To Eat Deliberately

My name is Stephan Kaliss, and I’m addicted to eating.

There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t eat. I need it. I do it more than three times a day and if I go for long periods of time without food I suffer from physical and mental withdrawals. I also enjoy my drink… a lot.

This addiction breeds passion and curiosity in me. I like to explore and research a variety of foods that I think my fellow addicts can all come to appreciate. I enjoy learning and sharing the knowledge I uncover that makes food taste great, understanding what makes food taste terrible, practicing how to fully enjoy food and attempting to grasp exactly what kind of crazy it takes to order anything cooked well-done.

Together we shall set off on a delectable and decadent adventure of gastronomical exploration.

I believe that not only is eating food delicious and pleasurable, but that food is a great communicator of history and culture as well. That with the right kind of palate you can draw insight from a traditional dish, that you can learn a lot about a cook and experience some of the best things a culture can offer through the cuisine they make available for us to enjoy. And I am willing to go broke doing so.

I will travel and eat and write. I will get into uncomfortable and awkward situations with chefs and cooks alike to fully understand and appreciate the cuisine we’re told we’re supposed to enjoy.

At the same time, I often see people heavy-handedly smashing into whatever is in front of them, mindlessly mixing food together and then shoveling it down their throats as if a filet and potatoes were akin to McDonald’s french fries, and the very act of eating is barely more than a waste of their precious time.

I am crusading against these types. Armed only with an open mind and an empty stomach, I’m a lone culinary rebel who has deliberately shunned the ancient eating practice of stuffing face.

Alright… that may have been a bit overstated and dramatic but I think it gets the point across. I’d like for others to derive the same pure pleasure from simply taking the time and presence of mind to truly experience food as I do; to educate and empower themselves through deliberate eating. To not only enjoy the flavors of a variety of foods, but the textures and presentation that we often overlook.

To further explain I’m going to get deep for a minute, so hold onto your philosophical pants…

I’m reminded of the time I walked along the Great Wall of China. Walking along that wall I couldn’t help but to soak up every visible inch with my thirsty Western eyes. I could see the brown and beige dirt, mud and stone, and the 40 shades of green plants in Mongolia on my left and the wide hills of China on my right. The majority of the people on that wall that day walked on it from point A to point B and left as if it were just some motion to go through or a notch to be put on their belts. But I felt I was missing something.

So, I paused and I closed my eyes and I listened. In doing so I became more aware of the whole experience. I could hear the subtleties of hills and wind and wildlife and I can still remember not only what the air smelled of, but how it tasted. Years later that memory remains one of my sharpest and most pleasurable ones.

This is what I mean when I use the word experience; to live fully.

We often don’t take enough time to explore and appreciate the things that we take pleasure in. That is exactly what I am going to do here. Whether it be Korean octopus or French duck I’m going to take a look at dishes individually and also as a part of a larger cultural picture in the hopes that the more I learn the more I can appreciate, and every bite I take is better than the last.

I’m going to research food and try to discover useful information for all of us to benefit from. I’ll look closely at how starch content affects different types of potatoes and some of the science behind good cooking. We’ll take a look at different chefs and try to learn their philosophies and experiment with dishes that are both simple and delicious.

I don’t think you need to go to culinary school or eat in Michelin rated restaurants to make or enjoy a fantastic meal. All in all, I hope that we can sit down, eat great food, drink fantastic wine and truly take one of the best pleasures in life for all it’s worth.