Mrs. Brightside: New Orleans Gem Toya Boudy
Plus: "wellness promoting" foods; it's cattle, not cocaine; and Europe's "green energy sprint"
It’s Wednesday, and I really couldn’t be more pleased to tell you that today’s guest on Food with Mark Bittman is chef and total dynamo Toya Boudy.
Toya, whose fantastic book, Cooking for the Culture, came out just this month, grew up in an inspiringly happy family, with two wonderful parents who raised their kids with love — and tough love, both. Money was tight, but meals were a big priority, and early on Toya was taught the virtues of home cooking. When her grades were bad and she decided to get a job, her mom said to her, “It’s good you need to work, because at the rate you’re going, you’re going to need to know how to work hard.” Well, she did.
Toya’s first job was cooking at the corner store, and in New Orleans, the corner stores offer a huge variety of different foods. She was 15. You’ll hear about all of this. That’s how she got her start cooking, and she hasn’t stopped, becoming a bona fide star along the way.
Toya is warm and funny and thoughtful, and Kate and I absolutely loved talking with her — you’ll be able to tell.
We also shared Toya’s recipe for Eggs & Rice; find that here. Plus, my weekly musings, below.
“When people ask me to name my top restaurants - I'm still boogie down, I still like to eat at corner stores and stuff, holes in the wall. It's comfort for me.” — Toya Boudy
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“WELLNESS PROMOTING” FOODS? C’MON.
I’m still traveling or, to put it more accurately, still away from home (I have a cold and have barely left the couch for the last few days), and still processing my travels. There were a couple of more things I wanted to say about my quick trip to L.A. before I move on, next week, to report about what I did in the Bay Area.
My friend Sam Polk, who founded Everytable (about which more sometime), took me on a food crawl of mostly western Los Angeles; the next day, on my own, I poked around on the east side and in Glendale.
What Sam and I saw were mostly new chains, and would-be chains, of the most weird and self-serving types. The emphasis, I would say, was on food that has the appearance of being “healthy” or, even beyond that, “wellness promoting,” or something beyond that that I can’t even articulate.
Mostly I’d call it either greenwashed food – sort of normal crap but dressed up with so-called “good” ingredients (but not) and/or superb packaging and brilliant marketing ploys (certainly you need grain-free tortilla chips) – or decent ingredients done up in odd forms (well, juices and smoothies, mostly, but also in hypodermic needles) all to no real effect except to try to make money for the stuff’s imaginative creators. This happens globally and all the time, of course, but nowhere is it quite as intense or extreme – nowhere in the US, at least that I’ve seen – as it is in L.A. Fun! Idiotic! Time-wasting!