September: Meet "That Guy!"
My First Culinary Cartoon Character
Birmingham Restaurants Insider
Each month get behind the scenes giggles, gabs, and gourmets.
Giggle: Culinary Cartoons
Introducing Culinary Cartoons: and my first character, “That Guy!” He is an obnoxious foodie who thinks he is charming and charismatic. That Guy appears when and where you least expect him, including your favorite restaurant. And meet “Dearie,” That Guy’s wife. Oh, dear! She is an enabling victim of That Guy and the only person who can tolerate him.
Gab: Back Stories
Cartoons and comics have delighted me all my life.
As a girl, Sundays brought the biggest edition of the newspaper to my grandparents' home. Pappy could be fussy about his neat and tidy, new editions. So, in search of the comics, I cautiously flipped through the boring black and white sections, being careful not to crinkle or crease the unread papers. Once I saw the kaleidoscope of colors peeking out at me, I gently tugged and unfolded it onto the living room rug. Being an only child, I made pals inside these scenic folds, including Blondie and Dagwood, who always gave me the giggles. Shrewdly encouraging me to read aloud, Grandmother often asked me what was so funny.
At my local drugstore and soda shop, I stood on my tiptoes, wide eyed taking in the colorful covers of the comic books, displayed atop the magazine racks. As each new Archie comic book hit the stands, I was there waiting. Obsessed with the latest escapades of Archie and his buddies, Jughead, Betty, and Veronica... I was always ready for the next one.
Maybe one day I could become a cartoonist. Starting with one scene toons could not be that difficult? Right. If you can’t draw a circle, you can’t draw a toon. So, I stick to my highest and best use, imagining and developing the characters, planning out the scenes in my head, and writing the one-liners. And my illustrator magically draws the artwork, peppering the scene with his own humor.
Each month Culinary Cartoons features a new cartoon, inspired by 20 years of real life laughs inside restaurants, as a food and wine writer, starting with That Guy!” He causes a scene wherever he goes. And I am capturing each hilarious episode in this first cartoon series. Stay tooned...
Gourmet: Foodies’ Kitchens
Each morning That Guy makes coffee for Dearie. He has one of those “high dollar” as he would say, coffee and espresso makers. He makes a scene of whipping up lattes and espresso shots… Hmm, perhaps there is a future cartoon in this somewhere?
I can’t imagine having That Guy around before coffee. But I do find it interesting that the same person, husband or wife, typically makes the coffee, and the other one is not allowed. Here it is Kev who makes the morning coffee. No fancy machines or experimenting, he measures and brews with Moccamaster by Technivorm, which has worked perfectly forever and fits into our coffee garage. And he pours and serves without conversation.
Yet after we upgraded our kitchen last fall, I could not leave well enough alone. I wanted to also upgrade to the latest coffeemaker, Ratio 8, to go with my new appliances. What a sucker I was! First, trying to get one was impossible. They were backordered at Williams Sonoma. So, I went to the company website and ordered one. When it did not arrive, but family soon would for Thanksgiving, I emailed their customer service, what I thought was a firm yet nice inquiry. And it made the guy at support literally cry! Oh, my goodness! Hold the drama. Send the machine. He did along with an apology and a $50 refund. It worked for six months, although you could not make a potful, or it would spill over. Then the little button you are NOT supposed to push, but just touch to brew, stopped working along with the machine. After shipping it for repairs and waiting longer than my patience allowed, I gave up, paid the restocking fee of 20 percent, and wrote it off to lesson learned.
At this point I decided to turn to a local expert for advice for a new coffeemaker and to up the ante on the coffee itself. My text to The Red Cat’s Mike McElwain unintentionally became a Q&A…
J – I am going to start buying coffee from you. We currently buy Illy, medium roast. What do you recommend I start with that would have a similar flavor profile?
M – How do you normally brew your coffee at home?
J – After a bad experience with Ratio 8, we went back to Moccamaster we still had. Do you sell coffeemakers?
M – Not currently, sorry. Many “good” coffeemakers have not been consistent in recent years, unfortunately. The Moccamaster is what I recommend for the money, quality, and longevity. If you really want to step up your appreciation for good coffee, the next best investment will be a grinder. Baratza makes several models in different styles and applications. But for basic brewing the Encore model works for most people.
For coffee, basic medium roast, I would recommend out Espresso blend, Columbian, or Nicaraguan. All are easy to drink and rather smooth.
J – Perfect. Thanks for the coffee advice. I have looked at grinder and gotten so confused that I never bought one. Will relook…
M – Prima Coffee is a quick and fair online source.
J – Thank you so much for your advice. I look forward to all of this!
Our new coffee is The Red Cat’s Espresso Blend. I have not yet bought a grinder. The noise and trouble of it don’t seem to fit our mornings. So, I will continue to let Red Cat grind for me for now.
Meanwhile the coffee saga continues as our Breville Milk Frother just died. We have had it long as I can remember. But I see it and every other similar one are now made in China. Readers, please share your grinder and frother recommends!
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