Type.Tune.Tint.

Miles to go before I eat: Foodigenous!

June 25, 2022 Adam Horvath Season 3 Episode 6
Type.Tune.Tint.
Miles to go before I eat: Foodigenous!
Show Notes Transcript

Writing and food might just be the most heavenly combination a blogger could concoct. That's exactly what Adam Horvath does in his blog, website and social media pages called Foodigenous (food-IDGE-enous), a culinary adventure to foreign lands like Philadelphia, Elmira, East Hampton and even Newark. With a background in the food industry and a day job as a CFO, Adam's blog is a passion project. His experiences not only recount amazing food but the amazing places where the food lives. And there are the people, the inventors of things like a pizza made with American cheese and a clam chowder pie to make you weep. Take a break for 20 minutes and enjoy our conversation.

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:00 (Music up full, then under)

:10 Tom Kranz

My guest today gets to work eating all kinds of food, then writing about it, where it came from and the geography that embraces it. Mix in some popular culture and a laid-back conversational style and you have Foodigenous, a blog and social media phenomenon hatched by Adam Horvath whose food pursuits in various past lives inform his passion for writing.

:30 (Music up full, then under and out)

:39 Tom Kranz
And Adam Horvath joins me right now from his palatial estate in Fanwood, New Jersey. Hello, Adam.

Adam Horvath
Hello Tom and thank you and thank you for having me. I appreciate this.

Tom Kranz
Absolutely. Adam is a blogger as I mentioned, in my little open and he has a day job which, you know, we all do, and we'll get to that in a minute. But Adam, the reason I'm fascinated by what you do your blog which, by the way, folks, is called Foodidgenous (food-IDGE-enous). Not indigenous, Foodigenous.

Adam Horvath
And not food genius which a lot of my relatives still call it.

Tom Kranz
Well, when you first look at the word you can, you don't not quite sure what to make of it, but when you go to your website, you have a nice pronouncer there. But the reason I love your blog and the concept, you're basically doing the two things I love most in the world, which is writing and eating. And, you know, notwithstanding the fact that I just had bariatric surgery to lose a bunch of weight because I've spent too much time eating over my, my adult life, I love reading about food and I love cooking and I love, you know, eating and just basically relearning how to eat. But tell me, first of all, what, when you started the blog and why you decided to kind of combine, you combine food and culture, and a little bit of the stories behind the food and the places you go. Where did that bright idea come from?

2:00 Adam Horvath
I've loved food forever. Yeah, it says on my ABOUT that I, you know, I'm the combination of my grandmother's chicken paprikash and Indiana Jones movies and by Indiana Jones movies, I just watched a lot of movies and TV as a kid and you know, I have a job, my regular job is a CFO, great title but not sexy, not what I thought that I'd be doing when I was, you know, a teenager. I thought I was going to be writing movies.  Before that, I thought a stockbroker. But I thought I was going to be writing movies, then went to college to become an accountant. I've done a lot of restaurant work in my life working at the same pizzeria hometown for ten years, paid for my college.

Tom Kranz
What is your hometown, by the way?

Adam Horvath
Netcong, New Jersey? Have you heard of it?

Tom Kranz
Yeah, of course.

Adam Horvath
Represent. And then when I started to make the decision about what I was gonna do in my life, I made the decision to go left instead of right. And I'm 47 years old now and I look back every day and wonder, what if? I'll still run a shift every once in a while at the restaurant. They're like family to me and halfway through my legs hurt. I'm tired, I'm grumpy and I kind of think I made the right decision. So this you was a perfect opportunity.

Tom Kranz
You mentioned that when you were a kid, you saw yourself writing movies. So did you write as a youth?

3:25 Adam Horvath
I watched a lot of movies as a child. And then when I went to high school, you know, I wrote for the school newspaper. Didn't write a lot. But, you know, I really watched a lot of TV, a lot of movies. If you read my blogs, I try and shoehorn as much pop culture in as possible. I started writing more when I went to college. I wrote for my college newspaper and I started writing short stories. I also started writing scripts but like little tiny short films. Came up during that era of Kevin Smith. He's a Jersey guy, so I'm like, yeah, maybe that's a possibility. My college internship was for Robert DeNiro, Tribeca Film Productions, and I was the first-ever accountant intern. I just did it to get in meet people and write, you know. Maybe that was my in. 

