Homemade Delish‘s Roberta Pipito recently took some time off from being awesome to answer a few questions for us. A talented cook and food blogger, she talks with us on a variety of culinary topics ranging from lab-grown meats what she thinks is the most damaging food myth prevailing today. She even creates an impromptu recipe around leftovers in the Flavorful World refrigerator. Because she’s that good. And so is this interview, so come check it out.
FW: Mark Twain wrote, “A man accustomed to American food and American domestic cookery would not starve to death suddenly in Europe, but I think he would gradually waste away, and eventually die.” What do you think is the defining difference between American and European cooking styles, and between eater sensibilities in those respective locales?
RP: I think that Americans eat to live, and Europeans live to eat. Americans are known for many simple foods. This is a good thing of course, and defines a culture, but Europeans are known more for their fancier plates and smaller portions, which is more pleasing on the eye. I think the differences in sensibilities is that sometimes in America, we tend to over eat, while Europeans take in less. The flip side to this is that there are plusses and minuses to both. While we eat more here, sometimes we cook healthier. There are healthy and unhealthy foods in all cultures, so I guess the real difference in what Mr. Twain was saying was the portion control.
FW: Of all the recipes you’ve created, which one took you the farthest outside your culinary comfort zone, and how did it do so?
RP: I’d have to say it was my Paella. I find it simple to make now, but the first few times I made it, the amount of ingredients was slightly overwhelming. In my version of this plate I use chicken, scallops, shrimp, clams and chorizo as my meats alone. This doesn’t account for the rest of the mix. I believe I overthought it too much. It is really a simple dish to make, once you figure it out. The real secret behind the rice lies within the saffron. I had never used saffron before, and was a little nervous, but was happy with the results.
FW: Street food and food trucks, long considered sources of less-than-stellar eating experiences, have gained much respect in recent years. What do you think are the three greatest influencers to which this can be attributed?
RP: In cities particularly, food trucks are affordable and convenient for business persons and college students. I know in Philadelphia, some of the food trucks are better than campus meals, and are preferred. Secondly, we in the United States are for the most part trying to eat healthier than we have in the past. I think this has influenced the vendors to adapt what they are selling to consumers… A very smart move on their part. Finally, the variety of cultures and selections are abundant. You can walk down a busy metro area and see Chinese, Thai, Arabian, Brazilian, Italian, and American vendors just to name a few.
FW: A recent news story reported on how lab-grown meat is closer to supermarket shelves than ever before, and how its usage removes the ethical quandary for those against consuming meat from farmed animals. What are your thoughts on consuming lab-grown meat and utilizing it in recipes?
RP: Personally, I wouldn’t use it. I’d try it of course, but it wouldn’t be my preference. I don’t think a man-made meat substance would be in the best of health or as good tasting. Take for example some snacks. They are made in factories and have flavoring to make them supposedly replicate the real taste of flavors. Processed cheese does not taste anything like fresh cheese. The flavors of a fake cheese just don’t hit the taste buds with the same impact and aftertaste. At the same time, I would not hold it against anyone for using it if that is their preference, it just isn’t mine.
FW: In my refrigerator I have one red onion, one Fuji apple, and three roasted green chiles, however I have no idea what to make with them. Help me out with an idea for a dish in which I can utilize all three foods, them tell me what alcoholic beverage you would serve with it and why.
RP: I feel like I’m on a certain show right now. Okay, so let’s lift up the basket and grab our ingredients. I would chop the three main ingredients into about ½ inch cubes, and place them in a bowl. Then mix them with some salt, pepper, garlic powder, and olive oil. This is your “salsa”. Then take a turkey cutlet, dip it in flour, egg, and panko bread crumbs. With olive oil in a skillet, fry the cutlet until it is golden brown. Allow excess oil to drip off by placing the cutlet on a baking rack for a few minutes. To serve, place on a plate and top with your chili, onion, and Fuji apple salsa. On top of this, do a slight balsamic vinegar drizzle. A pinot grigio wine would complement this well because of its refreshing taste. I just think that the Fuji apples would go well with turkey, and that is the first thing that popped into my head. Hmmm, now I have about three more ideas. Haha. Now I’ll have to try a few of these out.
FW: Dispel what you feel is the biggest, most damaging food myth prevailing today. How is it wrong?
RP: Wow, how do I word this without sounding like I have an agenda? I think the term “organic” is taken out of context by both the people who prefer organic foods and those who do not. On one hand, you have those who will claim that you are not eating healthy or don’t know what is in your foods if you don’t eat organic. At the same time, those who choose not to go the organic route, sometimes assume that organic foods are for the rich and people who live in the middle of the forest. I consume from both sides of the spectrum, and there are many points given for each view. I just think that the terminology has done a lot more damage than what it was meant to be.
FW: Lots of public entities/properties have an official foodstuff to which they lay claim when advertising (example: Highland Plains Bison claims to be the Official lean meat of the Chicago Cubs). If there existed an official foodstuff of Homemade Delish, what would it be and why?
RP: It is so difficult to narrow it down to one thing for Homemade Delish. I guess I’d say my meatballs. They are a huge hit with my family and friends. I have a secret ingredient that I use, and unique process that makes it homemade and delish.
FW: Excluding the name of any of your pre-existing blogs, websites, or print/online personas, tell us what name you would give to your memoir about your culinary exploits.
RP: “Out of the shadows of her father’s kitchen.” I guess that would be a good title, but I really, really like homemade delish. haha
FW: When you aren’t cooking and/or eating delicious foods, how do you most enjoy spending your time?
RP: I love photography, but my family is how I like to spend my time. They are my inspiration for a lot of my ideas. My kids are funny and amazing, and my husband is always getting my input on the novels he writes, so there is never a dull moment.
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