Chef Sanjay Thumma is my current favorite time suck.
It’s refreshing to watch someone demonstrate mouth-watering dishes with uninhibited joy, a matter-of-fact globalism and minimal make-up. It helps that I love so many cuisines in India, but what immediately appealed to me is his stance as a teacher. It’s a very different experience to learn about traditional foods from someone who assumes, from the beginning, that his audience is not comprised of outsiders. Like a student whose teacher sets high expectations, viewers and home cooks rise to the challenge.
When I was in college, in the dark days before email and Facebook, my roommates and I passed our time with more mundane matters. Like food. From Juli, I learned about Japanese-style curry. Rie taught me how to blanche green beans perfectly, while Ed opened my palate to an entire pantheon of slow-simmered soups. Pierrette’s trick with tuna and egg salad—grating onion into the mayonnaise—still perks up my sandwiches.
From Maria, though, I learned the most important lessons: cooking with my senses.
As someone who keeps containers of bacon fat, duck fat, chicken fat, lard and butter along with rank-and-file bottles of olive oil, sesame oil, chile oil, grape seed oil and good ol’ peanut oil always handy by her stove, I was delighted to learn a new term this week: FOG.
No, not the lovely mist that sweeps over our city from the sea.
Unfortunately, in addition to carrying flavor and adding texture, these staples of the kitchen can be as bad for our sewer system as our bodies. Multiply thousands of restaurants by dozens of gallons of FOG and very quickly, the mess builds up.
Every year, on the first Sunday of November, tens of thousands of Sikh from across the U.S. and Canada travel to Yuba City for the largest gathering of their extended community in North America. It’s the only public festival I’ve seen in this country where not a single piece of food is sold, yet I still managed to eat and drink for six hours straight. Continue reading “Sharing Food Among the Sikh”