Monday, February 25, 2013


Hello to all new readers and anyone who has been following this blog since its conception. Your time is much appreciated. First of all, I just want to mention my new Twitter account. Please check it out and follow me! I'll be posting a bunch of interesting tweets and pics from my last month here in Japan and upcoming trips to China and Thailand. So for all of you foodies who love Asian cuisine, I hope you'll tag along for the ride! Now that I'll have readers to enjoy the adventures with, I really want to challenge myself and expand my palette during my all of my new dining experiences. So once again, follow Opened Jar@10ThousandBites on Twitter. There's a link in the right sidebar.

Bite 4: As I promised before, I'd like to reveal a little bit more about myself and how it relates to my future endeavors as a culinary artist. I think it'll be easier if I work my way backwards. As you know, I've been teaching English in Japan for nearly two years now. You may be wondering how I wound up half way across the world. Long story, not so short, I decided to withdraw from a master's program at the University of Miami when I felt I no longer had a burning passion for what I was doing. I had been enrolled for less than a full semester. "What kind of program?" and "I should stop reading now because this dude's a quitter." are all things you're probably thinking. That's ok, I'll continue anyway. Before moving back down to Miami to pursue a master's in musicology, I studied orchestral performance at The Juilliard School in NYC. It was there that I received my bachelor's degree after four grueling years of sitting in the back of an orchestra, pumping out tectonic waves of godly sound from a Tuba. All exaggeration aside, the experience of going to such a prestigious performing arts school was absolutely unforgettable. How does this all relate to food? Well, I believe many artistic principles are completely transferable. The way a musician tries to blend sounds with the person sitting next to them in an orchestra is quite similar to the idea of flavor pairing. Or how about a complex rhythmical passage? Try thinking of someone manning a grill. In order to achieve the perfect state of tenderness for your meat, one must be able to calculate temperature, cook times and flip frequency, all while drinking beer, brushing on sauce, controlling a hazardous flame and having a semi-intellectual conversation (about half of that was serious.) Since I'm starting to rant, I'll 86 the music jargon and leave out the fluff about arts high school for now.

Bite 5: Now we can get down to business. I haven't posted any pics of my recent cooking due to a severe lack of anything that resembles a real kitchen in my apartment. No excuse, I know. But take a look and have mercy on my soul.

Notice how the electric burners are similar to an Easy-Bake oven in both size and wattage. Oh, wait! The baby pink Easy-Bake wins! Why? Because I don't even have a damn oven!

I was able to make due with a fridge this size in college, but it doesn't matter what's inside if there's nothing to cook with. At least the rice cooker is top notch!

On the bright side, I've been able to hone in on my sushi and sashimi skills.

Bite 6: Now that I've got you up to speed, I want to continue moving forward. As I mentioned before, I'll be finishing up here in Japan in a month. After that, I'll be heading over to China and Thailand for 3 weeks. I really want to take advantage of being around awesome food while I'm over there, so I've decided to do a "checklist challenge." I'm compiling a list of about 100-150 different dishes and delicacies that I feel I must try during my stay. Scorpion and genitalia are on the list, for all of you Bizarre Eats fans. As we get closer to my departure, I'll post the checklist. I'll then update you during my trip as I start checking things off. I promise, it'll be worth your reading time.

When I get back to the states and settle back into NYC, I'll gradually start introducing some of my culinary creations, classic dish attempts, reviews and all kinds of refreshing palate cleansers between those posts. So from here on forward, I humbly ask for your comments and creative criticism. Even though you can't taste these posts, creative thoughts are always valued. 

Next time on Ten Thousand Bites: The 30 day countdown to departure begins. Stay tuned for a top ten list of the Japanese budget-friendly meals and treats I've become a bit too familiar with during my time here! 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The First Few Bites

I've decided to keep this blog somewhat anonymous in order to put as much emphasis as possible on the food itself. That being said, it is impossible to define yourself as a chef without first defining yourself as a person. As time goes on and as I prepare more and more bites for my readers, I will explain more about myself as a person and how those traits translate into my food. For the first few bites, we have a little family culinary history, a small serving of my personal taste and an amuse-bouche of goals, desires and thoughts. Enjoy!

