Introduction

Introduction

By
Billy Law
Contains
0 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781742708164
Photographer
Billy Law

With bacon

During my uni days when I was sharing a house with a few friends, we had a weekly roster and would take turns to cook dinner for everyone. Like many others, it was my first time away from home and if I wanted to eat, I would have to learn to cook. I loved food and I loved to eat, but cooking was totally something new to me back then. I knew how to boil rice using a rice cooker or fry an egg, but that was about as far as my cooking skills went. I still remember the first time touching raw chicken wings and I was totally grossed out by it, but thankfully my attempt of soy chicken wings was a hit at the dinner table. There were a few successful attempts including cola chilli chicken and my mum's vinegar-braised pork belly, but there were also many failures – soggy fried rice, over-cooked steak or under-cooked pasta; you name it. However, I never saw cooking as a chore, it was a perfect release from a stressful uni life.

Needing to jazz up our food repertoire in the house (and incorporating our love of pork), we invented a game called ‘with bacon’. So every time we came up with a dish, we had to add the words ‘with bacon’ to the end of the dish. Cheeseburger ‘with bacon’, beef lasagne ‘with bacon’, bangers and mash ‘with bacon’, chocolate cake ‘with bacon’ … the list went on. And when it came to dinner time, whoever was responsible for the cooking duty would have to cook that dish, ‘with bacon’. Some were triumphs, like the chocolate cheesecake with bacon, but many went horribly wrong. We ate the failures anyway, of course, but they never became a staple in the house. These days I’m still obsessed with pork — and often wonder if a recipe can be enhanced ‘with bacon’.

Food travels

Of course, not all the recipes in this cookbook contain bacon. But all the recipes are personal favourites, food that I’ve cooked and discovered travelling in many countries over the last few years. Every time I visit a new continent, it opens up a whole new culinary world of possibilities. As I travelled down Route 66 in search of the best burger in the US, I also gorged myself with Southern fried chicken, bloomin' onions, Texas BBQ ribs, clam chowder, po' boys, cajun crab boil and a whole lot more. In South Africa, I developed a deep appreciation of the delicious and humble home cooking of pap, bobotie, braai and bunny chow. I always adore the fresh, fast and simple food in Vietnam, nothing beats sitting on a tiny plastic stool, slurping down a hot bowl of beef noodle soup or munching down a crusty banh mi at the wet market. I also discovered the beauty of Middle Eastern cuisine, as I explored Jordan and Dubai for the first time, winding my way through the side streets, looking for the best shawarma, felafel, biryani and hot stew. So no matter where you are, open your mind and embrace all that is around you, and you will be amazed by how much good food is out there, ready to tantalise your tastebuds.

Man food

So, what is Man Food? I can tell you what it isn’t: quinoa burgers, air-dried kale chips and carrot smoothies. Dude food. Bro snacks. Man grub … Call it what you like, although I’m being a little tongue in cheek here, I like to think that Man Food can be more than just deep-fried everything with a side of bacon (although you’ll find a lot of that in this book). For me, Man Food is when you fire up a BBQ to grill some sausages or seafood, when you carve into that big hunk of prime rib and serve it with crispy roast potatoes, when you make pasta for the first time and bake your first loaf of bread, when you embrace a classic hearty warm stew or a hot bowl of pho bo on a rainy day, when you snack on candied popcorn (or bacon) in front of the TV, when you prepare a DIY meat fest for your next dinner party, or whip up the most decadent dessert for your loved ones on special occasions — Man Food is good food for a good time.

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