Posts Tagged ‘Food’
Because of the way foods are mass harvested, factory processed and packaged in the States, the FDA has to allow food companies to include a certain number of “defects” in the final products. The term “defects,” is code for the inclusion of “foreign matter” in canned and packaged foods, including insects, insect parts, rodent hairs, larvae, rodent poop, mammal poop, bone material, mold, rust, and cigarette butts. These “defects” are not dangerous in the quantities they’re allowed, the FDA says, but still: what was that about ignorance and bliss?..
From the “20 maggots ‘of any size’ and 75 mites, per 100 grams” permitted in canned mushrooms to the “30 or more fly eggs per 100 grams” allowed in tomato sauce, “What Defects the FDA Allows in 11 Types of Food.”
[As a bonus (if that’s not a perverse way of putting it), “The 20 Unhealthiest Foods on the Planet.”]
* H.L. Mencken
As we eat a peach, we might send a basketful for birthday greetings to Clarence Saunders; he was born on this ate in 1881. A Memphis grocer, he developed the the modern retail sales model of self service– he received U.S. Patent #1,242,872 for a “Self Serving Store”– and thus had a massive influence on the development of the modern supermarket. His Memphis store grew into the Piggly Wiggly chain, which is still in operation.
“Do you know what I miss most about baseball? The pine tar, the resin, the grass, the dirt — and that’s just in the hot dogs”*…
When Tamar Adler decided to hand-make hot dogs for a summer wedding party, she had no idea what she was getting herself into…
The extraordinary tale in its entirety at “How the Sausage Is Made: A Look Inside the World of Bespoke Hot Dogs.”
* David Letterman (during the baseball strike)
As we relish relish, we might recall that it was on this date in 1810 that Peter Durand was granted a patent (No. 3372) by King George for the preservation of food in metal (and glass and pottery) containers– the tin can. Durand was acting as an agent for his friend, the French inventor Nicolas Appert, who had won 12,000 francs from the French military for devising a method of storing food. Sometimes called “the father of canning,” Appert actually used sealed glass jars to preserve food. Durand switched to metal.
Molasses made from heirloom watermelons, Chez Panisse’s “Masumoto peach,” acorn-fed pork charcuterie: rescuing the lost ingredients and flavors that animated the world’s cuisines, and their culinary masterpieces– an argument for adding food to the cultural canon.
* George Bernard Shaw
As we go loco for locavore, we might recall that it was on this date in 1929 that a 350 pound black bear served himself at a Duluth, Minnesota coffee shop…
Arvid Peterson was driving down London road at 26th Avenue East when he noticed a large black bear sauntering along behind his vehicle. Arvid was on his way to deliver fresh North Shore fish to a Duluth warehouse. The bear was obviously impressed with the smells coming from the back of his truck. Assuming the bear would tire soon leave and not follow, Arvid paid no more attention to the him until he arrived at the corner of Superior Street and Third Avenue East when he turned up the hill next to the Hotel Duluth, and realized that the bear had followed him over a mile.
When the animal smelled the wonderful odors coming from the coffee shop in the Hotel Duluth Coffee Shop, he rose up on his hind feet and looked around as if greatly confused. He then walked over to the coffee shop and with one mighty blow of its paw, it smashed a fifteen foot tall plate glass window. Glass flew in every direction. The bear dropped to all fours and rushed through the window to the center of the coffee shop. A local drunk, wandering the streets in a stupor, saw the whole episode. For some unknown reason he had a hammer with him and he leaped through the broken window after the bear. Screaming and waving the hammer he first chased the bear, then stood there in a Mexican standoff with this monster of the big game.
Upon hearing the shattering glass, and the drunk’s shouting, the night watchman, Albert Nelson, went to see what had happened. At first he guessed that an automobile had crashed through a window, or perhaps that there had been a kitchen explosion but when he arrived he was amazed at the sight of the huge black bear standing in the middle of the floor. He then ran to get the night clerk and the assistant manager, who called the police.The coffee shop had an upper level which Nelson entered by a side door. Taking note of the two short stairways leading to the mezzanine from the main floor, he realized that he had to protect himself in some way so he set to piling tables and chairs at the top of the stairs as barricades.
