What is the most underrated ingredient according to Alton Brown of “Good Eats”? Read on to find out!

With Alton Brown of Good Eats

Alton Brown, the wise cracking host of the Food Network’s Good Eats, was recently at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore in Paramus, NJ for the release of his newest book, Good Eats 2: The Middle Years.  Before he started the book signing, AB, as he’s affectionately called, introduced the book.  He told the crowd that he felt the episodes included in this book were better than the episodes included in his first Good Eats book.  He said that by the time they started to produce these “Middle Years” shows, they kind of got the hang of what they were doing.  Alton opened the floor to a Q & A session that lasted about 20 minutes. 

AB making his point

One of the questions was where does he do his food shopping.  AB said he is a member of 3 CSAs, which are Community Supported Agriculture groups.  This means that you can buy a share of the products the farm produces.  It is a good way to support local agriculture.  He also said that he buys all of his eggs from a local farmer.  He also said that he is planting a “small farm” at the studio where he films Good Eats in Georgia.

The question quickly arose about his recent online squabble with the Travel Channel’s Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods.  It should be mentioned that the Food Network and the Travel Channel are both owned by the same parent company Scripps.  The argument came from AB’s comments about Adam Richman’s gluttonous show, Man vs. Food.  It boiled down to Alton saying that there are too many people without food, yet we condone the gluttony of shows like Man vs. Food.  Andrew Zimmern came to the defense of his fellow Travel Channel host.  Alton reiterated that there are a lot of food issues in the world that need to be resolved; and that’s pretty much where he left that discussion. 

The crowd then turned their focus onto questions about Good Eats.  Alton was asked what would be a show he would love to do.  He said he wants to do a show on rabbit and venison, but the Food Network will not let him because of our affinity to these animals as a society.  He was also asked if he he had an unlimited budget, what kind of show would he make.  Without hesitating, he said he would want to cook in space.  This would be quite interesting and I feel AB would be the right person for doing that.  Another person asked him about the production of the show.  Alton said that it days 3 days to film one episode.  He also said that shows are constantly being written, filmed and edited. 

The crowd also asked Alton advice questions, as well as personal preference ones.  AB was asked if he does the cooking at home.  He said that he cooks breakfast every day that he is home.  He is also a firm believer in getting kids involved in the kitchen at a young age.  Even if they just stir a pot, they are still being connected to act of creating food. 

Alton was also asked to give some words of advice to young people who want to be chefs.  To this he replied that they should buy a good pair of shoes and to get their friends to intervene and talk them out of it.  This got a good laugh, but even though he may have been kidding I think he was also being serious.  He said that the best thing for a young person to do is to go to college first, then decide whether or not to go to culinary school. 

Someone asked him what’s his favorite thing to eat, to which he replied, “Something I can eat over the sink.”  He also said he that his favorite food was bacon.  He called it the “finest flavor on Earth.”  For this response, he got a rousing applause.  At this point I raised my hand.  AB picked me and I asked him my question, which was in his opinion what were the most over & underrated ingredients.  He quickly said that truffles were the most overrated.  He called them “little dirt clogs”.  He wasn’t so quick to answer what the most underrated food was.  He jokingly said Cheese Whiz and lettuce.  But he quickly recanted those answers.  He said he would get back to me. 

The one & only Alton Brown

He was asked a few more questions before he wrapped up the Q & A session.   He thanked everyone for coming out, and then he started the actually book signing.  I was lucky enough to be sitting in the third row, so my turn came pretty fast.  When it was my turn, I asked him if he came up with an answer to my question.  And his response was parsley.  And come to think of it that really is the truth.  We always see it as a garnish, but how many of us actually make parsley the center of a dish?  I personally love this oft overlooked culinary staple and try to cook with it (not as garnish, but actually cook with it) as often as possible.  Interestingly enough, as I was perusing through AB’s new book, I noticed a recipe for Parsley Salad from a Good Eats episode entitled “Herbal Preservation”.  There you go, a perfect example of AB giving parsley its fair shake!  Enjoy!

Living to eat,
Tony Mangia

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