Bite 1: I don't come from a family of people who enjoy expanding their palettes, neither food-wise nor in terms of exciting new experiences. That may have sounded a bit blunt, but it's the truth and that was the deck of cards I was dealt as a curious child. My family is Puerto-Rican American and completely proud of it. There's absolutely nothing wrong with having pride in your heritage, I just wasn't on the same page as them. That being said, I was fortunate enough to have a very diverse upbringing and go to many different schools with many different kinds of people. Although, I was born into a Puerto Rican family from NYC, I grew up in Miami. This further highlighted the hispanic flavor of my family, creating a kind of Puerto Rican-Cuban-South American fusion of a childhood. As for the food, I should say that my family stuffed my stomach full of the same 4 or 5 dishes every week, but I guess it's better to make a few things well than a lot of things terribly. If I had to pick some favorites, the list would definitely consist of the typical cuisine of Puerto Rico, referred to as cocina criolla and a few Cuban selections. Since Puerto Rican culture has roots in a lot of different places, such as Spain, Africa and the island itself, cocina criolla contains a very wide spectrum of flavors and ingredients. Mixed together, they form a delicious combo of hearty legumes, flavorful herbs and well marinated meats & poultry:

...and thanks to the influence of the kick*** Cubans of Miami, the Cubano:

Bite 2: Moving on to our next course, I'd like to clear you palates by reminding you that although my family is Puerto Rican, I was fortunate enough to have friends from all over the world who had different lifestyles and various tastes. If you combine that with a hint of my curious personality, you get someone who loves to travel and try just about everything. Currently (I'm aware that I'm ranting...I won't make this a habit,)  I've been teaching English in Japan for almost 2 years now. I've dabbled across Europe, Canada, the States and blah blah blah... What's important is that these experiences will directly impact my culinary output.

Aside from certain ethnic staples and the occasional indulgences of artery clogging rations, I tend to lead a healthy life style when it comes to my food intake. I've been running marathons for the past 4 years and have a PR of 3 hours and 11 minutes. You can do the math. On a less fortunate note, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis several years back, which has ultimately changed the way I think about my health and the things that I put into my body. As you will see, much of the food I cook will be on the lean and clean side.

Bite 3: You may be wondering why I've decided to create this blog. As I said before, I'll give you more and more details as time goes on. But for now, an appetizer must suffice as I'm quite sure you can't stomach all of my life's details in one sitting. Today's goal-appetizer: I want to become a culinary artist. Well, that's vague. I know. What I can say more concretely is: I want to make delicious, healthy and wholesome food, then sell it. I can go on and talk about restaurants, food trucks, catering and so forth. But I won't. I've decided that in order to become a great culinary artist, no matter what the venue may be, one must first master technique, conceptualization, and the refinement of one's own palette. Which is why I've decided that I will go to culinary school after I return to the states. All of this is just wishful thinking if I can't create something that people like. That's where this blog comes into play.

Next time on Ten Thousand Bites: A peak into my artistic past and how it relates to my culinary future, a call for critiques and a tentative timeline for this spring's posts. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Opened Jar

I’ve just opened a jar
with ten thousand bites
each better than the last
each building on its past

I’ve just opened a jar
with flavors just right
familiar yet new
for me and for you

I’ve just opened a jar
a jar with new life
life leading to the best
both simple and complex

I’ve just opened a jar
with but so many bites
each better than the last
each building on its past

Ten Thousand Bites is opened jar's attempt to apply Malcom Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule to the art of cooking. Although this blog will not track time, this opened jar's contents will be served in bites of experience. These bites will vary in flavor and texture, ranging from attempts at mastering classic dishes to innovative culinary creations and critical commentary. The jar is open and there are many bites to be had. Taste, enjoy, comment and come back for more as often as you please. Bon appétit!

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