Trying (and loving) new food
Introduction (For the Grown Ups)
Tonight we have a story about a ball player and a foodie. If this is your first time reading Bedtime Sports, (or you need a refresher) check out our "How To" post.
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Happy story telling!
(5 minute read)
What’s your favorite food?
When I pick my favorite food, I usually say something that would taste good anywhere; at home, at my favorite restaurant, or even at a place I’ve never been before. I pick something so tasty that I like it even when it’s cold, or kind of old, or served differently than the way I normally eat it. But my favorite dish? My favorite meal, ever? That would need to be something so special that I can tell you the time and the place and the taste when I took my first bite. It would need to be something that tasted so different, and so good, that it changed the way I think about food.
Mark Canha is an outfielder for the New York Mets, and he loves good food.
When Mark was a kid, his dad would travel to different countries for work. Mark’s dad would collect recipes from the places he traveled, and when he came home, he would try cooking some of the new foods he had discovered. One day, when Mark was six or seven his dad made risotto.
Have you ever eaten Risotto?
Risotto is a creamy, Italian, rice dish that is a little like the rice version of Mac and Cheese. You cook it slowly so that the starch from the rice seeps out and makes a creamy sauce that holds it all together. Mark, of course, didn’t know any of that, but when he took his first bite, he did know it didn’t taste like any Mac and Cheese he had ever eaten. It was…different. It was delicious. It was like a door had opened to a whole new world of food that he didn’t even know was there.
Have you ever taken a bite like that? A bite of food so yummy and delicious that you can remember exactly where you were and what was on your plate as you ate?
Ever since that remarkable risotto, Mark has loved food. And not just any food, but good food. In fact you could call him a little bit of a foodie. You would be in good company, because Mark calls himself the “Big League Foodie.”
As baseball takes him from stadium to stadium and city to city, Mark goes out, looking for the best places to eat. He plans his meals out in order to try new restaurants, and old favorites, ordering new things, and exploring new flavors. Sometimes he’ll bring teammates. Sometimes, especially in the offseason, he’ll bring his family. And always, he’ll share a little bit about what he eats on his social media with a picture and a caption.
So what type of food does a Big League Foodie eat? Sometimes it’s fancy, like the French Laundry, a three-Michelin-star restaurant near San Francisco, California where instead of ordering food, the chef designs a meal for you, and a single meal can cost more than $300. Other times it’s a single item, like the Almond Croissant at the Almondine Bakery in Brooklyn. Sometimes it’s a bagel with lox, and other times, he just stays home and works on his meatball recipe, trying to find the perfect mix of meat and flavor to make it taste just right.
There is no shard set of rules for something to be considered “Good Food” by the Big League Foodie. The only rule is that you need to be willing to try something new, and when you find that flavor so good that it makes a mark, don’t forget to share it with your friends.
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I know I’ve found a true crossover story when the sources don’t all come from sports publications. For tonight’s story, I was lucky enough to find an awesome profile and list of favorite restaurants written by Deanna Ting at Resy. Similarly, I got a lot of background, and info on Mark’s relationship with food from an excellent interview on the Extra Spicy podcast from the SF Chronicle.
But it wasn’t just food folks - I also read and referenced Mark Bechtel’s , “Mets Outfielder Mark Canha Became a Legitimate Foodie” at SI.com,
and Joe Trezza’s, “Foodie Canha comfy with full count, full plate,” at MLB.com to get details on Mark’s Foodie development.
Art & Illustrations
Today’s illustrations come from a variety of Mark Canha fans from his time in Oakland and New York.
Eat Lumpia Mark created by SF/Sacramento based artist LeRoid David for The Lumpia Company in Oakland. Lumpia’s are a traditional Pilipino food (similar to an spring roll) and Mark was a frequent enough customer to get his own sticker when he came back to town with the Mets.
Kiss the Cook Mark comes from A’s fan artist Danny Rat AKA Zombie Pencil. (FYI grown ups - in addition to the A’s, Danny illustrates a variety of more adult themed subjects. I would probably not share this link with kids)
And finally the Ess-a-Bagel picture comes from the Big League Foodie himself.
Mark Canha hits a lot of balls. He also gets hit by a lot of balls. In fact, in 2022, he got hit by 28 pitches, the most hit by pitches (HBP) of anyone in baseball. If you get hit by a pitch, you get to go to first base automatically. Do you think it is better to get a hit, or to get hit? How come?
Starch is a long chain of sugars made by many plants and is found in foods like potatoes, bread, and pasta. When humans eat it, our bodies break it down and make energy so we can do things like run and jump and play.
You cook it slowly so that the starch from the rice seeps out and makes a creamy sauce that holds it all together
A foodie is someone who really loves food - not just eating it, by trying it, tasting it, paying attention to how the flavors mix together. For a foodie, food isn’t just something to eat, it’s a hobby.
In fact you could call him a little bit of a foodie.
The Michelin Guide was a guidebook designed by a tire company to encourage people to drive on road trips. They identified exceptional restaraunts to include in their guide and warded them one, two, or three Michelin Stars.
These stars are awarded by anonymous inspectors who use the following definition for their rating.
One star - A very good restaurant in its category
Two stars - Excellent cooking, worth a detour
Three Stars - Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey
Sometimes it’s fancy, like the French Laundry, a three-Michelin-star restaurant near San Francisco California
Mark doesn’t only eat out - he tries his hand at making food too. Plan a new (or old!) recipe to make with your grown up. Take a picture of the final product, and share it with us and Mark with the #LittleLeagueFoodie hashtag. Let’s see what you got!
Twitter: @bedtimeNYM @outtadapakmark
Instagram: @bedtimesportsnym @bigleaguefoodie
More Story Ideas
Tell about the meals and foods that changed your life. When did you eat it? Where were you? Have you mad it for your kids?
Tell about a time you tried to cook something, and it didn’t go great
Share the most interesting foods you’ve eaten - good or bad!