Rank #1: [Rerun] Ask Special Sauce: Kenji and Stella Troubleshoot Your Thanksgiving (2017)
When I was mulling over what we could do on Special Sauce for Thanksgiving, I immediately thought about stress reduction. Making the big dinner can be stressful for any number of reasons, and while we design all our Thanksgiving offerings with an eye to making the holiday as hassle-free as possible, I decided to continue with that theme in this special edition of Ask Special Sauce. I invited Kenji and Stella on to answer as many questions from our community as we could, since they know a lot about a lot of Thanksgiving-related topics. The two of them delve into a myriad of tips and tricks, from figuring out what to do with leftovers and accommodating your guests' allergies and dietary restrictions, and they discuss the differences between stuffing and dressing. (Kenji even has an ingenious solution for people who would like to cook their stuffing in their bird without overcooking the meat.) We will also provide a full transcript of our conversation on our website, for those of you who'd prefer to read it, and have included highlights and links to the recipes mentioned in this episode below. There are so many people that I have to thank concerning Special Sauce. I'm thankful for everyone who makes the podcast a joy to create. Our producer, Marty Goldensohn, our associate producer, Marissa Chen, everyone here both at CDM Studios and the other Serious Eats' Special Sauce home, the Radio Foundation. And a big thank you especially to our listeners, whether you're new to the podcast or tune in weekly. Without you, there would be no Special Sauce. Happy Thanksgiving, Serious Eaters, from me and all of us here at Serious Eats! ------------------------------- 3:23 Kenji addresses a question about make-ahead savory foods for the holidays. Recipes: Warm Brussels Sprout Salad with Bacon and Hazelnut Vinaigrette, Make-Ahead Roasted Squash and Kale Salad 6:27 Stella’s tips for make-ahead desserts. Recipes: Pumpkin Layer Cake, Pumpkin Pie, Cherry Pie 8:28 Kenji explains how to get the most out of kitchen space when planning your Thanksgiving menu. Recipes: Mashed Potatoes, Mashed Sweet Potatoes 10:25 Debate: Should pies be reheated? 11:57 The team debates the differences between stuffing and dressing. Kenji is going to steal Stella’s dad’s idea for including brown butter in a stuffing recipe this year. Recipes: Slow-Cooker Sage and Sausage Stuffing, View all stuffing recipes 18:51 Is it possible to make gluten-free pies or other desserts that are actually delicious? Recipe: Flaky and Crisp Gluten-Free Pie Crust 22:33 Are expensive turkeys better than ‘typical’ turkeys? Kenji, Stella and Ed discuss heritage vs. organic vs. free-range vs. commercial turkeys. Advice from Kenji: Use a thermometer and don’t overcook. Animal rights issues and farmers. Video: How to Take the Temperature of Your Turkey 27:50 Kenji and Stella offer suggestions of what to do with leftover pumpkin purée. Recipes: The Best Pumpkin Pizza Recipe, Spicy Spring pizza, Sweet Potato Pancakes Made With Leftover Mashed Sweet Potatoes, The Food Lab: How to Make Kickass Quesadillas 30:18 Is sous-vide a useful technique for Thanksgiving? Kenji says yes, it’s great for turkey, leftovers, and heating make-ahead dishes. Recipes: Sous Vide Turkey Breast, Deep-Fried Sous Vide Turkey Porchetta (Turchetta), Gravy
Rank #2: Ivan Orkin on Love, Loss, and the Tastiest Chicken Bits
In this first part of a Special Sauce double-header, Ivan Orkin, of Ivan Ramen and Slurp Shop in NYC, talks about life before he became a celebrity in Japan as a gaijin (foreigner) ramen chef: the Orkin family table growing up on Long Island, NY, how a high school job working as a dishwasher in a local Japanese restaurant helped first develop his palate, his early years teaching English in Tokyo, the restaurant cooking experiences in the U.S. that shaped his philosophy on hospitality, and how he was able to overcome tremendous loss.
