Recipes from the Dangerous Kitchen


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To borrow a phrase from Mick Jagger – ‘Please allow me to introduce myself’… My name is Spencer Moore and I have been a restaurant owner/chef for over 40 years.  Actually ‘Chef’ is what other people call me – I pretty much think of myself as just an old hippie – who happens to be a really, really good cook.  After over 20 years of restauranteering in Cabo San Lucas, I have relocated to La Paz. So I am also a new kid in town – if a grumpy old septuagenarian can be called a ‘kid’.  For the last 10 or 12 years I have been sending out a pretty popular on-line Newsletter.  I started the Newsletter in response to all the Meathead Celebrity Chefs who were suddenly all over TV talking about what great cooks they were and how you could be too if you just followed their instructions.  All you’d need was a ricer, dicer, processor, steamer, immersible blender, convection oven, S10,000 dollar stove, – stainless steel this – electric that!  What a buncha BS.  All they were doing was mystifying something simple and beautiful so you would think they were really smart.  The truth is ‘cooking is fun and cooking is easy – if it were hard to do, or took any brains at all the human race would have died off eons ago’.   Think about it.  When humans first appeared on earth, everything fell into one of two categories ‘food’ or ‘not food’.  If something tasted good it quickly became ‘food’ if it tasted bad, made you sick or killed you it was definitely ‘not food’.  Given that ‘food’ starts out tasting good – it is actually easier to cook something good tasting than something that tastes bad.  How simple is it?? Hold a chunk of meat on a stick over a fire.  If you don’t burn it, no celebrity chef on earth can do it better! Or throw a potato on the coals of a campfire or an ear of fresh sweet corn into a pot of water.  To cook good food is really easy, to make bad food you actually have to do something bad to it – use salt instead of sugar or burn it real bad or something.   I have eaten in fine and famous restaurants all over the USA and Mexico and with only one exception I can’t even remember what I ate, only that it was pretentious and overpriced.  On the other hand I can recall vividly the ‘smoked’ fish I got on the beach in San Blas 40 year ago for a couple of pesos.  Just a whole small fish laid across green sticks over a real low smoky fire for a couple hours – with lime and salt…mmmm.   Virtually all the great dishes of the world come from very, very humble roots.  In Mexico, all of my most memorable meals have come from the humblest of kitchens, many cooked over an open fire in kitchens with no electric appliances.  Another part of my theory is this is cooking – not rocket science ‘exact’ amounts and measurements do not matter.  Does anyone care if there are more or less chopped onions in a stew or a little more or less garlic?  The celebrity chefs, with their triple beam balance gram scales and quarter and eighth teaspoons are just complicating an easy natural process.  The truth is all herbs, spices and other ingredients are different every time you use them.  If you use the same amount of a fresh ground spice and a spice that has been sitting around on your kitchen shelf for a few weeks the taste will be much, much different.  The real secret is ‘taste as you cook’ add the salt or oregano or garlic give a stir and taste it if it needs more add it. In my future articles I will be giving you recipes and letting you in on a lot of the tricks I have picked up in my over 40 years in front of a stove.  Also I will be happy to answer any questions you may have about cooking in general and Mexican food in particular.  I will also take requests if you want a good recipe for a particular dish.  You can email your questions to me at the Baja Citizen by going to http://www.bajacitizen.com/contact-us/ or email me directly at spenmoore@gmail.com. As a matter of fact I would appreciate any recipe requests for my first real recipe column coming up in the next issue.  Until then…

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