Response to Criticism of Ina Garten’s Upcoming Book

Someone beat me to the punch on this, but I was quite proud of what I came up with in a late night writing flurry, so here it is.

A perspective from an aspiring male domestic goddess (god?).

You may want to read the article that provoked this article, so here that is.

Or, if tl;dr:  the title of Ina Garten’s upcoming book was not unanimously liked.

A bit of (hopefully) relevant background on me:  Son of a punk (mom) and a hippie (dad). Mom’s the best damn cook this side (and that side) of the Mississippi. People always think we’re super uptight Born Again types, but we’re only all too counterculture-y.

That article took something beautiful – a person cooking the best possible food for the person they love – and fucking ruined it with its uninformed, half-baked pseudo-neo-Feminist attempted takedown of Ina. Ina, it should be noted, is easily one of the most influential players, female or otherwise, in today’s food scene at large. And BEFORE she was even in food, she led an incredible life:  pilot, self-taught cook, MBA from GWU, nuclear budget analyst under Presidents Ford and Carter, hosted weekly dinner parties, house flipper, business owner…at which point she finally got around to mentorships under Eli Zabar and Martha Stewart and putting out TV shows and books.

So yes, let’s have some college student tell us, not to mention her, how she’s failing to keep up the side by dedicating the latest of multiple cookbooks to her loving and supportive husband of 48 years.

I personally plan to do pretty much all the cooking in whatever serious relationship I find myself in eventually because I fucking love cooking (and maybe I have a bit of an ego about it). And hey, guess why Ina does all the cooking in her relationship! Because she likes to! She started teaching herself in the late 60s, for god’s sake.

In today’s world, a variety of phenomena collide when discussing who should do household duties. As societal roles become less regimented, so too do those household duties. In same-sex partnerships, the very phrase “gender roles” is, if such a thing is possible, even more meaningless than in a heterosexual partnership. Anyone in any relationship can be the cook, cleaner, nanny, gardener, handyman, etc., as long as they have the drive and the know-how. At least, that’s what we’re working towards, right?

I ask the following of the author of the offending article:  would you have Ina turn away from an endeavor that is not only her passion, but her business, simply because of a silly thing like traditional gender roles? Or, if that was too blunt, would you have her not title her book as it is, even though it is nothing but adorable and admirable to cook for one’s partner?

Cooking is a beautiful thing, and it is made even more so when it is shared. What better way to show love – platonic, romantic, whatever – than to transform ingredients and make something wonderful with your own two hands?

If this book had been written by a man and dedicated to that man’s wife, the entire fucking internet would collectively swoon. It’s sick that this book drew the ire of the very people who claim to want to help women. Now, I’m more than smart enough not to dig myself into the hole of mansplaining Feminism, but I know I can safely ask this:  how stupid up is it when a group – any group – attacks one of their own who is talking their talk and walking their walk?! A major American political party comes to mind, and it’s not the Democrats.

Super stupid, is the answer to that.

But really, the upshot of all this is just do what you want and love, for whomever you want and love.

And, if you have the will and the way, cook. Cook for your loved ones and friends. Food is beautiful. Don’t let society’s temporary problems soil it.

Mendocino Farms DOUBLE AGAIN

Ugh. Of course my favorite place in UTC is one of the most expensive ones. But, MF is more than worth it. And it’s even more appealing now that I know they have fantastic house-made lemonade!

So this’ll be just a quick one-two punch deal:

“The 8 Hour” Pulled Pork  

The word that came to mind was “righteous.” Haven’t a clue why. I don’t think I’ve ever used that word in conversation, and if I have, it would have been in the sense of “righteous indignation” or something like that. This pulled pork was basically like homemade, in terms of seasoning and fat level. Great balance between the richness of the meat and the bite/tang of the sauce. The requisite slaw imparted the requisite vinegar and vegetable flavors, and the bread was excellent.

Note:  I treated myself to extra meat ($1), but only because I really love pulled pork. I’m sure it would be just about as good without that.

Short Rib Sunday Supper Trencher 

Braised short ribs with Sunday Sauce (red wine-tomato gravy, braised kale, and mirepoix), Mendo’s krispies, and local horseradish ricotta crema on a panini-pressed soft roll.

