Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Whole Foods Advertises Violation of Its Own Rules?

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Many of you know that I'm always happy to bash Whole Foods. I disapprove of its anti-union philosophy, its phony "we love local food" stance, and its bullying of Grimaud Farms.

So you can imagine how happy I was when Erik Sherman sent me a link to his post about dyed salmon in Whole Foods. He noticed a tag informing the consumer that the fish was dyed, which is a good practice, but then he wondered how this fits into the company's stated policy to avoid all foods with artificial colorings and flavorings. Of course, the dye is probably a "natural" dye in the way that soda has "natural" flavors, but I'd argue that dyed fish goes against the spirit of the company's marketing message, if not the letter. The PR representatives haven't responded to his emailed queries yet, says Erik.

Update: Erik received a response from Whole Foods and dissects it on his site.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Achewood Had Dinner At Alinea

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Or so I assume from today's comic strip about molecular gastronomy, complete with gratuitous quote marks.

via Phil

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

A Healthy Debate? Or A Healthful One?

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At the end of November, Shuna of eggbeater posted a handful of her food writing pet peeves. Among them, she distinguished "healthful" from "healthy." "Food is not healthy," she wrote, "people are."

Poised to type "healthy" one morning in early January, I remembered the peeve but not the details. Are people full of health, and thus healthful, or are bran muffins? I reached for the reference closest to my keyboard, Fowler's Modern English Usage, a guide to British English. The book has an entry for healthy/healthful, but only so the author can ask why Americans care so much about the difference—"The currency of the disliked use in America is not clear to me."—and point out that "healthful" is considered old-fashioned by major British dictionaries.

Expecting an explanation about the two words, Fowler's head-scratching tone surprised me, and I fished other reference books from my shelves. My main dictionary gives "healthy" as the second definition for "healthful," though the first definition is "beneficial to health of body or mind," the sense that Shuna intended. (A similar meaning occupies the third slot for "healthy.") Among The Chicago Manual of Style, Strunk & White, and The Associated Press Stylebook, none mention the topic. Maybe this isn't an issue after all?

The American Heritage Dictionary finally provided a surprising usage note for "healthful" and "healthy." Authorities pronounced them distinct only in the late 1880s, while "'healthy' has been used to mean 'healthful' since the 16th century." The usage panel, whom I imagine as masked nobles meeting in a secret room, seems amused by the claims of the "healthful" camp.

"Healthy food" isn't wrong; neither is "healthful food." Use the one you prefer and ignore naysayers. As with most style choices, be consistent so that you don't confuse your readers. Personally, I agree with Fowler that "healthful" sounds awkward. Besides, who wants to remember another usage rule when the default word choice is fine?

Note: Thanks to Shuna for letting me use her post as a springboard for discussion.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A Rare Convergence of Hobbies

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Some of you know that alongside my passion for food and wine, I have a deep-seated love for puzzles of all shapes and sizes. So you can imagine my excitement when I learned that Hanayama, one of Japan's best commercial puzzle producers, has partnered with the chocolate company Meiji Seika to produce chocolate polyonimo puzzles. (The fact that I can also enthuse about several Japanese artisanal puzzle makers should tell you something about my other hobby.) I have a plastic polyonimo "chocolate bar" puzzle somewhere in my collection of mechanical puzzles, but not one with a famous Japanese chocolate maker's name on the label.

via Josh

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Parsnips on SFist

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Photo by Melissa Schneider.
Parsnips are one of my favorite root vegetables, so I was happy to find some at the market just in time for my SFist column.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

May 24: C & Z Day

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Within three hours, three beautiful women whispered to me that Clotilde Dusoulier, who publishes a food blog you may have heard of, will be visiting Cody's Books on May 24 to promote her first cookbook. I'll remind you again as the date gets closer, but I know many of you in food-blog-land draw inspiration from the most famous Parisian food blogger, and I'm sure you'll want to give her a warm welcome.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

The Perfect Guide to Choosing Wine

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For those who like tongue and cheek, see Todd Levin's guide to choosing wine.

When the waiter arrives with your wine, you'll obviously need to remind him that his station is beneath you by barking demands while he pours, like, "Keep it coming, Robespierre," or, "Don't forget that I can buy and sell you, you miserable cur." Then, when your server has completed the pour, it is customary to raise your hand as if to strike his face.

via Phil

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Hard-To-Make Mint Chip Ice Cream

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Photo by Melissa Schneider.