Rank #3: Special Sauce: Uncovering Pizza's US Origins [1/2]
We rarely deal with breaking news on Special Sauce, but when said news concerns pizza's US origins, exceptions must be made. As soon as I learned that Peter Regas, a Chicago-based statistician by day and pizza obsessive by night, had discovered that there were pizzerias operating in Brooklyn and Manhattan years before Gennaro Lombardi opened what has long been thought to be the country's first pizzeria in 1905, I knew we had to have him on the podcast for an extended interview. I even brought in reinforcements: New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells, and Serious Eats senior editor and veteran pizzaiolo, Sasha Marx. Here's a taste of what Regas shared with us: “What we know there is a man named Filippo Milone who had probably come, it's not clear, but he'd probably come around 1892 to America from Italy...The first indication that we have hard evidence of him owning a business is at 47 Union Street, again in Red Hook…That would be then in the early part of 1898....Then what we have at Spring Street, 53 Spring Street [the site of Lombardi's original location], we have a permit that's applied for in the summer of 1898. That's for a bake oven. The man that appears in the next directory cycle, which would be the early part of 1899, is...Phil Malone, Filippo Milone, it's the same man.” Pete Wells told Regas that when he heard the news, he tweeted that "it was like if we found out some other dude wrote The Federalist Papers and The Declaration of Independence and then, like, gave them to Madison and Jefferson and we never knew it. It was some guy named Tony all along.” Wells urged Regas to continue his research, telling him, “Follow the mozzarella, Peter.” Pizza nerds (and even plain old pizza enthusiasts) will rejoice in the conversation that ensued. To get started on your own mozzarella journey, check out this week’s episode, and stay tuned for part two next week, when Regas expounds on his discovery and Kenji weighs in on all things pizza. --- The full transcript for this episode can be found over here at Serious Eats: https://www.seriouseats.com/preview?record=441852
Rank #4: Ivan Orkin on Slurping, the State of Ramen in the U.S., and More
On this week's Special Sauce, I continue my far-reaching conversation with great cook and ramen master, Ivan Orkin, aka Ivan Ramen. What is his recommendation on the best way to eat ramen, how did he make it as an American ramen chef in Tokyo, why did he return to the U.S. after so much success in Japan, and what non-noodle project does he have in the works in New York City? You'll just have to tune in to find out.
Rank #5: Phil Rosenthal Is Anthony Bourdain, Except Afraid of Everything [1/2]
My friend Phil Rosenthal, the creator and host of the new Netflix show Somebody Feed Phil is as much fun to talk to as he is to eat with. When I asked him how the show ended up on Netflix, he replied, "The way I sold the show...I said, 'I'm exactly like Anthony Bourdain if he was afraid of everything....I mean, I'm the guy watching him, not really wanting to go to Borneo and have a tattoo pounded into my chest with nails.'" When I sit down with Phil no subject is off limits. We revisited (admittedly at my behest) the moment in 2006 when I asked him to invest in Serious Eats. I just thought that the food-obsessed creator of Everybody Loves Raymond would leap at the opportunity to get in on the ground floor. "By the way," he said, laughing, "my business manager told me not to give you money then. I was ready. I was like, 'This sounds good.' But he said, 'No, no, no, no, don't, don't.'" That's four "nos" and two "don'ts" for those of you counting at home. If you listen, you'll find that the Phil Rosenthal you hear on Special Sauce is the same guy you see on Somebody Feed Phil. He's funny–really funny–smart, and generously spirited (he always picks up the check, on the show and in real life). And, oh yeah, Phil's also a great storyteller who has somehow managed to maintain an optimistic but realistic outlook on life. Why? Because as his friend Ed. Weinberger, the legendary sitcom director and creator, told him when he was shooting the Everybody Loves Raymond pilot, "Phil, you might as well make the show you want to make because at the end, they're going to cancel you anyway." As Phil pointed out, "Isn't that a great philosophy of life? We all get cancelled one day. Live your life." So enliven your life, Serious Eaters, by listening to Part 1 of the Special Sauce interview with Phil Rosenthal. You'll be laughing in the first minute. (And for those of you who prefer their interviews in written form, we've included an edited transcript of the conversation on our website.)
