April 13, 2013 10:25 am
We all eat. Some of us even cook. And some of us think we know more about cooking than we really do because we watch way too much Food Channel.
But listening to Anthony Bourdain talk to Neil about food, I got the same sense I get when listening to Neil talk to anyone about astrophysics. There is an insight into what’s really important about the subject that cuts through expectation or supposition or pseudo-knowledge to real mastery forged from data and experience.
For instance, in the conclusion to A Seat at the Table with Anthony Bourdain, Neil asks Anthony about the secret to being a great chef. And I know I’ve heard plenty of chefs on TV talk about their secrets, their tricks that if we all could just learn from them, we’d all cook like top chefs in fancy restaurants. Do you know what Anthony Bourdain said? Professionals learn from getting it wrong, and getting it wrong, and getting it wrong until they get it right. He said there are no secrets, and that normal home chefs should approach cooking the same way.
It’s also interesting to hear Marion Nestle talk about it. She says the kitchen is one of the few places in real life where we can run experiments and take notes on what happens.
But as I noted in the blog post about Part 1, Marion and Anthony definitely come at food from two different directions. I don’t want to say that it’s the difference between science and art, because that would sell both of them short at the same time. But when Professor Nestle talks about food safety, she discusses misfolded proteins, bacteria and viruses. And when Anthony talks about it, he speaks from practical experience: “Do what the natives do… if they’re not drinking water from the tap in Russia, you shouldn’t either.” When they’re discussing the molecular food movement, Anthony describes technique and process where Marion sees “boys with chemistry sets.”
There’s a lot of fun in this episode, and I don’t want to ruin the surprises, so I will leave you with just two intriguing morsels from the show: “Live cobra blood” and “Don’t eat brains.”
If you want more, you’ll need to listen to the show. A Seat at the Table with Anthony Bourdain (Part 2) will be available here on our website and iTunes this Sunday, April 14th, at 7:00pm ET.
That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!