Art vs. Cooking, and Connecting the Two
Ray Anthony Barrett on the grounding nature of food, the importance of adaptation, and how artists can help us all
“We need artists to become farmers, we need artists to become electricians — in every aspect of our culture, we need creative thinkers to look at the ways in which we’re doing things, and question them, and present new possibilities.”
At this point, I’m not sure if Ray Anthony Barrett, this week’s esteemed guest on Food with Mark Bittman, is best known for his work as a chef — he runs the pop-up and catering company Cinqué, in Los Angeles — or for his work as an artist, at which he’s fabulous. I “met” him on Instagram — actually, he messaged me something complimentary about the podcast, yay — and we chatted back and forth. I felt like I was meeting someone thoughtful, insightful, intelligent, and super talented in many areas. His thoughts on how art and food intersect, and how art should play a role in every aspect of our culture are enlightening; I felt enlightened after talking with him, and I think you will also, after listening.
The recipes featured in the episode are below. Please listen, subscribe, and review! And remember to call us on 833-FOODPOD (833-366-3763) OR email us at email@example.com with all your food-related questions.
Thank you, as always. — Mark
Makes: 4 servings
Time: 25 minutes
The world has enough recipes for the deli-style chicken salad — chopped or shredded chicken with mayonnaise, aromatics, and fruit — so I’ve taken the elements you crave into a new spin: grated jicama bound in a mustardy mayonnaise dressing with grapes and the classic tarragon. If you don’t have jicama, try kohlrabi, parsnips, celery root, even turnips if you like that extra cabbage-y flavor.
1 pound jicama, peeled
1⁄2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1⁄2 cup vegan mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
1 cup seedless red grapes, halved
3 celery stalks, chopped
1⁄2 small red onion, chopped
8 large, sturdy romaine leaves
1. Use the shredding attachment on a food processor or the largest holes on a box grater to grate the jicama. Mix the vegetable with a generous pinch of salt, then let it sit in a colander in the sink or over a bowl for 20 to 30 minutes. Rinse the jicama, then wring it as dry as you can manage in a towel. Transfer to a large bowl.
2. Put the sunflower seeds in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until they are slightly darker and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the jicama. Put the mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, oil, and 1 teaspoon tarragon in a small bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Whisk to combine, then taste and adjust the seasoning.
3. Put the grapes, celery, onion, and remaining 2 teaspoons tarragon in the large bowl and drizzle on some of the dressing. Toss gently to coat, then taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more dressing if you like. To serve, put the lettuce leaves on a serving platter or in individual bowls and top with a heaping spoonful of salad.
Charred Onion Soup
Makes: 4 servings
Time: About 1 hour, largely unattended
A crock of mediocre bouillon topped with too much cheese used to be the gateway to so-called fancy French cooking. Thankfully, times have changed. This soup is served over torn bread, and I mimic Old Bay seasoning to get lots of flavor in little time.
1⁄3 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 bay leaves
1 ½ teaspoons celery seeds
1 ½ teaspoons paprika
3⁄4 teaspoon ground ginger
3⁄4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, allspice, or cloves
One 6-ounce piece parmesan cheese, with the rind
4 onions, halved and sliced (about 6 cups)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 cup white wine
1 baguette or other crusty bread, torn into bite-sized pieces
1. Turn on the broiler and position the rack 4 inches below the heat source. Put the ketchup, mustard, bay leaves, celery seeds, paprika, ginger, and nutmeg in a large pot with 8 cups water and a large pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Grate 1⁄4 cup Parmesan for garnish and put the remaining piece—rind and all—into the pot with the spices. Adjust the heat so the stock bubbles steadily. Let it simmer while you cook the onions, stirring occasionally to keep the cheese from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
2. Put the onions on a rimmed baking sheet with the soy sauce and sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Broil, stirring once, until the onions are just soft and charred in places, 12 to 15 minutes. Add the onions to the pot with the stock. Pour the wine onto the hot baking sheet and scrape up any browned bits; add to the pot. Cook, stirring once in a while, until the stock darkens and the onions become silky, about 30 minutes (or up to 45 minutes if you have the time).
3. Discard the bay leaves. Remove the cheese and chop it up, including as much of the rind as you’d like, and return it to the pot; run a potato masher through the pot to break up the onions and thicken the broth. Taste and adjust the seasoning. To serve, put some bread in the bottom of each bowl, ladle in the soup, and garnish with the grated cheese.
— Recipes from Dinner for Everyone