Acid Test with Christine Flynn
Christine Flynn is now known as the Executive Chef of iQ Food Co. and the author of the new cookbook, How to Eat with One Hand. But she was also the brilliant mind behind the mid-2010s Instagram sensation Chef Jacques La Merde, where she made artistically plated dishes out of tweezered junk food.
Today, Christine is best known for her fresh, bright flavors, with acidity at the core of everything she cooks. Read on to learn how she uses acidity in her cooking, and the wonders of combining dill pickles with Cheez Whiz.
What does acidity bring to food?
Acidity is the flavor that keeps you dipping back into a dish. There is fat, there is salt and then there is acid. Without all three, dishes break down and become either too much or not enough. I use acid to season even more than I use salt and pepper. A squeeze of lemon, or a splash of the right vinegar wakes everything up. It brings balance, but also excitement to a dish and I love that.
What are some of your favorite ways to feature acidity in your cooking?
I'm a huge fan of fresh citrus but honestly as a single parent during a pandemic I've had long stretches where getting to the grocery store was basically impossible. I've started using way more vinegars, and even combining different acids to layer the flavors. I might dress a zippy celery salad with half a lemon, a tickle-the-back-of-your-throat green olive oil, a splash of feta brine, and a healthy pour of celery vinegar. By using bright, strong flavors you can take something as simple as a bunch of celery and make a dish that's totally craveable, without much in the way of effort or expense.
Do you have a favorite flavor-tripping memory?
From a very young age, I liked tasting things and seeing how they changed depending on what you ate alongside them. I'll never forget when I was about 5 years old realizing that the flavor of a plain Cheez Whiz sandwich on white bread changed after a juicy bite of a kosher dill pickle. My tastes have matured since then, but it remains a watershed moment in the way I think about food.