This guy caught my attention immediately in the Facebook Food Universe! First from his zany profile picture~~I just knew that behind this mischievous smile and look on his face, there was a backstory ready to explode! and then the second thing that sealed the deal for me was subscribing to his blog and reading over several months his posts~~I would nearly pee in my pants somethings reading about his antics! I mean he can be buttering bread to make toast and create hilarious scenes!
Beneath this guy’s exterior though is a bucket full of talent~~he’s been a radio newsman, a writer (which he still professes to be!), has studied the science of growing his how Shitake mushrooms (dang, I head for the produce department!) and Meyer Lemon trees! Surely you can surmise from the name of his blog that he ain’t your run-of-the-mill regular Joe foodie~~ The Unorthodox Epicure~~Confessions of an Aspiring Food Snob ~~ yep, this guy’s got the DNA of David Letterman, John Stewart, Ellen, Chelsea Lately, and a few others, including Indiana Jones, rolled into his profile! He’s quick. He’s sharp. He’s articulate. He’s funny. And, he makes sense to me~~well, most of the time!
What makes you tick, what ticks you off?
May I first say that I love you forever for asking this question? Especially the ‘what ticks’ me off part. There are plenty of things out there that chap my hide and a major player in that arena is buck passing. You know, never accepting responsibility or never having said ‘mea culpa.’ And that, alone, covers a wide spectrum of situations that irk me.
I typically complain — to anyone who’ll listen — about the sloppy inattentive waitress, or all of the Home Depot employees who are really good at looking busy. And, each time I’ve called someone on it, I’ve heard everything from ‘I thought someone else was helping you’ to ‘We’re really busy tonight and the guy working the grill is new.’ But there’s one thing that bothers me far more.
Lazy ass parents.
I’ve had my moments of wanting to run away and change my identity. And there have been times that I’ve wanted to call Child Protective Services and make up a story about my poor parenting. But, I’ve managed to persevere for one reason: children deserve the best we can give them and no life lesson is too small.
When Catherine and I started a family, we made a commitment. No matter what, our offspring come first. Just like our parents before us, soccer and Cub Scouts are a given. Buying an $1,800 flute is to be expected. So is paying for lessons. When we get that (inevitable) call from school, it’s our charge to set our children straight. And just like our counterparts in the wild, it’s our job to teach them to hunt, swim and fly.
Anything less is unacceptable. Yet, I meet parents every day who … neglect these essentials. And it’s usually because they are more concerned about their own gratification. Yes. I know children who have repeat lice infestations and undersized shoes, while Mom has the latest iPhone — and plenty of bling to go with it.
Interestingly, the thing that most ticks me off is what makes me tick. I don’t want to be that guy whom people say (about my children and me) ‘Well, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.’ Have you ever noticed that no one says that about a second generation president, CEO or star athlete?
If you could give your 16 y/o self a few pieces of advice (knowing what you do now), what would that be?
Be it relationships, finances or knowing when to back off, the 16-year-old Adam needed all of the advice that he could get. So, it’d be a long conversation between the 40-something Me and the teen version.
If you didn’t like cooking with the passion you do, what would you be doing?
For starters, I would be a hell of a lot skinnier.
Cooking is definitely a passion for me. And a mad passion at that. But, I am also extremely passionate about growing things, making music and telling stories.
Many people don’t know this, but I have thrice applied to attend cooking school — only to change my mind after being accepted. In each instance, I was living one dream (as a radio newsman and writer) and considering moving on to another. As it goes, I finally convinced myself that it would be more fun to take a cooking class here and there, and cook at home for family and friends.
I took a life detour in the late 1990s and started growing dwarf citrus trees for a living. At first, it was respite from radio, after a syndicated show that I co-hosted went bust. But, I developed a deep zeal for it when — after a tutorial from the one of the country’s most respected botanists — I saw a tiny Meyer Lemon leaf emerge from a grafting that I had attempted. I had tried at least 100 grafts prior to that. My love of growing things has only grown since then. It’s been at least 10 years since I made a day trip to Lost Creek Mushroom Farm in Perkins, Oklahoma to learn the art of growing Shiitake mushrooms. I’ll be inoculating my first logs this year — in my own backyard. How could someone not love picking Kaffir Lime leaves from a tree in the courtyard? Or, harvesting fresh mushrooms just before they are to be added to the dish?
If I suffered the misfortune of not owning these passions, I’d want to be a rock star. There. I said it. But, we all think it. Who do the pro athletes, movie stars and celebrity chefs want to hang out with? Rock stars, of course. — Unfortunately, there’s no market for a guy who plays a half-ass guitar and even worse piano. Not to mention, my singing is right on par with Pierce Brosnan’s.
When cooking for yourself, what sort of food would you typically prepare?
As much as I enjoy preparing elaborate meals, I’m simple when it comes to just feeding myself.
Every other year, my wife takes the family (sans me) to visit her family in New Jersey. During that two weeks by myself, I’ll usually eat hot dogs (steamed — never grilled) at least four times. There’s usually a meal of fried chicken gizzards with rice and gravy (not allowed to cook it when wife is within 500 miles). And I’ll typically bust open a can of salmon and make croquettes with a side of home fries.
Where and how did your love of food and cooking start?
Most find my answer to this question to be … unorthodox. But, it’s true. My love of cooking was spawned by my OCD tendencies. I constantly worried whether the cook (usually my father) had washed his hands — even though he never gave me reason to think otherwise.
When I became a Boy Scout at 11, I wasn’t about to eat the food cooked in dirty pans by dirtier hands. So, I made it a point to land myself in the cook’s position. I occasionally served eggs with ashes and burned biscuits, but became quite popular with my Dutch Oven porcupine meatballs and pineapple upside down cake.
The rest is history.
I only wish that I had that interest when my dad’s mother was still alive. I’ve spent countless hours trying to recreate the comfort that she served.
If you had to choose a final meal on earth, what would you most like to have?
Hopefully, I wouldn’t be eating this meal in a small jail cell as the priest awaited his opportunity to beg for mercy on my soul. Also, I’d prefer to be eating this meal without the knowledge that I’d be deader than Marley’s ghost before the next dinner bell rings. That said…
I would start with a big basket of fried mushrooms and fried eggplant, with horseradish and sweet marinara dipping sauces.
My dinner plate would include a Vienna Beef hot dog on a poppy seed bun with yellow mustard; a couple of salmon croquettes; a huge pile of fried okra; a big hunk of battered cod; and a handful of the tiniest sweetest asparagus – roasted. Oh! And I’d need to have a big basket of fresh tortilla chips with super spicy cilantro-laden tomato salsa!
If it were my last meal, I probably wouldn’t have a sweet tooth. But I would definitely want to wash everything down with Anchor Steam Liberty Ale — about 12 to 30 of them.
So, Adam, you clever guy…what have you fixed just special for Ally’s Kitchen~~sounds like a cowboy or cowgirl’s dream!
Chicken Fried Steak with Saw Mill Gravy