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Aug 18, 2007 07:19 PM

Feasting on Asphalt #3 Season 2

OK, I am absolutely addicted to this show. The humor and cool eats places you expect, the lessons, both cculinary and historical are welcomed, and then there is the philosophical strains. This show's special moment was at the end when Alton was talking to the cook in the soul food joint. Alton was asking her what sould food is and the two of them started riffing on the nature of food, of history, of all the little things that makes a conversation interesting.

I thought the kool aid pickle was kind of disgusting. The tamales trail was really interesting, I didn't know about it until the show. By the way, I clocked on Doe's on Alton web site, its actually a regular steakhouse that happens to serve home made tamales. The engineer in me loved that tamale machine.

The best historical note was in the Piggly Wiggly museum. I didn't know the history behind Piggly Wigglys but I certainly frequented some of them when I lived in the south.

Oh, and I also wish Alton would put all those cool quotes on his web site.

And the bit with the Nutra was fricking hilarious. Can't wait until next week when he goes to Alton and Fast Eddie's Bonaire.

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  1. I too was both fascinated and horrified by the tamale machine. Images of south ends of northbound dogs immediately came to mind. Sorry, bad, bad DiveFan. I've seen similar tamales in cans but I never knew there was a tradition of producing these in much smaller batches. The fresh green corn tamale from my nearby Latino market is a world away from these.
    For you wild game chefs, further info on nutria:
    The kool aid pickles brought to mind home made watermelon pickles (much more complicated to make).

    15 Replies
    1. re: DiveFan

      Those canned tamales are awful, but you can bet I'll be seeking out the Tamale trail sometime in my life. We spent last Christmas in New Orleans and wen't to Bailey's AND Jacob's in La Place and ended driving home with two large coolers of pork products.

      We plan on visiting as many of Alton's "finds" as possible.

      1. re: bkhuna

        Good hunting. Hopefully this topic will still be around for your follow-up comparison: Trail vs. Canned.
        I haven't actually seeked out canned tamales in supermarkets for decades. However, I did notice that 99cent store had some Bryan's brand on the shelf.

        1. re: DiveFan

          Grocery stores in this part of the country sell Hormel brand canned tamales. I lived in southern California for 10 years and married into a Mexican American family. I love tamales; those things in the can are what prison riots are made of.

          However.... the homemade "Southern" tamale look intriguing to me. They're different but strangely appealing. I must seek them out and try them.

          1. re: bkhuna

            Mississippi Delta tamales appear to have an identity of their own, only loosely connected to any Mexican roots. I believe Sterns have talked about them on their Splendid Table segment.


              1. re: paulj

                We've had wet tamales along the Mississippi forever from New Orleans to Memphis. Supposedly from the Mexicans from the eastern coast of Mexico who came through the Port of New Orleans and then worked the barges and river boats and stayed to work in the cotton fields of the Delta. Now there's even some weird ones like catfish and crawfish tamales.
                We had some at Doe's Eat Place on Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs a couple of Days before this episode aired and they were great. Then they showed up again at a po'boy shop in New Orleans with the muffalettas and stuffed artichokes. The old NOLA classic Manuel's Hot Tamales never reopened after Katrina.
                None of us ever thought wet tamales were odd. Just food in the Delta and along the River.

              2. re: bkhuna

                Here in the Dallas area, tamales are a huge Christmas tradition. Many hispanic families in our area, and small local restaurants, make and sell homemade tamales during the holiday season. Since our move to the area, tamales have quickly become a tradition in our household during the holidays.

                1. re: FoodJudge

                  When I lived in Austin, a friend's wife, who is latina, told me that making tamales was trditional during the holidays because it is such a time consuming process that all the women would get together and make enough for all the households in the family. It pretty much evolved into a hen party and all the men were thrown out of the house during these parties.

                  Another thing she said is that they traditionally made tamales with the meat of the hog's head, made sense because you wouldn't think of wasting the meat in the head and you can mince up the meat to make the fillings. When the anglos got wind of this they started buying up the heads to make their own tamales for the sake of authenticity and now they have to use prime pork because the anglos had driven the price of head meat out of reach of most people.

