Cooking with intuition. Cooking with little, to no recipe. Cooking with a total understanding of combining certain ingredients to make dishes completely unique.
This is what you find with my husband, Sam's cooking. This is the first of many "cuisine" posts you will find on Curio Inspo. Although much of the content found here will be art focused, I believe there is something artful about creating meals. I am in awe with Sam's cooking, and so I thought, "his creative cooking methods deserve more than a simple photo ... there are interesting stories to be shared.” After all, Sam has a curious way of cooking, and this site's purpose is to inspire.
Rothko, Orange and Yellow 1956
As this is the first cuisine post, I wanted to share some background about Sam as a "chef":
It is important to note, Sam is not a chef professionally, but he has an obvious passion for cooking. When we first met in the fall of 2014, we were working on a cruise ship sailing the South Pacific. He was the sommelier on board, and he always shared with me anecdotes about him cooking for his friends and family. Yet, since we were crew on a cruise ship, he was unable to cook for me when first met. In fact, it took almost an entire year until he finally cooked a meal for me! I was pretty certain he could cook, but I had no idea ... HE COULD COOK! Sam jokes it is the reason I married him (which certainly was one of the contending reasons). But in all seriousness, you can feel the love he puts into every dish.
Sam's main inspiration for his cooking comes from his late mom, Mary Lynn. From the stories I heard, she was an amazing “chef” of her own. I never was able to meet Sam's mom sadly, but when he creates a meal, I feel a connection to her. We have stacks of her handwritten recipes and cookbooks. Mary Lynn's love for cooking has certainly been ignited within Sam. I imagine her smiling down watching him move in the kitchen, putting his signature in each dish, and the delight he has sharing the meal with his loved ones. The energy surrounding Sam in the kitchen is most certainly an extension of his mom.
In addition, Sam is constantly watching, reading, and absorbing what other famous chefs are doing in their own kitchens. Some of his favorite are Rene Redzepi (Noma), David Chang (Momofuku), James Rigato (Mabel Gray), and Paul Bocuse (L'Auberge du Pont de Collonges), to name a few. And then there is the chef, Francis Mallmann, who is all about the FIRE. Sam loves this chef because he specializes in cooking over an open flame. Sam built an intricate fire pit in our backyard, with Mallmann as his inspiration.
That brings us to today's topic, which was Sam's idea to create a holiday dinner focused on a turkey cooked on an open fire. This was an intimate meal consisting of 5 courses and a few wine pairings. Keep scrolling to read more and see visuals from this meal. And cheers to the power of fire!
To begin, we will start with a slight background of the preparation of the amish turkey, sourced from our local butchery (named The Butchery.) Dry-brined for over a day with an aromatic sachet of apples, oranges, onions, fresh thyme, sage, marjoram, peppercorns, cloves & garlic. For the first time, Sam decided to wrap the aromatics in a cheesecloth bundle and soak them overnight in stock. When the fire was ready, he heated the sachet and "stuffed" it into the bird and mounted the spit through it.
On to the pit it went, and began browning within 10 minutes. Fired roasted, self-basting birds have a flavor all their own, and Sam often says it's the greatest protein ever. The pit is super hot, but low flamed and it cooked the 16lb turkey in an hour and 40 minutes. Sam was amazed. Incredibly juicy, tender, smokey and herbal with rich, caramelized skin. The stock-soaked fruit & herbs steamed flavor into the meat from the inside while the fat wrapped the bird in a golden seal. It was pretty serious, said Sam. Unlike usual, he had nothing bad to say about it... which means it was really, really good. It may of been the best turkey he'd ever had, but it was definitely the best I'd ever had.
Although the fire roasted turkey was the main focus, as mentioned there were other courses that Sam prepared as well. These creations are listed below. If you would like more specific details, drop a line and I would be glad to ask Sam to elaborate more. Hope you enjoy viewing the culinary journey.
Split Pea Soup
marigolds, parsley, scallions
Butter Basted Turkey Heart
three-day soy, ginger & maple marinade
pomegranate and spiced honey
Winner Winner Turkey Dinner
Key Lime "Not a Pie"
key lime gelato
sweetened condensed milk
Fire is such a fragile and beautiful thing. People think that it's a manly thing -- fire and you burn things. But it's, on the contrary, very feminine. It's very fragile.
Can you imagine your entire home built on stilts perched over the water? How about living in a community that instilled complete trust for your neighbors, in which your front door is always wide open, and people passing can peer into your home? How can a community be connected to the modern world, yet still stay a part of the past? This is a small snapshot of a village in Asia called “Chew Jetty" - located near George Town on Penang Island, a state of Malaysia. It is an unusual place because it has somehow escaped the modern world and exists as a snapshot of simpler times.
Wandering through the Chew Jetty, or the other 6 "Clan Jetties" that exist in this area, is like nothing else. When you enter one of the jetties, you are surrounded by old wooden homes with colorful splashes of bright teals and ruby reds. Many homes are adorned with miniature shrines on their front porches. You can hear the creaking of the planks below your feet, while the water of the Penang Straight sparkles between the wooden cracks. The smell of something cooking fills the air. Children run along the dock, going from house to house, laughing and playing along the jetty. There is a feeling of history, community, and warmth that radiates from the little homes that are built along the docks. The residents acknowledge your presence, and may try to sell you a coffee or fortune cookie. You can't help to feel like a person from another world, but you have to remind yourself that you are indeed just an outsider. You are allowed to be a part of this magical place for just a brief moment.
The “Chew” derives from the surname of migrant families that gathered together. The jetty was built in 1918 by Chinese immigrants who fled to Malaysia in search of a better life. This area in Penang was a bustling port, and the first settlers of the jetties worked as fishermen or channel ferry boatmen. The wooden structures are uniquely built, which virtually no homes are constructed in this fashion today. Many of the families have been living in the jetties for generations. How many of us can say the home we live in now, is the same our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents once lived?
These settlements that have been around for more than a century are now considered a UNESCO heritage site. Although Penang has much urban development within the bustling capital of George Town, the jetties are almost untouched by the 21st century. The homes all stand in their original wooden designs, like they would have 100 years ago. There is basic electricity and water, but no modern plumbing ... and definitely no NetFlix. Although many of us could not fathom living like this, you can't help but be overcome with peace in this simplistic way of life. As you peer into the homes, you do not see people sitting around a TV or fixated on their phone screens. The people of this village are talking with each other, cooking, watching people go by, fishing, mediating, or waving hello. By day the residents often relax in their homes, and when evening sets they go to their porch for cool air.
There are traditions that span generations embedded in this village. One is the dragon boat races, which take place the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. The dragon boats are intricately carved wood painted bright red. Several boats from various jetties will race against each other in the Penang Straight. Although fun, this race is also extremely competitive to show pride for their family name. It is one of many traditions that happen here.
In the end, the stilts elevated this village for over 100 years to be something unique and authentic. What do you consider the "stilts" to be within your world? There is history, family, craftsmanship, beauty, simplicity, community, and tradition all found in this village. How do we instill these elements in our own life? In what ways are they the same, and in what ways are they different? It is explorations like this that allow us to ponder, compare, and learn.
Artist: Marisol (Escobar)
American (born France), 1930-2016
Title: The Party
Medium: Assemblage with 15 figures and 3 wall panels painted and carved wood, mirror, plastic, television set, clothes, shoes, glasses and other accessories 1956-66
Location: Toledo Museum of Art
When you think of the word "party", what do you think of? Many people associate this with positive thoughts and excitement, but for others this word may create anxiety. Thoughts pertaining to a party creates emotion, which the artist Marisol explores in her installation ...
I first viewed this installation by Marisol in the fall of 2007 and visited it again recently. Although I have only seen this artwork twice in person, it is something that I always go back to again in my mind. My first reaction when I saw this installation was there was a sense of fun. The life size figures were together in a social interaction, adorned in colorful dresses, and elegant accessories. One figure is holding a tray of cocktails, ready to serve the guests at any moment. Another first impressions of this installation made me think of my family and my own social interactions. Growing up there were countless times my mom, aunts, grandma, and even great grandma would throw a party for everyone to get together to celebrate. This made me feel nostalgic for those times.
However, when viewing anything at a certain level you must remove your past experiences. After I started looking at the sculptures in more detail, I found there was more to the installation than my initial reaction of simple fun and nostalgia. There was also something cold and stiff. The figures at the party all face the viewer; they are not facing each other and do not seem to be in the act of socializing. Although they are together in one place, they are also isolated. With even further observation, the viewer sees there is one portrait that repeats among the figures. Why is this the case? Was this someone playing out different roles that exist in a social situation? Come to find out, it is a self-portrait of the artist - whether a cast, photo, or carved sculpture. The installation seems to question how some may conform to be accepted, but the importance of staying true to our identity and self expression.
Ending questions for self thought:
“I never wanted to be a part of society. I have always had a horror of the schematic, of conventional behavior. All my life I have to wanted to be distant, not to be like anyone else. I feel uncomfortable with the established codes of conduct." Marisol