Bang Bang Burgers opened in November in 2013 and my marketing strategy was so awful, we were rarely busy that first year, so I spent most of my time thinking about whether or not people were enjoying their food. That curiosity then evolved into watching how people ate their food and then I eventually I came to some conclusions on how and why people eat the way they do.
My family and I are originally from Taiwan. The first time I was invited to dinner at my neighbor’s house and saw how they ate, I realized the way I ate dinner at home with my family was different. They were eating hot dogs and tater tots for dinner. Dinner at my home growing up included steamed white rice, a broth soup, stir fried vegetables, fish, and stewed meat or stir fried meat. Looking back on those meals with 22 years of food service experience and culinary trained eyes, I’m going to attempt to point out key differences as well as the subtle affects these differences have on the dining experience.
Why don’t we like baby food as adults? Baby food is exactly same in texture, color, temperature, flavor, and mouth feel in every bite. In other words, your first bite, last bite and every mouth full in between will taste exactly the same. There’s no contrast which makes for a thoroughly uninteresting eating experience. It’s like looking at a photo album with the same picture on every page or listening to music that has only one note repeated over and over. No fun.
So let’s look at a typical American meal: mac and cheese, pizza, spaghetti and meat balls, meatloaf and mashed potatoes. I’d argue that all these meals generally hit only one note. After the first couple of bites, the palate is already used to the textures and flavors and there’s a limited amount of interesting flavors and contrasts. Just like in life, contrast, the unexpected sparks further discovery and makes life interesting.
So let’s look at a typical Asian meal. Rice has a neutral flavor and is served hot. So the first mouthful might be some vegetables or maybe a sip of some brothy soup. Then maybe some rice and then something stir fried or something saucy or crispy or something steamed. Each bite, each mouthful is different. Each time you chew, you are mashing up different combinations of foods and extremes in contrast moving from bland rice to the other extreme of something stir fried and heavily seasoned with soy sauce, sugar, garlic and ginger. Again, another mouthful and another new and interesting combination of food and flavors.
Happy eating and for part two of this post, please click here!
Culture, eating and cooking in your mouth.
Thanks for reading.
–Joe Bang Bang Burgers