From the Introduction:
The Flavorbomb Manifesto
If you live for wildly addictive, life-affirming taste sensations that knock you off your feet, pin you to the ground, and pleasure you with layers of intense flavors, welcome to the club. You have just found your kindred culinary spirit.
If this describes you, I’m willing to bet you keep a running list of restaurants you go to for your favorite flavorbombs—such as a vibrant, pungent Caesar salad, extra crispy garlic fries, or a spicy puttanesca pasta. I’ll also guess that you might be able to articulate exactly what it is about those dishes that you find so addictive. But when you try to reproduce the same flavors at home, do you find yourself falling short? That’s what I hear from so many of my friends. And that’s why they are curious about why food always tastes better at my house (their words, not mine). Hence this book.
I’m a culinary charlatan. Thinking about food 24/7 is my job—and making it taste good without playing by the rules is my game. For the past 25 years I’ve eaten my way around the globe, traveling millions of miles in search of culinary adventures and inspiring foods for my three TV series and six cookbooks. Along the way, I’ve broken eight food-related Guinness World Records, competed in some of the most outrageous food competitions on the planet, cooked alongside countless amazing chefs, harvested grapes at legendary wineries, and sampled every local street food imaginable at ramshackle carts, hawker stalls, and night markets from Italy to India.
Before I wrote my first cookbook, I managed and toured with international recording artists. So why should you look to a rock-manager- turned-culinary-adventurer for guidance instead of a restaurant chef or a Cordon Bleu instructor? Because rock ’n’ roll and cooking are based on the same two principles: there are no rules (and any rules that do exist are meant to be broken), and the only thing that matters is leaving your audience in a state of euphoria.
The collective experiences from my travels, adventures, and competitions, combined with the tricks, techniques, and hacks that I’ve learned from observing street vendors and working with talented chefs all over the world, have formed the backbone of my cooking in ways that culinary school can’t begin to teach.
If you are familiar with my previous cookbooks, you know that in the past I have been known to play with my food. As the self-christened “Surreal Gourmet,” I made edible creations that fooled the eye into thinking you were eating something you were not (think savory “cupcakes” made with braised lamb shanks, topped with beet-dyed pink mashed potato icing). While I would like to think that I was making Salvador Dalí proud, I was also leaning heavily on a highly styled surreal presentation that in retrospect was a work-around for not having a formal culinary education.
I no longer feel the need to apologize for that, and now the gloves are off. The single focus of this book is to channel everything I have gleaned into recipes and practical tips that will help you create bold, stimulating flavors that leave you and those you cook for in a state of bliss. Simply stated, this book is the distillation of my life’s journey. It is how I cook at home every day for my wife and friends. And my goal is to share everything I have learned, in practical, applicable ways that will make you a rock star in your own kitchen.
Any time I set foot in my kitchen, I challenge myself to maximize the flavor potential of every bite. And when I write a recipe, I strive to make it addictive and
foolproof for anyone who makes it. Because I get more excited by tacos than truffles, my outsider approach to creating addictive flavors won’t require you to buy frivolous top-shelf ingredients or use super-sophisticated techniques. Nor will it rely on gratuitous amounts of butter, salt, and sugar.
Instead, we will start every recipe together by building a foundation, and then we’ll add layers of flavors and textures at every step of the way. We’ll add complexity with some simple techniques (like my favorite, caramelization), and then finish it with some of the final flourishes I’ve learned in professional kitchens. If there’s a hack or a simple trick that can save you time or up the ante—believe me, I’ll share it with you. Each individual step is easy to wrap your head around, and when you start pulling them all together at the same time, your cooking will be forever changed.
Copyright © 2020 by Bob Blumer. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.