In his interview with Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods fame, Tim Ferriss asked of Zimmern, “[I]f you had to choose (I was going to say for the rest of your life) for the next year, three herbs or spices to cook with, to experiment with (and you can modify the question), what would you choose?”
Zimmern replied, “I can’t exist without hot chilies, shallots, and citrus…lemon. I’ll pick lemon… the first three things I would want to have with me are hot chilies, shallots or some kind of onion (I happen to prefer shallots of all the Allium), and citrus (I generically choose lemon above the others). With those things, I can do everything.
Sure, I can pick cumin or cilantro or basil or things like that, but they have fairly limited use. With the lemon, chilies, and an Allium or shallot, I can do anything. I can do ceaseless variations on them. The variety of flavor combinations and techniques that I can use with those give me the most variety so I wouldn’t be so bored.”
The exploration of creativity through reductionism is an absolutely fascinating subject. It forces us to start with the essence of things and to maximize each thing’s potential, through different uses, in different contexts, and in different combinations. By limiting ourselves to those things that matter mostc we can explore the full depth and breadth of those things.
Pictured are chicken wings with, amongh other things, a chili, an allium, and an acid, in this case Thai bird chilis, green onions, and lime juice.
-Robert Van Valkenburgh teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at Kogen Dojo