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. 

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