 

Could it be?! Is it possible that the trencher is coming back?

I mean, it’s only a name here, but still. I’ve loved trenchers ever since I learned about them in high school AP Euro (and asked my mom to replicate them at home).

The Sunday Sauce was adamantly winey, perhaps augmented by the tomatoes, and combined with the horseradish crema, provided just enough of a balance against the richness of the braise overall.

And such a generous hit of short rib! This isn’t even with extra meat.

Studio Session Dinner at El Toro

Santa Ana is one of the more metal places in OC—infinitesimally more so because my band practices and records there—so I’m always glad to have an excuse to hang around.

A Monday night studio session is an excellent occasion to make a quick detour to El Toro Carniceria for yet another lengua burrito and medium tamarindo. This is pretty much the ideal studio fuel (lasted me the whole 6 hours!). Of course, this is also pretty high on my general list of ideal things.

The post won’t count if I don’t put a picture of the food.

Sometimes, I consider skipping salsa to enjoy the wonderfully savory thing, but salsa’s really the thing to do.

After devouring the above, I took the Suburban full of drums around the corner to the studio. An hour and a half later, I was tuned and miced up:

I call her/them/zem/pronoun…”my drums.”

Here’s a rundown of my rig.

Recorded with a nice selection of industry workhorses:  SM57 on the snare, MD-421 IIs, Beta 52A, a nice AKG condenser on the hats, and my AKG D112 in the kick for attack.

Check out what we got!

4th Street Market 2 of 2

Man, I had a pretty Santa Ana-y day. Walking the streets of DTSA, admiring local art, 4th Street Market (again), and band practice. Maybe I should just move there.

After a leisurely stroll around, Angela, my companion for the evening, was intrigued by Inc Waffles a.k.a. Ink Waffles a.k.a. Waffles Inc. Depends on which waffle one orders, I suppose. On this occasion, we both happened to get sandwiches on regular waffles.

Angela got the Ratatouille and I the BBELT (blueberry, bacon, egg, lettuce, tomato).

Angela got the Ratatouille (with gruyere and sprouts) and I the BBELT (blueberry, bacon, egg, lettuce, tomato).

The ratatouille on a waffle concept provoked a bit of a discussion between the two of us. I thought it was “weird,” though she countered that blueberry on a BLT was at least as “weird.” Regardless, both sandwiches worked far better than expected!

The ratatouille was an excellent specimen, so, as you would expect, a very soft experience. Perhaps I can illustrate the total softness of this sandwich with this:  the most textural component was the sprouts. Does that get the point across? Anyways, my irrational weariness aside, it was an excellent dish.

The BBELT also worked well, but this wasn’t quite as surprising to me as both a fruit and BLT enthusiast. And of course no right-thinking person would ever turn down an egg on top of, well, anything, right? Thin bacon and shredded lettuce yielded an overall pleasantly crispy sandwich, and the cooked blueberries were almost more fruitily rich and savory than sweet.

Also of note were the fries, which bore a seasoning suspiciously similar to PFC’s seasoning. Not that I begrudge any (alleged) seasoning powder sharing between food hall neighbors.

The order number buckets made handy beer holders, at least until you have to return them to the cashier. The classic "i haz a bucket"-"no they stealing ma bucket" story.

The order number buckets made handy beer holders, at least until you have to return them to the cashier. The classic “i haz a bucket”-“no they stealing ma bucket” story.

4th Street Market 1 of 2

This place had been on my list since its opening, and Sam, an old friend, finally becoming available for an outing provided the ideal opportunity to visit.

After a quick walk around the logically arrayed restaurants, PFC’s large trays of fried chicken and Wagyu Chuck’s burgers jumped out at us. I got the burger, and Sam the chicken. Service was (pleasantly) surprisingly quick! We barely had time to try our beers. Or beer, rather. We both got Ritual Brewing’s Wits End.

Sam’s first reaction upon trying the burger was “Oh, that’s just not fair.” I agreed! The balance of components in the double cheeseburger is bang on. Shredded lettuce, well formed and cooked patties, and thin buns make for a soft but hearty burger experience. The patties themselves were by far the most prominently rich burger patties I’ve ever had.

