Boil and Trouble
This week, we’re proud to feature Gamalier Maldonado of Boil and Trouble in the Blogger Spotlight. For those new to the column, every Friday, we highlight a member of The Daily Meal’s Culinary Content Network, a limited group of bloggers who write about food and drink.
We look to this group of talented food writers for inspiration and participation in The Daily Meal, whether for restaurant recommendations or new recipes to try out for dinner. Our editorial team covers All Things Food and Drink, and we tap the CCN to keep up to speed on what is happening around the country and the world — from fine dining to home cooking.
Gamalier Maldonado resides in San Juan, Puerto Rico and writes the blog Boil and Trouble. He graduated from college with a degree in biomedical sciences and worked at a medicinal chemistry and microbiology laboratory until he sustained a hand injury, which steered him into another path that he loved — cooking. Today, owns a wine bar and restaurant with his husband and loves home cooking and entertaining.
The Daily Meal: What is the mission of your blog?
Gamalier Maldonado: For the first year of the blog, I created a project call A Foodie’s Wanderlust. I dedicate each week of the year to a different country’s cuisine. In December, I must finish my culinary journey around the world. The idea is to understand and experience what other cultures eat around the globe and learn from their techniques and food customs.
How did you get started with your blog?
I love cooking! I can say without a doubt that food is my greatest passion. Last year, I finished a degree in biomedical studies and worked in a research lab looking for alternative cancer treatments, antibiotics, and creating nanoparticles as a drug transportation mechanism. If that gives you a headache, welcome to the club. It gave me headaches too, sometimes. After graduation, I had a year to choose what to do with my new diploma, so in the meantime I decided to create a blog — a place where I could keep experimenting in the kitchen. The kitchen was my aspirin, way of coping with stress and, let’s face it, way to procrastinate a bit.
What are some foods you can’t live without?
Stews! I love them — especially slowly cooked beef stews with very thick and rich sauces. Rice is my favorite comfort food, I could eat plain white rice with a drizzle of oil or butter every day, and be the happiest man alive. I also can’t picture a life without egg. They’re so versatile and important for cooking.
What are some foods you can’t stand?
Blood sausage. Please don’t even put it close to me. I’ve tried to rationalize my innate aversion to it but I haven’t been able to figure out why I cannot bare even the smell of it.
What is your proudest blog post?
While researching and experimenting with Egyptian/Arab cooking, I came up with this recipe for baklava. I’ve had it many times before and there are lots of Arab restaurants where I live. I always have one piece of baklava on the side, but the recipe I created is by far the best I’ve ever had.
What is your biggest blog blunder?
Because I haven’t been formally educated as a cook, there are many things I haven’t cooked or know how to make. This one time, I ventured into making a tart tatin. Oh goodness, did that gave me a hard time! I ruined lots of very good apples and many burnt and disgusting pieces of dough went into the trash. But after all my struggles, I finally created the most deliciously tasting tart tatin.
What is your most memorable comment from a reader?
It happened when I wrote about Lebanese Mammoul cookies, another favorite of mine now. They are traditionally made using a special wooden mold with carvings that adorn the cookie. It was very difficult to find it, but I finally found one on eBay. The problem was that even though I ordered weeks in advanced, the mold didn’t arrive by the date promised and the seller did not answer any of my emails. The mold was never delivered and I had to decorate the cookies by hand using a fork and a chopstick. They came out very pretty and delicious, but I didn’t forget to mention the rather irresponsible seller and how angry I was about her lack of attention.
A week after the post, I got an email from the seller expressing her most sincere apologies. It felt like a very honest email and she explained that she’d fallen very ill and just came back home after spending the last three weeks in a hospital with a very serious condition. She said that my recipe for Mammoul was one of the best she’d tried and that I deserved to be recognized for my efforts. The next week, I got a package with three molds completely free of charge, straight from the Lebanon.
This was a very humbling experience because she gave me a lesson and showed me kindness even after my angry rant about her.
What’s on your cooking playlist?
My selection depends on the days mood and what I’m cooking. Some favorite bands/musicians/composers are: Aterciopelados, Natalia Lafourcade, Of Monsters and Men, Bon Iver, Beethoven, Vivaldi, Paul Simon, The Chordettes, Yoshida Brothers, Adriana Calcanhotto, Stevie Nix, Florence and the machine, and Mumford and Sons.
Favorite food blogs?
I am a Food Blog, Local Milk Blog, Love and Lemons, My Darling Lemon Thyme, Poires au Chocolat, Broad Appetite, David Lebovitz, Figs and Pigs, Gather and Feast, and My Blue and White Kitchen.
What is the best thing about blogging?
The sensation of freedom that comes from being able to trace your own path and work on whatever it is you choose. Then you get to tell everybody about it without restrictions, and present it how and when want to. Blogging about food also forces you to try many different foods and perfect your cooking (and eating) abilities. It’s the perfect job for a rebel and food lover like me. It’s the perfect job for a rebel and food lover like me.
Worst things about blogging:
I just can’t come up with one specific negative thing about it. Maybe the only thing is that sometimes I wish that I could place the actual food in the website so that people could take a bite of it.
Which recipe are you currently obsessed with?
Pulla – Cardamom Coffee Bread. It’s sweet, but not too sweet and is very fragrant and soft. The one I made for the post was topped with sugar, but since then I’ve made it with other toppings like sunflower seeds, almonds, coconut shavings, or chocolate chips rolled into the dough. Even savory versions with sesame, caraway, fennel, thyme, and oregano have worked extremely well too. It’s to die for!
What would even your most loyal followers be surprised to learn about you?
When I was a kid, I wasn’t allowed in the kitchen. My parents used to say, “That’s a woman’s territory!” On the inside I thought, “Well most chefs are men!” I used to sneak into the kitchen to experiment when my parents were out. I was also a huge nerd and used to go through the first pages of a phonebook and found a list of the phone numbers and addresses of all consulates in Puerto Rico. I wrote letters to all of them asking to send me information about their country and culture. I was hooked!
Also, my parents love my cooking now. They are my biggest fans and supporters. Love you guys!
Five of your all-time favorite posts: