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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 re
  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 Sp
  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 mo
  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,
  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 tha
  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,
  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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