Sunday, October 28, 2007

Everything you ever wanted to know about AEB but were afraid to register with Blogger to ask

If you missed the Gazette's extravaganza on food blogging in Montreal in Saturday's paper, including a fairly lengthy interview with the two of us, you can check it out here, here, and here.

Originally we thought it might be good for a laugh if, regardless of whether the coverage was largely positive, largely negative, or somewhere in between (we're happy to say the coverage was rather glowing, and we thank the authors for their generosity), we responded by posting a tongue-in-cheek piece that began with the following epigraph

"...false media / We don't need it, do we?"
--P.E., "Don't Believe the Hype"

and then went on to feign outrage over how we'd (supposedly) been misrepresented.

We might have even tried to convince you out there that the couple posing as "Michelle" and "Anthony" in the photograph that accompanied the interview were a couple of "lifestyle models," that the kitchen that served as the setting for the photograph was not in fact the infamous AEB kitchen but a studio backdrop,

kitchen scene fig. a: what the AEB kitchen really looks like

and that when we sit down to generate material for AEB it looks more like this:

michelle blogging fig. b: Michelle drafts yet another AEB post on our tried and true AEB laptop

Then we had a cup of coffee and thought better of it.

In all honesty, we're somewhat embarassed by the praise heaped upon us (and by the fact that our photograph makes me look disgruntled and Michelle look stoned, when, in both cases, nothing could have been further from the truth), but otherwise we're really quite pleased with the way this profile turned out. Sure, the interview got me into trouble with my Mom (as you'll see below), but then anyone who's ever been interviewed knows that there are always a few things that get lost in translation. With this in mind, we offer you the following annotations:

1. Michelle is no Vancouverite. Like myself (Northern California-Ottawa-Northern California-Virginia-Montreal-London-Washington, DC-Vancouver-Montreal), she's a bit of a nomad (Toronto-Ottawa-Guelph-Nelson-Victoria-Vancouver-Halifax-Montreal). Her reaction to this blatant, er, smear: "I'm from Nelson, man!"

2. We've never "[trawled] the Main for the best Cambodian food." Well, actually, I guess subconsciously we're always trawling for Cambodian because we're so fond of it, but, we regret to say, we've yet to find any in Montreal,* on the Main or anywhere else. We haven't had good Cambodian since our trip to Vancouver in June and prior to that it had been years.

3. My Mom was appalled to see that I hadn't listed my maternal grandfather (who was a chef and hotelier), alongside my paternal grandmother as a major inspiration behind my lifelong obsession with food. In fact, I did. I also listed her, my Mom, as my primary influence. What moms sometimes fail to understand is that, when it comes to print journalism, 10-minute ruminations on food, family, and memory have a tendency to get edited down to 4 cursory sentences out of necessity (and that 3 hours of material might get whittled down to half a page).

No word yet on what Michelle's mom thought of her mention.

4. I never owned a cookbook "about the recipes of American history and the Revolution" that was "released during the bicentennial fever of 1976," but I definitely wish I had. My first cookbook was one of those standard spiral-bound "My First Cookbook"-type cookbooks. It went by the title of My Young Cooks, it was ultra-DIY, and it looked something like this:

my young cooks fig. c: my first cookbook

Sample recipe:

Hot Dog

1 Hot Dog
1 Hot Dog Bun

1. Roast the hot dog over red coals of a camp fire or heat in water just under the boiling point for five minutes.
2. Split the bun, butter it, and warm.
3. Place the hot dog in the bun and serve with mustard and pickle.

(Serves 1)

[printed verbatim from Adele Charlson's My Young Cooks, San Jose, CA: Mad House Press, 1976]

At the time of the interview I distinctly remembered that My Young Cooks contained a recipe for johnnycake. It doesn't. (Sorry.) I must have found that johnnycake recipe elsewhere. In any case, I'd read something about johnnycake in my history class--it being 1976, we had a lot of bicentennial-related American history that year. Swept up by the patriotic fever, that johnnycake recipe was the first recipe I ever tried on my own. Or, at least that's what I remember.

5. I'm pretty sure we never referred to David Chang's cuisine as having Chinese influences. Korean and Japanese by way of the East Village and the hills of Tennessee would probably be more accurate, but then we can hardly blame the author for not printing that because at the time we didn't say that either.

6. I don't remember either of us saying that not being "very vindictive" was some kind of weakness. I think we said something about how we tend to focus on positive aspects of food culture, and that people come to expect that kind of tone from us, so when we go against the grain and adopt a very different persona (for humorous effect, say), people just don't get it.

That said, we hope you enjoyed the piece. Back to our scheduled programming later this week.


p.s.--Thanks to all of you who sent us nice comments via email in the wake of Saturday's article.

p.s., pt. 2--And if you're joining us for the first time, alongside our regular assortment of recipes, reviews, travelogues, and arcana dating all the way back to November 2004, you'll find our Montreal Food Guide (with over 170 entries), our "quick guide to eating, shopping, and playing in Montreal" (a.k.a. "My Montreal is Better Than Yours"), travel pieces that span 2 continents, 3 countries, and over a dozen cities, our latest Top Ten, and an ever-growing list of our favorite cookbooks among our sidebar features.

* Tipsters, send us your tips!


Anonymous said...

Anthony and Michelle congratulations. I feel priviledged to have such famous people on the block. Artur is bringing the paper to Tim Horton's to show his friends. By the way the kitchen does look very good. Keep up the good work looking forward to continue reading you.

aj kinik said...

Hi Terry,
Thanks. That's one of the best comments we've ever received. Seriously.

Melissa said...

What a great interview! I loved reading your respective histories, factually inaccurate though they may have been :) And I'm blushing from the mention - thank you!

Keep up the superlative work, you two.

aj kinik said...

Hi Melissa,
Thanks! It's always a pleasure to hear from you. Glad you enjoyed the Q&A.

RAnnieB said...

This is a great article and I hope it brings AEB much traffic.

I noticed that you guys enjoyed pepper (if that fact is accurate).
I'm also a pepper-lover and wanted to share one of my finds with you guys (being that I come here to freeload on your recipes, reviews and general great writing).

It's Tribal Black Pepper from India. I got mine at Olive et Epices at the marche. It's a 50gr Phillipe de Vienne, Epices de cru container. I have a 2007 harvest (it was 8.50$.). Hope you enjoy it !
BTW your picture is great. It allowed me to put a face on the folks who have brought me great food ideas and reading for the past year or so. Thanks guys and long life to your scrumptious blog.

aj kinik said...

Hi rannieb,
Thanks for the kind words and for the tip. We've been using that tribal pepper too--it tastes like about 5 spices in one. Anytime you come across anything else, feel free to let us know.

RAnnieB said...

Hi AJ,

You're very welcome. Here is an idea for a post. You could write about your favorite food/ingredients finds in the city and ask your readers to contribute theirs. It would make for great reading to put into action :).


Gerth said...

Well, great! Keep up the good work!!

And Michelle.... Skor Bars!! RIGHT ON!! Hmmm, I'll trade you a box for some of that jam next time I go to California.

Secret: If the Skor bar jones hit, go to IKEA's Swedish food store and get some DAJM bars... they might come in bags of miniature DAJM candies.... Swedish version of Skor.... Superior of course...