Tom Kranz
So, did you have any contact with the big guy?

Adam Horvath
You know, I saw him once in a while but he was super shy. So, his wife at the time, Grace, she was super nice. Chaz Palminteri had an office right next door to mine. And I would be asked to watch his kid every once in a while--Dante--who I see on Instagram now as an adult, so it's kind of weird. It was a great experience but it fooled me a little bit thinking, that's the route. I was gonna go.

Tom Kranz
That's awesome. Well, that's amazing. So, you do have writing chops. I mean, you didn't come to the blog just waking up one morning and say hell I'm gonna write. So you have written. I mean writing for school newspapers and college publications, that's actually great experience. You know that's where you make all your mistakes and that's where you get good. So when did you actually start? When did you launch the blog and your Facebook posts in your, your kind of daily presence? 

5:07 Adam Horvath
Sure.  So, in 2020, when the pandemic--I don't want to get too sad, but my wife was sick. She's better now. So that really meant a few things. One, I was house or I was working. And when I was working during the pandemic, we kicked everybody out because I didn't want, I had no idea what was going on. I didn't want to get her sick, so I was just working or home and, you know, I had this idea that I wanted to write a blog for a while. It actually was called, Will Trip for Food at one time where I thought, you know, it was kind of corny and, you know, I had gone on a bunch of trips. I'm the guy in my friend group that when we go somewhere, people ask me, what are we gonna eat? I kind of plan it out. We go on a little trip. Huge fun. I should take you on one if you want to come.

Tom Kranz
Yeah, one of these days. Where do you go? So now,  you've, you've done quite a few stories about New Jersey places. You've gone to Philly a couple times. Where else? Where've you gone?

Adam Horvath
So, I'll go everywhere, I'll eventually go everywhere. The pandemic again, starting 2020, really limited that. So I tried to look to my backyard and I know you're a Philly guy. I was born in South Jersey until I was 7, then moved up to North Jersey. If you're asking me, Taylor Ham or Pork Roll, I'm Taylor Ham every day! I'm a North Jersey guy, but all my sports teams and my love of Philly is strong. So I really hit Jersey and I hit Philly. I've been to Buffalo. I was in Buffalo for this tailgate in January because I heard that they were animals and they jumped through tables and so I wrote a story about that. I've taken the day off of work and driven to Utica, New York, which is, honestly, a hidden gem, it's a food capital of the country, and kind of drive for four hours, get four hours worth of food and drive home.

Tom Kranz
And you do that in one day? Jesus.

Adam Horvath
I do everything in one day. So, about a month and a half ago, I took off and drove to the Hamptons. I woke up real early and I--

Tom Kranz
I'm just gonna stop you right there. I've worked in a company that had buildings on Long Island. And I never went as far as the Hamptons. I went was Yaphank which I think is exit, like, exit 68 of the LIE,  and there is no good way to get from New Jersey to Long Island, except helicopter, maybe. So, if you went to the Hamptons, that had to be three and a half, four hours of driving.

Adam Horvath
So, three and a half there, four and a half coming back. I looked at a helicopter. It was 850 dollars. I said that sounds good once I get more audience on my blog. But I left super early. I got there, I went there for one specific food. It was a clam pie that has been made by the Bonackers or the Bonacs for the last three hundred plus years. So people out there, they don't, they don't even know what I'm talking about. You can get this in East Hampton and you can only get in East Hampton. So I drove out there. I made some phone calls and make sure it was there. I went to a few couple places that made it. It was the best New England clam chowder in a pot pie crust you've ever had in your life.

Tom Kranz
Wow.

Adam Horvath
I'm done the same thing now where I've driven four hours and it was not amazing. The trip, the experience, I'll still take it but, you know, sometimes the food's not really worth it. Yeah, I need to I need to make that trip to find out.