The bear was not idle during this time. Pursued by the drunk waving the hammer, he first attacked one stairway and then the other but Nelson beat him off each time by throwing chairs and tables down each stairway adding to the bearicades.This battle went on for some time, during which the guests of the hotel, aroused by the commotion, congregated in the lobby and passersby on the streets started to gather at the windows. Soon there were large crowds watching the action both from the lobby of the hotel and from the street.The crowd that grew larger and larger, pressing in on the coffee shop was estimated to be up to 300 curious people. With each new charge of the bear the onlookers surged back a few steps, only to press in again when the bear retreated. All the while the madman with the hammer continued his relentless pursuit.
At this point Sergeant Eli Le Beau and Patrolman John Hagen arrived. In an effort to capture the wild beast they obtained a length of rope which they made into a noose. Entering the coffee shop they began pushing tables and chairs towards the bear in an ever tightening circle. After several attempts to lasso the animal, they moved the circle closer until they were certain to succeed. One has to ask just how smart it is to corner a hungry bear? Just as they were ready to throw the rope around his head, the bear lunged backward attacking the stairway once more. Smashing chairs and tables he appeared to be breaking his way toward Nelson when Sergeant Le Beau hoisted his rifle to his shoulder and fired a well placed round into the animal’s head.In mortal agony the bear raised up on its hind legs, stood wobbly for a moment, then fell down the stairs to the floor below. The crowd moved in closer, surrounding the dead bear. Silence reigned. The magnificent animal was later sent to a local taxidermist and for many years was displayed in the front window of the “Black Bear Lounge” in the hotel. Presently it is on display in the main dining room of the original Grandma’s Saloon & Grill in Canal Park, Duluth. [source]
This afternoon [May 30], the Center for Genomic Gastronomy and I [Nicola Twilley] will be offering New Yorkers a chance to taste aeroir, with a side-by-side tasting of air from different cities. With the support of the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York, we have spent the past few months designing and fabricating a smog-tasting cart, complete with built-in smog chamber, as well as developing a range of synthetic smog recipes.
Having made its debut at a meeting of the World Health Organization in Geneva a fortnight ago, the cart will be stationed on Rivington Street, just off the Bowery, from noon to six today. We will be serving up free smog meringues from three different locations as part of the New Museum’s IDEAS CITY street festival.
The cart builds on an earlier project by the Center for Genomic Gastronomy. In 2011, after reading that an egg foam is ninety-percent air in Harold McGee’s bible of culinary chemistry, On Food and Cooking, the Center took whisks, mixing bowls, and egg whites out onto the streets of Bangalore, using the structural properties of meringue batter to harvest air pollution in order to taste and compare smog from different locations around the city…
Get a taste of the place at “Smog Meringues.”
* “Fog and smog should not be confused and are easily separated by color. Fog is about the color of the insides of an old split wet summer cottage mattress; smog is the color and consistency of a wet potato chip soaked in a motorman’s glove.” – Chuck Jones
As we hold our noses, we might that it was on this date in 1878 that James Dewar exhibited liquid air (obtained at a temperature of -192ºC) at the Royal Institution in London. A distinguished chemist and physicist (Dewar was an expert on the liquefaction of the “permanent gases,” conducting his work at temperatures approaching absolute zero), he is probably best remembered as the inventor, in 1892, of the “Dewar flask,” a vacuum-insulated vessel that can keep liquids at hot or cold temperatures for long periods. The first commercial vacuum flasks were made in 1904 by a German company, Thermos GmbH, which patented Dewar’s work (as he had not). Dewar sued to recover his invention, but lost. “Thermos” remains a registered trademark in some countries; but– in a 1963 decision that sent chills down spines at Kleenex (Kimberley-Clark) and Xerox– it was declared a genericized trademark in the US, since it has come to be synonymous with vacuum flasks in general.
As your correspondent flies home from the land of lobster rolls, a consideration of the food preferences that set us, state by state, apart…
Every state in the U.S. has a unique flavor, from Chicken Cheesesteak to Chinese Chicken Salad. Foursquare analyzed the data to pinpoint which food or drink is most disproportionately popular in each destination, and worked with Mapbox to create [this] dynamic map…
More at “America’s Most Popular Tastes.”
