Get Your Mojo and Pickled Pig's Head in Norman Van Aken's Weekly Column

Categories: Chef Chat
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Norman Van Aken -- one of the Mango Gang, along with Douglas Rodriguez, Allen Susser, and Mark Militello -- has started a weekly column, Word on Food, over on the national food site Food Republic -- teasers, perhaps, for his upcoming cookbook, My Key West Kitchen.

Currently he helms Norman's at the Ritz-Carlton in Orlando and resides as director of restaurants at Miami Culinary Institute. Van Aken had been the name behind Chef Allen's in Aventura, the 25-year-old restaurant that shuttered a year ago.

The weekly column debuted at the end of 2011, with a musing on his favorite Italian sandwich, the lamprodetta -- which, by the way, features cow stomach.

If you're looking for straightforward recipes, heads up: There's a story attached, such as this one on how to make a classic mojo:


The chief difference in classic mojo versus a classic vinaigrette is that there is a cooking process. Close your eyes and put on the headphones for a moment with me. Now... imagine blues great Muddy Waters. Really. Imagine Muddy playing the country blues he was playing down South near his hometown of Jug's Corner, Mississippi around 1941. Back then he was still known as McKinley Morganfield. He played on an acoustic guitar of course. He was probably wailing like Son House or the infamous Robert (Crossroads) Johnson on that thing. But when he got up to Chicago he discovered the ELECTRIC guitar and became the man who "got his Mojo working!" Truth is he found the electric guitar useful in that it allowed him to play above the noisy crowds in the juke joints.


And here's a short list of some of his other columns: on Beurre Blanc, on the importance of great tortillas, on the delights of souse (yes, he's talking about pickled pig's head), and the merits of rabbit food


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