Caveman Cuisine: The Big BAM
Ok, so I love food. I love making it, thinking about it, and, most of all, eating it. I don't always do the whole "moderation" thing either.
As a long-time fan of the Travel Channel's "Man v Food" I have even indulged in the occasional "food challenge". One issue that I have, however, is that most food challenges involve eating things that I neither like nor want to put into my body. A pizza the size of a wagon wheel? Nope. An ice cream sundae served in a 5-gallon bucket? Pass. A giant bowl of spicy soup? Ok, I can handle that. At least, that's what I thought.
It was during a trip to L.A. and the venue was one that had been featured on an episode of "Man v Food". I should have known something was wrong when I failed to find a cheering crowd, or even an indication of surprise/awe when I walked in to the Orochon Ramen shop and ordered the "Special #2". Our waitress, a small Japanese woman who looked like she had just jumped out of a Sailor Moon cartoon, was far more excited to find that she and my wife shared the same birthday, in fact, you would have thought I ordered the kid's meal by nonplussed reaction.
Yes, there was a picture of Adam Richmond on the wall. Yes there were numerous other photos of past challenge winners, beaming with their empty bowl. Yet, the lack of fanfare for my own endeavor made the whole scene feel sad rather than inspiring. Then the soup arrived. A fiery red broth contained by the biggest bowl I have ever seen in my life. It was boiling hot and required the addition of numerous ice cubes to be brought down to a temperature appropriate for human consumption. I would soon learn that this would be the least of my concerns.
I began by spooning out the solid bits. The pork, been sprouts, and scant noodles went down easily enough. It was hot, don't get me wrong, but I was still in control of the situation. I promptly lost control of the situation when I started working on the broth itself. As I slurped it directly from the bowl, I failed to realized that I was merely skimming off the most dilute portion of the liquid. A pure gel of micronized chili pepper was forming below the surface and I was, for the moment, completely unaware.
Then it hit. My face exploded as if I had just swallowed a spicy hand grenade. Nose running, eyes watering, and stomach churning. I pushed on, gulping down the pure hot lava and then a strange thing happened. With only had another mouthful or two left (witnesses to this sad affair, my wife and sister-in-law both thought I had the thing in the bag) I became catatonic. I was frozen, staring glassy-eyed at the swirling liquid at the bottom of the bowl. A realization fluttered into what was left of my consciousness. I knew then and there that nothing, and I mean literally nothing, not even one million dollars would be enough to motivate me to finish this bowl of soup.
I stood up, walked briskly to the bathroom, and promptly inverted my stomach. As a final insult, a molten droplet ricocheted back into my eye, blinding me while I heaved like a sea-sick pirate. My skin broke out into a cold sweat and I stumbled back to our table. For the next several hours my wife was concerned that I would have to be taken to the hospital and I didn't even get my picture on the wall.
Today wouldn't go down like that, however. Today would be different. Instead of a ridiculously spicy bowl of soup, I would be making a burger of epic proportions. This time it was on my terms.
The first step was to season a full pound of grass-fed beef. I kept it simple, just fresh ground black pepper, sea salt and a little cayenne pepper.
I then took the meat into my hands and squeezed, kneaded, and cajoled it until it came together into a ginormous patty.
After washing the meat and myoglobin from my hands, I sliced some white onion and put it into a pan with some grass-fed ghee. The onions initially filled the room with a tear-jerking pungency, but it soon gave way to the pleasant odor of Maillard compounds.
With a cry of "BAM!" the big ass meat-patty (BAM) went onto a hot pan. It sputtered and sizzled as the meat browned. To prevent the unnecessary loss of any juices, I followed the "No pressing or fiddling with the meat once it hits the heat" rule and continued with my preparations.
Surely a BAM such as this deserved an equally epic topping, so I plucked a pastured egg from the refrigerator an fried it with some more grass-fed ghee.
The bedding for my bunless burger would be strictly traditional. Fresh chopped lettuce, red onion, mustard, organic REAL ketchup, and high-oleic expeller-pressed safflower mayonnaise.
After the burger was done cooking, doneness was tested by hand. Touching the surface of the BAM revealed that it was firm but yielding, a good sign that there was soft rare meat lurking in the center. I let it rest for a few more minutes and then set it atop it's throne, crowned with caramelized onions...
A fried egg...
And half an avocado.
Feasting ensued, and this time, I finished the meal with my dignity and intestinal contents intact.