I spent several weeks this summer watching World Cup soccer. I find the tournament fascinating. Naturally, I was cheering for the countries whose cuisine I enjoy the most. Yes, even watching the World Cup makes me think of food. Needless to say, I was sad to see nations such as Spain, Morocco and Argentina, and even Iran, go down early, but I’m sure their fans can console themselves with delicious post-defeat meals.
There was one thing, though, that disturbed me as I watched the matches. It was a commercial showing what appeared to be a chef assembling a burger. Not just any burger—a delicious-looking beef patty on an artisan-looking bun with fried onions, melted cheese and other assorted, beautifully arranged garnishes. It was most definitely Instagram-worthy.
What was the product advertised? Mickey D’s! Are you kidding me right now? How do they have the audacity to call their food “CRAFTED”? As if there are chefs in those kitchens, hand-making individual, high-quality, upscale burgers. It’s the same company: Replacing employees with order kiosks as it uses the word CRAFT to describe mass-produced, sodium bombs politely termed “food.”
Yet, sadly, Mickey D’s isn’t the only party guilty of misusing the word “craft.” First, there’s that chain that promotes its “hand-crafted guacamole,” which tastes like it’s from a can, and another bragging of its “crafted cocktails.” I hear tell Starbucks will start opening specialty coffee bars offering “craft” coffee. Even Disney can’t help itself, with its new “crafted” Italian restaurant.
Let me tell y’all, I do my best to never lower the high level of quality my weekly column enjoys by throwing politics into the stew, but if a senator were to propose a bill banning the word “CRAFTED,” I’d be forever indebted. What was once a respectable, descriptive word for an item produced with pride in workmanship, attention to detail, tradition and skill, has devolved into being just another corporate cliché.
I refuse to let this word abuse distract me from what’s really important about the World Cup: Which soccer powerhouse nation’s fare will I enjoy at my next meal? Even though the Iranians made an early exit, their cuisine is still relevant—perfect for a hot grill on a July evening. So here’s to the wide world of cuisine! Urrrrrr … I mean sports.
Chef Bill’s Iranian Chicken Kabobs
• 2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 2-inch cubes
• 2 lemons, zested and juiced
• 1 tbsp. sumac or saffron
• 2 small cayenne chili peppers
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 1 tbsp. parsley, chopped
• 1/4 onion, diced
• 1 tsp. ginger, grated
• 1/2 tsp. turmeric
• 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
• Salt and pepper to taste
1. Place cayenne, garlic, parsley and ginger in a blender. Blend for a minute to mix.
2.. Add sumac, lemon zest and juice, turmeric and yogurt. Blend until smooth.
3. Pour the marinade over chicken; marinade overnight.
4. Drain the chicken, discard marinade. Thread chicken cubes on skewers and grill.
Email Chef Bill Thompson, owner of Fernandina’s Amelia Island Culinary Academy, at firstname.lastname@example.org, for inspiration and to get Cheffed-Up!