                  Oh, I got a stash of the tamales a few years back, it was amazing stuff.

                  1. re: FoodJudge

                    Do you make wet tamales in Dallas like they have in the Delta? I thought they were all dry ones over in Texas - not like the ones in Feasting on Asphalt.
                    The wet tamales are found in lots of places in Arkansas too. Mostly south of Little Rock.

                2. re: DiveFan

                  bkhuna > "...those things in the can are what prison riots are made of."
                  ROFLMAO! A classic CH quote. I might have to reuse it :-).
                  paulj: fantastic link. I never would have known....

                  1. re: DiveFan

                    Canned tamales?! That sounds nasty! Haven't seen this episode, but now I'm glad I didn't. Would be upset by that.

                    1. re: SmrtBloned

                      They were not canned tamales on the show. The ones fresh made on the trail bear a resemblance to the canned ones, but are much better. I have had the trail tamales and they are an experience unto themselves. Not like Mexican or any other Latin tamales, but still really good.

                3. re: DiveFan

                  Obviously I have never had your Latino mkt green tamales but I HAVE had Doe's and they are great, and I know tamales. Very different from hand made but still great. It's "unchowish" to dismiss them without the benefit of having tasted them!
                  Also, they are nothing like canned tamales.

                  1. re: Tee

                    Never had the green tamales from DiveFan's fave Mkt, but I've had tamales all over Latin America. Love 'em. All are different than Doe's. Which do I love more? The one I have my plate right then!!!
                    The "wet" tamales in the Delta are fabulous - just a different Chowhound experience. And most ARE handmade because they don't have Doe's old Rube Goldberg machine.

                    1. re: MakingSense

                      Just in case you are nearby, that market is Northgate. I keep reading about the green tamale 'season' but this place has had them for at least two months.

                      Northgate Market
                      3930 W Rosecrans Ave, Hawthorne, CA 90250

                4. Fabulous show. I hope there are many more seasons to come.

                  I am, however, unhappy that AB has now passed this way twice without saying hello. Also, from the previews it looks like they are headed to the donut stand that is across from Ted Drewe's (from season 1), which is two miles from my house. Again. *sigh*

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Pylon

                    What is the name of the donut stand and is it good? I hope to get back to Ted Drewes someday

                  2. I thoroughly enjoyed last night's episode, and season 2 so far. This is definitely Alton's best element, He appears relaxed and spontaneous, and has fun while demonstrating respect for the proprietors and cooks at the places he videotapes. Love the reparte. Also enjoy the quotations, the premise, his fellow travellers. The show makes me laugh, keeps my attention, and makes me hungry.

                    Contrast this with Alton's hosting the Bon Appetit "Best" Restaurants special that followed last night. Sure, Alton was ok, and probably better than Food Network's other possibilities. But he got stupid near the end -- who talked him into those slides under his glasses bad joke? Add hosting Iron Chef and his Good Eats now in primetime and heavy repeats, he's a busy guy. Feasting on Asphalt definitely soars above the norm -- by far his best heartfelt work.

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: nosh

                      Yeah, that Bon Appetit show was an abomination, even though they did show a lot of places I hadn't heard of. It seems they tried to put as many "peasant" places as possible on the top three. I had a problem with the BBQ and pizza choices because those definitions are so broad. They went after the New York Style pizza and ignored the thick crust and they ignored briskets and chopped pork.

                      I thought Alton was just there for the paycheck, he is much prefereable to say, Flay or RR or Emeril or God forbis Dandra Lee.

                      1. re: Phaedrus

                        I'm hooked too but has he lost his mind? I don't know if it's because of what he says or the fact he doesn't edit it out. Talking of the secret recipes, it's brought out that one of the secret recipes was passed down on the death bed of the father (or grandfather) and Alton makes a joke of it right to the daughter. "...and a quarter teaspoon of aaagghh..." right in front of her?! And then telling us all about nutria with what is obviously a stuffed porcupine. I could see the quills from across the room without my glasses and that ain't no nutria tail. Geez, do your homework. Made me wonder what else he makes up. On the other hand I actually did enjoy that he left it in and made fun of himself. I lends a sense of "tv verite" to the production.

