Friday, April 2, 2010

Introduction: The Subculture Chef

The definition of subculture, from Princeton University:
"a social group within a national culture that has distinctive patterns of behavior and beliefs"

Now to introduce myself: My name is Michelle. I am a professional chef and Nutrition student, and subculture aficionado. I will be writing about culinary experiments, familiar and not-so-familiar ingredients, and the beloved food and cultures of many people throughout the USA (and eventually, the world!).

While the study of food culture is almost as old as the study of mankind, the study of subcultures and their effect on the culinary world has not been examined as thoroughly as I would like. Whether a cross of two existing cultures, or altogether new lifestyles created in the last few decades, food culture has come a long way from being either Eastern or Western, or at the end of any particular spectrum.

With my experience and education in restaurant cooking, studies in anthropology and the history of cooking practices, I hope to serve as your ambassador to the world of subcultural culinary practices.

Many factors affect trends in food: income, living situation, religious practices, familiarity with products and preparation, and last but not least, flavor. New flavors are consistently being created from ingredients we once considered staple pantry items, and exotic additions to our diet are commonplace now where a decade ago they would have been considered a joke. Sushi bars have opened in smaller cities, waffle houses are opening in the upper Midwest, and thanks to the many immigrant families in our nation, authentic foreign foods are served in just about every city in the country.

Halal, Mediterranean, vegan... so many labels for so many dishes. How about just "Good" or "Maybe not for the kids," when we're speaking of how a recipe turns out? For those of us who are omnivores, it's easy enough, but when you have cultural or physical aversions to some foods, it can be a difficult road from fresh ingredients to dinner on the table. That's why all the dishes I plan to prepare, review, photograph, and taste for your entertainment will be categorized by ingredient, approximate price, and difficulty of preparation.

The goal is to have reviewed at least one dish a week, every week, for at least a year. So if you love watching food shows, eating new foods, and getting ideas for your own original recipes, my blog should eventually serve as a useful research tool in your daily life. I'll try to keep any outside links and ads pertinent to my blog material, so you won't be bombarded with popups and useless images clogging your browser. I am personally all about open source and the Free Software Foundation movement, so I won't be trying to sell you cooking software or any of that nonsense. I'm just here to try out some recipes, give you my input, and reply to your questions and responses when needed.

So get ready for some food!

- Michelle, who is excited to get started.