Just a bit of what’s going on for me. Along with my day job I added teaching a class at a local university on international business and strategy. Can I say this was one of the best choices I have ever made? I love it – the animated conversations, the head nodding when the concepts click for the students are so rewarding, plus on a topic I find truly fascinating; even if it has proven more work than I anticipated. I’ve also taken on a few speaking engagements and volunteering, and trying to make sure that my husband knows I’m still here. We also leave for Italy later this week. Phew. Needless to say, I felt I needed some help.
So a while back I sent an S.O.S. Some kind folks answered my distress signals and so interspersed in my posts, I now have the privlaege of introducing you to some wonderful fellow food lovers. The first person that stepped forward was the amazing Lazaro.
Lazaro lives in Florida and makes ample use of the bounty of his state, along with the techniques I seek out when I travel there. Also, a healthy dose of Cuban influence shines through to my eternal gratitude. Lazaro cooks the way I aspire to, and he plates his food as if it was in a 5 Star restaurant, something I could never do. I love the amazing food he produces, and appreciate his focus on local and sustainable ingredients.
Hello readers of Oyster Food and Culture, my name is Lazaro, I blog over at Lazaro Cooks! It truly is an honor to be invited to contribute here, one of my favorite sites on the web. Everything cooked on LC is sustainable, organic, and seasonal, with precious few exceptions. Many people feel powerless against the big machine that controls the food in this country, but is that accurate? In my opinion, we can effect change every time we go to the market. Business is driven by supply and demand; if you demand better from your local food retailers they will supply it. Cooks have total control over what goes into the food they prepare and nothing compares to using locally sourced SEASONAL produce.
The advent of modern refrigeration transportation has distorted the seasonal boundaries. Why should we use out-of-season ingredients from another hemisphere? As a Floridian I am fortunate to live in a state that turns out the widest variety of produce imaginable like, potatoes, avocados, mangoes, white mushrooms, eggplants, tropical fruits, fantastic seafood and sweet corn. Right now we are in the peak of the Florida blue crab season which runs through October. Florida sweet corn production is just cranking up and my kitchen is full of them. Both these wonderful products converge to produce a fantastic starter to any meal.
Factory farming is vile, soulless, unforgiving and merciless. The practices in industrial farming houses for cattle, chicken, pigs, and various other foodstuffs are not acceptable. When trolling our local markets we gaze upon case after case of beautifully butchered produce. It’s easy to forget that every piece of meat, chicken, pork or fish was once a living breathing animal. I am not a vegetarian but it is extraordinarily easy for me to understand why people abstain from eating animal protein. If we choose to eat meat, we should be cognizant of where our food comes from and how it was treated. Do not take my word for it, do the research; read the books and articles, watch the videos. Humane animal husbandry and earth-friendly production practices ensure ecologically sustainable farms. Eden Farms is one of the most environmentally sustainable pork companies around. Pork Belly is where our bacon and pancetta come from. If you braise the pork belly, it can get incredibly tender. Here I paired the pork belly with a sustainable US farm-raised Catfish, for a surf-and-turf entrée.
Cooking fish is a true joy. Eating fish is equally rewarding. Humans who eat seafood depend on our waterways for sustenance. The conditions of our oceans, lakes, rivers, and creeks have deteriorated to unacceptable degrees. Habitat destruction and chemical pollution are at the forefront of why fish are disappearing. Countless species of fish are at perilously low levels. Technology has allowed us to fish deeper and farther than ever before. Some methods are incredibly efficient, while others have us on the verge of disaster. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has an exhaustively detailed website offering guides to sustainable seafood. Likewise, amazing chefs have taken up the cause. Rick Moonen, one of America’s finest chefs, wrote Fish Without a Doubt, an ode to the cooking of sustainable fish. The ocean is a treasure trove of astounding delights. Get educated and do your part to ensure that future generations can derive pleasure from what it has to offer.
That’s it for now…till we exchange a few words again…Peace!
Thank you Lazaro for those great reminders on how important it is to tread gently on this planet. If, along the way upon reading this post you got distracted by one or two of Lazaro’s amazing photos, here’s a few links to the recipes: