Myhrvold on Pizza: The Perfect Slice in 1708 Pages! | Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street

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Episode 526
October 1, 2021

Myhrvold on Pizza: The Perfect Slice in 1708 Pages!

Myhrvold on Pizza: The Perfect Slice in 1708 Pages!

This week, we talk to Modernist Cuisine founder Nathan Myhrvold about his new book, "Modernist Pizza." We talk hydration, ingredients and fermentation and even question the benefits of the wood-burning oven. Plus, journalist Larry Tye tells us how the father of public relations made bacon a breakfast staple, Adam Gopnik explains how to cook for a family with vastly different dietary restrictions, and we whip up a Venetian pasta recipe with radicchio and walnuts.

This episode is brought to you by Sleep Number and Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club.

Questions in this episode:

"I like to bake a pumpkin roll, but it cracks when I unroll it. Last time, I rolled the cake up with the parchment paper it was baked on. It didn't stick to the parchment, which was the good thing. However, it still cracked when I rerolled it. Help!"

"I raise my own pigs, but I just sort of wing it every time I give the butchers instructions for the cuts. I'd still like your suggestions and advice for what to do with all of the different parts."

"A number of recipes I like call for leftover bread, like the Garlic Soup (Sopa de Ajo), but I don't always have bread on hand. When making a soup like this, especially if you want to make it on short notice, what's the best way to utilize fresh bread at the last minute?"

"I always save chicken carcasses in the freezer to make broth. How long should I cook the broth to make sure it's flavorful? And, should I chop up the bones?"

Nathan Myhrvold Headshot

Christopher Kimball: This is Milk Street Radio from PRX I'm your host Christopher Kimball. Nathan Myhrvold was the first Chief Technology Officer of Microsoft. And he's also worked with Stephen Hawking to uncover the secrets of the universe. But he is also passionate about food science. In his latest three volume encyclopedia, Modernist PizzaMyhrvold dives deep into crust toppings, why pizza Margarita was not named after Queen and why you should be making more pizza at home. Pizza

Nathan Myhrvold: Its funny because it is much more widely eaten than it is made yet it's actually not that hard to make at home. And it turns out even bad pizza made at home it’s pizza it's not that bad

CK: Also coming up we learn a Venetian recipe for pasta with radicchio and walnuts. And Adam Gopnik explains how to cook for your family when everyone has a different dietary restriction. The first is my interview with journalist Larry Tye about how the father of public relations Edward Bernays made bacon and eggs the American breakfast of choice. Larry, welcome to Milk Street.

Larry Tye: Great to be on with you, Chris.

CK: Edward Bernays is one of my absolutely most favorite historical figures, who was Edward Bernays.

LT: He was a man who was so convincing as to what he was doing that he convinced the world and the New York Times that he was the father of public relations. And a father means the first he wasn't. But a father means the most inventive PR man that the world could have ever dreamed up. He was, he was the nephew of Sigmund Freud. And he took his uncle's ideas on why people behave the way they do and use them to make people behave the way his clients wanted them to. And to me, he was most of all the father of spin.

CK: So, let's frame this period World War One into the 20s. This notion of the masses the crowd, and whether there was going to be chaos. And Bernays felt that there was a way to control people by understanding there, I guess, subconscious desires. Right?

LT: Right. And he felt that the people who should be pulling the strings and exercising that control, were people like him, the shapers of public opinion, who could ensure that the masses did things that were good and appropriate, and going to steer the economy in a way that his clients wanted it to go, which was all the way up.

CK: Let's hear a little bit from Edward Bernays right now, Harry is doing an interview with Ball State University in 1986, talking about creating the field of public relations after World War One.

Edward Bernays: When I got back from the war, I recognized that ideas could be as important weapons as anything. And first, I called what we did publicity direction I would direct the conduct of people so that they could win through ideas, their public goals.

CK: Okay, let's turn to bacon, one of his great successes. Mid 1920s, the Beechnut packing company, produced bacon. And I didn't know this. But at the time, Americans had turned to a very light breakfast. The 19th century was heavy, a lot of meat, but not so in the 1920s. How did he turn that around?

LT: So, a normal publicity person would have said, geez, we're going to try to compete with our fellow bacon makers, and we're going to try to steal some of the market from them. Bernays’s said, no, if Americans aren't eating bacon, none of the bacon makers are going to be profitable. So, he redefined what breakfast ought to be about. And he persuaded a famous New York doctor to write his colleagues and asking them, not a neutral poll on what people should be eating. But the way he phrased it was, he wanted to know whether they supported a hearty or a light breakfast. Now, the very word hearty was clearly skewing the poll and ensuring what Bernays knew what happened, which was that hearty won big and that newspapers spread the word and that people started following their physician’s advice. And the advice was eat a hearty breakfast and Bernays said a hearty breakfast. is a bacon and eggs breakfast. So, what he succeeded in doing was making the ultimate artery clogging breakfast forever linked in the American mindset with what a hearty and healthy breakfast was, and that continues in households across the world to this day.

Edward Bernays: If you don't like bacon, and you're interested in your health, as 4000 doctors say, it's you better eat bacon, you better do it.

Audio clip: Bacon and eggs and buttered toast. There's nothing like a good healthy breakfast to start the day off, right? And a meal like this should satisfy anyone.

CK: I still believe it. I'm all for bacon and eggs. But but what's so interesting here is a good example. His skills, his ability to convince the quote unquote masses to buy something or think something is simply a skill that could be used for good or evil, and he was on both sides of that coin?

LT: He was absolutely on both sides. And at times, he used it for good. And yet, it was also it had huge potential for harm. And Edward Bernays was told by an Associated Press reporter in the 1930s that his book was on the bookshelf of Joseph Goebbels of Hitler's PR and propaganda chief. And on the one hand, Bernays as a Jew, was especially shocked by that, and dismayed, and on the other hand, he told enough people about it over the years, and I also think, in some sense that he was proud that he could never really distinguish the good from the bad. So, he helped addict, a generation of women to smoking cigarettes. And then two generations later, he worked for the American Lung Association to help wean them of the habit that he had created. And what Eddie Bernays said was jeez, if I had known the dangers of cigarettes back when I was helping convince women to smoke cigarettes, I would never have done it. And that all would have been very convincing, except he left all of his records to the Library of Congress, and they show that one of the few people in America who truly understood the dangers of cigarettes back in the 1920s and 30s, was Eddie Bernays and his buddies at the American Tobacco Company. He started becoming so addicted to his success with these public relations techniques that he could no longer see good and bad and no longer see truth. And some of the lies he told right.

CK: Right, here he is on David Letterman in 1985, explaining the benefits of being called Dr. Bernays despite only having honorary degrees.

David Letterman: All right now, doctor what? Tell me again, what the doctor is what are we dealing with, you're the father of public relations?

Edward Bernays: Which really is the concept that people will believe me more if you call me doctor.

David Letterman: Oh, I see

CK: So, so the long takeaways he imbues products with an emotional resonance. He used quasi medical research and other research to support the value proposition for a product. And also, that, if you say it loud enough, and long enough, it becomes true. Are all of those things still in play today? And has the ball been advanced down the field beyond what Bernays was doing?

LT: I think the techniques are the same that Edward Bernays used. 100 years ago, he worked for the biggest manufacturers of food in America. And he helped sell us on the idea that everything from unhealthy cereal to what we were discussing with bacon and eggs, was the way that you could truly get the day off to a healthy start. And what Edward Bernays did was take his uncle Sigmund Freud's ideas on why people behave the way they do and use them to make people behave the way his clients wanted them to. And I think that the that is precisely what companies are doing today, a hugely more money is being spent on all of this, and it seems more sophisticated, but the techniques were set in place nearly a century ago, and it's just refinements.

CK: Larry, it's been a pleasure. Thank you for being here on Milk Street.

LT: Chris. Thanks for having me on.

CK: That was journalist Larry Tye. His book is The Father of Spin Edward L. Bernays, and the Birth of Public Relations. Now it's time for my co-host Sara Moulton and I to answer some of your cooking questions. Sara is of course the author of Home Cooking 101, and she stars in Sara's Weeknight Meals on public television.

Sara Moulton: So, Chris you know we always talk about having a cocktail when we're done doing radio. What cocktail are you going to concoct after radio today?

CK: Why don't usually concoct them because I'm a person of deep habit. Which means that I basically drink old fashioned (okay) but a friend of mine in Paris actually sent me a bottle of it's a crème ____, it's____. It's a liquor. This is David Leibowitz who just came out with a cocktail book made from the insides of stone fruit kernels, you know, the pits,

SM: Oh wow.

CK: So, it's slightly almondish.

SM: Yeah,

CK: I think in the Middle East is called my mahlab. M-a-h-l-a-b anyway, so the recipe it's called a Jockey Club. It's an ounce and a half a dry gin, three quarter ounce of lemon juice. I know this by heart because I've made a few of them. three quarter ounce of this liquor, which is not easy to find, you have to special order it. And again, why you the p-o-i-s-s-y, a little sugar syrup, if you like just a tiny bit in some bitters. There’s a slight almond flavor. The gin is nice, you know, the botanicals and the gin. And the lemon juice makes it almost cooler. It's very refreshing. So, it's the perfect balance of alcohol, herbs, lemon juice, and a slight undercurrent of almond. And it's just spectacular

SM: That sounds great. You know, it's interesting years ago, when I was in France, we were introduced to a chestnut liqueur, and you were supposed to add it to white wine. And I thought how odd. But in a similar way, sort of the asset of the white wine worked really nice with the sort of deep chestnut flavor of the liquor. Oh, so good.

CK: That sounds nice.

SM: Well, we'll have to finish up our questions here so we can get to that cocktail.

CK: We're just going to have to have formal cocktail hour after radio instead of just talking about it, right?

SM: I think so. I think so

CK: Okay, well, let's get back to work. Take a call.

SM: Welcome to Milk Street who's calling?

Caller: Hi, my name is Eileen.

SM: Hi, Eileen. Where are you calling from?

Caller: Outside of Philadelphia.

SM: How can we help you today?

Caller: Every year I make a pumpkin roll and it always cracks when I roll it. So, I googled and found they suggested rolling it with the parchment paper. So, I tried that this year, and it was the worst ever. And I was wondering it almost felt like it was too wet. I don't know like I want to know what the secret is to rolling a pumpkin roll without cracking.

SM: Yeah, well, I would think the parchment did keep it too wet. What I've always done is turned it out on to a very lightly floured or confectioner's sugared tea towel or you know kitchen towel, and let it cool off enough so that you can handle it, roll it up with the towel, and then let it cool and then you can unroll it and proceed. That should work just fine. I also wonder if maybe you're slightly overcooking it. If it cracks.

Caller: I've always done it with the towel, and it still cracks on me but maybe I am overbaking it

SM: Yeah, that's what I wonder, Chris.

CK: I agree. It's amazing.

SM: Dear, what happened?

CK: Dear diary I agree with Sara, Yeah, the parchments a terrible idea that won't breathe and the tea towel will absorb the moisture. I would say however, you do want to roll it up while it's pretty warm. I mean, you don't want to let it cool. Then roll it up.

SM: No, just enough so you can handle it is what I was saying.

CK: Within a couple of minutes, two or three minutes coming out of the oven. I want to roll it up. Let it sit. But I think Sara's right, you should probably under bake a little bit. There's still cooking going on once it comes out and that'll finish it up.

Caller: Yeah, I'm probably I'm overbaking because I keep looking in the center seems to lose so I you know, give it another minute. another minute. Maybe that's the problem. Yeah, I'm glad to hear what you said about the parchment because that really frustrated me. It was really a mess.

CK: Oh, we’ll put that in the big dumb advice box right?

Caller: You can't believe everything you read on the internet, right?

CK: It's a very big box full of stuff. So anyway, give that a shot.

Caller: Ok, thank you

CK: Yeah, thanks for calling.

SM: Bye bye.

CK: This is Milk Street Radio. If you need a hand in the kitchen, give us a ring anytime that number is 855-426-9843. 855-426-9843 or email us at questions at Milk Street. Radio.com Welcome to Milk Street who's calling?

Caller: Hi This is Ruth calling from California.

CK: Where in California?

Caller: I live in Mariposa, which is right outside of Yosemite National Park.

SM: Oh, lovely.

CK: That's jeez yeah, I feel terrible. I mean, I feel terrible. I don't live there, it sounds great. So how can we help you?

Caller: Well, I have the wonderful privilege and luxury of being able to have my own pigs living here I have seven acres and a tiny farm. And every year when butchering time comes, I'm absolutely flummoxed with the butcher instructions. I don't really feel comfortable with the choices that I've made. And I guess I wanted to ask you guys you guys probably know better than me. And also, do you have any tips on making lard oh my God, I'm completely flummoxed.

CK: With a large you want leaf lard, and that's the lard around the kidneys and you get a butcher to save that for you. Then you have to cook that down. Usually, it's done very slowly over a few hours with some water in the pan Dutch oven or whatever using cook it very slowly until it melts, strain it off. Put it into small containers of one kind or another even ice cube trays, whatever you want.

Caller: Oh, good idea

CK: That leaf lard does not taste like pork, it has a very clean taste. And its American pie makers used traditionally for making pies because you get this incredible leafy texture to the finished big pie dough. So that's the lard you want his stuff around the kidneys.

SM: Now, I just wanted to clarify one thing because I'm learning here too. When you say you render the lard by combining it with water and cooking it low in a Dutch oven is that in the oven or on top of the stove?

CK: You could do it either. I do on top of the stove, the waters there so you don't overcook the lard. You just want to melt it very slowly and then strain it off for any bits. I would use that for cooking because it's a very neutral flavor.

Caller: Okay, any tips on butcher cuts like picnic shoulders versus Boston butts I'm totally confused. Well

CK: Well picnic shoulder is the upper arm of essentially the front leg the upper part of the front leg and the Boston butt is the shoulder. So the Boston butt is going to be a better cut because it's got more fat in it.

SM: That's the one you use for pulled pork

CK: That's used for barbecue. Your shoulder will be a little leaner because it's got more muscle in it.

Caller: Fabulous. What is your favorite cut both of you?

CK: It’s the Boston butt. You know I use it all the time. A quick recipe and if you take three onions shove it in an instant pot or Dutch oven sauté it with about a third of a cup of smokey Paprika and a bunch of other spices, nothing too spicy. Cook it for a few minutes throw in three to four pounds of cubed Boston butt you know pork shoulder three quarter cup of water, bring it up to temperature cooking 40 minutes you're done.

Caller: Emergency dinner, it's fabulous.

SM: Also at the other end of the spectrum and one of the leanest cuts would be the pork tenderloin it’s the most tender cut but it still has wonderful flavor and I cut it into medallions and treat it like little steaks like little fillet mignon in your eye you said as a quick sauté you know with like mushrooms make a sauce of some kind, cut it into two inch thick medallions and then smush it, sauté it and make a sauce. That's yummy.

Caller: Fantastic. Thank you

CK: Well, you can also take a tenderloin and cut it into one and a half two-inch pieces, put some spice rub on it, let it sit a few minutes and just take it off in a skillet and that's you know, Spanish bar food _____ serve it over rice or salad. Just a great meal and it's you know a 10-minute recipe.

Caller: Okay, fabulous. Oh, you guys are awesome. Thank you so much.

CK: Thanks for calling.

SM: Yes,

Caller: bye

CK: You're listening to Milk Street Radio up next the founder of modernist cuisine, Nathan Myhrvold busts pizzas greatest myths. That's right up after the break. This is Milk Street radio. I'm your host Christopher Kimball. Right now, it's my interview with the founder of modernist cuisine. Nathan Myhrvold. His latest book is Modernize Pizza, the three volumes 1700 page guide answers every question you could ever have about pizza. Nathan, welcome back to Milk Street.

NM: Well, great to be here.

CK: I can't say I read your book. Because I, you know, I didn't have six months in a cabin on top of a mountain. But I did go through the book, and I have to say, it is amazing. The amount of work that went into is fascinating and going through all the history and talking about what's not true, what is true. But let's start with a question you asked at the beginning of the book, which is what is pizza? So, you know, in Lebanese, you know, Middle Eastern cooking there a lot of flat breads. Yep, it might have some za’atar on it or something simple. So, any topping on a flat bread is that pizza?

NM: No, not by the definition that we pick. Those other flat breads may be wonderful, but we chose to pick a particular lineage. So, this is very much like saying, there’s probably a lot of wonderful people in world named Kimbell, but only a small set of those are actually relatives of you, Chris, right. And that was the idea we had with pizza, which is out of all of the world's flatbreads. One particular flatbread rose up and conquered the earth. And that flatbread originated in Naples in the 19th century, it mutated into many other forms as it left Naples and conquered the world. And so, for us, pizza is all of the things related to that.

CK: Okay, so let's talk about the book. How big is the book? What does it weigh and how many pages is it and talk about your lab, I don't know if it's the same place I visited (yes it is) and you were kind enough to make me lunch years ago but you it was stunning. So, describe the book and the lab?

NM: Well, the book is three hardcover volumes, and then one spiral bound kitchen manual. It comes in a stainless-steel case, which in honor of Italy, and famous exports of Italy, like Ferrari’s, we painted it red. So, the the goal of the book is to explain everything we know about pizza today that includes history that includes the science of pizza. Yeah, and it includes more than 1000 recipes, including recipes of many, many different styles of pizza. So, you have Detroit pizza, you have Chicago, deep dish pizza in Chicago thin pizza, and St. Louis style pizza. And depending on how you counted up to a dozen of these variations. You can even say Tokyo marinara is almost getting to be its own style of pizza.

CK: And tell us about your lab, I mean, you have a lot of equipment there. 3d printers isn't that the other thing, which are the things you actually use on a regular basis to do a book like pizza?

NM: Well, we have a large kitchen that I don't think there's any restaurant in the world that would be better equipped for cooking equipment. We also have a lot of scientific equipment, which you'd find it in a really well-done food lab. And we have a machine shop. So, the goal of what we have at lab is to have all of the equipment tools and people necessary for us to do 1000s of experiments. You know, when people say oh, do X, because that makes it better, I always want to test it. Because a distressing number of times in the world of cooking x doesn't make it better. Or it does, but it's not really worth it.

CK: So, in your testing, because you are a scientist at heart. Were there any fundamental myths about pizza that were disproven in your research?

NM: So, you have people who say, oh, you can't make beads without having the water of Naples, or of New York City? That's wrong. We tested that extensively. You have we did that in part by bringing water back and then doing side by side tests in our kitchen with the water of the supposed magical place. There's a lot of people that will use excessive fermentation times. Oh, it's another great thing was like what kind of oven. Oh, a coal burning oven is so much better than a gas fired oven. Well, it turns out when people say coal burning ovens, the place that really perfected This was in New Haven, and it wasn't Coal is a product called Coke, which was used for the metalworking industry. And coke is a perfectly reasonable fuel because it doesn't emit this. stinking fumes

CK: I’ve cooked on a coal stove, it does smell

NM: It smells horrible. But the people who are doing this on a coal stove because they think it's traditional, don't actually know that their ancestor who did it never used coal, they used coke, which is totally different. It doesn't smell.

CK: So how did pizza get to America? I mean, one of the things I love about your book is is you disabuse us of these these silly historical stories. So, what was the real deal? How did it really get here? Well,

NM: Well, you have lots of residents of Naples, wind up in the United States. And they started making food for themselves the way they knew how, and they included pizza. And he got popular. Pizza was popular in New York and in a variety of cities by 1900. In fact, we found there was pizza on the west coast. You know, just a few years after there being beats on the east coast.

CK: Pizza Margarita, I've been you know that there's certain stories I've been telling all my life.

NM: Now they're all wrong.

CK: they're all wrong. So, what what's the real story here?

NM: Well, the… we don't know how pizza Margarita actually originated. There was a charismatic story that this one pizzalo created it for Queen Margarita, who was the first Queen of, of Italy. The problem is, I found a play written in Naples about 20 years before Margarita was queen. And in the play, there is a pizzalo, and the customer and the customer orders a pizza with mozzarella, tomato, and basil, which is the classic Margarita. So, it clearly was something that existed in the town for a long time. It's one of the problems of trying to figure out the history of pizza is that essentially, everyone you ask has a reason to lie.

CK: That's a good historical quote. Flour. I think in general, you're in favor of high protein flour, like in the 14% range. But a lot of people over the years you know talking about well gee in Italy sometimes they use a very low gluten flour, or they talk about double zero flour, which is very finely milled versus coarser mills. To what extent is flour make a huge difference here.

NM: Part of it depends on the style of pizza that you're going for, you know, I, I think you can make a pizza crust out of any flour you'd make bread out of. And bread flours generally are higher protein flowers then than not and that really aids in creating the structure for the bread. If the protein amount is too high, and or if you use the wrong technique, like you try to do that, let it sit overnight, what you'll discover is that the dough is too strong. And that means as you try to spread the dough out to make it nice thin patty, it stretches right back up. So that's the problem with having one that is too high in gluten but with the right technique you can do well. Now if you're making a Chicago deep dish pizza. The recipe for that was originally developed by African American women. It's sort of a not well enough told story that it was black women chefs that developed the recipes for the deep-dish pizzas originally. And their original recipes which are made today in many of the pizzerias. They're almost like a pie now that you put yeast into and as a result, you could probably make those of the very soft flour low Aberdeen flour. Zooming is true for the cracker like pizzas, (right) If you really are trying to make a cracker like crust, it's actually much easier on you to go and use a low protein flour.

CK: What's the difference between in your mind between New York style pizza and Neapolitan pizza?

NM: So, New York style pizzas got a whole bunch of differences. One is it's usually bigger. You know the standard pizza in the New York world is an 18-inch pizza. You know the difference from a dough perspective is we would put definitely put some oil in our New York dough and we would not cook it anywhere near as hot, (right) A traditional Neapolitan is cooked in a very hot oven

CK: Yeah, I timed it. When I was there was 70 seconds, I think.

NM: Yeah, it's super-fast. And there's this whole thing about whether you need a wood burning oven or not. I have come to regard wood burning ovens very much like I regard unicycles you know, if you go to a Cirque du Soleil show, they'll probably have one of the elements with like people on unicycles doing amazing stuff. And if you're one of those Cirque du Soleil people a unicycle is awesome. But there are very few people commute to work. It's just it's not that efficient. It's more of a stunt. But if you master wood burning oven, okay, you master wooden burning oven. You can't make a better pizza than you can in a gas oven. Or for that matter, an electric oven.

CK: Boy, you're going to catch some flak for that one. I think

NM: Well, I'm sure I am.

CK: This is the Nathan Myhrvold we all know and love. I just want to say that. I know you have lots of recipes in your book. Is there a particular recipe you'd want to give people now? That would be like the basic at home pizza recipe?

NM: Yeah, I think the first thing is people get afraid of a rat or pizza because it involves this fermentation step and they're afraid it won't come out. But there are a few things cheaper than flour. So, I totally encourage people to experiment is funny because it is much more widely eaten than it is made. Yet it's actually not that hard to make at home. If you say okay, you want to make the absolute perfect Neapolitan pizza as good as a professional in Naples. Okay, that will require some effort, just like it required that guy some effort, but you can make pizza at home. There's nothing to be afraid of. And it turns out even bad pizza made at home. It's pizza. It's not that bad.

CK: Nathan, a pleasure, an education was entertaining. I just loved the book. Thank you.

NM: Well, thank you.

CK: That was the founder of modernist cuisine Nathan Myhrvold, his latest book is Modernist Pizza. Everyone loves pizza to the point that anything goes in Germany they use canned tuna in Sweden it's banana curry. In Russia they top pizza with tuna Macron salmon. In Australia, it's kangaroo and Japan you can order pizza with squid. But in Naples where pizza originated. They stick to tradition marinara and Margarita. No squid, no curry, no kangaroo. So, if you travel to Sweden, skip the pizza in order the national dish meatballs or as they say, when in Rome. You're listening to Milk Street Radio. It's time to chat with JM Hersh about this week's recipe pasta with radicchio, walnut, and black pepper. JM, how are you?

JM Hirsch: I'm doing great.

CK: You know, you just got back from Venice a few months ago, I was there two or three years ago. And we had very different experiences. I was eating blue collar food in places that had no menus. And you were getting slightly fancier food, but not much fancier. You found among other things, a bunch of pasta dishes, which I was not familiar with, which is one of the great things about Italy, right? That just an infinite number of things you've never had before.

JM: Absolutely. I mean every time you turn a corner, you're encountering yet another pasta dish that you've never heard of, and yet is simple and delicious and uses kind of the best of whatever is fresh and local. You can never run out of pasta in Italy.

CK: This one uses walnuts and radicchio and pepper which is an interesting combination.

JM: Right. So, I was working with a home cook Francesco Bernardi, he's actually a librarian who is obsessed with cookbooks. He's taught himself how to cook and he loves researching kind of the local ingredients and the local pastas. And after taking me on a cruise on his boat through the canals, we did some shopping at the market and we go back to his apartment and made just this wonderful, blissfully simple pasta that combines all these kinds of tastes and textures he's kind of high and low, crunchy and tender. And it was all based around radicchio, which was wonderfully, so fresh, so crisp, so ever so slightly sweet and bitter at the same time, and it really was a true terrific and simple pasta.

CK: Is this a dish that requires cooking other than the pasta? Are you cooking the radicchio and walnuts or is this all raw?

JM: you toast the walnuts just to bring out kind of their savory meatiness. And you're very, very briefly sautéing the radicchio and a little bit of olive oil of course and that all of you just going to barely season with a little bit of garlic that you know you're like we've learned so many times in Italy you throw the whole garlic clove and the olive oil, you let it flavor the oil and you throw the garlic away because you don't need it anymore. And you're just going to combine those ingredients. When the radicchio is just barely tender, you're going to throw in some pasta, you're going to throw in those walnuts, a parsley black pepper, course more olive oil, this is Italy, and just some wonderful salty cheese and parmigiana and it comes together and the whole thing is on the table in about 20 minutes and I just loved the contrast of the tender pasta, the crunchy walnuts, the sweet bitter radicchio, the fresh herby parsley, this the whole thing came together so wonderful and of course the parmigiana melts and brings everything together so perfectly.

CK: And that's what I love about great Italian cooking, right? It has a variety of textures, you know, walnuts, radicchio, pasta, and also bitterness right. Spiciness sort of funkiness and the parmesan. It's simple, but it's not simple.

JM: That's what makes it so great. Is it mean we're talking you know what, 10 ingredients here total? And if you include the olive oil and the salt and pepper, but nothing is simple about it, even though it is such a simple recipe because you have all these contrasting tastes and textures, these highs and lows. And so that every bite is interesting and delicious, of course, but interesting. And that's something I think we forget about a lot of times that food should be interesting. It should intrigue you as you're eating it, and this is certainly one of those dishes

CK: And you got to go to Venice,

JM: I got to go to Venice, no harm their

CK: JM thank you pasta with radicchio, walnut and black pepper, some parmesan and parsley, a simple dish. It's even better than what I had. Thank you, JM.

JM: Thank you. You can get this recipe for pasta with radicchio, walnut and black pepper at Milk Street Radio.com.

CK: This is Milk Street radio coming up. Adam Gopnik tells us why we no longer define ourselves by what we eat, but rather with what we don't. We'll be right back. I'm Christopher Kimball, you're listening to Milk Street Radio. Right now, Sara and I will be answering a few more of your cooking questions.

SM: Welcome to Milk Street, who's calling?

Caller: Hi, this is Mike from Columbia, South Carolina.

SM: Hi, Mike, how can we help you today,

Caller: Well, I'm excited to talk to you all. I went to make that Jose Andreas, the garlic and the red soup from Spain with the paprika. And, you know, we don't keep a lot of bread in the house. And I notice a lot of the recipes that call for bread and soups will say oh, you take your day all of your old bread. And you tear that up and use it in your soup. And I often will think of making something like this at the last minute. And I wanted to know is there any reason that I can't just use fresh bread, some kind of rustic bread? Is there something structurally putting that into the soup that a fresh bread wouldn't work, as opposed to using something waiting a few days after buying a loaf?

SM: Well, you know what's really interesting is the thing that people don't understand is actually stale bread absorbs more liquid than toasted bread. So, it becomes much you could certainly use fresh bread, it will mush up. If you want a little bit of structural integrity, I would go ahead and toast the bread and it will still absorb some of the liquid but you'll have something I think more interesting. Like you I like artisanal bread, either make it or I buy it and I keep it in the freezer sliced well wrapped, well wrapped. And then I just take out what I need every single time. I mean as a matter of fact, one of my favorite things to serve with soup is what I refer to is faux garlic bread. I toast the bread and then when it comes right out of the toaster, I brush it with olive oil. I’d rub it with a cut clove of garlic and I sprinkle it with sea salt. (Nice) now I'm sure Chris has something to say about this.

CK: I've actually made this recipe with Jose in his house a few years ago, and he used stale bread and

SM: It's fine.

CK: It didn't turn soggy really. I think the bread actually kept it shaped pretty well. I mean I would say the more important thing is what kind of bread if you're making this garlic soup with a smoked paprika and pimento you want a dense country loaf, that kind of bread (okay), but I would say you could certainly slice and leave it overnight or you could cube it and put in a 350 oven for 20 minutes to dry it out. You do want to dry it out because it will keep its structure better, I think in the soup or the stuffing 350 20 minutes cubed bread will solve the problem.

CalIer: Perfect. I think so type of bread over age and you can modify it to make it stale as needed. Well, that's great.

CK: That garlic soup it's got four ingredients and is one of my favorite soups in the world.

CalIer: Well, thank you yeah, you've helped change the way I cook which is like the byline and we really love the show and all you do thanks guys.

CK: Thanks, Michael.

SM: Thanks, Michael. Take care. Bye bye.

CK: This is Milk Street Radio if you're cooking is in a rut. Give us a call our number is 855-426-98431 more time 855-426-9843 or simply email us at questions at Milk Street Radio.com welcome to Milk Street who's calling?

Caller: Hi, it's ___ from Selma, Alabama.

CK: How are you?

Caller: I'm great. Thank you. How about you I love your show.

CK: Well, thank you. How can we help you?

Caller: Well, this question about chicken broth. I always save carcasses in a Ziploc in the freezer and then I make broth with it. And I've noticed you know after you cook it for an hour and a half or so obviously the meat has no flavor whatsoever and I don't know what the processes by which the flavor getting into the water and I don't know if I should be cooking it like long like six hours or if I should do it one hour sufficient. And I also was wondering if it's better if I chop all the bones up to get more bone in there, I have no idea.

CK: Well, let's go back into history. I mean the reason people made stock like this is because they never throw anything out so they'd have a carcass and they'd have leftover cooking water, you know, bits of vegetables and so they just throw everything into a pot on the back of the stove, on the back burner right and they let it go all day and they keep adding things over the course of the day so it was a very when someone was in the kitchen all day. That's what they did. Yes, the flavor will leach out of the meat and the bone you should chop it into like two-inch pieces is a good idea. As Sara probably about to say to you they often roast the bones first to get some browning and maillardreaction which adds flavor, and you should probably let it sit at least for a couple hours with lots of cold water and reduce over time. You can add lots of other ingredients like parsley or quartered onions other things. If you want a really quick way to do it chicken wings are the best way to we use take a bunch of chicken wings and put them in water cover. You can do this in an instant pot in about 30 minutes. And there's so much collagen in those wings which adds great body to the stock and flavor. So, if you have a carcass, cut it up, simmer it for two to three hours right Sara until you have flavor?

SM: Yeah, and I would cook it you know, this is another thing that Chris makes fun of me about. I would you know to bare a simmer to make sure that you don't cloud it up because you want it to be clear. You know I'd cook it for two and a half hours you know, and after you strain it if it doesn't taste strong enough, just boil it down until it tastes like something

CK: Or go out and buy a jar of Better than Bouillon. They make chicken, beef and vegetable in a little glass jar it’s a paste. You use one teaspoon per cup and one tablespoon per quart. It's actually quite good. It's not as good as this.

SM: Yeah. Well, I think nice thing here is that she's using up leftovers getting a second life out of them.

Caller: I do love to use up those leftovers. And I'm think Sara that I'm hearing you say that if I don't want it to be cloudy, it helps not to boil

SM: Correct particularly because you've got all those little meat bits in there.

Caller: Well, thank you. I appreciate it.

CK: Sure.

SM: Bye bye.

CK: This is Milk Street radio. Now it's time for some culinary wisdom from one of our listeners.

Caller: Hi, this is Bobbie Bumgardner from Madison Lake Minnesota. My tip involves breaking eggs for cakes etc. I just lay out a thin tea towel on my counter, and then gently tap the egg on that cracks beautifully every time and any egg that leaks out is absorbed by the towel. Thank you. Bye.

CK: By the way, if you'd like to share your own cooking tip or some advice on Milk Street Radio, please go to 177 Milk Street com slash radio tips. Next up, let's find out what Adam Gopnik is thinking about this week. Adam, how are you?

Adam Gopnik: I am very well, Christopher, how are you today?

CK: Pretty good.

AG: I have just come out from under one of the strangest gastronomic, culinary cooking experiences of my life, because I had both of our kids, their partners and their dogs, and everyone to feed all the time. And here's what makes it complex. One is a vegetarian.

CK: Oh, here we go.

AG: The other is totally gluten allergic. One is a vegan. Next one is a pescatarian. And this is where it gets really complicated and broke. The gluten allergic one actually loves red meat and strong tastes of all kinds right so, I had to take this into account. One dog had significant stomach issues and had to live on boiled chicken and rice. And every day I would sort of make the rounds trying to figure out what am I going to cook tonight that will satisfy this astounding roster of allergies, aversions and preferences

CK: I think oatmeal and almond milk

AG: That probably might have done it. But first of all, I got interested, as you know, I tend to do in what we might call the larger question. When did this become so prevalent, right? 20 years ago, the waiter did not say to us, is there anyone in your party with allergies. And now it's absolutely mandatory that they say it, I was actually doing some reading. And according to one report, one study found that about 10% of adults and children diagnose themselves as having a food allergy of some kind, while medical testing shows that about two and a half percent actually do. Now I don't mean to be mean spirited about this, because you have to respect everybody's aversions and allergies, because they testify to them. But it does seem to me that this is a construction that we've created for ourselves, where everybody has a very, very strong, kind of personal Maginot Line of what they can eat or not. And rather than thinking of that as the culinary maginal line, I realized that we have crossed what I think of as the Brillat-Savarin line. You remember Brillat-Savarin maybe the greatest food writer and food philosopher for that matter who's ever lived right he was the man who wrote The Physiology of Taste. And he was the one who said so famously “we are what we eat, show me what you eat, and I will show you who you are”. Now what we say to each other is show me what you won'teat. And I will show you who you are. We define ourselves by our distaste the end of dining at the table is to find something that is neutral and acceptable to everyone. So, I was struggling with this day after day what dinner would be acceptable for the entire table. Chris you are a fellow cook, I turn it over to you given that range of demands what dinner would be acceptable for the entire table?
CK: I think you have to go to the Middle East which is mostly vegetarian (right) and and so it's vegetables and grains and fairly bold flavors. And you're not eating meat and you're not eating much wheat you know; I think that's where I would go (absolutely) ______, lentils, rice, and caramelized onions,

AG: Lentils, rice, couscous, those. Those are all good things. I did have though I had a vegan and a vegetarian and as you know, vegans and vegetarians are sort of like, you know Lutherans and Unitarians. We think of them generically as Protestants, but they don't think of themselves as belonging to the same faith at all. I went to Greece a great deal. So, I would make roasted fish with a salsa verde. Sauteed spinach over baked potatoes, asparagus charred in a cast iron pan, and I learned how to do a ____ tea which is one of the simplest, the most delicious of desserts with rice flour and almond flour instead of wheat flour. And then there was also yellow rice and couscous which the dogs loved too. So, on that basis exactly of going to the Mediterranean. I manage somehow for five consecutive weeks to please my family,

CK: five weeks?

AG: Five weeks, we had everybody here for five weeks, including the dogs, one of the dogs an absolutely adorable puppy named Ruby managed to break every glass table in the house.

CK: I think you deserve some sort of national honor for the for this five weeks. I do have a theory though, which is, I think a lot of this has to do with the health movement of which I was part a long time ago, which is self-diagnosis. I think self-diagnosis is a way of people taking control of what they think is wrong with them so they feel they're in control of their bodies. And that's why people my mother used to say, I can't tolerate lemon juice. And I go, why? Well, it messes up my stomach. And it made her feel good that she diagnosed herself and took an action to make herself better. And I think that's really a powerful thing in this culture right now.

AG: I think so too. It's a way of taking command over some small part of our lives. It's also a way of explaining all of the little bumps and bruises of well-being that we all deal with. But it is astounding to me that we have broken through this Brillat-Savarin line, we really are all defined by what we won't eat.

CK: So, what does it say about people who eat everything?

AG: It says that those of us who remain omnivores are archaeological creatures we’re the dinosaurs and the relics. You know, if you think about it at all, back 20-30 years ago, that was the cutting edge of eating right, I'll eat anything.

CK: That's a good point. nose to tail,

AG: Nose to tail. My friend Fergus Henderson in London, the late lamented Anthony Bourdain, their whole ethic was eat everything and eat anything. And that's totally stood on his head now. Now the whole ethic is eat as little as you can, as suspiciously as you possibly are able to.

CK: Once again the future is leaving us behind. Adam, thank you so much.

AG: Thank you, Chris. Take care.

CK: That was Adam Gopnik, staff writer for The New Yorker. That's it for this week's show. If you tuned in to later want to binge listen every single episode, you can download Milk Street Radio, on Apple podcast, Spotify, or wherever you find your podcasts. To learn more about Milk Street, visit us at 177 Milk Street .com there you can find our recipes take a free online cooking class, or order our latest cookbook Vegetables can also find us on Facebook at Christopher Kimbell’s Milk Street on Instagram and Twitter and 177 Milk Street. We'll be back next week with more food stories and thanks as always for listening.

Christopher Kimball's Milk Street radio is produced by Milk Street in association with GBH Executive Producer Melissa Baldino, senior audio editor Melissa Allison, producer Sarah Clapp and Jason Turetsky. Production assistant, Amelia McGuire and production help from Debby Paddock. Additional editing by Sidney Lewis, audio mixing by Jay Allison at Atlantic Public Media in Woods Hole Massachusetts. The music by Toubab Krewe Crewe additional music by George Brandl Egloff Christopher Kimball's Milk Street Radio is distributed by PRX

OCTOBER 2021

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