What do you hope to achieve with Bones?
I wanted to do something more than a cookbook—I wanted to add those things that I thought were fascinating about bones. I don't think people realize how important bones are in our history. I'm surprised that most people don't know there is bone in their bone china. There's lots of bits of lore in the book that will tickle people's funny bone.
How did you get interested in bones?
I was just sitting down one day over a plate of roasted marrow bones, and I suddenly thought, "We're not cooking like this anymore." I love osso bucco, ribs, chicken wings—there's so many different kinds of foods cooked on the bone. I started to think about bones, and history—since man started cooking he had bones left over on the side of the fire. It just took off from there. I became a little obsessed with bones.
What do you think the likelihood of a bones revival is, in this day and age?
The phrase "the nearer the bone the sweeter the meat" is true. Many people seem to have forgotten about that. There's something primordial about eating meat off the bone. I'm not advocating that you eat bone marrow every day; it's like eating foie gras, it's a delicious treat. But the taste and flavor is in the bone. Each time you buy a boneless chicken breast, you've bought the bones, you've paid for them. There's a wonderful expression, "Bones bring the meat to town." You might as well take advantage of those bones. Add that flavor to your meal.
What's your favorite thing to cook on the bone?
I think one of the best examples of cooking with bones is chicken stock. I love the transformation of bones and a few vegetables turning into stock, and a few more steps and it's consommé.
What's one of the most unusual things you learned about bones in your research?
One thing I learned is that fish scales are bones. They are actually chemically bones. Fish scales are kind of annoying to us, but they are very important to the fish; they are like an armor. They're what makes fish look so great in the store, makes them look shiny and bright and beautiful.
You're optimistic that meat on the bone can become popular again in North American home kitchens. Are there are dishes, however, that you think will never gain traction here?
Perhaps I won't increase the sales of pigs' tails, but maybe some people will try them. And I think people like reading about dishes they'll never cook.
Like Spicy Steamed Chicken Feet?
Yes, clipping off the toenails is a little bit challenging.