Tom Kranz
Right, you don't know unless you go. I'm just the last one of the last things or most recent things you posted on your Facebook page, which is also called Foodigenous by the way. Folks, it's spelled F-O-O-D-I-G-E-N-O-U-S. I saw that you went to Philly. You were down at the Reading Terminal Market, which is one of the, my most, I'm from Philadelphia originally, so it's whenever I go there, or whenever I can, I go to the Reading Terminal Market at all costs. And you posted a picture of a friend of yours eating this sandwich which, of course, I never heard of it, roast pork, greens, and sharp provolone. And the look on her face is like, I'm not leaving here until I finish this sandwich!

Adam Horvath
And you know what? She finished that whole sandwich before she left. That's exactly what it was. I took her and her husband. That sandwich, which you've never heard of, was voted the number one sandwich in the country by this guy Adam Richman about six years ago.

Tom Kranz
Yeah, I know him. I've seen as seen his TV shows. So what is the sandwich called?

Adam Horvath
It's just roast pork, I say greens because I couldn't remember if it was broccoli rabe or spinach. It was spinach, I think. You know Philly has the best provolone in the country in my opinion, the sharpest provolone on any sandwich you get. If you go to and get a hoagie anywhere--I said it like a Philly person. Yeah, it's a sharp provolone. That was amazing. I wanted to ask you a question. I know this is your thing so I'll be quick.  Have you ever heard of Pizzazz?

Tom Kranz
No.

Adam Horvath
So I wrote the story about pizzazz. I go to Philly a lot. I go to Phillies games. Eagles are my team. I'm in Philly a lot and I stumbled across this local pizza, this local food foodigenous, right, That is super popular in pizzerias within 15 blocks. But you go in that 16th block and no one knows about it. And that's what really appeals to me. It's a pizza dough with American cheese with fresh-cut tomatoes and banana peppers.

Tom Kranz
Wow. American cheese, huh?

Adam Horvath
It's phenomenal. And not just American cheese, like Cooper sharp which is a specific regional cheese. I want people that read it and say, I want to, I want to eat that.

Tom Kranz
Yeah, yeah, it's not a typical pizza, pizza, concoction pizzas with you know, mozzarella and whatnot. And where do you get it? Is there any one place you get it?

Adam Horvath
It actually was invented in the 1980s at a place called Celebre's. And I would suggest going, it's within the shadow of the stadiums. But my favorite is at a bakery called Kasha's bakery in Philly. As you probably know, I don't think the pizza is awesome. I love Philly food. Pizza's OK but the bakery pizza and all the square tomato pie they might call it. They make it in square slices for a dollar which, it's amazing, you eat at room temp.  You eat like six of them and you don't realize.

Tom Kranz
(laughs) That's a riot.

Adam Horvath
I love that stuff.

11:48 (Music up full and under)

Tom Kranz
More with Adam Horvath after a moment of shameless self-promotion.

12:02 (Moon Rescue book promo)

12:42 Tom Kranz
I want to talk a little bit more about your writing. So, you mentioned before your writing, you inject a lot of pop culture into your writing. But you're writing is also very casual. When I read your blogs I feel like we're having a conversation like we are kind of right now. It's, there's not a lot of formality and it's very conversational which I find appealing. Is that a style that you kind of worked on or, do you just sit down at your computer and say I'm just gonna write and whatever comes out comes out?

Adam Horvath
You know, I think I wanted to be I liked the idea of what you're doing, a podcast. I like talking with my friends. I think that you know, when I talk about food and they're interested, I kind of wanted to have that same effect when I write it. So grammatically, I know sometimes I might not be using the perfect grammar, but that's with intention and it really is to make it feel like you're on the other side of a conversation with me. So, that is intentional and I appreciate you noticing that because it's, it's something I try and do and I definitely do shoehorn as much pop culture, movie references that make sense. I often delete a lot before that final draft goes out.

