gastronomy

Inside the world’s top kitchens, where leading chefs, mixologists and winemakers reveal their secret ingredients

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April 5, 2014

Preserving Chilies with Thomasina Miers

The Wahaca Restaurateur Pickles Peppers and Reminisces to Tarajia Morrell

Thomasina Miers has championed Mexican cuisine in Britain since she fell in love with the sights and smells of the country at age 18. In the last of our Preserving miniseries, the chef leads us through her early enchantment with Mexico’s flavors and the vigor that those peppers impart. Co-founder of Wahaca restaurants, author of Mexican Food Made Simple and the imminent Chilli Notes: Recipes to Warm the Heart (Not Burn the Tongue), Miers lovingly riffs on the range of possibilities of the ‘chili effect’ and how her zeal for spice and zeal for life are one in the same.
 
What is it about preserving that appeals to you?
Thomasina Miers:
Often the process improves the flavor of the food we are preserving. So cured ham, particularly when acorn fed, is an astonishingly delicious food; a marmalade or jam sometimes better than the original product—helped along by a little sugar. A pickle heightens the flavor of the vegetable with its acidity and also can lend other flavors through the spicing you use.
 
What is it you find so inspiring about Mexican food?
TM:
It is a cuisine of contrasting textures and temperatures, of the diversity of different food from different regions. Most of all it is fresh with bright, vivid tastes.
 
What's the most important lesson from your time in Mexico?
TM:
Never underestimate the power of terroir, or how food tastes in its own setting.
 
If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?
TM:
I would have loved to have danced. Or written more, if I had the patience. I’d have loved to have painted if I’d had the talent, or sung if I’d had the voice….
 
When you’re feeling lazy, what’s the simple, comforting but delicious meal you might make yourself to enjoy alone?
TM:
Welsh rarebit, or cheese on toast or sautéed greens on toast with chilli and garlic and a fried egg on top.
 
Guilty pleasure after a long shift?
TM:
Whiskey!
 
Aphrodisiac (edible or not)?
TM:
Good music, a keen understanding, a meeting of minds, a spark of recognition.  A cocktail.
 
Last meal?
TM:
The best steak, the best chips, the best mayo, a delicious salad. Some very good wine. Great company.

Preserving part one: Squash with Skye Gyngell; Preserving part two: Lemons with Angela Hartnett.

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Takeru Kobayashi: Hunger

Five Days of Food, Part Two: The World Champion Eater Devours Grapes in Artist Item Idem's Dionysian New Short

A conceptual artist, a film director, a competitive eating champion with four Guinness World Records and 25 bunches of grapes collide in Item Idem’s experimental film Hunger. The Paris-born, New York-based artist Cyril Duval teamed up with fashion film director CyCy Sanders to direct this faux-cinematic trailer conceived for new-to-the-scene food magazine White Zinfandel starring Japan’s infamously voracious competitive eater Takeru Kobayashi. Beginning with a rapid montage of Kobayashi's greatest triumphs devouring such American classics as hotdogs and bowls of spaghetti, the work parodies the high-octane feel of American sports television, piggy-backing on Hollywood themes found in campaigns for blockbusters like Gladiator and The Hunger Games. As Kobayashi devours clusters of grapes while reclining in a tunic and laurel wreath, the Greco-Roman-inspired scene typifies the notorious pop sensibility of Item Idem, who has exhibited at Design Miami and collaborated with the likes of Comme des Garçons, Bernard Willhelm and Colette. “I had been toying with the idea of using him as my muse for quite some time,” says Duval of the eating legend. “Kobayashi exists as a superstar in his own parallel world and I wanted to bring his stature as a celebrity athlete into different spheres.”

Kobayashi's World Records 

August 26, 2012: Hot Dogs
World Record: 110 hot dogs (without buns) in 10 minutes at the New York State Fair in Syracuse, New York.

March 25, 2011: Spaghetti
Guinness World Record: 100g (3.53oz) in 45 seconds at the Lo Show Dei Record, Milan. 

August 29, 2010: Hamburgers
Guinness World Record: 10 hamburgers in three minutes on the set of Bikkuri Chojin 100 Special #4 (Fuji TV), New York. 

March 8, 2010: Meatballs
Guinness World Record: 29 meatballs in one minute on the set of Bikkuri Chojin 100 Special #3 (Fuji TV), New York. 

The third issue of White Zinfandel, “Food Fights”, will be launched at NADA Miami on 6 December.

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Spotlight

Make Your Maker

Five Days of Food, Part Four: Body Architect Lucy McRae Fuses Science and Art for a Lurid Feast

A crude laboratory plays host to a series of macabre experiments in this short from the burgeoning artist and filmmaker Lucy McRae. Inside, glowing comestibles drip and flow to mold bodily shapes that are then harvested, sliced and repackaged for consumption. Having featured in such publications as Dazed & Confused and Wallpaper*, as well as directing the award-winning Morphē for the skin care brand Aēsop, this latest endeavor from the self-styled “Body Architect” explores how food connects to the body, inside and out. “Everything is edible,” says McRae of her gelatinous props. “The stuff on the model’s face is inked rice paper, and the jellies on her body are molded agar agar, which is made from natural seaweed.” The impulse to show what we are turn into what we eatand vice versawas inspired by an encounter with Vietnamese restaurateur Nahji Chu whose outlets in the director's native Australia merge the culinary arts with an investigation of cultural and individual identity. Taking a hands-on approach to every aspect of production, from the cinematography to the science, McRae adds a personal element to that notion of synthesis, inspired by human biology. “The idea is to create genetic manipulations,” she explains. “Eating them is a transdermal absorption.” 

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