In 2010, Russ Crandall set about unearthing some of the world’s most mouth-watering traditional dishes, in the hope that he could inspire others to cook up historically rich global cuisine. It seems to be working. His many fans and followers are relishing his weekly recipes – with his signature paleo twist - on his blog, The Domestic Man.
Russ was motivated to lead a simpler life after a stroke caught him off guard at age 24, after which he had to re-learn how to walk, use a fork and play the guitar. Following his physical therapy, he was diagnosed with the rare autoimmune disease Takayasu’s arteritis, characterised by the narrowing of arteries.
Years later, still struggling with his health, he came across The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf, which sparked a fresh approach to food, enabling him to get off steroid therapy and finally exercise again.
What inspired you to start the blog?
“I started The Domestic Man with the idea that humans have become domesticated to the point of not even knowing how to prepare our own meals. In America, most meals come from a box, so I wanted to recapture the essence of home cooking. I decided to write about my journey.”
What's a global food tradition you love?
“One tradition I appreciate is that many cultures have unique ways to prepare the same ingredient. I think this idea was bred from having an abundance of an ingredient during certain months of the year, and combining it with other ingredients on hand. It’s really fun to see all the neat things people have made with one ingredient, all over the world.”
You're into food at a grassroots level. What’s your mission there?
“After years of simply cooking food, I wanted to take it a step further and look at where food actually comes from, be it a farm or a manufacturer. What really delights me is when I find a company that has maintained their integrity, while still managing to turn a profit. It’s a delicate balance, but gives me hope that others will follow suit.”
Can you tell us about your cookbook that came out this year?
“It’s called The Ancestral Table: Traditional Recipes for a Paleo Lifestyle and it features more than a hundred traditional recipes from around the world - even an Australian dish (chilli mussels) made it in there! I wanted the book to be a bridge for folks who already know their way around a kitchen, but are interested in making healthier meals.”
What's always handy in your pantry?
“I lived in Hawaii for most of my adult life, so I gravitate towards Asian tastes. I always have canned sardines, furikake (Japanese rice seasoning), konbu seaweed, and bonito flakes in our pantry. These ingredients will allow me to make a quick meal when I don’t feel up to cooking a grand one.”
What do friends ask you to cook for them?
“Frustratingly, when friends come over they often don’t have a preference in what I cook - they’d rather I surprise them. It’d be fun if they made more specific requests! My beef rendang is always a hit, and it’s an uncommon dish here in the US, so it has an exotic ‘wow’ factor to it.”
Do you ever cheat on your paleo ways?
“The concept of cheating goes hand in hand with the idea of dieting, which has been a foreign concept to humankind until recently. If you’re eating a certain way and cannot sustain it for long or have to resort to cheat meals to satisfy cravings, there may be something wrong with your diet. Instead, I like to work towards finding a satisfying, nourishing and sustainable way of eating that eliminates the need to fall off the wagon.”
Photo of Russ Crandall by Giang Cao.
The Domestic Man's top picks
1. Hearty stew
2. Beef rendang
Kitchen Farmacy editor Kris Franken
Kitchen Farmacy is our food lover's blog where good health and great taste come together. Each fortnight we'll feature a health and wellbeing foodie blog, with recipes to nourish the soul and body. Here's to eating well (and satisfying all kinds of cravings). View previous Kitchen Farmacy blog entries.