Sunday, April 10, 2011

Fushion Concepts & the Bombay-Monkey Palate

Last year at the State Fair I hosted 48 live cooking/baking demos, where my guests and I focussed on Iconic American Recipes.

Off the top of my head, I recall we did a Ronald Reagan chili, Marilyn Monroe cheesecake, Laura Ingalls gingerbread, and during one of the matinee's we even presented Liberace's steak flambe.

Some of my literarty inspired guests submitted the Huck Finn, George Washington, early Americana type of recipes.

I usually start booking these shows at least 4 months before the Fair starts, so I guess you can say I end up...I don't know, kinda living with the recipes that are going to be presented.

Last summer while the pending shows were resonating in little Klecko's mind, he couldnt help but notice that many of the recipes from the Puritan era to Ronald Reagan administration were all kinda the same.Food preperation didn't seem to evolve much in over a century.

There just didn't seem to be a wide variance in concepts.Ingredient selections, spice flavors and ancilary flavors hadn't receaved permission to rear their inovative head.

But then the late 80's came along.Worldwide communication was taking place with more ease, and before you knew it, a certain word dropped onto this new group of people who liked to refer to themselves as Foodies.

That word was.........FUSION.

OMG - the concept went viral. Top rated Chefs and home enthusiests alike stopped wasting their money on drug treatment and therapy,now all they had to do to become self actualized was to thrown a variety of ethnic menus into a Yahtzee cup, shake it profusely, and what ever was cast onto the butcher block became that evenings supper.

Just when this (fad?) hit its peak, the Food Network, Culinary Institutes and neighborhood cooking schools popped up in every neighborhood worth living in.

Recipes (or Product Ideation) as we call it in the show, would never be the same.....but is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Klecko recalled a day, not too long ago when he went to 172 different coffee shops. all of them offered scones in their breakfast display cases, but no matter where Klecko turned, he recoiled at his options......Raspberry-Lemon-Chocolate Swirl, or Peanut Butter-Banana-Pinenut.

Dude.....can't a guy simply get a plain scone?

They're doing it with your sodas,cereals, crackers and potato chips, won't the madness ever end.

So it might of been like day 11 of the Fair, and a friend of mine, this chick from Paris shows up with her kids and the pack of us troll the massive display cases witnessing, better yet, critquing the Fairs entrys.

The womans name is Vanessa (and she has since moved to Belgium), and as we walked by the quick breads,I lamented how sad it was that peeps only entered banana, pumpkin or zucchini varieties.

French woman are always fun to hang out with because when the speak....every other boy in the room is jealous that they don't have the pleasure of submerging themselves in that fantastic accent.

I know that over the years I have made fun of French bakers, but their language....theres nothing else like it. I'd be willing to bet that the Angels speak exclusely in French, anything else would simply be savage.

So now against the mothers better judgement, I give her boys cans of soda and the 2 of them begin slamming diet Mountain Dew's and bouncing off the walls.

While thats taking place, Vanessa has this creepy trance look on her face. I remember laughing when as I startled her out of her focus.

She told me that she was trying to remember the unique quickbread that she made back in the city of lights, her expression gave me the impression that the thought was out of reach at the moment, but to my surprise (and delight)she indacated that she remembered her favorite recipe.

"Listen must remember that I am only 1/2 French,but my Father was 100% Vietnamese, so sometimes I have blended some unusual flavors when honoring both of my cultures. I think that of all my favrite quick breads, or if I was going to enter the Fair....I'd submit my Banana-Chocolate / Curry Pecan!"

I processed the ingredients in my mind, I even repeated them outloud.......

"Banana - Chocolate / Curry - Pecan."

We sat in silence as I digested the odd combanation.

"Shut Up!!!!" I declared "That is sacrilgous, it will taste awful."

My French friend stood firm in her conviction.

I will give you this recipe and I must tell you, you will owe me an apoligy. It is so good.

Vanessa E-Mailed me the recipe, and typically the day after the Fair, I usually pass out on the couch. sometimes I'll wake up during the afternoon in a panic thinking I missed one one my shows LOL.

But on this occasion I made Vanessa's quick bread. It piqued my curiosity so strong, that I couldnt even help myself.

Who would have thunk it? Spices from India with Monkey was glorius.

Fast forward today......

Dearest Vanessa, I was at General Mills worldwide HQ this entire weekend. My job was to basically bring in the 10 best recipes I know, explain it to a group of bakers,scientists and sales people, and then bake these masterpieces.

Yesterday the Pretzel Bread dipped in Caustic soda was the fan fave bomb, but today it was your recipe. The recipe that I dared to doubt that won over the minds and palates of some of the most discrinating peeps in the world.

I will never second guess you again.

I miss you Tordu, but know that you are not forgotten in America.


  1. I miss you more.
    First time Milan had Mountain dew ;) My sons love you! We like to talk about the castle you built in the bakery for them. I like to think about the crazy Pretzel bread day at the bakery. It was simply great! It's not every day you have the chance to bake with gloves and caustic soda, and then taste this fantastic Pretzel bread freshly baked!

    Did I tell you how this combination come to my mind? It was 5 years ago during my vacation time in France. I had already spent 1 year in America and I had fallen in love with banana bread. The idea popped into my mind while eating one of the finest spice-pecan chocolate bonbon. I waited until I go back to Minnesota to try this fantastic fusion of flavors with banana and my favorite curry.

    I may miss the State Fair more than you ;)

  2. Klecko sits with happiness and sadness!