Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Year in Food: Chef Dad Style

We had a quiet Christmas with no extended family plans to create added stress.  So, it was not until I fought my way through the grocery store that it dawned on me that Christmas had arrived and it was too late to do a posting for that holiday.  Apparently, stressful moments mark time at the holidays.  Whodathunkit?
So, I swore to do better for New Years.  Enjoy below a brief look back at 2009 with The Year in Food: Chef Dad Style.  By “style” I mean no discernible pattern organizes these paragraphs.  Things are presented more or less as they really were, though liberties might have been taken at the margins.  To paraphrase Groucho Marx, the opinions expressed below are my own, and if you don’t like them…I have others.

The family started a garden in the neighborhood community garden in the spring.  We quickly discovered there was just as much “community” as “garden” in this checkerboard area of family plots.  The various gardeners joyfully share their bounty and gardening provides a common language for a multi-cultural neighborhood.
Hunting made a comeback in 2009, but with a twist.  The New York Times reported on the formation of bands of urban hunters attempting to get in touch with their inner Daniel Boones, learning how to shoot dinner to feed the family in tough times. So, let me get this straight:  Armed stockbrokers, ad executives and lawyers stalking food to shoot at?  Do trendy restaurants object to guns on the premises? 
In a sign of how pervasive food blogging has become as an international lifestyle, digital cameras now come with a “food” mode.
“When Dad Cooks” entered the blogosphere in 2009.  Coincidentally, bloggers also came under scrutiny during the year as being somehow paid off to blog about products from generous companies.  So trust us newbies.  We can only aspire to corruption.
Part of the plot of “The Next Iron Chef” on Food Network included chefs who cheated, hiding ingredients from competitors.  So much for the integrity of the food system.
My son learned to make baby back ribs and grilled cheese sandwiches on his own, in addition to making a great Caesar Salad.
The White House established a working garden for the first time since the FDR Administration.  Eleanor Roosevelt’s garden was plowed under to symbolize that happier post-war/post-Depression times had arrived.  Lawn was the thing, land that could be wasted as ornamentation.  The White House Lawn was a synecdoche of suburban lawns everywhere.  Today, we read of people planting “recession gardens” so a through-the-looking-glass version of that symbolism still holds today.
The movie “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” entertained young and old with a story about a food system run amok.  Special kudos to the producers for treating food allergies seriously rather than as a cheap joke.  Mr. T voicing an acrobatic overzealous police officer provided more than enough cheap jokes.
In other movie news, “Julie and Julia” reminded us all what a grand lady we lost in Julia Child.  Fresh from that blog-turned-book-turned-cinematic success, Julie Powell carved out an expertise in irony, moving on to…uh, well, look it up, that’s why God gave you an Internet.
Trend or Bust?  A quick look around the web suggests that “Peruvian” food was supposed to be all the rage in 2009.  Anyone?  Anyone?
The media was on top of things as ever, defending the First Amendment and all that.  Cooking at home became an identified trend with major coverage pretty much everywhere.  Eschewing food riots as a mere blip, the media jumped on a story of domestic cuisine that would have been cutting edge journalism…at the end of the Neolithic Era.

Happy New Year, from our kitchen to yours.


  1. Very very clever and well written, Chef Dad. Love the photo ideas.

    Nearly 3 years ago I took a job that leaves me no time or energy for cooking. Then I discovered a gluten problem. I'm not complaining, because a mystery has been solved. But I'm, really missing time to myself.

  2. God bless you Mimi. I enjoy your blog and thank you for the kind comments here. Don't forget that little things count as well. Frozen shrimp tossed with a bit of tapenade whirred up in a pinch can still feel good and be on the table in 10 minutes. We have a food allergy in the family as well. No history. It just happened. But, it's one of the things that led to turning our interest in food into a real engagement as a family. Time to myself? We have two young teens, we home school, I'm working on my dissertation (food and globalization), and I have a freelance writing business. I appreciate a good long "garbage moment."