Megnut

Hot food is hot right now, and the trend's not cooling off. "While spicy is the in flavor right now, many say teriyaki may be the next big flavor. And, lavender and orange-lemon are developing a following."

Not By Bread Alone is the online version of a 2002 gastronomy exhibit from the Division of Rare & Manuscript Collections at Cornell. It "highlights rare books, photographs, menus, and other early documents that trace the history of gastronomy in America." One of my favorites is this temperance poster about alcoholism and degeneration.

If you want to kill some time, join this debate on whose cuisine is better: San Francisco or New York? It's a hard comparison to make because the areas are so different but if I were forced to chose, I'd say New York should take it. [via A Full Belly]

AH takes on sports drinks and the idea that sugary drinks are healthy. I drink a fair amount of Gatorade, it's about the only processed sugary thing I drink. But I also run nearly every day, and I enjoy Gatorade during and after long (8+ miles) runs. So I can't say I agree with what she's written, at least not entirely.

Everything's local with Fed Ex

I finally listened to the Food Philosophy podcast with Thomas Keller yesterday and I've been mulling over one thing chef Keller said ever since. He said everything can be local now with overnight delivery, and so local needs to be redefined in the modern era. Fresh butter from Maine can be "local" in Napa the next day.

When we talk about eating local, we're actually conflating two different concepts in the term "local:" freshness (Keller uses the term "quality of product") and environmental responsibility. With freshness, the idea is that the closer your food is produced, the sooner it's available to you to eat. It can be picked closer to or at peak ripeness because it doesn't need to endure a week of travel to arrive at its destination. Asparagus cut the evening before can be on your plate for lunch, and that tastes better than asparagus that's a week old.

With environmental responsibility, proponents of this strain of localism argue that it's wasteful to ship asparagus thousands of miles from Chile to New York, or ship carrots across the United States from California to the east coast. It consumes a tremendous amount of fossil fuels and contributes to pollution. If you eat asparagus when it's in season from New Jersey, you cut out nearly the entire long trip that green has to make to your table.

(I think there's also a subtle third philosophy buried in local eating as well, an idea that this is just "right", that you should be eating food in season from close by because that's the way it's always been done. It's an almost luddite rejection of our modern agricultural system and an embracement of the old ways.)

When Keller says we need to redefine local, he's admits he's talking only about the freshness/quality philosophy, and he acknowledges in the podcast that he's not talking about the environmental/moral issues. For someone who has the luxury of procuring the best ingredients, even if it means an overnight shipment of butter from Maine to Napa, it's easy to want to redefine local. But for the rest of us who rely on the supermarket distribution system for our food (as opposed to direct relationships with producers and a FedEx account), local is still all about getting great food because of its geographic proximity. Local is still very much about being, well, local!

As the high season approaches and farmer's markets around the country begin to fill up with summer's bounty, now is the time to embrace local eating. The heirloom tomato, the strawberries, the sweet corn, perhaps we could ship these things from California overnight. But there's something about eating an ear of corn that was grown on Nantucket while you're on Nantucket that just feels right to me.

From last summer, The New York Diet: what five of us ate in a week, down to the last peanut-butter-dipped celery stick. I thought the bachelor's diet was bad, then I read the teen's. I think I'm going to record my food diary for a week and see what I really eat. I feel like it's pretty healthy compared to what I'm reading in here, but I'm not so sure.

A bit more information on fizzy fruit

In my write-up of my meal at Moto I mentioned how much "I loved the fizzy fruit and thought this was one of Cantu's best inventions." I received an email today correcting me:

Hi Just a note to say that it was great that you liked the Fizzy Fruit, but I would like you to know that Fizzy Fruit was not invented by Cantu but by Dr Galen Kaufman who is the founder The Fizzy Fruit Company. Fizzy Fruit was developed by Galen in partnership with the Food Innovation Center of the Oregon State University. The Fizzy Fruit Company is dedicated to making fruit more fun to eat for kids and through its partnership with Sodexho starting in December 2005 is already serving Fizzy Fruit to kids in over 15 states of the US. Cantu is a big fan of the company and would readily acknowledge the true inventorship

I did not know this, and I'm glad Adam wrote to clear up my misconception. What's also funny is that I had no idea it was called "fizzy fruit," that's just the best description I could come up with. The menu called it simply "fruit salsa" (though the menu was spare on descriptions). But Fizzy Fruit is a company and they are distributing it in schools. Just what I'd hoped for. Very cool.

A day in the life of a New York City sous chef, part of New York magazine's series of diaries of what New Yorkers are doing.

If you live in Florida, you may soon be able to dine with your dog. "Gov. Jeb Bush came to Orlando Friday to sign a bill into law that will allow dogs to dine at restaurants with their owners if the cities say it's okay." Who would have thought Florida aspired to be so much like France?

This recipe for lavender and lemon brined pork roast sounds delicious. I'm a huge fan of brining so I think next time I get some grass-fed pork from the Greenmarket, I'll try this out.

Behind the Laboratory Door is a too short look at El Bulli's Taller, the restaurant's laboratory. "For six months of the year, the staff gathers here to research and plan the next year’s menu, a deliberate, step-by-step process that takes the menu from theory to reality."

Mushrooms may soon be able to satisfy humans' need for vitamin D, and lots more about mushrooms over at the Fanatic Cook.

Knife rules: Know your music when using knives. "Well-known compilations, where you're singing the opening bars of the next track before the last has finished, are absolutely fine but anything involving the word 'random' has no place in the kitchen."

Yesterday's New York Times Magazine has three good articles. In Dining by Satellite, Mark Bittman writes "[b]etting on name-brand restaurants with absentee chefs is often a gamble that doesn't pay off." Michael Ruhlman looks at an agent for chefs in The Secret Ingredient. And my man Michael Pollan finally has something that's not Times Select with Mass Natural, about Wal-Mart going organic. Whoa!

B&W film photos of a meal at the French Laundry. It gives you a different perspective on the food and on the kitchen when you see it without the color. [via Sam]

Fresh, local and growing: A trend in buying food produced nearby. "[T]hose fighting in the trenches for local food say it will thrive in the long run only if it is economically sustainable for businesses that can get products to the right place at the right time."

Yesterday I wondered if it was OK to eat bluefish. According to the Seafood Watch, it's not. Though they list it as 'good' they go on to mention that "Environmental Defense has issued a health advisory for Bluefish due to high levels of PCBs, mercury and pesticides" and link to the report saying it's not safe for anyone to eat it. Co-Op America says no more than once a month because of toxin levels.

I know bluefish eat smaller fish and are oily, both factors that can lead to concentrations of chemicals in their flesh. But they're small, so I was hopeful that would cancel things out somehow. I guess not. Boo hoo, no bluefish for me this summer.

When did it become the defining characteristic of a culinary genius that he must be a foul-mouthed yahoo with psychopathic tendencies and a hair-trigger? That's a good question.

A little life update

Over at the New Yorker, Rebecca Mead revisits You've Got Blog and our lives since then.

A history of farmers markets from the Los Angeles Times. It was interesting to learn that farmers markets started in LA as a way to get produce to people who didn't have any. Supermarkets had fled the inner city, so farmers markets came in to take their place. At the Gardena market, "scrip for federal and state anti-hunger programs...accounts for as much as half of the market's sales." Using food stamps to buy produce at the farmers market sure undercuts the elitism charge leveled at people who buy fresh local food. I wonder if NYC's Greenmarkets accept stamps? [via Old Shaw Farm]

Update via email: "yes, food-stamp recipients can enroll in a greenmarket coupon program. i've seen people use them at the grand army plaza greenmarket." Awesome.

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