Tom Kranz
Well, that's called editing and that's what any good writer does, right? So, um, when you started doing this, during the pandemic, and at a kind of a down part of your life, in interviewing a lot of other writers, they actually find inspiration in stuff like that, in kind of downtimes, maybe bad times in their youth and their adulthood. Do you think you would have done it had there not been a pandemic and had your wife been A-okay every minute or do you think you just would have done it regardless because it was in you? 

14:24 Adam Horvath
I mean, it was in me to do something, whether it was just going to be food trips and talk about it with my friends and put them on Facebook, or actually write about them. I needed the time. So, as much as I was, I was working probably harder than I ever did during the pandemic. But I just had a lot of down time and I had, I had a need to get stuff out of me. So, I mean it, you know, with what with my wife was going through, what the world was going through, I thought it was very cathartic.  So, I want to bore you but in 2011, I had this idea to create a potato chip company. I called it Jersey Flavored and I registered it. And the idea was to create potato chips that tasted like popular New Jersey foods. As you mentioned, I write about Jersey a lot because Jersey has a lot of indigenous food. So I actually went about it. I started this little company, I did it after my nine to five and, you know. I created a Texas Weiner potato chip and Taylor Ham. I did a Greek diner salad. I sold them at farmer's markets and did them at little events, and it was just so inefficient.

Tom Kranz
Did you make them? Did you make them yourself?

Adam Horvath
I literally did everything. There was a spice store in Westfield, I don't know if you recall it, and I would get all of these spices and say I'm gonna make the Texas Weiner taste and come home. I would make the topping, you know, and I'd run and get some more cumin. So every Friday after work I would take, I would take probably 80 pounds of potatoes. We would hand-cut them, season them, bag them with cool little bags and I lost like 25 thousand dollars in this endeavor, you know.

Tom Kranz
(laughs) Oh, Jesus!

Adam Horvath
And Paul is my friend who I made my partner, who really was supportive. But I just didn't have that, I didn't use my CFO acumen. I just used someone saying, oh that's a great idea,  let's do it.

Tom Kranz
So, how long did you do that? How long did that last?

Adam Horvath
I did it for about two years until I realized I was losing as much money as I was. And we got good write-ups too. Like actually had, Chef Central at the time asked if I could stock their shelves. Meanwhile, these were handmade. I had all of the proper, you know, the certification but I just didn't have the ability, unless I was gonna go to a co-packer, to stock a store. Part of what I'm doing now, I'm an efficiency expert in a sense and this was the least efficient thing I ever did. What it did was it filled that void of not working in a restaurant. Ten years later during this pandemic, I had that void again, you know, and in this writing this blog did it. The reason I even said that was, with this blog in 2020 I said if I can't commit to writing, I'm not gonna do it. So before I even started publishing my stuff which was 2020 in September of 2020, I wrote 10 stories, so I had a pipeline. I also recognized that no one's gonna read a food blogger that has no history. So, I reached out to Jersey Bites, which is a local Jersey blog, and I asked, you know, if I could just write for free to get my street cred up. And within like three weeks, I wrote stories. I had the confidence that I needed. It made my, you know, Foodigenous stories better and I committed to, you know, by the time I launched in September, I had about 13 stories that I knew that every two weeks, at least I could post something while continuing to write. So now fast forward, almost two years later, I'm pretty much writing. I have maybe two stories that I could post, but I'm a better writer now. So, when I go back and read some of the things, you know, I would probably change that but I'm pretty much writing every week. I'm trying to get something out every two weeks, every 15 days. 

18:17 Tom Kranz
Yeah. So that dovetails into my next line of questioning which is the actual mechanics of how you do it. So, do you do a blog, you do a post every week? Every two weeks? How do you do it? Do you just decide you're gonna sit down at your computer and do it right now and do it until it's done? Or do you come back to it and agonize over it for like a week? Or how do you actually physically do that?

Adam Horvath
I listened to one of the earlier podcasts today. You had made a comment about when you write something that you walk away, you come back and if it's trash, you throw it out. And if it's good, you keep writing. I kind of do something like that, but very but much smaller. I will write a paragraph and I will walk away from that paragraph and I'll think about that. And then I'll hate it. I always hate it. And then I will rewrite it. And if I have a paragraph that starts off well, then I'll say I can go ahead and do this. And then I'll actually find the food. You know, I actually, I discover the food or go after the food. Like, I'm very interested in mustard pizza. Are you familiar with mustard pie? 