Rank #6: Chris Kimball on the Grateful Dead and Life After America's Test Kitchen [2/2]
I'm going to go out on a limb here, or perhaps I should say on a sprig of rosemary: For those who care deeply about the state of home cooking today, the food-journalism landscape, or the Grateful Dead, this week's episode of Special Sauce, part two of my conversation with Milk Street founder Chris Kimball, is a must-listen. Going back over the transcript, I marveled anew at just how smart and thought-provoking and, yes, persnickety the bespectacled, bow tie–wearing Mr. Kimball really is, on every subject: how Serious Eats culinary director, Kenji López-Alt, was just as science-driven and obsessive about rigorous testing when he worked for Chris at Cook's Illustrated as he is now, the humorous side of Abraham Lincoln, the range of spices found in the cuisine of the Ottoman Empire, and the benefits of not just giving home cooks what they want, to name a few. It may be my favorite Special Sauce ever—it's that good—and if this podcast weren't already free, I'd offer a money-back guarantee that serious eaters everywhere will feel the same way after listening. (And if you don't, let us know. We'd love to hear your feedback.)
Rank #7: Mario Batali on the Joys of Pig Jell-O
"Hot pig Jell-O" may not sound like a draw to most people, but that's exactly how Mario Batali describes the headcheese that he got me to try—and even like!—more than 20 years ago. How he managed that feat, his nose-to-tail approach to cooking (though not exclusive to him), how he hires so many people who start out as line cooks and end up as chef-partners, and what he regrets about giving author Bill Buford an all-access pass for his terrific book Heat are just some of the many tidbits serious eaters will come away with after listening to this, the second installment of my conversation with the superstar chef and restaurateur.
Rank #8: Smitten Kitchen’s Deb Perelman on Not Pretending to Be Perfect [1/2]
A week after sitting down with Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes, I got to reminisce with another seminal food blogger: Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen. Deb started Smitten Kitchen in 2006, the same year that Serious Eats launched. Twelve years later, Smitten Kitchen has millions of readers who come to the site for both her fine recipes and her realistic portrayal of her insanely busy city life, testing recipes and posting on her blog with two young children underfoot. Somehow she's managed to also write two best-selling cookbooks, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, and her recently published Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant and Unfussy New Favorites. When I posited that one of the reasons Smitten Kitchen resonated with so many people is Deb's ability to laugh at herself and readily admit to failure, she responded, "Yeah, I thought that was so strange, that we were supposed to pretend we were perfect. How hard would that be to maintain? I'd last maybe a day, like a week perhaps...That's not life." What explains the success of Smitten Kitchen? Deb isn't sure, but she said, "I'm hoping that I'm speaking about things in real language. I hope that I'm not pretending to be something I'm not, pretending cooking is something that it's not. I just think, 'Okay, so this is super hard to try to cook this with like a kid underfoot.' Why would I lie about that? Because this is real and we're all dealing with this. I kind of do it [the blog] to share the burden a little bit, like, 'Why should I feel like I'm carrying all this myself when we're all dealing with this?'" Perelman is ever hopeful, whether it comes to the latest recipe she's testing or the future of food blogs. "I really do like the fact that that you can have a long, crappy day, and make a recipe that's new and fun, and it can be the highlight of your day." As for food blogging, Deb said, "You know, it didn't begin and end with me, and...I know that blogs sound like a very dated thing, but I always feel like if you're trying to get yourself out there, put yourself out there. So what if you have ten people reading? When somebody wants a link to your clips, there it is." For more pearls of wisdom from Deb Perelman, check out part 1 of her Special Sauce interview. ------ The full transcript for this week's episode can be found over at Serious Eats.
Rank #9: Special (Pizza) Sauce: Adam Kuban and Scott Wiener Talk Pie [1/3]
For the next three weeks on Special Sauce I will be geeking out about pizza with Adam Kuban and Scott Wiener, two of the smartest, most passionate, and most knowledgeable pizza nerds on the planet. Adam Kuban is the founding editor of the seminal food blog Slice.com, which Serious Eats acquired right before we launched in December of 2006, and as part of the deal, Adam became our first managing editor. Adam currently runs Margot's Pizza, a mostly monthly pizza popup in Brooklyn. Scott Wiener is the founder of Scott's Pizza Tours, the author of Viva la Pizza!: The Art of the Pizza Box, and is in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the largest collection of pizza boxes on the planet. Of course, I asked the two about their love for pizza. Scott said part of its appeal is that it has a wide reach. "It's the food eaten everywhere, and everybody understands it, and it's just sort of an open invitation for conversation...When somebody says, 'Oh, such and such place is hands down the best ever,' nobody ever says, 'Oh. Okay, cool. Thanks. You want to go play some hockey?' No, it's never like that. It's always a conversation, and nobody's ever right, and nobody's ever wrong. It's like this friendly thing you can talk about." Scott's love of pizza led to him creating Scott's Pizza Tours, which in turn set him on the path to collecting pizza boxes, and he now has 1,400 and counting. "I just figured, I have to understand every aspect of [pizza]," Scott said. "I was driving out to Long Island to see pizza oven factories, and tomato farms. I needed to know as much as could about everything. When I started noticing beautiful-looking pizza boxes, I had all these questions...Why go through all the trouble of putting this sometimes beautiful art, and sometimes absolutely atrocious art, onto a box that's just gonna get thrown in the garbage?" Adam's love for pizza has found its expression at Margot's, which is so popular that all the seats sell out in a matter of seconds when tickets go on sale. The pizza is a little difficult to pin down, but it's all Adam. "It's basically an amalgam of many different styles throughout the country that I fell in love with," Adam said. "My first love was basically the Midwestern thin crust pies. It's got that thinness. I love New York pizza. I love how it's crisp and you can fold it still. When I went about making my crust, I made sure that it was crisp but you could fold it." How do people get tickets for Margot's? Go to the website linked above and follow the instructions. The next one is on September 10th at Emily in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, and tickets will go on sale September 3rd at exactly 10 p.m. Pro tip: You have to be on the Margot's Pizza mailing list to receive the link to buy tickets. I promise that this special three-part Special Sauce series on pizza will have you craving your favorite slice, no matter where you live. That is, of course, if you love pizza. And who doesn't love pizza? ------- The full transcript for this episode can be found over here at Serious Eats.
Rank #10: Sara Moulton on Leftovers, College Gig, and Not Looking for Attention [1/2]
This week's guest on Special Sauce is food television personality and pioneering chef Sara Moulton, who is as unpretentious as she is accomplished. And when I say accomplished I mean accomplished. Sara is currently the host of the PBS series Sara's Weeknight Meals and the co-host of Milk Street Radio. She previously was the host of the live television show Cooking Live on the Food Network for almost ten years. Suffice it to say, Sara should be familiar to anyone who has watched cooking shows on television. Want an example of her lack of pretense? Here is her take on leftovers: "I'd rather open up a refrigerator filled with leftovers than start with a blank canvas. Leftovers talk to me." Or how about this detail from one of her many food-related jobs in college: "I was a waitress at an all-night diner where we had to wear a DayGlo orange uniform and white nurse's shoes." It may have been the uniform, and it may just have been the job itself, but whatever it was, Sara's mother was horrified by her situation, and tried to help her in a way that would only make sense to a parent: "My mother wrote to Craig Claiborne and Julia Child, did not ask me, and asked them what her daughter should do if she wanted to become a chef." After her many years on television, I was surprised when I found out that Sara was a reluctant TV host. "I thought that was vulgar," she explains. "Being a good WASP, it's like, "Oh, then you're looking for attention." I also loved hearing the advice she'd give to guests on Cooking Live: "Smile constantly for no particular reason." As for her pioneering days as a young woman chef, Sara has some harrowing stories, but for those you're just going to have to tune into part 1 of her Special Sauce interview. *Ed note: For those of you wondering where part 2 of my Special Sauce interview with Matt Goulding is, we'll be publishing it in a couple of months. --- The transcript for this episode can be found over at Serious Eats.
