Anthony Beal is the brain behind flavorfulworld.com. He is a food blogger, a wine scholar, a comic book geek and a proud Japanophile.
He believes that food and drinks hold so much power than people give them credit for. Thus, culinary pursuits should be given one’s full attention, cultivation, and respect.
For him, food is life. It is art and magic. It is self-evident, discovery, evolution, and humanitarian. Food evokes emotions and memories. In skilled hands, a simple meal becomes greater than its ingredients. Food bridges cultures and becomes common ground to strangers and friends.
Anthony is a huge fan of shrimps, prawns, and mussels. They’re his favorite source of calm. Being a self-confessed Japanophile, his life goals include eating his way through Japan. Currently, he’s working on his French Wine Scholar credentials with the Wine Scholar Guild.
1. I read that prawns, shrimps, and mussels are your favorite foods. If someone asks you for the best prawn recipe from your website, which one would you recommend?
You know, it’s funny; I have recipes for shrimp and mussel dishes on the site, but your question has made me realize we’ve never shared a proper prawn recipe. The closest I can offer you is a post from a couple of years ago when I wrote a product review for the T-Fal Optigrill as part of a giveaway contest we were running, and one of the things that I prepared on it was a grilled prawn dish. With that one, I kept it simple, tossing the prawns in olive oil, lemongrass, diced garlic, salt, and black pepper before grilling them until they were juicy.
2. You're a self-confessed Japanophile. Where does the fascination stem from?
From multiple sources, really. When I became an adult and started dining out more often, Japanese food was among the cuisines new to me that left the greatest positive impressions on me. That newly discovered love of certain dishes ignited a curiosity in me to visit the country to sample more of its cuisine, and seek out things that simply aren’t available to me here in the states.
My family is currently in the process of planning a trip to Japan in 2018. Another reason for my interest is that my wife of nearly a decade is Japanese-American, and it’s important to me that our beautiful mixed-race children are educated about every facet of their culture.
If I’m to contribute to that effort to the degree that I’d like, I have to learn and understand as much as I can first, before passing the knowledge on. A few years ago, with that and my desire for future Japan travel in mind, I bought a stack of textbooks and began teaching myself to read and write Japanese characters, and to speak the Japanese language. Once I felt confident that I could hold my own in basic conversation, I got involved with a language exchange program at my workplace.
That introduced me to a Japanese gentleman who I began to meet with once weekly to practice speaking; he would help me with my Japanese and I would help him with English. He returned to Japan after his fellowship ended, but years later, we still speak via Skype once a week to hone our foreign language skills. I’m still far from being an expert at it, but with help, I’ve learned a great deal and gained confidence regarding my ability to speak and write in Japanese.
3. You've published wine poems with vintagewinepoems.com. What inspires you to write these kinds of poems? And can you share one you wrote with us?
Writing has always interested me because I’m an avid reader, and I’ve found that the best writers tend to be well-read individuals. As I discovered more and more written works that really spoke to me, it drove me to want to try my hand at that form of expression, not so much to copy or emulate their style, but to discover what my own might be.
What attracts me to writing poetry is that it’s about the art of using words to convey states and emotions that are often too abstract to be easily expressed. It lets writers say things they otherwise might not know how to say, and lets them do so in a way that hopefully feels satisfying to them and might inspire conversation or at least elicits some kind of reaction in those reading.
Painting is sometimes described in similar terms, but because I have no aptitude for painting (believe me, I’ve tried!), poetry allows me to “paint” with words instead of brushes. As for what attracts me to writing wine-themed poetry, it’s just one more way, besides writing wine reviews (that can feel somewhat clinical at times, as at their core, they’re little more than technical evaluations) for me to express my affection for wine and winemaking as I continue to learn about it.
The first wine poem I ever wrote was published at VintageWinePoems.com (a truly wonderful site for anyone who loves wine and all that it represents) and is titled “Maenad”.
4. Being a wine expert, what is that one wine that you can never have enough of?
I have to preface this response by saying that I’d hesitate to call myself a wine expert. I don’t consider myself to be one by any means, though I certainly know more about wine today than I did when I began studying. That experience has been invaluable in terms of teaching me what makes various wines what they are, what I like and don’t like about various wines, and more importantly, what aspects of the wines those preferences are rooted in.
Having said that, with regard to reds, I’m always in the mood for a big, bold old-vine Zinfandel, or Cabernet Sauvignon. As white wines go, give me a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or a crisp Picpoul de Pinet (maybe with a sizzling plate of grilled prawns!) any day of the week.
5. Have you considered putting up your own restaurant and writing your own cookbook?
Surprising as it might be, having my own restaurant doesn’t interest me at all. I know that devoting as much time to it as I’d need to if I wanted to succeed would mean I’d never get to see my family. If you ask my wife, she’d tell you (as she’s told me on more than one occasion) that just running Flavorful World already takes up more of my calendar than she’s sometimes happy with, but she’s been understanding about it, and now that I’m several years into maintaining the site, I feel I’ve finally found a good balance between it and my responsibilities at home.
There’s no job situation or activity that I’d ever allow to take precedent over my getting to spend as much time as possible with my wife and especially with my little ones, since I don’t want to miss a moment of them growing up. My family is my joy.
As for writing my own cookbook, when the time comes that I feel I’ve amassed enough recipes and personal anecdotes to fill one, you can bet that’s a train I’d be happy to jump on.