Scary Italian pulpo to eat

Pulpo photo by jimn
I've eaten my share of tentacled things, and normally I'm OK with the larger-than-bite-size calamari, or the round slice of calamari in Spain that's the size of an onion ring. I'm even OK with octopus, when it's around the size of calamari. But these pulpo, photographed by my friend Jim from his trip to Sicily, might be too much for me. His description: "These were scary and tasty." Scary is right.

Tom Colicchio is leaving Gramercy Tavern to focus on Craft and all the Craft derivatives (Craftbar, Craftsteak, ’Wichcraft, etc.) While I'm sure Colicchio hasn't been in the kitchen at GT in a very long time, I can't help but worry that something might change there anyway. Gramercy Tavern is one of my favorite restaurants, and eating in the Tavern room, whether with friends or just my husband, always makes for a wonderful evening. I really hope that continues to be true.

Last year, Pim made delicious french fries with horse fat. Wondering what made them so good, she wrote to Harold McGee for an answer. I am a fan of french fries, but something about the idea of horse fat turns my stomach a bit. I'm not sure I could knowingly eat them, never mind render the fat and prepare them myself.

A review of an interesting-sounding book on the history of vegetarianism. The Observer looks at The Bloodless Revolution: Radical Vegetarians and the Discovery of India by Tristram Stuart. (Note: book doesn't seem to be available at Amazon's US store at this time.) I never realized the long-standing historical relationship between vegetarianism and political activism. Could be a good read.

Diary of a Foodie is a delicious new public television series that looks at the world of food first.Gourmet's Ruth Reichl and her team of editors host the show (from what I can tell on the limited web site) and the series premiers October 7.

So, just how unethical is your supper? Not a list of what you'd suspect, and foie gras doesn't even appear.

The research makes it clear that when soy foods are consumed, traditional preparation methods...are best when it comes to our health. A useful look at the health benefits of fermented soy (traditionally found in Asian cuisine) versus the American approach of using only part of the soybean in packaged food and as a meat substitute, and rarely using fermented soy.

In defiance of the foie gras ban, which goes into effect today, Chicago restaurants that never serve foie gras offer it today.

Another look at helping children eat healthy lunch from author Eric Schlosser (of Fast Food Nation fame). Includes great suggestions and recipes for what to pack for lunch. Of course, there's no guarantee that what you pack will get eaten. My mom sent me to school with a piece of fruit every day for years before I ever ate one. I'll never forget the stench of the apple I left in my locker for a month back in second grade.

From the New York Times Magazine, a long article on attempts to improve school lunch. There's a lot in there I hadn't realized about how public school food is prepared (tons of government surplus food is used, for example, and the school system needs to basically run a break-even restaurant) and made me realize the challenge to improve the food children eat in school.

The August issue of Gourmet contained a food writing supplement and now they've supplemented the supplement with podcast interviews with the writers and subjects of those pieces. They're up to the 3rd episode already, an interview with Calvin Trillin.

A little Whole Foods confusion

A friend of mine headed to the Union Square Whole Foods recently for some meat. She was interested in getting grass-fed stuff, and I told her that I knew they had grass-fed lamb from New Zealand, but wasn't sure about the beef offerings. Later she reported back about her experience (after purchasing lamb steaks and some ground beef). She says the butcher kept insisting that the beef was grass-fed, saying "See, it says, 'organic,' which means 'grass-fed.'"

Note to Whole Foods butchers: Organic does not mean grass-fed. Some organic may be grass-fed, some grass-fed beef may be organic. But it's not the same thing. It's confusing enough to figure out what's going on with our food supply. You'd expect someone who's selling it to you to at least have an understanding about what the labels mean.

A designer wonders if the dials on stoves could be better designed. The proposed redesign makes sense but doesn't seem that practical to me. My stove has a little picture next to each dial demonstrating which burner it controls. After nearly ten months of constant use, I still have to check to make sure I'm lighting the correct one.

While I was in Minneapolis, I visited the Mill City museum (details about this great place over at my husband's site). In the gift shop, I spotted this retro apron from Bella Pamella. Even though I always use a plain white apron and have several of them, I wanted this. There's something so homey and cozy about it. I can just imagine wearing it as I take my roast goose out of the oven for Christmas dinner.

Mayonnaise turns 250 years old this summer and NPR has some information about its history. Also useful is the sidebar with information about whether mayo in the potato salad at the picnic will make everyone sick if it sits out for a while.

What makes a tomato an heirloom tomato? Barbara at Tigers & Strawberries has a nice post all about heirlooms.

I'm on something of a banana-eating roll lately. I'm trying to eat very healthful food these days, so I've added more fruit to my diet. Now I'm eating a banana a day and wondering why I didn't before. They're so easy to eat and yummy, full of carbs (which I do not eschew), vitamins A, B, and C, and they contain high levels of potassium. Also they have fiber, and most people don't get enough fiber. They're almost like the perfect food. So when I spotted this recipe for Chocolate-Covered Bananas, I thought, "Hmm...maybe I can add more bananas to my diet!" I know chocolate goes against the healthful claim above, but bittersweet chocolate is supposed to be good for you. So in some ways, by making a chocolate-covered banana, you're making an extra-healthy banana!

There's not a lot to report from my visit to America's heartland except this astounding fact: heirloom tomatoes are cheaper than regular tomatoes! The first night we were in Wisconsin, we went to the local farmer's market. One stand was selling both heirloom and regular tomatoes. The regulars were $2/lb and the heirlooms were $1/lb. $1 a pound! Can you believe it? At Union Square, they're between $4-5/lb, depending on the vendor. I guess they're cheaper than regulars because they're less popular out there. We took advantage of the price and bought a bunch for dinner the next night, and they were mighty tasty.

While I was away, Eater scored a picture of Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni. Funny, it's not how I imagined him looking at all. He looks like some 70s TV star, like maybe a buddy of the Six Million Dollar Man.

Update: Via email a reader points out that the photo of Bruni isn't much of a scoop. You can see it here on the HarperCollins website.

Bill Buford gushes about Harold McGee over at NPR. If you don't have McGee's On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen in your kitchen, you are missing a critical component of your food library. Every time I open it, I lose myself and just want to read forever. It's perfect for melding of my geeky side and my food side.

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