Rank #11: Sam Kass on Cooking for the Obamas [1/2]
All right, I admit it: I've always fantasized about having one of the Obamas as a guest on Special Sauce. And while I haven't given up hope entirely, I realize that Sam Kass, my guest on Special Sauce this week, might be as close as I get to that particular dream. Sam is an author and food policy activist, and I first heard about him when he was tapped by Michelle Obama in 2013 to be the executive director of her Let's Move campaign, which focused on changing attitudes about food and nutrition in America. By that point in time, Sam had already been working at the White House for about four years, both as a chef and as an advisor. Sam has since taken some of the lessons he tried to impart there and written the cookbook Eat A Little Better: Great Flavor, Good Health, Better World, which is also something of a gentle food manifesto. We started the conversation off with what it was like for Sam growing up, and he said that he started cooking for his family when he was nine; part of his allowance was even budgeted for the shopping. But he didn't really use recipes. "I would just make it up," Sam said, "I remember I cooked chicken thighs with a bunch of dried herbs and some onions, and maybe some mushrooms that I just sort of threw together. It came out actually really well...I got lucky, I think. Because then I tried to do it the next time, and put so many dried herbs into it that it was basically inedible." Such is life as a nine-year-old chef. As we talked, it seemed like Sam and I were bonding quite nicely. Well, at least until I brought up Chicago's deep dish pizzas, which turned out to be a sore subject. Here's a bit of the transcript: Ed Levine: How did you feel about Chicago pizza? Were you a lover of deep dish pizza? Sam Kass: Of course. Are you kidding me? Ed Levine: I ask that because when I, I wrote a pizza book. A book all about pizza. In it I uttered some blasphemous statements about Chicago pizza. Sam Kass: I'm amazed you're still alive. I hope you'll check out both this week and next week's podcast to listen to how the talented and thoughtful Sam Kass became an invaluable member of the Obamas' White House team. ------- The full transcript for this episode can be found here at Serious Eats.
Rank #12: Andrew Rea on the Wild Success of Binging With Babish [1/2]
I have to say that most YouTube cooking shows leave me cold. There's a little too much shaky cam footage and a few too many unfunny asides, and not enough serious, engaged cooking for my taste. So when Kenji told me about Binging with Babish, I watched one episode and got hooked. And I'm not alone: More than two million people now subscribe to the show. I got so hooked that I had to have its creator, Andrew Rea, on Special Sauce. And I'm glad I managed to track him down: During our chat, Andrew revealed himself to be as smart and interesting and focused and idiosyncratic as the show itself. Which makes sense if you listen to how he puts the show together: "Every episode takes a bare minimum of 30 hours, sometimes up to 60 or 70 because I'm a one man band. I shoot it myself, I edit it myself, I color correct, I do the voiceover, all in my apartment, just me." Here's the kicker: Up until a few months ago he also had a demanding full-time job, forcing him to work on Binging with Babish in the spare time he didn't really have. So if you've ever wondered what it takes to both produce a YouTube cooking series worth watching and develop a huge audience for it, check out this week's Special Sauce, which is just part one of my chat with Andrew (or should I say Mr. Babish?). When you do, I'm sure you will check out Binging with Babish yourself, and maybe his new series, Basics with Babish, too.
Rank #13: Dan Barber on the Future of Food
This week on Special Sauce features the second part of my far-reaching conversation with Dan Barber, and he and I cover a lot of ground. He defines each of the three plates that are the subject of his groundbreaking book, The Third Plate. I'll let you in on what the first plate is here: it's meat and potatoes, "the classic American dinner," according to Dan. But to find out what the other two plates are, you're just going to have to listen (you can, of course, read his book, too). Dan and I also discuss his relationship with the late environmentalist and philanthropist David Rockefeller, who built the restaurant that is part of Blue Hill at Stone Barns. And Dan makes it clear he has some strong feelings about corn cultivation in the country. He calls it "the most inefficient use of land resources in the history of the world." Finally, Dan reflects on how having two young daughters has changed the way he feels about spending so much time in his restaurant kitchens. "It's very hard to be inspired in the kitchen," Dan says, "I just generally feel a bit angry." I hope you have the time to listen in on our conversation–it's really Dan Barber as you've never heard him.
