Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Beer Snob in Training

Well!  Some winter, huh?

I sure didn't intend to wait a month before posting again, but who plans for Arctic weather in the Midwest?

Anyway, the snow and the cold make it tough to do much besides cook and eat and think.  I'm not hardy enough to brave this kind of weather just to take pictures.  I'm a wuss that way.

As a result of the cooking and the thinking and my ongoing contemplation of middle age, I've come to a couple of decisions.  The first involves a career change. I'll get to that.

The other, more immediate, decision is to expand my food and drink horizons.  I grew up in Central Indiana.  Despite commercials you may have heard, there really isn't much more than corn in Indiana.  Corn and beef.  My culinary experience, I'm quickly learning, is limited.  Stunted, even.

Last year, my resolution was to lose weight.  Sixty pounds gone, the last ten thanks to an unexpected emergency surgery, but gone just the same.

This year, I'm trying food and drink that is way outside of my experience.  For....reasons, my first step was to turn on to Southern cooking.  I discovered that if I put enough sugar in it, I can learn to like tea.  Sweet tea was born in the South, and I found that even though I've never been a tea drinker, with enough sugar and lemon, it's not bad at all.  Same goes for coffee, another taste I've never quite acquired.  Cinnamon roll flavored coffee, though?  I'm all over that.

Beans and rice?  Jambalaya?

Made 'em both and love 'em!  Made a pecan pie for my wife and did ok for a first attempt.  This weekend I'm making my first gumbo, and I'll have pictures and commentary in this very space, so watch for that.  Crawfish and shrimp?  Never had either, and have gone out of my way to avoid most seafood up to this point.  Blame it on my Midwest upbringing.  The most exotic fish I've ever had was catfish.  My old man made it - breaded and fried - and it was pretty damned good.  But lobster or crab or any sea critter that wasn't shredded and shaped into a frozen, fried stick?  Nope - never had it.  I'm starting to think that maybe I'm missing out on something.

Getting back to the title of this post, I've decided that as a part of my gastronomic development, I'm gonna learn to appreciate beer.  My experience with beer is, predictably, limited.  My departed Grandmother only drank Pabst Blue Ribbon, and the sips I would sneak while she pretended not to notice were....unpleasant.  Despite the time I spent tending bar, I learned very little beer as an adult.  But the guy with the awesome voice and even more awesome beard on Beer Geeks has me convinced that I can give it another go.

I have friends who are beer fans and amateur brewers, and I delight in telling them that all beer, from the cheapest swill to the priciest craft brews, tastes exactly the same to me.  My palate just isn't developed enough to pick out the flavors that they insist are there.

In addition to the periodic camera test drives, then, I'm going to try whatever beers I can find and report my impressions back to you.  One of our local grocery stores has a large selection of single bottles that you can mix and match into a custom six-pack.  So you'll either get to watch my growth as a beer connoisseur, or you'll have a laugh at my expense as I completely misunderstand the culture and the craft.  Either way, should be a good time.

Getting back to that first, life changing, possibly ill-advised decision - here it is:  once my life becomes a little more stable, I'm going back to school to learn to cook professionally.  Again, watch this space to either follow my incredible rise or my spectacular failure.

Either way, enjoy the ride.  I promise it won't take me another month to post again.