Melissa and I don't always agree on the ice cream flavors that should go into the Glace-A-Tron 6000, but mint chip sits high in each of our pantheons of favorite combinations.

My go-to ice cream book, Cook's Illustrated's old How to Make Ice Cream, has a recipe for mint chip ice cream: Make the normal custard base and add crème de menthe and chocolate chips. The easy instructions produce a better version of the supermarket staple.

Where's the fun in that? I wanted to depart from the standard and produce an ice cream alive with the taste of fresh mint and chock full of flavorful chocolate.

In my first batch, I plucked mint leaves from a thick bundle of stems, placed them into a plastic bag, and pounded them with a meat mallet to bruise the leaves and release the oils. I placed the leaves into the milk and cream and proceeded to make the ice cream, leaving the mint in the custard as it chilled overnight. This simple technique created a minty ice cream, but the long steeping time also pulled out earthy, vegetal components from the leaves. These were less welcome flavors.

For the second batch, I bruised the leaves as before, placed them into a pot with the milk and cream, and brought the liquid to a boil. I turned off the heat, let the pot cool to room temperature, and then brought the liquid to a boil once again. I let it cool to room temperature again, strained out the mint leaves, and used the infused milk and cream for making the ice cream. This double-infusion process takes much longer, but the final ice cream had a fresh mint flavor with just a tiny hint of the vegetal character that I disliked the week before.

Parallel to my mint experiments, I toyed with the chocolate chips. Don't tell anyone, but I've become a chocolate snob. I turned up my nose at the bags of Nestle chips in the store and bemoaned the death of Scharffen Berger's "Chocolate Chunks" product, morsels of chocolate that didn't catch on in time to justify the expense of making them.

I decided to make my own version of this bygone product. I melted down bittersweet Scharffen Berger bars, re-tempered the chocolate (poorly, I might add), and spread it into a wide, thin strip. Once it cooled, I chopped the slab into small chunks and added them to the ice cream as it finished churning. This worked well, and I used the leftover chunks to make chocolate chip cookies. David Lebovitz, spying Melissa's picture and her description of my efforts, commented that I probably didn't need to temper the chocolate. I didn't need to worry about a higher melting point for ice cream-bound chips, he pointed out, and the untempered chocolate would be softer in texture and flavor. I tried the straightforward melt-and-cool technique for my second batch of ice cream, and I decided that David was right. I like the perverse idea of an impossibly difficult mint chip ice cream, but these chips were a better fit for the ice cream.

Wine Notes
I don't like to serve wine with ice cream. By the time the cold has numbed your taste buds and the cream and egg yolks have coated your tongue with an impenetrable shield of fat, any subtlety in the wine has disappeared. What To Drink With What You Eat has an entry for ice cream in general, and of the listings, Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venice, a Southern Rhône dessert wine, makes the most sense. It has an assertive flavor that will stand up to the taste-numbing aspects of ice cream, and its acidity can combat the fat coating your tongue.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Home-Cured Olives

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Photo by Melissa Schneider.

An olive grove sits across one border of the orange farm my family owns, gray-green spiderwebs facing dark green puffs across a wide stretch of light tan dirt. Once, when I was "helping" with farmwork—a ten-year-old riding in the trailer and staying out of the way—my grandfather asked if I had ever tried an olive fresh from the tree. When I said no, he stopped the tractor pulling the flatbed trailer and urged me to pluck one from the neighbor's grove to my left.

Eating a raw olive is a once-in-a-lifetime event; you will never want to repeat it.

The uncured fruit has a bitterness that burns into your memory as it sucks the feeling from your mouth. But just as some distant, desperate eater once found their way to the heart of an artichoke, another learned that if you soak the olive in repeated changes of cold water, you wash away the harsh compounds and produce a bite-size morsel heavy with the taste of earth and grass.

Last December, I spied raw olives at Oakland's Market Hall and decided to cure them of their bitterness. Several of the books in my food and wine library offer instructions for brining olives, but the technique in Simple French Food doesn't use lye, which I didn't have at hand. Richard Olney's Provençal olive-curing recipe suggests that you crack the olives lightly with a mallet, cover them in cold water, and then drain and replenish that water every day for ten days. Finally, you create a simple hot brine (1/4 cup salt per quart of water) that covers the olives as well as the fennel fronds and garlic cloves you add for flavor.

