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We remember how surprising it was, when we interviewed our kids’ classmates about their favorite TV show, to hear Iron Chef America turn up again and again. Somehow this competition based cooking show made cooking cool, even for boys. We got hooked and all of a sudden found ourselves besieged with requests to learn how to make chili or pumpkin milkshakes on rainy days. Iron Chef America, which is is its ninth season on the Food Network, is based on the Japanese TV game show Iron Chef -- and both have turned out to be huge hits with kids who love watching a contender challenge the current Iron Chef. Each chef has to cook a dish containing a “secret ingredient” which they learn about at the last second, and so the pace is frenetic. Secret ingredients can range from the ordinary (potatoes, salmon, bacon ) to the truly unusual (octopus, passion fruit, pheasant). The competition turns the kitchen into a battle field and inspired us to try our own, much tamer, home cooking competition. (We’re just waiting for the sequel: Iron Chef: Clean-Up!)
Exotic ingredients and unusual culinary combinations by local chefs have created an exciting food phenomenon: LA Food Trucks. Far from the “roach coach” reputation that old-time food trucks sometimes enjoyed, these trucks roam the city, setting up in a new neighborhood every few hours, where salivating patrons await their arrival, alerted by a tweet. Finding the food trucks is a little like a scavenger hunt, and when we set out to explore this trend, it was quickly clear that getting there was half the fun. Our kids have learned to work an iPhone maps app and shouted out directions as we headed out across the city for a meal. It turns out the trucks really do show up at their tweeted address and we were lucky to find a location with a convergence of many trucks. Our meal included everything from luscious fried chicken to imaginative versions of grilled cheese to exotic ice cream flavors. Because it was an adventure, the kids felt free to experiment with flavors and ethnic foods they might never try at home! Yes, we had to wait in some lines (a good lesson in patience, as well as in a real awareness of how long it takes to cook a meal!), but the food was great and certainly tasted extra sweet because of the adventure of hunting it down.
Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom about Iron Chef:
Exploring LA's Food Trucks
Time Allotment: a few hours
Age Recommendation: Five and up
Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom about the Food Truck Adventure:
Our favorite food trucks? Glad you asked!