In these isolated times, people…

In these isolated times, people yearn to break bread with neighbors. Communal tables are all the rage at Bay Area restaurants. Though the article points to NYC's Asia de Cuba as the trendsetter, I can't say communal tables are all the rage here. Of course, most tables are packed so close together in Manhattan that it seems like you're sitting with the folks next to you anyway.

Photo by Peter Menzel…

ecuadorian_family.jpg
Photo by Peter Menzel

What’s on family dinner tables in fifteen different homes around the globe? From the new book “The Hungry Planet” by photographer Peter Menzel. The above photo shows a week’s worth of food for an Ecuadorian family in Tingo. A fascinating look not just at how much people eat, but what they eat. The processed food in some diets is incredible, especially in contrast with the above photo. [via Jason]

On a fruit shortcake bender

Freshly picked strawberries at my grandparents' house
Delicious berries awaiting conversion to strawberry shortcake.

Prompted by a tasty looking quart of strawberries I picked up at the Greenmarket on Saturday, I've been eating shortcakes with various fruit. Saturday evening I made my favorite shortcake recipe (Shortcakes for strawberries and other fruit) and had two biscuits worth of strawberries and whipped cream. I garnished with some fresh basil and that added a delightful touch. Sunday I had biscuits left, but no more strawberries, due to my greedy eating Saturday. So I took some frozen wild blueberries (usually reserved for pancakes and smoothies), thawed them and tossed them with a bit of sugar. What do you know?! Blueberry shortcake (this time garnished with fresh mint) is pretty tasty too.

So last night I was going to use some frozen peaches I had, but then I spied some California peaches in the market that seemed soft and smelled pretty good. Alas, they didn't have much flavor, even after maceration with sugar and basil for an hour. My third batch of shortcakes was a bust. The biscuits had gotten too soft and mushy, the peaches were flavorless (reminding me again why I only buy local fruit in season), and the whipped cream was good. You can't screw up whipped cream, can you?

I think I may be on the verge of a shortcake bender though. It was so good (and healthy, right? All that fruit, and the calcium from the cream?) and easy and tasty. I want some kind of fruit and shortcake dessert every night!

More sausage makers less bakers

We need more investment bankers becoming butchers and sausage makers. I think we have enough cupcake bakers in this country. Ed Levine on the demise of family-run artisanal food shops and the rise in cupcake baking. "Every time we lose a sausage maker, a bread baker, or a mozzarella maker, we lose a little piece of our food heart and soul, our gustatory generosity of spirit. Those are precious commodities in our culture, and we should do everything we can to preserve them."

I agree, but I don't see it happening. The thing with baking cupcakes is, it's easy. You don't need to spend years learning to do it, you don't even need to go to culinary school to make cupcakes. And you can get away with selling mediocre cupcakes that people will still adore simply because they're sweet and better than store-bought. But to be a butcher? Or a sausage maker? That's so much more work, and it's not cute and pink and fun. It's back-breaking and bloody and dangerous.

The let’s-wait-in-long-lines-for-a-cupcake trend has arrived…

Photo from the New York TimesThe let’s-wait-in-long-lines-for-a-cupcake trend has arrived in the West Coast. Cupcake shops are popping up all over Los Angeles, with many folks quitting their white-color jobs to open bakeries, even without food service experience. I can't say I love cupcakes enough to want to see anymore of this trend. Ice cream and pies are my passions, though shortcake (strawberry, blueberry) are high on my list these days too.