Tom Kranz
(laughs) I am not.

Adam Horvath
So, mustard pizza is actually an indigenous food from Trenton, Mercer County, where again, back in the 80s someone asked--I think it was a drunk someone--they asked the pizza guy to put mustard on the pie. So this guy put mustard, he put sausage, he put cheese, and it hit. And so now if you go to Mercer County and ask for a sausage pizza, you won't be looked at the same way if you went to Fanwood and asked at the pizzeria. And so that's interesting to me. So I have a couple friends and we're gonna do a little, you know, mustard pizza tour.

Tom Kranz
That story about just writing a paragraph and kind of, that's your jumping-off point, two podcasts ago, I interviewed, a young woman who's a singer. She found her talent late in life and she writes all her songs. And I said, how do you write a song? You know, nice, broad, stupid question that's impossible to answer. And her answer was, I usually start with a sentence, a phrase or line, or something that's in my brain about something or someone, and I hold on to that line and I take it home with me or I take it to my guitar and I just kind of build on it. And I think that a really interesting and fairly common and really good way to build writing. When I write my, the novels that I write, I start, you know, I don't do an outline, I don't outline chapters. I basically start, I write it from beginning to end and I start with a concept and you build on it. And I remember seeing an interview with Stephen King where he talked about an author friend of his who did exactly the same thing. So what's ahead for you? Are you gonna continue you know, globe-trotting? Well, you know, northeast trotting? And eating and writing? And how much more can you eat before you burst?

20:50 Adam Horvath
So I have to diet and I have definitely gained some weight, my wife reminds me. The mirror reminds me. But you know, this is a passion. So I have a few people now who, well, you need to monetize this. I don't I don't want to. I think, when I start thinking about making money, it becomes a job. And then I kind of maybe have a little bit more anxiety about it. So, to answer your question, I will be jumping off further. I have a trip, I have a couple trips planned. I have my sister in Georgia. So I'm gonna hit a bunch of the places up. I'm probably gonna hit my friend up in California. I have yet to go west of Oklahoma. So, I'm gonna try and get as many places in one shot. But when I'm there, I'll definitely get as much as I can. And then you know listen, I'm a CFO. That's my job. I sometimes think I have to remind my boss so he doesn't get nervous that I'm leaving. I like this though and this is fun. So, I'm starting to get some people, you know, ask me to come to the opening of the restaurant. And I've been saying no because I'm not a review blog and I don't want to take advantage of people but you know I'll say no thanks and they're like, hey listen, we want you there we want influencers and I'm like, I have a thousand Instagram followers. I'm not an influencer. But I'm continuing to try and build this audience because I want people to be interested in what I'm writing because I want them to eat it. You know, if I continue to get better---

Tom Kranz
Well, if people are reaching out to you and they're saying come, you should go. I mean I think you've already, I mean you've been doing this almost two years you know. I mean at what point do you say I've got cred and I don't have it because, where's that line you know? I mean if anybody who goes to your blog, your website or your Facebook page can see you know what you're talking about. You're a good writer so say yes, damn it. Take the damn food and write about it. That's what I would do. That's my sage advice for nothing. Again, your Facebook page is simply called Foodidgenous and your website I think is Foodigenous.com?

Adam Horvath
Yep, Foodigenous.com.

Tom Kranz
Oh, yeah. I bookmarked this story about the peanut butter, bacon and jelly-- fried peanut butter and jelly and bacon sandwich. Oh my god. I just started reading it and I'm not even sure I want to know whether or not you ate that sandwich. Don't tell me. I don't want you to spoil the end. Adam Horvath has been my guest. He's a blogger. And, as I said, check out his blog, his Facebook page, and his website. All those links will be in the story info of this podcast. Adam, thanks so much. I'll see you in fan wood. I appreciate it. Thank you so much.

25:08 (Music up and out)

24:19 End