Our food writer reaches out to the culinary cognoscenti about what their plates and palates will look like in the next 12 months.
Food-related New Year’s resolutions are too often aimed at ending some terrible “indulgence,” earning some sort of merit through denial. But if you’re — ACK! — pledging to stop eating chocolate in 2016, you can officially find something better to do, since headlines in 2015 trumpeted that eating chocolate is good for you (probably, by association, if not causation, which is good enough for headlines).
That better something can take many forms, as evidenced by the answers I got when I asked on Facebook about food- or drink-related resolutions. The most courageously opposed to the abstemious: the man determined to put a wet bar in his bedroom after watching “The Thin Man” (an inspirational classic if ever there was one).
Two more expressed a simpler, vastly achievable resolution to just make more cocktails, with one lamenting his unused stockpile of “good booze and interesting bitters,” while the other noted, “I bought the “Death & Co” book a couple years ago and I am not honoring.” Another friend nobly aspires to “Drink half as often, but spend twice as much when I do. More Le Caviste, less Comet, essentially.”
The most prolific home baker I know has resolved to bake even more in the new year — the things she tends “to not bother about,” which might be only baking her own crackers. Also in the (admirable!) overachiever category: the acquaintance who works at allrecipes.com who’d like to “finally” cure her own salami, after taking a class and so far only making her own lardo and guanciale. “And,” she continued virtuously, “to offset that carbon footprint, try the VB6 (vegan before 6) diet a few days a week” — to which local chef and writer Becky Selengut replied supportively, “Vegan before 6, drunk and covered in salami after 6.”
In the arena of DIY classes, the New Year’s ambition of Lissa James, of the local Hama Hama oyster company, is not to shuck an oyster for you, but to enable you to shuck yourself. She wants “to teach as many people how to shuck as possible, to spread the shucking love.” Corollary objective: “to make fewer shucking jokes.”
Rachel Johnson, co-owner of star-of-2015 Seattle restaurant Manolin, is from the more-is-more school of New Year’s resolutions: She wants to branch out when it comes to eating (and drinking) out.
“Convenience, comfort and complacency lead me back to the same (great) restaurants and bars over and over and over again. There are so many new (and not so new) places to try. Gonna hit them all in 2016 [thumbs-up emoji].”
Same with Marination co-owner Kamala Saxton, who plans to eat more dim sum in Vancouver, drink more brown liquor and provide more food for after-school youth programs like Upower. (Marination itself is more than it used to be, with both Super Six in Columbia City and a brand-new Marination at Sixth and Virginia having opened in 2015.)
Doing more good is Wayne Johnson’s goal. He feels “blessed” to have become the executive chef of Seattle’s FareStart in 2015, and with homelessness in Seattle up more than 20 percent in just the last year, we should feel blessed to have him running the restaurant-job-training nonprofit.
Johnson wants to put out more cooks and chefs through the James Beard Foundation Award-winning program, which he calls “so sustainable and so well put together … and more to come.” (He also expressed interest in “maybe growing about a foot and a half and joining the NBA,” though that doesn’t technically qualify as a resolution.)
It’d be easy to resolve to eat at one of FareStart’s excellent guest-chef dinners in 2016 — or to give money or volunteer. A few other local food-equity programs that need our time and financial support, ones that I’m resolved to tell you more about this coming year: Solid Ground, FEEST and Green Plate Special, not to mention the Rainier Valley Food Bank and others. Around here, learning about food and having enough to eat should be everyone’s right, not the privilege of only some.
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Back on Facebook, chef Tamara Murphy of Terra Plata mused in a mysterious, philosophical vein: “Hmmm. ‘If I paint what I know, I’m bored. If I paint what you know, you’re bored. So I’m going to paint what neither of us know,’ said by mentor Peter Lewis long ago. Stay tuned.”
Someone who’s usually extremely funny just said, “Stop wasting so much food. Really,” and food waste is something we should think seriously about, on both an individual and much larger level. Other Facebook friends want to try more African food, check out the new menu at Canlis and learn to like kale salad. Me too, on all three counts.
Marjorie owner Donna Moodie just wants to have more dinner parties, “with great discussions, amazing wine and drink, tunes that make guests pull out Shazam all night, and no one mentions it’s a ‘school night.’ ”
It’s our time, to do with as we will. Here’s to the new year, and cheers, friends.