                        And those network specials he does. Did the execs kidnap his family and force him do these? That weasel VP from Next Network Star- he'd be the kind to stoop to that sort of thing.

                        1. re: RC51Mike

                          Depending on the ratings for Delicioso, Alton's precious young daughter will be released from captivity by the FN thugs soon, unless the Barefoot Contessa has eaten her.

                          1. re: RC51Mike

                            He made a mistake, I don't think he made that up on purpose.... I know sometimes I make really stupid mistakes like that even though I consider myself somewhat intelligent.

                            About the FN specials - he's under contract with FN, like all the other chefs. He probably has a deal where he hosts X number of specials per year. Or maybe he just does it for the money, nothing wrong with that.

                            1. re: krez

                              I know he made a mistake, just wondering why he didn't take three seconds to find out that it was not a nutria. He's an intelligent guy who is known for researching the hell out of subjects. As I said, on the other hand he didn't edit it out and chose to make fun of himself which made the scene more like real traveling with a few nitwit friends.

                              I'm aware he is likely under contract to do inane shows. However, I think it hurts his credibility as someone who is known for food and cooking science. What if Stephen Hawking hosted Discovery Channel's "Next Network Star"? ...well actually, that would be pretty funny and he's been on the Simpsons several times...

                              1. re: RC51Mike

                                Don't they normally record a lot more footage than they include in a typical show? If so, this nutria mistake was included because Alton etal liked it.


                                1. re: paulj

                                  I knew he made an error and I'm sure many others did also. Maybe he did it for the schtick factor.

                                  Hell, I thought it was funny. Did you catch the lady's voice in the background when she said "I knew it was a porcupine, but he's the one with the TV show" to paraphrase.

                                  Maybe that's why they left it in.

                            2. re: RC51Mike

                              He doesn't make any money on the episodes of Good Eats, since all the money sent by FN is spent on the production of each episode.

                              He makes money from DVD sales, books, personal appearances, and I would hope appearances on other shows on FN, and for that matter Feasting on Asphalt.

                              1. re: RC51Mike

                                I too was a little put off by the secret recipe conversation. Quizzing the cooks for their secret ingredients and recipes seems to be a big component of the season 2 shows. I could do with a little less of it. At one point he had a food historian talk about the loss of recipes as people retire and places close. Still I'd like to see this toned down.

                                1. re: jhritz

                                  The point he is trying to make, perhaps too stridently, is that we are losing history quickly and ignominiously. Perhaps you are not the audience he is trying to reach, but it doesn't bother me.

                          2. I, too, love this show. But, something caught my eye with the overlay map - did they have Arkansas abbreviated as AK? I kept trying to catch a glimpse and never saw it again. Arkansas is AR, Alaska is AK. Other than that, I've had tamale cravings ever since! I never associated tamales with anywhere but Mexico and the Southwest. Now I know.

                            1. Add the fact that he eats Maidrites in Illinois and not IOWA to the list of gaffs in this otherwise enjoyable show.

                              12 Replies
                              1. re: C. Hamster

                                Just curious and with no experience with Maderights other than watching the episode: why is eating them in Illinois instead of Iowa a gaffe?

                                1. re: C. Hamster

                                  Didn't the Illinois Maidrite get its franchise in the 20's. Considering that the sandwich originated in Muscatine, a good shop on either side of the river would be authentic.


                                  1. re: paulj

                                    Maidrites are an IOWA traditon! IMO eating them in Illinois, especially in Quincy, IL which is really not that close to Iowa, is a huge gaffe.

                                    1. re: C. Hamster

                                      A 79 year old gaffe at that!


                                      I could be picky, and ask whether Maid-Rite is an Iowa tradition or an Iowa business. Loosemeat might be a better term for the tradition.


                                      1. re: paulj

                                        We called them Maidrites no matter where they came from. There was no Maidrite franchise in CR. But you could order one in practically every bar.

