03 Mar 2021
“Southern barbecue is the closest thing we have in the US to Europe’s wines or cheeses; drive a hundred miles and the barbecue changes.”
—John Shelton Reed, sociologist, writer, and all-around expert on all things Southern.
At its most basic, barbecue is meat that’s cooked low and slow over a smoky fire. But barbecue aficionados will tell you that “authentic” American barbecue is so much more—and, just like the wines and cheeses of Europe, the answer to just what “real” barbecue is will vary state-to-state, even region-to-region, with each area insisting that their version is the one true style.
The variations by region can be dizzying. Some swear barbecue needs a vinegar-based sauce, others swear by a tomato-based sauce. Some sauce their meat with mustard, some with mayonnaise. Up your barbecue IQ by taking a quick tour of American BBQ with us and learn about just some of each region’s specialties.
You’ll find not one but two distinct styles of barbecue in North Carolina. In the Eastern method—which John Shelton Reed calls the “original” American barbecue—whole hogs are smoked and then chopped and served with a vinegar-and-pepper-based sauce. Further west another style of barbecue, known as Lexington-style, emerged. Here, just the pork shoulder is smoked and it’s served on a sandwich with a bright red tomato-based sauce. Confused yet? Hang on, we’re just getting started…
South Carolina is just one state to the south, but their take on barbecue is worlds away. Like its neighbor to the north, pork is largely the meat of choice but South Carolinians put their own spin on the sauce. A very specific condiment developed in the area stretching from Charleston to Colombia: According to the South Carolina Barbecue Association, German settlers brought a love for mustard with them to South Carolina, and were soon pouring a golden, mustard-based, vinegary sauce they christened Carolina Gold on their pulled pork.1
Deep in the heart of Texas, barbecue is all about the beef—brisket specifically—smoked low and slow over oak, mesquite, pecan, or hickory wood for up to 20 hours until it’s so tender it falls off the bone. How it’s served depends on where you are: in East Texas, brisket is marinated in a sweet tomato-based sauce, while in South Texas, the sauce is molasses-based. Near the Rio Grande, Mexican-style barbacoa dominates, while in Central Texas they do without sauce altogether and settle for a simple rub of salt and pepper.2
In Kansas City, all kinds of meat are smoked—beef, pork, chicken, or sausage—but what makes it unique is the thick sweet molasses- and tomato-based sauce that the smoked meat is smothered in. The most famous specialty of KC barbecue is burnt ends, the crunchy, caramelized, intensely smoky ends of brisket. Once considered a throwaway piece of meat, these tasty nuggets have become a favorite of barbecue enthusiasts.
Hold the sauce in Memphis! Here, another style of barbecue developed: slabs of pork ribs are flavored with a dry rub of garlic, paprika, chili pepper, cumin, and other spices and cooked over a hickory fire. And in Memphis, they like to think outside the box: barbecued meat is added to nachos, pizza, and even spaghetti.3
Last but not least is Alabama, famous for its unconventional white barbecue sauce. This combo of mayonnaise, vinegar, apple juice, and cayenne pepper has been served with smoked chicken since the 1920s and has gradually gained national attention. In fact, Texas Monthly declared 2015 “the year of Alabama barbecue.”4
Our virtual road trip through American barbecue just scratches the surface—St. Louis, Kentucky, Georgia, and more.. they’ve all developed their own local barbecue traditions and have their own share of passionate fanatics who swear their regions are the best.
Our newest Genie, Ryan Pascoe, brings his passion for BBQ to your home. Choose one of Ryan’s falling-off-the-bone, slow-smoked specialties and he’ll arrive at your house in the morning to set up his smoker in your backyard, driveway, or garage and get your meat going, then come back later that day to finish it off. He offers everything from traditional finger-lickin’ favorites like Saint Louis Ribs smothered in a homemade barbecue sauce, to a tender, Coffee-rubbed Brisket, to a decadent Smoked Prime Rib with Blue Cheese Mashed Potatoes. Let us know when you like the food done and we will work the right start time with you. Ryan brings the smoker with him. And takes it away – no cleanup for you. All you need to do is to find a dry spot for the smoker and a regular power outlet. Fresh meat from the nearby butcher shop, slow-cooked to perfection. If it’s not raining, even a chilly February day will not hamper an outdoor smoking event from CookinGenie.
01 Nov 2021
Let’s do a little exercise really quickly. What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the words “personal chef”? More than likely, you’re thinking something along the lines of how expensive it must be or how only the very rich can afford to have their own personal chef.
Are you ready for a little secret?
Lean in a little. Okay, here it is.
Personal chefs are an affordable choice that can fit just about any budget. In fact, you could be doing yourself a disservice by not using a personal chef service for special occasions or as a little treat.
You may be surprised by what’s included when you get a personal chef service. The first is that they come to your home after shopping for all of the ingredients that they need to cook the dishes that you requested. Then, the kitchen magic happens where your regular kitchen is turned into a fancy restaurant kitchen for one night. Your selected chef will prepare the dishes so that you can enjoy a hot meal at home. Once the meal is finished, your personal chef will then clean up the kitchen leaving you free to enjoy the meal and conversation without worrying about whether or not that sauce is going to easily come off the pan or how long you’ll need to soak everything.
Are you still thinking that a complete chef service that includes so much is going to break the bank? You are about to be surprised. A personal chef service will cost you less than going out to eat.