IMG_1281

Even the box reminds one of a certain Socal burger chain…

While the baked potato “fries” are pretty far removed from what I’d call “fries,” they tasted great. I’ll have to try the loaded fries option on another visit.

Really, the only thing I wanted was a nice chocolate shake, but there’s beer available, and the house cola is quite enjoyable for those teetotaler types.

Photo credit goes to my friend.

Photo credit goes to my friend.

One of the main things that drew me to the fried chicken was its appearance. It seemed to be quite dark, but I could tell just by looking that it wasn’t from overcooking. It was, in fact, from an excellent seasoning mixture applied to it. And, as one can see in the picture, the color is noticeably red in the normal light of the eating area. It’s mostly cayenne/paprika/other red powder spice in the nose, but on the tongue it balances sweet and spicy. A wonderful complement to perfectly fried chicken.

Their dipping sauce is also great, but almost superfluous for me.

Honorable mention to the charred corn salad as well! Good corn, lettuce, tortilla chip pieces atop, and quite a generous portion.

And since I had band practice the next night, I went again!

Burntzilla Brick and Mortar Location—Irvine

Week two of voluntary unemployment:  accompanied my mom to a small event at Burntzilla’s newish brick and mortar location in Irvine.

Reasonable prices and excellent food (especially in the fried department)! Pretty much everything except the King’s Hawaiian rolls is house-made here, but you’d almost have to ask if you didn’t happen to notice the short bio to the right of the menu. Speaking of the King’s Hawaiian, it seemed to me that every dish we tried was, in fact, made to use the flavor of the rolls as an integral part. Even the off-menu bread pudding was unexpectedly not overly sweet.

IMG_1275

PB & J, fried chicken, and cheeseburger.

PB & J – peanut butter (peanuts, crushed pretzel, sugar), blueberry jam, and a bit of banana. I think this was the first PB & J I’ve had outside of home. I tend to actively avoid ordering such things in restaurants, but I had a feeling about this place.

Fried chicken – Perfectly fried chicken! Totally crisp outside and juicy inside. Nice gravy and garlic mashed potatoes too. I had to mention that I had that same idea when I was a kid, but I never developed it beyond the mashed potatoes on leftover bread phase.

Cheeseburger – I can only say I wish this was a full size burger! Everything was spot-on. The avocado aioli came through really well, too. Better than most other aiolis I’ve had on burgers.

IMG_1274

Spicy Chili and Yaki Dog(zilla)s.

Spicy chili – Burntzilla was proud to really that they’re just coming off a win at the Tustin Chili Cook-Off! Besides excellent ingredients and a solid recipe, they said that the secret to their success was that it was fresh cooked. For those who don’t know from chili cook-offs, most contestants usually prepare chilis in advance and reheat them for tasting, which obviously does no favors for the flavor of any food. Overall a great dog!

Yaki – Again the starch upon starch theme! Yakisoba (good in its own right) on a high quality hot dog. Not much else that needs to be said about that.

IMG_1278

As aforementioned, the off-menu bread pudding was a nice bookend to our visit.

Though not expansive, the carefully curated menu offers anything and everything one could want for a great, quick lunch.

The sweet tea with strawberry purée would be good with most anything else one orders, and the $9 Golden Combo is a good deal.


14413 Culver Dr. Irvine, CA

burntzilla.com

Angelo’s Drive-In Hamburger

Well, I was quite happy with myself after finding this place on Yelp for me and my friends after my band’s show, but when I told my parents where I was eating, they were all like “Oh yeah we used to eat there years ago.”

That happens to me a lot.

Regardless, a really solid burger! On menu it’s called the “bacon guac cheeseburger,” but really it’s just avocado on there. Which I prefer! The vegetables in a full on guac would prove redundant on a burger, in my opinion.

Blue Moon and Newcastle are about as crafty as the beer list goes, but I can totally live with those. A word of warning, though―a “large” beer here could perhaps be called gauche if it were some beverage other than beer.

IMG_1156 IMG_1157

Good fries and an excellent chocolate shake rounded out the drive-in burger experience.

Yelp – yelp.com/biz/angelos-drive-in-hamburgers-anaheim