Rank #14: Adam Driver on Marines, MREs, and Postprandial Cereal [1/2]
For the first episode of the new season of Special Sauce I invited on a very special guest: the brilliant, original, and always thoughtful Adam Driver. We talked about his unusual path to an acting career, which took him through the Marines. His time in the armed services had a profound influence on his life and work, which he talks about in poignant detail. And we talked about Arts in the Armed Forces, the extraordinary non-profit he and his wife, Joanne Tucker, founded. The organization puts on performances of monologues and music for military personnel and their families both domestically and all around the world. Adam and I spoke about a range of other topics, including how he managed to lose 50 pounds for his role in Martin Scorsese's "Silence," and how he has taken up cooking–he admits to not being very good at it–on his infrequent breaks. I also got the opportunity to ask about the dinner Kenji had recently cooked for Adam and Joanne. Adam Driver is funny, smart, thoughtful, and loves to eat and cook. In short, he's the perfect Special Sauce guest, as you'll find out when you check out Part 1 of his visit to the Special Sauce studios.
Rank #15: Chris Kimball on the Joy of Arguments and the Future of Food Media [1/2]
If you're interested at all in food media you're going to love my Special Sauce conversation with Milk Street founder and seminal food publishing guru Chris Kimball. Chris is insanely smart, incredibly provocative, and very good company if you like your company opinionated, outspoken, and a little bit prickly. Here are a few gems (or should I say crumbs?) from the first part of our conversation: "You know, I just did a Twitter contest about bad substitutions. Two of my favorites were, 'Instead of mint I use mint toothpaste,' which I just love. And my other one, which was a kid's, said, "Instead of chocolate they use chocolate ex-lax because it kind of looks like chocolate." But when you get into that muddy world..." Of course, I asked Chris what life was like at the Kimball family table: "[It] was formal, seven o'clock every night, jacket and tie, fingernails clean. I'm not making this up...Well, the best thing about the table ... I mean the food was good, but the conversation was great. I mean we were expected at an early age to know what's going on and say something intelligent. So we were part of the conversation. So I developed an early love of argument or discussion. I love arguments." Chris also has some strong opinions on whether people should pay for content: "People always said, 'Why do you charge for your content online?' And I said, 'Well why should I give it away? I mean this costs a lot of money.' I have people flying to South Africa and to the Middle East and doing this new project. It's expensive. And we have cooks, and we pay a lot of money in rent, and you know we need money to pay our bills. And so I'm perfectly happy to say to people, 'Look. If you'd like to participate it's $20 or $30 a year. It's sure money." I had a blast talking to Chris, and I think Serious Eaters everywhere will have a blast listening to him, too.
Rank #16: Ruth Reichl on Gourmet's Demise and the Future of Food Journalism
In a million years, I would never have guessed Ruth Reichl's guilty pleasure: "Onion rings," she told me during part two of our conversation on Special Sauce. "I can't resist a good onion ring." That's not the only surprising answer you'll hear on this week's episode from the woman I call the first rock star food journalist. Take a listen to hear her take on the digital revolution in food journalism or her unique choice of guests at her last dinner on earth–you won't regret it.
Rank #17: Dan Barber on Mentors, Tough Love, and Anger Management
I think it's safe to say that Dan Barber, the visionary chef of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, has led an interesting life. I'm sure you'll agree after listening to this week's episode of Special Sauce. Barber's dad loved good restaurants, so he was exposed to some pretty great places at a very young age. But, on the other hand, his father was also a practitioner of tough love. He used to say, "You're a humble son, Daniel, but you have a lot to be humble about." His kitchen career got off to a rocky start at Nancy Silverton's La Brea Bakery, where he got fired for forgetting to add salt to 1,200 pounds of rosemary bread dough, ruining the entire batch. Barber overheard Silverton say, "I can't let this kid ruin me." He was 22 years old at the time. Barber includes the legendary French chef Michel Rostang among his mentors, noting that Rostang has suffered four heart attacks in the kitchen as he's tried to secure a third Michelin star, an achievement that has eluded the Rostang family for three generations. Barber says that Rostang's commitment and drive affected him deeply, even as it made him wonder, "What is it about this whole restaurant, cooking, chef-ing thing that drives people half-mad?" And Barber admits that he has his own regrettable moments in the kitchen, which is something he's trying to address. "I had one last night that I regret... I let it loose," he says. "And I'm a little bit cruel... I really am trying very hard." Barber had so much interesting stuff to say about his early career and becoming an award-winning chef that you're going to have to wait until next week's episode of Special Sauce to get the scoop on his groundbreaking book, The Third Plate, and wastED, his pop-up restaurant concept, which just finished a five-week run in London. Until then, I hope you enjoy the first part of our fascinating conversation.