                                        1. re: C. Hamster

                                          Excuse my Southern girl ignorance, please, but what exactly is a Maidrite? It looks like a very thick ragu. Like you cooked Hazan's best down to a really thick meaty goodness. In that case, it could be one of the very best things on God's Green Earth, on either side of the Mississippi. Are they made with regular hamburger meat? Tomato? Onion? What kind of spices?

                                          1. re: MakingSense

                                            I'm not from Iowa or Illinois and I've never had a Maidrite, but I have a mild obsession with them since watching this sandwich documentary (got it off Netflix, it is done the same way as "A Hot Dog Program" on PBS if you've ever seen that). In any case, I was kinda freaked out by the huge tubs of cooking ground beef in the preview but they are pretty fascinating - they use steak cuts as well as lesser cuts, they use a special local cattle and special seasonings. To the numerous Maidrite experts, please expound on my meager description. But to everyone else, get that program. The big high school football player looking kid saying, "I eat two or three of these a day!" is priceless.

                                            1. re: MakingSense

                                              Some places describe it as a dry sloppy joe. Basically ground meat, broken up and cooked till dry and crumbly. Hence the other name, loosemeat. Spicing is secret. But it sounds as though the spicing pretty basic, salt and what else it takes to enhance the meat flavor.


                                              1. re: paulj

                                                There's not much of a secret to them.

                                                They are basically browned ground beef (and onions sometimes) which is then cooked in beef or chicken broth and served "loose" on a hamburger bun.

                                                I'm sure different places add their own seasonings ("Accent" perhaps).

                                                Where I grew up, there was no Maidrite [tm] franchise but bars served them along with slim jims, pickled eggs and other food drunk people eat. There was even a bar named the Eastside Maidrite, which made a pretty darn good version.

                                                1. re: C. Hamster

                                                  A genuine franchise Maidrite[tm] would probably have something standardized just like KFC or Popeye's uses the same spices in all their chicken everywhere or a chain burger uses the same buns or pickles, huh? Maybe they would even get their meat from the same supplier since they're all in the same general area? Except there are are only a few left now.

                                                  Do other places, like bars and diners, just steal the name? Since the company is fading, have they stopped defending the trademark?
                                                  Since the recipe is "secret," everybody has to do their own thing, don't they? What's the common flavor?
                                                  Can you make a "gourmet" version with shredded or hand chopped sirloin or would people boo and hiss?

                                                  I love the Heartland of America!!!!

                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                      Ok having worked at a Maid-Rite(tm) for over 10 years im gonna give some insight to this. A MaidRite is made from meat that is purchased from special suppliers in tubes of 10 lbs each. They are cooked in what employees call the steamer but is more like an electric griddle with REALLY high sides that is slanted on one end so most of the extra grease can drain off.Don't get me wrong they are still plenty greasy until they are pushed into the wall by the maker with a slotted spoon to squeeze the extra grease off. The meat is cooked on teh flat end of the "steamer". they let the meat start cooking for about 5 minutes before they add a spice concoction which is proprietary. the mixtuire comes in a powdered pack from another special supplier and is then mixed with water in about a 10/1 mixture 10 being water. then about 2 cups is poured over the meat for every 2 "logs" or tubes of meat.
                                                      the meat after it is fully cooked is put onto a bun with either E EK or another order of condiments. E as some might have guessed means everything. Everything implies mustard onion and 2-3 slices dill pickle. EK is everything plus ketchup.the wrapped in the traditional blue checkered wrap and served.
                                                      Too silence all teh illinois iowa hubbub. it was origionally an iowa creation. But was made in the Quad City area. Which if you live in this area(as I do) you know ALOT of things go from one side of the river to the other without any hard feeling from the move. Such as Whitey's which is a Excellent ice cream establishment which origionally started as country style run by 2 brother. But one brother preffered soft server over hard icecream so countrystyle stayed soft serve. While Whitey's was born and has been serving very high quality "hard" icecreams since.
                                                      this was origionally started in illinois but has since drifted or into iowa in teh quad city area mush to the pleasure of many iowan's. but back to maidrites in illinois they are actually more popular than they ever were in iowa. especially in the quad cities.