Anthony Bourdain: A Life That Ended Too Early

Far too often the personalities in the food entertainment industry are fake or just paid to promote products. Anthony (Tony) Bourdain was far too real for those celebrity trappings. As the author of Kitchen Confidential, he opened up to reveal the reality of the commercial kitchen and the life of a chef. The glitz and glamour was stripped away to allow the average person into the hot, sweaty, smelly back room that most movies or cooking shows at the time, would never dream of portraying realistically.

Over the years, Tony worked his ass off creating successful restaurants, and eventually as a travel/food show host with an edginess and fervour for the truth and love of food and the culinary industry. He never backed off when it came to what he wanted to say and how he felt about the topic of conversation, or the food itself. In the simplest terms, he was real.

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Unfortunately, today we have learned of his untimely death by suicide. I don’t know, nor will I speculate as to his reasoning for taking his own life, but I do know one thing; suicide is almost never the answer. Life is tough, we all have to go through it, but bear in mind that just because you feel one way today, doesn’t mean you will feel that way forever. Once again, I can’t even begin to understand what Tony was going through, however, I am certain that there was someone he could have spoken to, and I know for a fact that his family will have to deal with his decision for a much longer time than he does.

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I have been in depressed states in my past with an eye on ending things prematurely, but I credit my strength to my not wanting to let down my family or hurt them in unimaginable ways, and Gary Vaynerchuk, who motivated me to get off my ass and make my life worth living. I just wish that for Tony, he had had the same thought process, and found a reason to keep going.

For those out there that are contemplating suicide, please do yourself and your loved ones a favour; talk about what it is that you are going through. You are not alone, even though it may feel that way sometimes, there is always someone out there that will listen.

Take care of yourselves!

tony b

 

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Daily Prompt: Tide

via Daily Prompt: Tide

This would be an easy prompt to pick on foolish teenagers for eating Tide pods, because ingesting harmful chemicals is just plain stupid. However, while most people over 18 years of age can’t wrap their heads around this, many of those same people smoke cigarettes, drink excessive amounts of caffeinated, alcoholic or sugary beverages, and eat garbage food everyday.

Healthy living is about avoiding these excessive or unnecessary poisons as often as possible. For those who have trained themselves to require that caffeine jolt in the morning, one coffee per day is enough. You don’t need four. In fact, you could wean yourself off of coffee altogether and still be able to function normally.

You’ve heard the old saying, “Moderation is the key.” That statement applies to everything in life, not just food and drinks, but also excessive work schedules, exercise, and rest or lack thereof.

If you don’t require another, just put it down. Now, if you’ll excuse me, my six Big Mac meals are ready.

Daily Prompt: Swallow

via Daily Prompt: Swallow

I used to not chew my food enough. I would take gargantuan bites, mash it down just enough to swallow, which resulted in eating too fast and feeling like garbage afterward. My dad used to ask, “What are you on, piecework?” My answer was always a quick, “No”, but my actions told another story.

Recently I have figured out why I do this. I absolutely love the taste of food. Chewing for too long, as the food mixes with saliva, neutralizes the flavour. So I follow up by swallowing quickly and shoving more food into my mouth, in order to restore the flavour intensity.

As my body tried desperately to digest the food, I would be in pain from the stretching of an overloaded stomach.

Over the last year, I have begun to slow down, take smaller bites, and really savour the food. I have since noticed that I do not eat as much, leading to healthier and more normal sized bowel movements. But more importantly I do not feel sluggish and unmotivated, or gain unnecessary weight.

Chicken: The Cluck Stops Here!

I remember when I was a kid, running around outside, playing with my sisters and neighbours, a warm summer evening and the smell of the barbecue filling our noses, making our mouths water. My dad would be manning the grill as he always did, flipping the chicken breast an unnecessary number of times. He would start out with the gigantic pieces of chicken that had to be 6-7 ounces each. By the time he finished overcooking them (he was very old school and thought that everything had to be cooked to death) they would be around 3-4 ounces. I’ve always wondered why this would happen but never bothered to ask about it. I just assumed this was a characteristic of chicken.

After high school I attended a local Culinary Arts school, which focused on technique in gourmet cooking. The chicken we used in our class was always fresh and didn’t shrink down like the chicken of my childhood. There was definitely a reason for this but I didn’t bother to put two and two together until a few years later.

In 2008, I went to work for a local food distribution company, and there, unknowingly, was where I would finally get some answers.

We had weekly sales meetings, which consisted of sales training, vendor presentations of new products, and probably the most important aspect, nutritional information about the food that we were selling, of which, I always found chicken to be the most fascinating. This fascination was somewhat with the bird itself but mostly the processes involved between the slaughter and the finished product.

Most people think that all chicken is just chicken. The processing plants chop the heads off, the bird dies, they pluck it, separate it into the individual parts and they are done. Although this is true in some places, for the most part, however, there are a couple of steps missing.

Let’s go back to the bird itself to examine one of the worst games played in the poultry industry. The Chicken that is available for purchase in North America comes from two main countries, the US and Brazil. Brazilian birds are as close to the natural state of a bird that we are going to get. Their meat protein percentage (a scale on which the quality of chicken is measured) is around 24%. American birds measure around 22%. Why the difference? American birds have been genetically modified to grow larger breasts, and are force fed to fatten them up so that they reach the appropriate slaughter size much faster.

Once the birds are slaughtered, the meat is ready for the next step. Chicken breasts are then “needled”, which is when a small metal pad presses into the meat poking small pinholes into it while slowly injecting it with a minute amount of water, salt and tripolyphosphates (which is a synthetic salt used for preserving food). After needling the meat, it continues down a conveyor belt into a tumbler that looks like a small cement mixer. In the tumbler is more of the mixture that was just needled into the meat. The door is then shut, the tumbler sloshes back and forth until the mixture is completely absorbed by the chicken. At this point the breast has almost doubled in size and weight. Discount, oversized chicken is born.

So what does this mean to consumers?

  1. You should always read that meat protein percentage number on the package. The closer you can get to 22% or 24%, the “cleaner” the chicken is.
  2. If you buy the lower quality chicken, don’t be surprised when it shrinks. And remember, the water is coming out but much of the salt and tripolyphosphates are staying behind for you to consume.
  3. The food industry has a number of major players that get filthy rich off of selling you garbage and the bodies that govern them are well funded by those same companies.

Remember to always read the labels, ignore the buzzwords, and if we are all knowledgeable consumers then the Cluck will truly stop here.