Rank #18: Fuchsia Dunlop on Her Enduring Love Affair With Chinese Cooking
What a story: A young, food-obsessed British student at Cambridge University named Fuchsia (God, I love that name) heads to China in the '90s to study, and manages to become the first Westerner to attend the Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine. After that, she zigzags between China and London and, in the process, becomes one of today's best English-language writers on Chinese cuisine. That's Fuchsia Dunlop's story, as you'll hear on this extraordinary episode of Special Sauce (part one of a riveting two-parter). Why has she devoted so much of her working life to writing about China and Chinese food, culminating in her latest cookbook, Land of Fish and Rice: Recipes from the Culinary Heart of China? Fuchsia explains: "I really do think that Chinese gastronomy and Chinese cuisine is both an amazing creation as culture and as expression of human creativity and inventiveness and so on. It also has many important lessons for everyone in terms of health. There's no other cuisine, perhaps, that combines pleasure and notions of health and balance like Chinese.... That's something that, in the West, in the whole world, we're struggling with. How do you eat well in a way that's both pleasurable and also good for health and environmentally sustainable? I think we can find many of the answers and solutions in traditional Chinese cuisine." When you listen, you'll learn, as I did, some Chinese cooking terms that defy easy English translation: zhi jia pian, ma er duo, gu pai pian, niu shi pian. What do they mean? I'm not going to tell you. You'll have to listen to find out.
Rank #19: Adam Driver on Choosing Roles and Eating a Chicken a Day [2/2]
When–and it should be when, not if–you listen to part two of my Special Sauce interview with Adam Driver, my guess is you'll be as awed as I was by his bandwidth, his intellectual curiosity, and the way he thinks about food and life. You'll learn, for instance, that he chooses roles based in large part on the director involved in the project, which makes sense in light of the fact that he's worked with directors like Joel and Ethan Coen, Martin Scorsese, and Steven Soderbergh. And you'll learn that Adam had been working in theater for years with world-class playwrights like Tony Kushner (he played the role of Louis Ironson in the 2011 Signature Theater revival of Angels in America) for years before anyone saw him in Girls. I'd read somewhere that Adam had, at one point, eaten a whole chicken every day for lunch. When I asked him why, he laughed and said, "I don't know. I couldn't answer that. I put myself on this big physical regime coming right from the military that I thought was...to challenge myself, and a whole chicken was part of it. One day I had a whole chicken and a foot-long sub from Subway and I'm like, 'This has got to stop.'" We also talked about who he'd invite to the table for his last supper (family wasn't allowed) of meatloaf: Bill Gates, Michael Jordan, Stanley Kubrick, and Cy Twombly. And, as usual, I asked him about what people around the world would be doing on a holiday held in his name. You're going to have to listen to find out what he said, but suffice it to say it involves a lot of wind sprints and taking care of stray dogs, and that the world might be a better place if we did in fact celebrate Adam Driver Day.
Rank #20: Dumpling Master Helen You's Inspiring Story
You probably won't be able to hear it, but I was moved to tears by my interview with dumpling queen Helen You on this week's Special Sauce. Helen is the owner of Dumpling Galaxy, the finest dumpling shop in NYC, and the coauthor of The Dumpling Galaxy Cookbook, written alongside former Serious Eats editor Max Falkowitz. Her dumplings, as good as they are, weren't what got to me, though—it was her remarkable personal story. I won't reveal any more of it here, but my guess is you'll be reduced to tears as well. It's okay. We all need a good cry, especially when it comes with a happy ending.