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About Rick

Rick is neither chef nor trained professional cook. He only plays one at home.

Give him an apron and he becomes brash and obnoxious. When he cooks, stay out of the kitchen. When he grills, don't ask questions (he doesn't really know what he's doing).

He has been known to abandon (or interrupt) a culinary project just for the lack of (or to run out and obtain) a proper tool or ingredient. If something turns out well, don't ask him to repeat it. It was an accident. And if you ask for the recipe (and are successful in obtaining it), be advised that whatever he gives you probably won't work.

Rick's Ratings

Most Underrated Cuisine: Mexican. Too many of us know Tex-Mex and fast food Mexican, but should try some of the dishes that don't include the cheap fillers and sides (refried beans and rice). No one has really eaten Mexican food unless they've tried chicken with mole poblano, pescado a la veracruzana, albondigas en chipotle, carnitas con rajas, or genuine chiles rellenos.

Most Overrated Cuisines: Louisiana Creole and Cajun. Too many competing spices overpowering the main ingredients. Prefer margarine instead of butter (there are historical reasons for this, but do not excuse), and dried rather than fresh herbs. Overuse of garlic and onions. Overcooked vegetables. Chickory coffee is awful (again, historical reasons). Advantage: you can make any dish with supermarket ingredients (except perhaps crayfish). America's first "fusion" cuisine (Spanish, African, French and Southern), but not often successful. Corrupting influence on Italian (Muffuletta sandwich - unless you substitute Italian mortadella for the hard salami).

Best Cuisine: Italian. Because the early Italians navigated the world, and brought back exotic cuisines and ingredients and incorporated them into Mediterranean cuisine. Best adaptation of Chinese noodles (into durum wheat pasta), and New World ingredients (corn, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, squash, peppers). Best cheeses. Best use of arabica coffee (espresso). Best use of game, seafood, sausage, grill. Best just-about-anything. And, of course, the best course invented: antipasto.

Most Important Cuisine To Learn: French. No one will ever make a good sauce, pastry, stock, or bread, or learn how to use kitchen tools without learning how the French do it. The French are the great chemists, physicists, engineers, technicians, craftsmen, and artists of cooking.

Favorite New Trendy Cuisine: Argentinian. There are lots of new Argentinian restaurants opening everywhere. They are also closing almost as fast (cooking is one thing -- running a profitable restaurant is another). So if you like good beef (and matambre, empanadas, chimichurri, etc.) go out and try it while you can.

Least Favorite New Trendy Cuisine: Thai. The food is okay, but most of the new Thai restaurants are disappointing. The trendiness has also jacked up the prices on what is essentially cheap food.

Favorite Cooks: Julia Child (grew up on her PBS show), Sam Zien, Jacques Pépin, Alton Brown, Marcella Hazan.

Least Favorite Cooks: Emeril Lagasse, Nathalie Dupree, Graham Kerr, Juliano, Ewell Gibbons, and anyone with a serious eating disorder (vegan, organic, "natural," "health-food," raw, low-fat, high-fiber, etc.).

Favorite Kitchen Tools: J.A. Henckels Santoku knife, citrus squeezer, non-stick saute pan, Chilean solid rauli cutting board, mezzaluna.

Least Favorite Kitchen Tool: food processor (because you use it once and then have five pieces to clean).

Most Disturbing Anti-Food Movements: Anti-biotech terrorists such as Boll Weevils and Children of the Corn, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a busybody, puritanical, prohibitionist, pro-regulation, junk-science-activist anti-business group posing as a public interest group. While the Boll Weevils are busy vandalizing crop research centers in the U.S. and Europe, CSPI is pressuring regulators to outlaw (or heavily tax) wine, fat, and other good things (moderation is not a word in the CSPI vocabulary).

Most Promising Food Developments: genetic engineering (to reduce agriculture's dependence on herbicides and insecticides), and irradiation (to reduce spoilage, food-borne illnesses, and dependence on refrigeration).

San Diego Has Too Much Of: Taquerias (okay, some of them are good, but you don't need one on every block), Donut shops (why?), Thai restaurants (see above), faux-Mexican restaurants (all but a couple in Old Town).

San Diego Has The Right Number Of: brew pubs (Gordon Biersch, Karl Strauss), Italian restaurants and trattorias (Little Italy and Hillcrest), breakfast joints (every neighborhood seems to have at least one, and Kona's in PB is great), good Mexican restaurants, Mexican food markets (except in North County), British pubs (one on India Street), German restaurants (three), Hungarian restaurants (one in Encinitas).

San Diego Could Use More Of: fresh bread bakeries, barbecue joints (we have only Phil's, the rest are poseurs), seafood joints (not Cap'n Jacks/Rusty Scupper-type places, but like the Pacifica in Del Mar), tapas joints, Jewish delis (we have only D.Z. Akins, the rest are poseurs), discount wine shops, South American restaurants (just one, Berta's, in Old Town), sidewalk cafes/bistros (we have the weather, but not the sidewalks, apparently), good hamburger joints (not fast-food), dim-sum places.