* Julia Child
As we place our orders, we might recall that it was on this date in 1892 that the Lea & Perrins label was trademarked. First sold in 1838 by John Wheeley Lea and William Henry Perrins, dispensing chemists from Broad Street, Worcester, “Worcestershire Sauce” remains a staple condiment.
While Duke Ellington is rightly revered as the extraordinary musician and composer that he was, he was known among his friends almost as prominently for his appetites. As frequent sideman Tricky Sam Nanton said, “he’s a genius, all right, but Jesus, how he eats!”
Ellington was happy to share his gourmand enthusiasms. In a 1944 interview (recounted in Lapham’s Quarterly) he reminisces…
There’s a place in Chicago, the Southway Hotel, that’s got the best cinnamon rolls and the best filet mignon in the world. Then there’s Ivy Anderson’s chicken shack in Los Angeles, where they have hot biscuits with honey and very fine chicken-liver omelets. In New Orleans there’s gumbo filé. I like it so well that I always take a pail of it out with me when I leave. In New York I send over to the Turf Restaurant at Forty-ninth and Broadway a couple of times a week to get their broiled lamb chops. I guess I’m a little freakish with lamb chops. I prefer to eat them in the dressing room, where I have plenty of room and can really let myself go. In Washington, at Harrison’s, they have deviled crab and Virginia ham. They’re terrific things. On the Île-de-France, when we went to Europe, they had the best crêpes Suzette in the world, and it took a dozen at a time to satisfy me. The Café Royal, in the Hague, has the best hors d’oeuvres in the world—eighty-five different kinds, and it takes a long time to eat some of each. There’s a place in Paris that has the best octopus soup. And oh, my, the smorgasbord in Sweden! At Old Orchard Beach, Maine, I got the reputation of eating more hot dogs than any man in America. A Mrs. Wagner there makes a toasted bun that’s the best of its kind in America. She has a toasted bun, then a slice of onion, then a hamburger, then a tomato, then melted cheese, then another hamburger, then a slice of onion, more cheese, more tomato, and then the other side of the bun. Her hot dogs have two dogs to a bun. I ate thirty-two one night…
* Duke Ellington
As we Take the A Train, we might recall that it was on this date in 1937 that the first animated-cartoon electric sign display in the U.S. was lit by its designer, Douglas Leigh, on the front of a building on Broadway in Times Square. It used 2,000 bulbs, and its four-minute show included a cavorting horse a ball tossing cats. Leigh, who went on to design such famous billboards as the Eight O’Clock Coffee sign (with a coffee pot that was, literally, steaming) and the Camel Cigarette sign (that blew smoke rings), became know as “The Man Who Lit Up New York.” While his signs are now gone, his lighting of the Empire State Building (Leigh was also a pioneer in the illumination of city skylines and buildings) survives; and his large illuminated snowflake is still hung at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street every holiday season.
“Eclecticism is the degree zero of contemporary general culture: one listens to reggae, watches a western, eats McDonald’s food for lunch and local cuisine for dinner”*…
Say it aloud: Chef Jacques La Merde
What do you get when you cross fast food with fine dining? A brilliant new Instagram account that marries tongue-in-cheek humor with kitchen slang. Chef Jacques Lamerde— a pseudonym for a chef familiar with New Nordic plating techniques — has a penchant for fast junk food and crazy-cool flavor combinations. The chef’s tagline is “small portions | tweezered everything,” but it’s the image descriptions that have us laughing out loud. “Hay-baked Hot Pockets with Hidden Valley Bacon Ranch spheres and a puree of Zoodles” anyone? What would René Redzepi [the king of Nordic cuisine] say?…
As we tuck in our napkins, we might recall that it was on this date in 1531 that Richard Roose (or Rouse), the cook in the household of John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, was boiled to death after being convicted of high treason. It was claimed that Roose had poisoned a porridge (or pottage) served to Fisher and his guests on 18th February 1531. All who ate it became ill, and two people died. King Henry VIII enacted a special law decreeing Roose– who argued that he’d added a purgative to the dish “as a jest”– be boiled alive for the offense. Henry’s decree, with death by boiling as punishment for poisoning, remained on the law books in England until 1863; at least one other person was stewed under its provisions.