Monday, September 6, 2004


***Salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice are all you need to make any meat, fish, or vegetable delicious.

***In my experience, men consume 87% of all fruit.

***A couple years ago, I was making french fries when a drop of hot oil flew six feet across the kitchen directly into my eye. Always wear glasses when cooking with deep fat.

***Feeding Chicks I
Women are easy to feed as long as you observe a few simple rules.
First, women do not salt their food at the table. The reasons for this would take us deep---too deep---into the morass of beauty mythology and the peculiar confluence of traditional Calvinism with the pleasure-hating asceticism of postmodern leftist politics, but while a complete analysis of the psycho/medico/feminist underpinnings of the phenomenon is beyond the scope of this essay, the lesson for home cooks is a simple one: salt their food before you give it to them.
You will be astonished by the results. Many women live for decades in a gustatory wasteland of food so dreary and bland that when first they taste your properly-seasoned chow, they look up at you with eyes wide in wonder, like baby birds emerging from the shell. I have witnessed this reaction on more than one occasion to something as basic as a green salad. “Where did you get this lettuce?” I am asked. “Oh,” I say, “a man I know grows it for me special.”

***Grease makes things taste good.

***Fatty fish (like salmon) should be cooked as slowly as possible so the fat melts into the meat. Lean fish (like flounder or tilapia) should be fried quickly.

***If you are served spareribs at my house, you are likely to get a barbecue sauce I first started making thirty years ago. I have had quite a few more wives than barbecue sauces, statistically speaking.

***I have been making cornbread for twenty years, and I have never made one that satisfied me.
***Sophia Bryk, who took care of my mother during her last years, grew up in the Ukraine in very modest circumstances, and over the years had learned to produce delicious food when the larder was virtually empty. If you handed her a five-pound beef tenderloin, she wouldn’t know what to do with it, but she can take a handful of flour, a few carrots, a potato, and a small piece of fat-laden pork that most Americans would throw away, and produce (effortlessly) a dish I could never dream of creating.
Over the years, from sheer doggedness and study, I have learned how to make a few meals, but watching Sophia pull extraordinary food out of thin air has made me realize I know nothing about cooking.

***Feeding Chicks II
Chicks like shrimp. And chocolate.

***It is unforgivably rude to offer a guest pate and sweetbreads when you know in your heart that he would much prefer franks and beans.

***Large plates make food more appealing.

***Learn how to assess the doneness of meat by pressing a finger lightly into its surface.

***Goethe wrote: “A man who repeatedly examines the state of his health generally discovers that he is ill.” This is why it is not wise to read articles in popular magazines about the dangers of this food or that. Remember a few years ago when everyone you knew was lactose-intolerant? Now that they have regained their senses, aren’t you glad you thought twice before buying stock in the company that makes Lact-Aid?
It is possible to find scientific information about food and nutrition, but it never appears in Time, Elle, Cosmopolitan, magazines with the words “health” or “prevention” in the title, or books sold at airports.

***Always drizzle a couple drops of nice olive oil on meat or fish before serving.

***Meat stocks are so useful, so easy to make, so cheap, and require so little actual work, that the only acceptable excuse for not making them is lack of freezer space.

***Feeding Chicks III
Fat is every bit as tasty to women as it is to men, but a certain subtlety is required. Most women, for example, presented with a rack of ribs dripping pork fat and barbecue sauce, will politely consume two or three ribs, dabbing their mouths with napkins after every bite. Men, of course, will normally attack such a meal with loud sucking noises, the removal of several articles of clothing, and the use of body parts not often used for food consumption, and will then need to be thoroughly hosed down when the repast is complete.
Cream sauces have a similar, though less pronounced, effect. I have had little success in feeding them to women.
It is possible to conceal a half-pound of butter, however, in a few herbs and vegetables and a cup of wine. Hide another stick in the rice, throw a few shrimp on top, and you have achieved the perfect meal for the female palate. It is called Shrimp Diane.
If you are a man with pock-marked skin, a long and jagged facial scar, no discernable job prospects, and a lengthy criminal record, but you can make a really delicious Shrimp Diane, you can get married. If you also make a gooey chocolate dessert with a hint of raspberry to it, you can marry Catherine Zeta-Jones, or her equivalent.

Copyright 2004 Michael Kubacki