Wait two weeks, says Olney, and enjoy.

Wait even longer, say I, and then enjoy. Two weeks after I placed the olives into the brine, they still tasted horrible. Not as bad as raw olives, but bad enough to trigger that long-ago memory of my grandfather's cruel trick. I worried the cure hadn't worked, but I decided to check the olives again a few weeks later. Olney had placed the olives in his cellar, and I thought my colder refrigerator had slowed down the leaching process.

Last week, the olives were transformed. They had a young, green, olive taste that you rarely find in commercial versions, with hints of garlic and fennel from the brine. Perhaps a touch of the original bitterness, but no more than that.

Of course, the state's olive harvest has already gone to the press or the canning factory, but if you spy some uncured olives next winter, pick up a pound or two and cure them yourself. And when you've eaten through your batch, use the brine for cookiecrumb's olive-pickled eggs.

Wine Notes
These olives make perfect lunchtime snacks or pre-dinner appetizers, and thus you want to serve them with a light, refreshing white wine that whets the appetite and doesn't overwhelm any wine that might follow. Because of the Provençal seasoning, I'm sure Olney would have urged a white or rosé wine from France's Bandol region. In fact, any similar wine from Provence or northwestern Italy would work just as well.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Around The Web

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Melissa and I were away for the long weekend, and we find ourselves catching up with a few interesting pieces.

Dan Barber wrote an in-depth op-ed piece for the New York Times that articulates many of the problems with our current agricultural system. Unfortunately, he uses taste as the lead-in to his many useful points. A cry for flavor smacks of food snobbery to many, even if he's right that small farms and local distribution networks make for better-tasting ingredients. Most people in the country don't know or don't remember that non-industrial food tastes better. When factories have placed uninteresting eggs into every store in the country, who knows about small-farm eggs? Food snobs and those lucky enough to live in an area where they can buy that level of food.

Food and Wine magazine offers advice on cooking locally, if you live in California or Vermont. I don't envy a national magazine that has to cover local eating, since by definition readers' options will be different in different parts of the country. Still, it's always nice to see the topic brought to national attention, and the article does offer some insights for the locavore in winter.

Chow provides a primer on the cutting-edge science used in famous kitchens. The writer even knows to warn you away from the term "molecular gastronomy."

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Bone Marrow Dumplings in Consommé

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Marrow dumplings in consommé
Photo by Melissa Schneider.

I still remember the first time I made bone marrow dumplings, an idea from the Austrio-Hungarian cookbook East of Paris. I forgot to add eggs to bind the dumpling mixture, and the pretty balls of bread crumbs and bone marrow disintegrated into the consommé I had made, transforming the crystal-clear liquid into a muddy broth.

When I spotted marrow bones at Prather Ranch's farmers' market stall, I decided to climb back on that horse, even if the bones came from a cow. I bought two packages and scraped the pink, chalk-like substance from one set of frozen bones before placing them in the stockpot. The second set awaits an ogreish feast of marrow-sucking straight from roasted bones.

The dumplings came together quickly. I sliced stale bread into cubes, sautéed them in butter, and puréed the croutons in my food processor. I added the bone marrow, the eggs—don't forget the eggs—and seasoned with minced carrot tops, pepper, and salt. The thick paste looked promising, but I decided to cook the dumplings in salted water instead of the consommé, just in case.

When you poach dumplings, kitchen wisdom says to remove them from the water shortly after they float to the surface, buoyed aloft by the steam of vaporized water inside the dough's air pockets. These dumplings sprang to the top of the pot in 20 seconds or so, hinting at the airiness we later noticed as they melted on our tongue in a warm explosion. The marrow added richness to the morsels, and the lightly cooked celery and carrots added crunch. Cheddar cheese melted on toast rounded out our simple evening meal.

Wine Notes
It's hard to pair soup with wine, because the subtle flavors disappear under the onslaught of sensations that wine provides: acidity, tannins, and aromas. But this dish, with its meaty consommé, crisp vegetables, rich marrow dumplings, and toasted cheese side, can stand up for itself as long as the wine is restrained. In this case, the dish has such a strong tie to a European culture—Austria—that I looked for regional wines that have evolved alongside the cuisine. I chose a Burgenland Blaufränckish. It was a lean wine, not lush, with its own subtle flavors. Low alcohol kept the wine light, so it wouldn't overpower the soup, which I tarted up with red wine vinegar to give it a touch of acidity.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

WTN: 2005 Hook & Ladder Winery, "The Tillerman," Russian River Valley

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"Real musicians have day jobs," read a bumper sticker I once saw. So do many wine makers, who squeeze their vinous passion around the edges of a full-time job like carry-on luggage in an overhead bin.

Cecil De Loach managed that packing problem with room to spare. While he worked for the San Francisco Fire Department, he founded De Loach Vineyards, which eventually produced 250,000 cases of wine a year. He presided over the Sonoma County Vintners Co-operative along with a number of other organizations, and he sat on the Board of Directors for the Wine Institute.

No one seems to have told De Loach that he can slow down now that he's retired from the fire department and has sold the megawinery that still bears his name. He started Hook & Ladder Winery in 2004 to spotlight his Russian River vineyards, and he runs it with careful attention to sustainable practices.

The 2005 Tillerman White, a mix of grapes from across De Loach's holdings, is a reasonably balanced, friendly fruit salad of a wine, lush with aromas of tropical fruit, apples, and strawberries. I also found Swiss cheese and tiny hints of caramel and smoke in the swirl of scents from the glass. Flavors of pineapple, the light taste of unripe peaches, and a bit of pine lingered for a medium finish. The alcohol was a bit out of balance, with a little heat on the finish and an acidity that turned bitter as it lingered. Drink this wine young.

Food Pairing
This wine's weight suggests either a heavy fish or poultry as a protein. Its midlevel acidity could cut through a light cream sauce but would suffer in the face of a vinaigrette or salsa. The current of tropical flavors, not atypical for California Chardonnay, makes me think of a coconut-cream sauce. Alternately, you could pound out the chicken breasts, slather them with goat cheese, roll the meat, tie it, bake it, and then serve slices of the cooked roulade on a couscous mixed with apples and raisins.

I received this wine as a sample.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Catherine Finishes Writing About My Class

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Catherine's been posting tasting notes from my Wines of Germany and Eastern Europe class. She posted about the last two classes, Hungary and Croatia, Romania, and Slovenia. I found a moderate amount of wines from these regions, some good and some less so.

There's still time to sign up for my Spring class, Fundamentals of Wine II (note that you don't need to take Fundamental I first). It'll be a fun course, so buy a seat for yourself and 15 of your closest friends.

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Positive Study Results? Check the Funder.

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HealthDay has an article about a study of studies. When beverage companies fund a study, the results are more likely to come down in the beverage's favor.

Shocking, I know. But it's worth remembering when you see scientific studies trumpeting the health benefits of your favorite beverage.

In 1993, Stephen Jay Gould wrote an essay entitled "Cordelia's Dilemma" describing the aversion to publishing negative results. Few scientists put forth a hypothesis and then publish results that don't support it. At best, they silently discard the results, ensuring that other scientists have to duplicate their work. At worst, they run the experiment until the results support the hypothesis, and then they publish those results. You don't see the 99 other trials that failed. It's easy to see how a corporate funder could create a "Cordelia's Dilemma" for a research team.

via BodyHack

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Spit Like A Pro

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A co-worker pointed me toward this Slate article about professional wine-spitting technique. I am not a great spitter, but I can feel Steinberger's piece tugging at my obsessive streak.

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Vinegar-Braised Pork Shoulder

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Until you taste it, there is little to recommend vinegar-braised pork shoulder. The steam from the pot, heavy with acetic acid, burns the eyes of the cook who checks on it. And stews rarely allow for pretty presentation.

But after two hours of slow cooking, the harshness has disappeared and the ingredients are transformed. The pork, stoic to the end, at last sighs and mingles its juices with the vinegar. Sweet tomato paste blunts the acidic bite. What's left is fork-tender pork swimming in a tart, complex, brick-red liquid. "An instant hit," declared Melissa.

I first saw the dish in The Art of Eating #68, which you can still order if you'd like the full recipe. That issue included Ed's inspiring article about making red-wine vinegar alongside recipes that used it. Despite the three-day preparation time, it would be hard to find a simpler dish. Rub the pork shoulder in salt; let sit for 24 hours. Marinate the meat for 24 hours with spices and a mix of vinegar and water—I used 1 cup of red wine vinegar and 3 cups of water, but you might choose 2 cups of each if you use a commercial vinegar, which has lower acidity and less flavor than homemade versions. Cut pork into big chunks and lightly simmer them in half of the marinade (diluted with an equal amount of water) in a partially-covered pot until the meat falls apart with little effort, about two hours. Add a dollop of good tomato paste about an hour into the cooking.

Ed suggests serving the broth in one course and the meat in the next, but I combined them into a single dish perfect for a winter evening. Lay stale bread onto the bottom of a bowl, top with rosemary roasted root vegetables and the cubes of braised meat, and ladle the liquid into the bowl. The bread will soak up some of the broth and become soft and flavorful.

Serve a tart, fruity red wine alongside the stew. A Beaujolais (not Nouveau), a light Pinot Noir, or a Blaufränckish should all work. Don't bother with the Da Vinci Chianti Classico Riserva, which I received as a sample and tasted that evening. The best I can say about the wine is that it's inoffensive and mediocre.

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Varietal Is The Spice Of Life

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When I started writing about wine professionally, an editor corrected my use of "varietal" as a noun, preferring "variety" instead. My computer's dictionary also considers "varietal" to be an adjective and not a noun.

But it's not hard to find the noun in the wine press. Farmers grow this or that varietal. Wine makers blend varietals to create a wine. I recently saw an example of the usage, and wondered about its evolution.

I wrote to Harvey Steiman at Wine Spectator, asking if the magazine allowed the noun and when it gained acceptance in the style guide. He answered with an explicit definition for the noun, one backed by Merriam-Webster and The Oxford Companion To Wine, which I think most writers forget: "A varietal wine is named after the predominant grape variety used to make it." If your local winery bottles a wine and calls it "Pinot Noir," then the wine itself is a varietal. It's not made from the Pinot Noir varietal.

But a bottle of red Burgundy, made with Pinot Noir, is not a varietal because the grape's name isn't on the label. It's the marketing of the wine that matters, not the ingredients. German wines and their kin are often varietals, and I suppose blanc de blancs transforms a bottle of Champagne into an all-Chardonnay varietal.

And of the generic usage, The Oxford Companion To Wine snaps, "The word is increasingly misused in place of vine variety."

When did the noun appear? Merriam-Webster dates it to 1950, but without a citation, while the Oxford English Dictionary lists John Storm's 1955 Invitation To Wines as the earliest instance. No matter who first moved "varietal" from an adjective to a noun, nobody argues about who brought the term to the public's ear. In the 1950s, says Steiman, The New Yorker ran articles in which wine expert Frank Schoonmaker "encouraged California wineries to quit marketing their better wines as 'Burgundy' and 'Chablis' and instead market them as 'varietals'." The argument was only new to the general public: He was saying what Maynard Amerine of UC Davis had said to California vintners since the 1930s.

Five decades later, that advice has split the world of wine. American and other New World consumers want to know the grapes in the bottle. If the wine isn't a varietal, we expect to find, somewhere on the label, the percentages of each grape in the blend. Meanwhile, France's wines have suffered in part because New World consumers who define their tastes by grape variety struggle when faced with most French labels. Wine drinkers who love Sauvignon Blanc don't want to learn that Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé will provide them with their favorite grape.

Be careful, then, when you change an adjective into a noun. You might just change the world.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Book Review: Food Is Culture

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Insightful nuggets speckle the slim book Food Is Cuisine, an extended essay by Massimo Montanari. You'll find yourself giving a mental hmm several times in each chapter of this tiny volume by the noted Bolognese professor of medieval history and the history of food.

"Why does one eat cheese with pears and melon with prosciutto?" asks Montanari. He argues that these pairings come to us from medieval Europe's medical theory about four "humors"—hot and cold, wet and dry—that existed in every person and needed to be kept in balance. Healthy people had to eat humor-balanced food so as to not disrupt their own internal equilibrium. Healers thus suggested offsetting moist fruit with dry ham or cheese. Cooks were to use "wet" techniques on old, and thus "dry," animals, much as we boil or braise tough meats today.

And maybe our globalized food chain is more human than our desire for seasonal produce. Farmers have always bred for extended seasons; merchants have always created trade routes to bring fresh produce from far-off lands. Today we follow the same ideals, but our technology lets us push our boundaries around the globe and the calendar. Those of us who want to eat seasonally are the ones bucking tradition.

