Cue blaring salsa music, the intoxicating smell of roasted pork and a salivating crowd ready to pounce on smoky, salty, juicy meat. In my Cuban-American family and culture, a lechón means it’s time to party. Every Cuban family has their own lechón recipe. The Italians have their marinara sauce, we have our dry rub.
This is the seventh installment of "Eat This List" - a regularly recurring list of things chefs, farmers, writers and other food experts think you ought to know about.
Last week, I found myself hanging out with five whole hogs, three briskets and a whole lot of barbecue legends (and their faithful disciples) near some fire pits in freezing cold Murphysboro, Illinois. We'd congregated there for the second annual Whole Hog Extravaganza and BBQ MBA program, and when I wasn't stuffing my mouth with some of the best pork and brisket on the planet, I was slamming it shut and soaking up what these venerable pitmasters had to say.
Here's a taste.
Editor's note: For more on Hannah Storm, don't miss "Sanjay Gupta, MD" on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET Saturday and 7:30 a.m. ET Sunday.
ESPN "SportsCenter" host Hannah Storm suffered severe burns as the result of a propane grill accident at her Connecticut home on December 11. CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta spoke with her recently. Here is an edited version of that interview.
CNN: Is it hard for you to just be by that grill where this all happened, psychologically?
This is the fifth installment of "Eat This List" - a regularly recurring list of things chefs, farmers, writers and other food experts think you ought to know about.
A recent study by the UK-based Institution of Mechanical Engineers revealed that 30–50% or 1.2-2 billion metric tonnes (that's about 2.6-4.4 trillion pounds for those of us not on the metric system) of all food produced on the planet is lost before reaching a human stomach. There are plenty of factors at play - including large portions of edible crops being rejected because they're not physically attractive enough, problems in the supply chain and inefficient harvesting - but perhaps it's time to consider that your own kitchen might be part of the problem.
The next time you're heading out on a grocery run, try one or more of these simple tricks for minimizing food waste. Not only will they help you do your part to take it easy on the environment, but you may even save a few bucks in the bargain.
Nearly two weeks into the year, most people's shiny, new resolutions have lost their luster. It's easy to slide back into comfortable old habits, routines and ruts, but we're here to combat that with a little personal challenge.
In my list of food resolutions for 2013, I suggested a monthly "Food Adventure Day," experimenting with an in-season ingredient you've never used before. They won't all be winners, but chances are that you'll end the year with at least a few new fruits or vegetables in the rotation.
As I wandered through Fei Long market in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, last week, stocking up on my usual baby bok choy, lotus root and taro, it occurred to me that while I've eaten countless bowls of take-out Chinese broccoli, I'd never actually cooked it at home. Into the basket it went.
Editor's note: Nathan Myhrvold is CEO of Intellectual Ventures, author of "Modernist Cuisine" and "Modernist Cuisine at Home." Sanjay Gupta hosts The Next List on Sundays at 2 p.m. ET, only on CNN
CNN: For people who don't know anything about cooking, how would you define modern cuisine?
Myhrvold: So modern cuisine is the movement of chefs that are trying to create new kinds of food, new food experiences. And they don't care if they have to break some of the traditional rules of cooking to do so.
Yo mama's cinnamon is so old, its UPC code is "1."
Yo mama's thyme is so old, they used it to season the Last Supper.
Yo mama's cloves are so old, the bottle has a Brontosaurus steak recipe on the side.
Casey Barber, a food writer in Clifton, New Jersey, says many Hostess products and their associated feelings of nostalgia are easy to conjure up in a home kitchen, but there's one thing she's never been able to replicate: "There's just a fakeness about them, a teeth rattling extra super-sugaryness that comes with the high fructose corn syrup that you're not going to get if you make a Twinkie or Devil Dog at home."
She made these raspberry "Zingers" - a snack cake sold under both the Dolly Madison and Hostess brand names - in October. The recipe is in her forthcoming book,"Classic Snacks Made from Scratch."
Vegetarians are (mostly) not here just to ruin your good time. Really. I swear. I was one, myself for seven years and all I wanted at a cookout was to hang out with my friends, and not have to worry that the omnivores would gobble up all the meat-free sides before I got to the table.
Here are a few of my favorite ways to celebrate the bounty of the season and make sure all my guests leave full and satisfied - no matter how they choose to chow down.
Here's the cruddy thing about ribs: you can spend hours upon hours lovingly seasoning, basting and smoking a rack to melting, knee-knocking perfection, and at least one of your guests is going to be sitting there thinking, "Well, if I had been manning the grill, I would have..."
Fine. They get to host next time. Meanwhile, rest assured that there are as many ways to prepare ribs are there are meat-loving lunatics with nothing better to do than to spend four or more hours slaving over a hot grill. You're not going to please everyone, but if you follow these basic guidelines (and add your own touches along the way), there's an awfully good chance you'll at least please yourself.