Jan Norris: Food and Florida

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Mesmerizing Meal Writing: Norman Van Aken

November 5th, 2008 · No Comments

Van Aken's New World Kitchen

I don’t know how I managed to miss this, unless he recently put up a bunch of older writing on a newer web site, but chef Norman Van Aken has entranced me with an article he wrote in 2001 about some meals with other chefs in France. He’s long been a favorite cookbook author of mine; I particularly like Feast of Sunlight, but also use New World Kitchen frequently. (Here’s a recipe for a great pork – or chicken – marinade from Feast of Sunlight.)

South Florida’s culinary star and mapmaker for New World cuisine (his cookbook, Feast of Sunlight remains one of my favorites, but his New World Kitchen also rates), Van Aken is creative in a rogue genius sort of way. Genius is unbalanced, uncontrolled and arrogant at times, but positively singular and brilliant when focused. That’s Norman as I know him.

For a taste of it, go to his web site and read the entry under Time Pieces called “Looking for the Pope.”  He takes you with him on a road trip to France, and practically folds the napkin on your lap before describing the dishes. You don’t have to know who the chefs are he talks about to appreciate this story; most of you who read about and participate in the food world will recognize them.

Save this read for when you have plenty of time; if you’re like me, there are things in it that will lead to more web reading, and more on his web site you’ll want to read, too.

Thanks for the trip, Norm, even if it was as an envious, vicarious guest.

Tags: Food People

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