Fans of The Omnivore's Dilemma will appreciate Montanari's attempts to fill in the connection between culture and food. Michael Pollan uses his book's introduction to describe the way culture—"a fancy word for mom," he famously says—dictates our tastes; Montanari explores this topic in-depth throughout the chapters.

What a shame, then, that these treasures are buried in muddy academic prose such as this: "Because the language of food, unlike verbal language, cannot be left out of the concreteness of the object, nor of the intrinsic, in some way predetermined, semantic value of the means of communication." I know that large words and lumbering sentences are the weapons of academic jousting, but they make a tough slog for the average reader. The book seems to want to be in two worlds, but fails to succeed in either. On one hand, Food Is Cuisine would be a thought-provoking essay by a knowledgeable historian, but its academic prose will turn off most bookstore browsers. On the other hand, Food Is Cuisine would be a solid academic work, but its short sections and lack of citations will turn off most professors and students.

This book was sent to me as a review copy.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Not (Really) About Food: Source Code for MFH Raffle Program

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If you want to make sure I'm not rigging the Menu For Hope raffle, you can see the source code for the raffle program here. As I say in that post, pulling a random name from the list isn't hard; parsing the comments everyone left, however, proved challenging, though my program did a better job than I expected.

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Go Forth and Vote

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This year's nominations for the Food Blog Awards have arrived at the Well Fed network. Go vote for your favorites or learn about new blogs you haven't seen before now. There are a lot of great sites mentioned, and you can probably kill a day or two looking through them.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Foie Gras Without Force-Feeding?

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In a post at The Ethicurean, I noticed a link to an article describing a Spanish foie gras that received the Coup de Coeur award for innovation at the Paris International Food Salon.

The surprise here isn't the country of origin: Spain, like Belgium, produces a small amount of foie gras. Look instead to the farmer's technique.

The producer claims he made the foie gras without force-feeding the birds, relying on their tendency to bulk up for migration. If he's got the real thing, he would be the savior of the foie gras industry. Animal activists focus on the force-feeding; take it away, and their argument disappears. Of course I felt the urge to comment.

It's always been possible to produce high-fat livers without force-feeding the birds through gavage (using a tube to feed the birds, a practice that dates back to Roman times). But consumers have never accepted the product as foie gras. Well, not for a couple hundred years. I note that the article doesn't mention how the innovate foie gras tastes next to traditional foie gras.

Geese, which Pateria de Sousa uses, might adapt to "free range foie" more than ducks would. Geese sometimes eat more on their own than they get in a foie gras feeding, though they don't sustain that eating habit as long as gavage lasts.

But geese cause headaches for foie gras producers. You can't artificially inseminate them, so a farmer can only sell fresh foie gras during the winter season, when Spring's goslings have come of age. And they stress more readily than ducks. When the stoic Mulard breed came on the scene in the 1970s, it transformed the industry overnight. Fifty years ago, 90 per cent of the birds for foie gras were geese. Today, only 20 per cent are.

I'm skeptical of the Sousa product; if it were that simple to produce good foie gras without force-feeding, someone would have done it. As I say, non-force-fed foie gras is the Holy Grail, and everyone's looking for it. Still, if anyone has more information, I'd love to hear it.

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Cheese Fondue on SFist

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Photo by Melissa Schneider.
And what more does one need to say, really? It's the perfect season for warm, liquid cheese, and I decided to sing its praises for my column at SFist. Click through. You know you can't resist.


Winter's deep chill has arrived, and you can expect it to stay here for a few months. Forget salads for dinner; our bodies need food that coats our bellies and warms our hearts. And few dishes heat us like cheese fondue, the perfect dish with which to greet cold friends coming to your home for dinner.

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Engineering Mad Cow Out Of Cows

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File this under "Two wrongs don't make a right." Scientists have announced that they've genetically engineered cows to be resistant to mad cow disease, according to Wired's Bodyhack blog. The prions behind the brain-wasting illness didn't take hold in the engineered cows.

The company that did the work isn't interested in cows destined for beef, and the results are still early, but how long do you think we'll have to wait until the government approves GMO cows as a solution to mad cow disease, itself a by-product of our industrialized agriculture and our demand for cheap meat? GMO will become the new irradiation, applying a Band-Aid to a problem instead of dodging the injury in the first place.

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