Word On Food

The Mysterious Origins Of Ceviche

Marinated raw fish has a lingering appeal
Apr 13, 2012 10:16 am

When it comes to Florida cuisine, the conversation starts with Norman Van Aken. The chef and author was among the first to realize the tropical food goldmine of the region, and his restaurants and cookbooks have had a huge influence. Now the chef/owner of Norman's at the Ritz-Carlton, Grande Lakes, Orlando and Director of Restaurants at...

On The Merits of "Rabbit Food"

Norman Van Aken's defense of the chef's salad
Mar 21, 2012 11:01 am
chef's salad

My first cooking job was in an Illinois diner. It had been operating in the town where I was born for at least 30 years prior to my noisy arrival. The town is Libertyville. The diner was called “Joe’s.” I am not making this up. Joe’s was the kind of place that served honest American chow. If you said "chow" in front of the head cook he would have not been surly. He called it chow.

On The Topic Of Butts And Barbeque

Norman Van Aken's muses on the origins of barbecue
Mar 7, 2012 2:01 pm
Spice Rubbed Pork

When the woman at the butcher counter asked Jimmy the Cutter, “do you have a nice butt?” Jimmy didn’t hesitate. “My wife kind of digs it,” he responded. The lady pushed her walker aside to get a better look at the pork in Jimmy’s case, pretending not to or really not hearing him.

A Marinade To Beat All Others: Adobo

Norman Van Aken on his favorite spice rub
Mar 1, 2012 5:01 pm

Adobo means spice rub or marinade, and the particular recipe we include was introduced by African slaves brought to Bahía in Brazil in the 17th century. But the actually birthplace is of some confusion.

The Origins of Hot Fried Chicken Salad

Norman Van Aken on the roots of a classic creation
Feb 23, 2012 1:01 pm
Fried Chicken Salad

When I was 19, I seemed to be on a yo-yo between my boyhood home in Northern Illinois and the place I was seeking…which almost always meant somewhere in the South. I wanted sunlight. I wanted warmth. I didn’t know that I wanted fried chicken too.

The Mystery of Souse

The pig-parts dish that eludes easy definition
Feb 16, 2012 11:01 am

I have been making Souse. Right? Got that? Know what I’m talkin’ bout? You might be confused. You might stay that way. Let me unravel a bit.

Strawberries are in Season! (In Florida)

Norman Van Aken sings strawberries' praises
Feb 8, 2012 12:01 pm

They're out there! Bursting through the black dirt fields even as I type, with a red-lipped lusciousness that only a woman as brazen as Mother Nature could muster or afford. If you were able to drive south these days (the town of Homestead, Florida specifically is ideal), but truly many places in Florida will work, you will be rewarded with a day where you can possibly re-visit your childhood and pick your own basket of strawberries.

On The Wonders Of Aïoli

Take garlic to the next level
Jan 31, 2012 3:01 pm

The first time I made an aïoli I was in Key West, not sunny Provence from whence she shone first. But the sun did connect us...through the gypsy medium of garlic!


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