Alton Brown, My Spiritual Father
Before Lady Aravan and I decided to get healthy, I was an Alton Brown fan. For a long time, though, I wasn’t. I didn’t get his show at all. I was used to recipe-style cooking shows like the Rachel Ray show (more on her later) or travelogue-style shows like No Reservations. Good Eats was very different, with its long explanations and quirky humor. Finally, though, the show clicked for me and I started to get it. Alton doesn’t try to teach you a recipe (which would feed you for a meal), but rather he tries to teach you how to cook (which will feed you for a lifetime). Some friends bought me the first Good Eats compendium, and that took it all even further.
It was around this time that Lady Aravan began reading Jillian Michael’s book, uh, hmmm. I can’t remember the title. Master Your Metabolism? Yeah, I think that might be it. Anyway, it talked a lot about healthy eating, eliminating meat with hormones and antibiotics and corn feed, along with organic food and vegetables and things along those lines. My lady took to it with a passion – in short order, our house was purged of BPA plastics and nearly everything that wasn’t organic was pitched – and away we went. The reason why I was absolutely willing to go along for the ride was because of Alton Brown.
See, Alton focuses on taste and flavors. Neither of those is served with processed foods. Much of what Jillian talked about was echoed by Alton, only he was talking about the quality of the food experience as well as health. I was willing to try the whole change because it sounded like the food itself would taste better. I got several more of his books, like I’m Just Here for the Food, and away I went. I’ve learned more about cooking in the last 6 months than I did in a lifetime of making recipes.
Granted, Lady Aravan and I both have a feel for cooking, so modifying recipes has been pretty standard for us for years. But now, the idea of making homemade organic mayonnaise isn’t a ludicrous notion – in fact, it’s quite delicious, and better than any mayo I’ve ever eaten. Ditto for tortillas and a hundred other things I was never sure about making. Learning why different flours are called for in different applications, the basic reasons why and how seasoning works – all of them have made me a better cook.
The pair of them became our mater and pater, our guides for healthier living. Bob Harper then joined the pantheon, and we had our little Health Trinity. Recently though, but especially after the Kettlebell Fiasco, Jillian has fallen a bit from favor. We can’t boot her entirely, though, since so much of what we’ve been able to do began with her, and we’re both grateful for that. In the meantime, I need to go to the store to get the ingredients for Alton’s Protein Bars. They look like good eats.