Looks like mangoes have been reunited with sticks. To translate: the mango on a stick vendor is back on her corner at 14th Street and University. I've walked by a million times but never gotten one, which is odd given my love of mangoes. This just might be the year to try one out! These mango flowers, as I call them, were always for sale in the streets in Mexico when I lived there. But that was before I loved mangoes.
I’ve always found graphics of animals that are explicitly related to their consumption both disturbing and amusing (e.g. this post from last fall of a cow explaining cuts of beef), so I was totally psyched to find the blog Suicide Food. “Suicide Food is any depiction of animals that act as though they wish to be consumed. Suicide Food actively participates in or celebrates its own demise.” Just like this French poster you can see here of a pig slicing himself into delicious saucisson, or sausage. The site has lots of great graphics of cows happily being sliced into steaks and pigs slathering themselves in BBQ sauce. [via The Ethicurean]
FDA Was Aware of Dangers To Food. The recent spinach and peanut butter e. coli outbreaks, and the pet food contamination, have led the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee to hold a hearing on food safety. "Congressional critics and consumer advocates said both episodes show that the agency is incapable of adequately protecting the safety of the food supply." [via The Ethicurean]
Several folks have emailed, wondering what's happening with my Best chocolate chip cookie search. It's been a month since I asked for recipes, so you could assume I've made quite a bit of progress. Or at least made one of the recipes. But the truth is, I haven't made a single batch of cookies yet! I know I know, at this rate it will take me close to two years to try all the recipes submitted by readers. But I'm on top of it now, and have been organizing the recipes for tasting. I'll post more about it in the next couple days, and will kick off the testing in earnest. Really. I promise! 🙂
Menu Pages launched blogs awhile back, and ever since I've had my eye on their Menu Pages Boston blog. Enough time has now passed that I can safely say it's a good read for Bostonians interested in local food happenings. I've been reading it to stay plugged in to my hometown's culinary culture, and would find it really useful if I actually lived there.
Producers in the United States and Europe have been trying to find ways to make foie gras that will overcome the objections of those who see their work as an act of cruelty. The New York Times looks at alternatives to force-feeding geese and ducks to make foie gras, including an approach that simply allows the animals as much food as they want prior to their migratory season. Alas, the self-gorging technique doesn't seem to yield the same results as force-feeding the animals.
By changing their approach to product, aren't producers acknowledging that force-feeding is inhumane? And isn't that the crux of the issue, whether the animals suffer during the process? One side says they do, the other says they don't. If producers are changing how they make foie gras, it seems like they're saying the "animals suffer" argument is correct. And that doesn't bode well for the future of foie gras.
After learning last week that boiling freezer bags is not recommended, I decided to do a little more research about polyethylene plastic, the main "ingredient" in plastic bags. Low density polyethylene is used not just for freezer bags, but also for vacuum sealing bags (like FoodSaver). So I suspect that whatever type of plastic bags professional chefs are using for their sous vide, they are likely made of polyethylene.
And as it turns out, polyethylene melts. Above 115°C, the polymer changes from a clear solid to a relatively low-viscosity melt. It's hard to figure out the exact melting point for plastic bags because there are many different types of polyethylene (high density, low density, linear low density, etc.) but all seem to melt around the boiling point of water (100°C, 212°F), and some below it.
Even if you think your food will cook well below the melting point, there's still the issue of transference: molecules of the chemicals in the plastic can leach into the food or beverage. These chemicals are added to the plastic during the manufacturing process and some studies have shown they can find their ways into our bodies, especially when heated. So not only is sous vide potentially bad (either the poor man's version or the rich man's), but reheating that lasagna in the Tupperware isn't so great either.
Where does that leave us? Laying off all kinds of sous vide preparations, and migrating home storage containers from plastic to glass, or another inert material. Or just hoping that a little plastic does the body good.
I realized recently that two years ago this month, I was in Paris. So I was looking back through my Flickr photo collection of my April in Paris and longing for the food I ate. Moules Frites (mussels and french fries) is one of my favorite things in the whole world, whether in France or in the US. I think I'd like a neon "Moules Frites" sign in my house, just like the one in the above photo.
The FDA is considering a change to the definition of 'chocolate.' "Their plan is to change the basic formula of chocolate in order to use vegetable fat substitutes in place of cocoa butter, and to use milk substitutes in the place of nutritionally superior milk." The result? A crappier product that can be labeled 'chocolate.' You can fight the change in the chocolate standard by sharing your comments with the FDA until April 25. [thanks Shannon!]