The caller had that tone of barely repressed anger that reporters sometimes hear from their readers and I occasionally get from my wife.
"I was reading your column, and I'm calling because I don't think you were fair in two of your paragraphs," the caller said.
I instantly knew which two paragraphs she was talking about, because I had received an e-mail a couple of hours earlier that had said much the same thing.
In last week's column, I wrote about attending the Home + Housewares Show in Chicago. In it, I tried to set the tone for a couple of more informational stories including the one on the right (unless you're reading this on the Internet, in which case it's, well, somewhere else on the site). I tried to depict how huge the show was, how vast and endless was the McCormick Place convention center, where the event was held.
And then I decided to write two paragraphs about Guy Fieri, who happened to walk past me at the show.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge
Whenever I turn on the Food Network, all they ever seem to be showing is Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. As far as I can tell, they run a six-hour block of nothing but that show every night. And then they repeat it.
But even in the odd moments that the network is showing something else, Mr. Fieri is unavoidable. He won on The Next Food Network Star, was host of Guy's Big Bite and Ultimate Recipe Showdown, and is a reliable fixture on all of the Food Network's never-ending river of self-promotion (The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Dear Food Network: Thanksgiving, Dear Food Network: Thanksgiving Disasters, Dear Food Network: Turkey Day Leftovers, All-Star Holiday Dishes, Paula's Party, and more).
Some might consider him overexposed, a celebrity chef who has become more celebrity than chef.
So he happened to walk past me at the home and housewares show, and a young woman nearby squealed in delight and asked to take his picture. This I wrote in my column. And then I went on to describe his looks.
He is a little shorter in person than he looks on TV, I said, and with his spiked, peroxide-blond hair, his aggressive tattoos, and his weird shirt, he looks a little freaky. A little scary.
And because of that, I said this: "I'm not sure I want to eat something that comes out of a kitchen if I know he is in it."
Personally, I thought that was funny. But the readers took exception to it. And looking back, I guess I can see why.
Mr. Fieri has a reputation of being a great chef - which I also mentioned in the column. But I have never had his food. And the woman who e-mailed suggested I should not speak ill of him ("defame" was the word she used) until I have tried his food.
So, because the Blade is not likely to fly me to Northern California to eat at one of his restaurants, I decided to make one of his recipes myself. His most famous creation, Cajun Chicken Alfredo, was out because it has way too many calories. Instead, I tried his Sangria-Glazed Prawns. With a glaze made from red wine, apple juice, orange juice, brown sugar, and honey, it was fruity and sweet, an intriguing complement to the shrimp.
It was fun and I'd gladly make it again. But he still looks scary.
Contact Daniel Neman at email@example.com or 419-724-6155.
3/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup apple juice
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup sherry
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon canola OR corn oil
1/2 cup diced red onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 apple, cored and diced
1 pound medium shrimp, cleaned and deveined
1 teaspoon paprika
Sprigs of fresh mint, for garnish
In a small pot, add wine, apple juice, orange juice, sherry, brown sugar, and honey. On medium-low heat, simmer and reduce mixture by ?. In small sauce bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water. Then whisk this into the hot mixture. Turn heat to low and simmer until reduced by half.
In large sauté pan, add butter and oil. When butter is melted, add onions, garlic, and peppers. Cook until translucent, but do not let it start to brown. Add apples and shrimp, and cook until shrimp turn pink. Toss with the paprika and glaze. Serve over rice and garnish with mint.
Yield: 4-6 servings
Source: Adapted from Food Network/Guy Fieri