At a traditional restaurant, there are a number of costs to consider. Meals can cost about $20 to $25 a person. Don’t forget to add on the cost of any drinks you and the rest of your party are enjoying. Even drinking a carbonated beverage can add up to your bill. Then, you must consider other costs associated with dining out. You had to drive to the restaurant, so that’s gas along with wear and tear on your vehicle. You may have to pay to park or use the valet service depending on where you’re dining. Then, there’s the time factor. Going out to eat, especially today where many restaurants are having staffing shortages, can chew up a lot of your valuable time as you wait for an open table, wait some more on your food to be prepared, and then wait on the check to arrive at the end of the meal.
Personal chef services like CookinGenie can be less costly and time-consuming than the old way of going out. You can pick your meal and see your price. Don’t want to have leftovers? Order exactly the number of portions you need. Want to enjoy leftovers for lunch the next day? Order more portions.
So, using a personal chef service is cheaper than visiting a restaurant. There’re some other benefits that also come with this option over dining out. Ever go to a restaurant and must eliminate many of the dishes from consideration because of a food allergy or not like a particular ingredient? It’s often easier to just order something else because even if you go through the process of telling the waitstaff to remove an item, there’s always a chance that it will end up in your dish anyway. Kitchens at restaurants can be loud and busy places where sometimes things get lost in translation. Imagine being able to tell your personal chef that you don’t like mushrooms or a family member has an allergy to peanuts, and feeling safe in the knowledge that they won’t buy mushrooms or peanuts during their shopping trip. That’s a great feeling.
At the end of the day, is dinner a rushed event in your home? Do you rely on packaged meals that may not be the healthiest choice, but it’s quick and easy? That happens to a lot of people who have enough to juggle in a day on top of making sure no one goes to bed feeling hungry. Going with a personal chef service means that you’ll get freshly made and healthy meals that aren’t coming out of a can or the freezer. You do not have to feel guilty about not having time to make a meal that not only tastes great but is great for you and your family.
The convenience that comes from hiring a personal chef gives you the chance to focus on what matters the most to you, and that is worth its weight in gold. Your life is busy. It’s easy to forget how to connect with those you love the most when you have got to handle everything on your plate in a day along with getting food on a plate for everyone to eat. Imagine instead of trying to rush to the store to grocery shop, someone else handles it for you, even if just for one day a week or month. Plus, an added bonus is that you do not have to worry about handling the cleanup after spending even more time with your family.
Convinced yet to give a personal chef service a try? Still worried that the prices are too high for your budget. You can do a little experiment. Pull out your last receipt from your favorite restaurant you like to visit for special occasions. Then, open CookinGenie website, so you can compare the two. Oh, and do not forget that you do not have to buy the groceries, do any cooking or clean-up, and get to enjoy the professionally made food hot and ready right from your kitchen without the inconveniences that come from eating in restaurants in a world still getting over the pandemic.
23 Dec 2020
For many people, pad Thai—the delectable sweet, sour, and spicy stir fry of rice noodles, tofu, eggs, veggies, bean sprouts, crushed peanuts, and an umami-rich sauce that can be found on the menu of virtually every Thai restaurant in the US—is their first taste of Thai cooking.
So, it’s interesting to learn that the dish that most Americans think of as the quintessential Thai food didn’t even exist until the mid-20th century.
In her book Materializing Thailand, nutritional anthropologist Penny Van Esterik says that the dish was born out of prime minister Plaek Phibunsongkhram’s campaign throughout the 1930s and 40s to build a national identity for Thailand. Hoping to create a sense of pride in “Thai-ness” by uniting his country through culture, he changed the nation’s name from Siam to Thailand, commissioned a new national anthem, banned local languages and dialects from schools, and set out to create a national dish.
(Also Read – Tracing Tacos – A Journey Through Time)
Curiously, the main ingredient in the dish that Phibunsongkhram—who was known as Phibun—promoted isn’t even native to Thailand. Stir-fried rice noodles originated in China and were introduced to the kingdom of Siam by Chinese traders in the 1700s. But promoting a stir-fried noodle dish helped solve a serious problem that Phibun’s nation was facing: flooding and war had caused a severe rice shortage, and encouraging people to eat noodles helped preserve the country’s precious rice supply.2 Phibun’s administration took the basic recipe for stir fried rice noodles and loaded it up with nutritious bean sprouts, onions, peanuts, eggs, meats, and a tamarind-based sauce, then encouraged vendors to sell the dish from street carts all over the country. It was, Phibun’s son later pointed out, the first fast food in Thailand.3
Phibun’s efforts to make pad Thai a part of his country’s heritage succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. Today, it is a staple of the Thai diet. Beyond Thailand, it has become a beloved dish worldwide: In 2011, pad Thai ranked number 5 in CNN Go’s reader poll of the “World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods.”4 Wondering how this simple noodle dish became an international culinary superstar? Mark Padoongpatt, a professor of Asian and Asian American studies at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and the author of a history of Thai food, says this, too, was driven by the Thai government as an act of culinary diplomacy: in an effort to stimulate exports and encourage tourism, it established the Global Thai Restaurant Company, Ltd. to train chefs and send them around the world to open Thai restaurants5.
And now, CookinGenie brings this beloved classic noodle dish to your house. We offer three varieties of classic pad Thai—Chicken, Shrimp, and Vegetarian—cooked from scratch with wholesome, authentic ingredients like rice noodles, sweet-and-sour tamarind paste, spicy chile-garlic paste, and Thai preserved radish. Book your Genie to bring a true taste of Thailand to your very own kitchen.