  I am not sure anyone will reach or pass that accomplishment in a long time.


ON ARTFUL and PRETTY PLATES : “It’s so beautifully arranged on the plate – you know that someone’s fingers have been all over it “. Julia Child







  1. That’s right… “Gimme some of that fried chicken!”

  2. Milt. Stewart /

    Great job…and I so agree.

  3. love the brain rumbles!
    glad they’re back!!

    • Thanks Rex. I promise to not have so much time pass between posts. Besides, there are so many shenanigans and so much foolishness going on in the restaurant world lately, I just can’t let it go unaddressed.

  4. Just love that quote by Julia Child. I have a friend who notices things like that and doesn’t like to eat food she just knows has been touched, touched, touched! BTW, you can eat lily flowers when they’ve opened, too, not just the buds.
    Nice to have you back.

    • I didn’t know about the edible use of the open blossoms on lilies. I think Julia was commenting on the fact that some chefs spend so much time fussing with the plate, that one can imagine many hands hovering over the food before you get it. You know me, I think it is egotistical behavior and indicative of the accent being on the chef and not the customer, who is really the important one to please.

  5. Join A Vintage Chefs Next Food Adventure.

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