The book that launched a thousand one-eyed salutes in the pants of food geeks across the globe was the literal elephant in the room during dinner at the Intellectual Ventures Laboratory (IVL). This lab nee motorcycle machine shop is where every parametric recipe and epic image present in Modernist Cuisine was developed, created, tested, replicated and documented by Dr. Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young and Maxime Bilet along with a team of dozens of stagiares.
Lab Kitchen- Maxime Bilet, left
I should say every image was created in the lab save the one of ballistics gelatin, which was shot in the forest at night. Picture a gaggle of lab coat-clad boy-men traipsing through the dark woods armed with sheet pans of gel and a wildly expensive camera with which to capture the quivering nuances of goo as it shimmies through space. And yes, for those of you considering bellying-up to the standing-room only bar that doles out volumes of the book for the not inconsiderable sum of $466.62 (current price on Amazon), you WILL get the recipe for ballistics gelatin. Read more
*horror of horrors, this post is light on pictures.. It’s so rife with soul-bearing and topic traipsing that I didn’t feel a set of images would have enough unification to tie-in the words. Not one to leave you high and dry, however, if you are a good little reader and make it all the way to the end, you will be rewarded with a short video created by The Wind Attack, featuring Salty Seattle, and showcasing a project conjured by The Chocolate of Meats and Sippity Sup with participation by their friends, Joy the Baker and Out A Thyme.
If the little Linda in this shot knew how great last week would be, she would've been grinning from dimple to dimple
Last week was one of those “pinch me” weeks. First I got to meet my idol, my muse, my longtime inspiration for all things nouveau cuisine- Grant Achatz. Then I had the surreal experience of watching myself on television on a super fantastic program called Food(ography). I made madcap recipes for the Food(ography) crew and they chose to feature a particularly fun one, mozzarella balloons. As it turns out, on the same night that my episode of Food(ography) aired, another wacky new television show called Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen featured mozzarella balloons too, with a different outcome. The star of the show, Top Chef Marcel Vigneron, attempts the balloons and decrees that they “aren’t feasible.” Well Marcel, if you’d like a lesson, my kitchen is your kitchen.
The real icing (duck fat) on the cake (rillettes) however, was discovering that the reigning queen of food, Ms. Ruth Reichl herself, had featured a blog post and recipe of mine on her website. As I said on my facebook account when I first heard, “that’s like god asking to make out with you.” Read more
*I’m taking the opportunity of this post to display a few photos by the lovely and talented Jackie Baisa. She came over and taught me how to make pretty pictures, and in the process took a few herself. If you ever need pro photos, she’s your woman.
**If you live in Seattle, tune in to New Day Northwest on King 5 TV this Monday, March 7th at 11am. I’ll be whipping up some science food and causing hijinks.
My kingdom is a fiefdom and I am the Queen. I make everyone call me Princess, though, because Queen makes me feel old. My kingdom is really my kitchen. In there I reign supreme. My subjects are my cat, my toddler Bentley Danger, neighbors who frequently take advantage of our open-door policy, and anyone else brave enough to accept an invitation to dinner.
Even though I have a fiefdom, I maintain that there are some things about democracy that don’t totally suck, and technically I’d only advocate for a monarchy if I were the Princess-who-is-really-a-Queen. As such, I feel it’s a good practice to give frequent State of the Food Union addresses.
These addresses are often given from the pulpit that is my stairwell overlooking the kitchen. That way I can see my entire domain. I lure subjects in with the promise of wine and sous vide souffle’s. If there are not enough subjects to make me feel Princess-ey, I will augment with Bentley’s stuffed animals, but they don’t get wine like the humans do. Bentley doesn’t get the wine either, even though he’s in a phase where he calls all liquids wine. Milk is wine, juice is wine, and water is wine. I have ZERO idea how he got this notion into his head.
My State of the Food Union addresses are quite the production; think velvet, gilt and crystal. They have to be- I have a freaking royal wedding to compete with over in England. England is a country long-steeped in the tradition of being a kingdom, although it’s going through a bit of an identity crisis now that it has a parliament too. In the spirit of competition, I decided to get a parliament for my kingdom too, but all I could find was an old Parliament/Funkadelic record so I listen to that sometimes when I cook. It’s a good record though, as it gives me 500,000 kilowatts of P-funk power every time I play it, and I’m pretty sure the parliament in England doesn’t have that kind of reach.
I have banned tea from my kingdom because they drink so much of it in England I figured I’d better distinguish myself. We, the people of the SaltySeattle kitchen, in order to form a more perfect bite, drink wine, insure domestic dishdoing, provide for the common demitasse, promote the general art of eating, and secure the blessings of calories to ourselves and our posteriors.
Without further ado, I provide you with a transcribed copy of the SaltySeattle State of the Food Union. Peruse at your leisure. It may apply to you if you’re thinking of starting a food kingdom too:
Foodie is a word that sucks in my kingdom, but there isn’t a better word to replace it, so it stays, and it’s time to shut up about it. I will tell you a little story about when I was in high school. Yes, queen/princesses go to high school too- haven’t you ever seen a Disney movie?
When I was in high school, I first learned of a very annoying habit many Americans possess. Every time these dolts approach a vehicle as a passenger in a group of three or more, they obnoxiously shout the word “shotgun.” Sometimes they inexplicably emphasize the yelling about firearms with a hard punch to the nearest competitor’s bicep (yes, there are penalties for punching a princess, more on that later).
This word, shotgun, is meant to secure a space in the front seat of the car rather than the back. I refuse to understand the etymological ramifications behind why this word has come to mean “frontseat” so don’t try and explain them to me. The last time someone did that I learned things about roast chicken (definition two from the urban dictionary) that no one should have to know.
I’ve disliked guns ever since I was shot in the head at close range by a bb gun in the fourth grade by Aaron Packer* *name has not been changed, he knows he did it but I’ve forgiven him, true story. It never made sense to me that a gun should denote placement in an automobile, so I decided to make up my own word for “frontseat” which is “broccoli.” I called backseat “cauliflower” because I like it slightly less. This was pure genius on my part because as far as I can tell, with the stupid shotgun analogy no label for the backseat exists.
I had plenty of friends high school- I am a princess, after all. I thought I could use my social influence to eradicate the word shotgun. I would not let anyone get into my Grateful Dead sticker-emblazoned Subaru unless they civilly called-out whether they preferred to be broccoli or cauliflower that day (perhaps this is early evidence of a foodie-in-training?). I rewarded people for correctly using the vegetable analogies by taking them to my house during lunch and after school and letting them take hits off my five foot tall red Graphix bong. Yes, I smoked pot in high school, yes, I inhaled, and yes, I’m now Queen/Princess of my own domain. Suck it, Bill Clinton. (I also got straight A’s except for math and I don’t smoke pot anymore nor do I condone drug use, so don’t hate.)
My broccoli/cauliflower experiment was going really well until I realized people were just humoring me so they could come over and get high. It’s kind of like Prince. Maybe around him, his handlers have found some way to call him that symbol he desperately wants to go by so he doesn’t lose relevance, but the reality is that the rest of the world just calls him Prince. People are lazy.
America is as stuck with “shotgun” as people who vocally like food are stuck with the term “foodie.” If you really hate it, you can call yourself a “food-appreciator,” a “foodophile,” a “food-afficionado” or even a simple “food-lover,” but everyone else is going to call you a “foodie” whether you like it or not. It’s time to embrace it and move on to more important matters like making sure the chicken that graces your table tonight is local, happy, and has a birth certificate to prove it as in this sketch from the new hit comedy, Portlandia. Enjoy!