Morning, all. Let’s get right to it: Today’s Food is packed with great stuff. Jim Shahin writes about Andrew Evans , fine-dining-chef-turned-barbecue-guru. Jane Black writes about one man’s dream to see modular planter box gardens installed at schools across the country. And we introduce our 2012 cooking class list, bigger than ever, with close to 160 great options for expanding your culinary expertise.
And, of course, there’s today’s Free Range chat at noon sharp, our weekly session of give and take. Bring yourself and your questions, and we’ll do our best to answer. You can even target your questions to specific Food folks, like this leftover question from last week’s chat:
This question is for Jason. I know that, like me, you enjoy coming up with new cocktails. Have you ever “invented” a drink, only to discover that you’ve actually just come up with something that’s pretty common? My most embarrassing example of this: When I came up with a vodka-based dessert cocktail, my friends pointed out that I had really just made a white Russian. But even for lesser-known drinks, how can you know if a cocktail you’ve created is really original? It seems unlikely that someone else hasn’t already had my idea, but short of exhaustive Googling, it’s hard to know whether that’s true.
It’s a good question, and one that nags at anyone who creates cocktails either for fun or profit. But I wouldn’t get too carried away with whether your concoction is “original” or you “invented” it. All art forms progress by small tweaks on old ideas. Even consulting mixologists will change a secondary spirit or a ratio or a measurement or even a garnish and rename a drink as their own.
As with any creative realm, I think it helps to read and know what else is out there. Contemporary books such as Jim Meehan’s “PDT Cocktail Book”or, ahem, yours truly’s “Boozehound” deal extensively with classics and twists on classics. Cocktail Kingdom’s series of facsimile 19th- and early 20th-century cocktail guides is another great source. Another good resource is CocktailDB, the internet cocktail database.