I originally wrote this in 2005. My opinions remain unchanged.
With the gastronomic orgy that is Thanksgiving upon us, my thoughts, as ever, turn to food. Good food, to be specific.
My turkey will be organic, free-range, brined, and the meat under the skin basted with a mixture of bourbon, brown sugar and herbs. The heirloom fingerling potatoes will be gently sautéed in clarified butter and coated with fresh ground pepper and Himalayan pink sea salt. There will be a stuffing of home-baked breads liberally paired with fresh sage leaves and leeks. Asparagus will roast with extra-virgin olive oil and garlic. My cranberry compote will be simmered with orange peel, crystalized ginger and ruby port. A salad of organic greens, dried pears, walnuts and Gorgonzola will be lightly dressed with walnut oil and pear-infused vinegar. There will be nothing that has ever seen the inside of a can or box, injected with vegetable oil or a “flavor enhancing solution” (Pooh to you with knobs on, Butterball!), preserved, factory-farmed, or otherwise tampered with.
I freely admit to being a food snob and sensualist. I reject commodity foods – factory raised, tasteless abominations. Give me the free-range, the organic, the heritage/heirloom varieties, the unpreserved, the all-natural, the fresh! I defy anyone who has ever tasted free-range Tamworth pork to ever again eat something from Smithfield Packing and call it food.
In this fast-food world, good food needs a champion. I used to hold my tongue when pepper dust in a shaker was placed in front of me, or if someone served well-done lamb. No longer. Once I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die. He told me that he puts salad cream in ragù and ricotta in lasagna. He was wrong about that. Dead wrong.
Before you cast the stone that “making anything other than simple food is impractical,” let me say that I have nothing against simple food. Well-made simple food. Italian cuisine is based on the simplicity, freshness and quality of your ingredients. There is nothing wrong with something as simple as a grilled-chesse sandwich – as long as it is made with a proper bread and real cheese. Possession of Wonder Bread and American “cheese food” that comes wrapped in little plastic sleeves will be an offense punishable by death when I’m in charge.
And those bitches “Giardia” De Laurentiis, Rachael Ray and Sandra Lee from the Food Network are the first against the wall.