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  1. Sorry, this is kind of odd to me. The foundations of pre-hispanic, Mesoamerican cooking are corn, beans and chiles. Or beans and tortillas, as you say. There is nothing wrong with understanding these three ingredients inside and out before you move on. My personal pain in the rear is people talking about molecular gastro re Mexico without knowing the importance of nixtamal. My personal pain in the rear is non-Mexicans acting like they're some kind of gatekeepers to my culture.
  2. I just started on this documentary series from CCTV. It's somehow classified as a "travel documentary" (some kind of translation problem?), but the show instead focuses on one aspect of the Chinese kitchen per episode. Episode list: Fire Control Knife Skills Chilies Tofu Flour Umami Imperial Cuisine Tableware As I said, I've only barely started it but it looks pretty good. Production values aren't as good as on A Taste of China, but it looks professional enough. The subtitles on the version I got are just barely good enough to make out what the narrator is saying most of the time.
  3. Hey, I'm not criticizing those recommendations. I'm just saying there's a whole lot more to the food of Mexico than what people here usually call "Mexican food." I'm from the Northeast and our cooking is pretty much ignored. Even the regions that get heavy coverage tend to have their cooking homogenized into a generic "Mexican" once they get into international cookbooks and restaurants. As far as authenticity goes, I remember we had a thread about that years ago. Somebody (I don't recall who) suggested the term is contentious and misleading and we should drop it in favor of "traditional." I really agree with that. So I'm going to say that if the OP wants to throw a dinner party showcasing traditional Mexican cuisine, they could focus on one region. Or just do the modern, homogenized thing. I promise I won't cry.
  4. Diana Kennedy and Rick Bayliss are OK in my book. If they have a defect, it's that they push a homogenized version of Mexican cuisine, the "beans and tortillas" that rotuts is talking about. There's a fantastic amount of regional/cultural variation in Mexico that shaped the way people traditionally cook, and there's Mexican chefs currently doing everything from molecular gastronomy to appropriating, err rediscovering, prehispanic cookery. If you want to explore Mexican outside of what you might call U.S. Mexican Restaurant, Ricardo Muñoz Zurita's books are a great place to start. They're in Spanish but Amazon carries a few of them.
  5. For arrivistes, myself included, a really good knife is a bit of a status symbol. It tells other people (and yourself) that you're not some jackass who watches cookery shows when there's nothing good on the other channels; you're The Real Thing. Anyway, the general public (including people who frequent white tablecloth restaurants) aren't really "foodies," much less gear-obsessed technicians like we get here. There's not that many of us but we sure spend a lot of money, so it makes sense for people to cater to us. And boy do we like to talk about knives, so there probably -seem- to be a lot more of us than there actually are. (You're into machine tools, right? At my shop we have a worn-out, second-rate, South American South Beach clone for a tool lathe, and it does everything I need it to; that doesn't stop every cack-handed garage shop hobbyist from slobbering over a Hardinge HLVH [which I think is distinctly inferior to the Monarch 10EE, but that is beside the point and even further off-topic]) EDIT: What I'm getting at is, don't assume the GP cares about high-end knives just because a relative handful of people on foodie forums post endlessly about them. I'd be willing to bet a fair amount of money there's more people dicing onion with a steak knife than with a nice gyuto, right this minute.
  6. Machines to do X have been around for a very long time; the supply chain that processes food into ready-to-cook ingredients, freezes them and ships them straight to your commercial kitchen at a competitive price is a much more recent phenomenon. The price -is- competitive, or these products would have no chance in the market. I think you're just looking at pound-for-pound prices when there are additional costs (on both sides). Believe me, if it were cheaper overall for that restaurant annabelle was complaining about to buy their potatoes locally and hire a guy to slice them up in the kitchen, they would do so. FN and others just respond to what the market demands. If enough people want to see knife skills on TV, we'll get knife skills challenges on America's Next Top Chef or whatever. I had some quotes from Fight Club for this post but you lot probably haven't seen that one, either. Ah well.
  7. I can honestly say you're the first person I've talked to who says they haven't seen that movie. Anyway, fixing a flat tire isn't a good analogy here because even someone completely untrained can cut a bunch of potatoes or what have you. They might do it badly, and they might take all day, and they might even harm themselves, but it'll get done. Nobody is talking about not using knives anymore, we're talking about reasons why knife skills are (apparently) lacking among media chefs. One reason given above is that FN et al. seemingly select their stars for their onscreen personalities rather than any actual skills. My observation is that the market for cutting a perfect matchstick (or what have you) has probably declined because (a) the finished product is available at an attractive price, thanks to the wonders of mechanization, and (b) people aren't wow-ed by perfect matchsticks anymore; in fact, if it's -too- perfect, they might just assume you're serving them a mass-produced, ready-to-cook (and in the eyes of many, inferior) product. Now, you'll note that none of this is judgement, just observation. FN is in the business of selling adverts and restaurants are in the business of selling meals. They respond to what the market demands. If the next hot fashion in restaurants is prep in the classical French manner done tableside, you can be sure the trend will reverse.
  8. That's kind of my point? You can spot that the potatoes have been delivered already cut, and it tells you the restaurant isn't doing its own prep, and you feel that to get your money's worth the kitchen should be cutting the potatoes.
  9. Did you watch Saving Private Ryan? Huge-budget movie with big-name director and cast, but the beachstorming scenes are purposely shot to suggest crappy handheld cameras and grainy old film. It tells you that you're watching something real, because this is the style in which we're used to seeing things that are real. Had the whole thing been shot with Steadicam and high-def digital camera, the result would not have been as affecting. The same principle applies here. John Q. Citizen can get perfectly uniform shoestrings from the frozen foods department at the grocery store. At a nice restaurant, he expects some guy in a funny white hat to slice his potatoes, even if he can't see it for himself. One way to suggest that they're hand-cut in the kitchen rather than scooped out of a bag ready to fry is to cut them "badly." So it's not such an advantage to get them perfect, every single time. I make no judgement about this. Tastes change and the hospitality industry has to keep up with its customers' preferences, even if it means penalizing people who learned how to do things the "proper" way.
  10. IMO a 1K/3K combi waterstone is probably the best starter. Much finer than that is pointless for stainless, and 3K to 8K is a natural step up for carbon steel (and about the finest you can usefully sharpen at in a kitchen knife) if you go that way, while a 300 or 400 grit is a natural step down from 1K and excellent grits for repairs. There are differences between brands but they not really that significant starting out. A lot of it comes down to personal preference, which is informed by personal experience.
  11. To me, "good knife skills" means quick and safe. Pretty and even are just byproducts. I think one reason there's little emphasis on knife skills these days is that "perfect" slices, etc. are easily achievable by machines in the kitchen or at the plant. Fair or not, imperfection has come to signify hand-made, artisanal, and authenticity. It does bug me when I see slow and unsafe practice from people who are supposed to be teaching others.
  12. I don't think silk cord wrapping would last very long in kitchen use. Tsubas and such would get in the way of any reasonable grip, too. There's a few "traditional" blade shapes available (kiritsuke, funayuki, usuba, nakiri), and all sorts of finishes and damascus patterns. If you want something flashy I say start from that end of the knife.
  13. No harm to your knives in using the Spyderco, particularly with the UF stones, although the built-in 30/40 angles might be limiting. Sandpaper/strop would require learning a new set of skills; I suggest practicing on the Henckels before you try sharpening your good knives.
  14. Soap dispensers are more or less maintenace-free. Are you sure you didn't abuse yours?
  15. Sorry, already wrapped. Maybe on Wednesday.
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