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Posts Tagged ‘Food

“The thought of two thousand people crunching celery at the same time horrified me”*…


Eliminating meat from our diets would bring a bounty of benefits to the planet’s health and to our own – but, a quick transition would not be without its costs: it could harm millions of people…

People become vegetarians for a variety of reasons. Some do it to alleviate animal suffering, others because they want to pursue a healthier lifestyle. Still others are fans of sustainability or wish to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

No matter how much their carnivorous friends might deny it, vegetarians have a point: cutting out meat delivers multiple benefits. And the more who make the switch, the more those perks would manifest on a global scale.

But if everyone became a committed vegetarian, there would be serious drawbacks for millions, if not billions, of people.

“It’s a tale of two worlds, really,” says Andrew Jarvis of Colombia’s International Centre for Tropical Agriculture. “In developed countries, vegetarianism would bring all sorts of environmental and health benefits. But in developing countries there would be negative effects in terms of poverty.”…

More at “What would happen if the world suddenly went vegetarian?

* George Bernard Shaw (vegetarian)


As we opt for the vegiburger, we might recall that, for all our sins, to day is National Sausage Pizza Day. While pizza dates back (at least) to the ancient Greek custom of covering bread with oils, herbs and cheese (in Byzantine Greek, the dish was spelled πίτα (pita)meaning “pie”), pizza-as-we-know-it seems to have been born in modern Italy as Neapolitan flatbread.  An estimated 3 billion pizzas are sold in the U.S. every year, an average of 350 per second; 17% of all restaurants in the U.S. are pizzerias, more than 10% of which are in New York City. [source]



Written by LW

October 11, 2016 at 1:01 am

“These pretzels are making me thirsty!”*…


Today, pretzels are a humble food. Simply, salty, and greasy, they are a fixture at ball parks and airports across America.

But back in the day—like way back in the day, before baseball—pretzels were the food of royalty. By all accounts, the first pretzel goes all the way back to the 6th century, either to France, Italy, or Germany.

And while the country of origin remains unclear, the first image of the pretzel makes it pretty clear that it was a important food, reserved for the fanciest and most lavish of parties.

Consider the scene above, from the Hortus deliciarum.

Look at how Queen Esther and King Ahasuerus are presiding over this v v lit Biblical party; their table is filled with fish, fancy cutlery, and a solitary, salty, badass pretzel.

The Hortus deliciarum is an illustrated encyclopedia (the first to be compiled by a woman) from the 12th century containing the first known depiction of the pretzel. It gives us a glimpse into the cultural weight once occupied by everyone’s favorite baseball food.

Its coveted place next to fish in this religious painting is no accident. The folds are supposedly meant to symbolize hands in prayer, and the three holes are the Holy Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—it was basically the most Christian food that humans could conceive of. Apparently, they were even hidden from children in an early incarnation of the Easter egg hunt

More on both the spiritual and the more earthly significance of the salted treat at “The History of the Pretzel Is Mad Twisted.”

* Jerry Seinfeld


As we contemplate contortion, we might send sweet birthday greetings to Otto Y. Schnering; he was born on this date in 1891.  Widely known as the “U.S. Candy Bar King,” Schnering harnessed his personal sales skills and understanding of advertising and marketing to build the Curtiss Candy Company in Chicago and the post–World War I United States chocolate candy industry into modern, successful enterprises.  Schnering’s first confectionery creation (in 1916) was Kandy Kake, refashioned in 1921 as the log-shaped Baby Ruth (allegedly named after President Grover Cleveland’s daughter Ruth); his second, the chocolate-covered peanut butter crunch Butterfinger (1926).



Written by LW

October 9, 2016 at 1:01 am

“An army marches on its stomach”*…


From Steve1989 MREinfo (“I will eat just about anything!”), a collection of over 70 videos unpacking military meals, from World War II to the present, and from services all over the world.

[TotH to @rebeccaonion]

* Napoleon


As we dig in, we might send birthday greetings in oyster sauce to Joyce Chen; she was born on this date in 1917.  A chef, restauranteur, author, television personality, and entrepreneur, she parlayed a successful Cambridge, MA restaurant (where she’s credited with creating the “all you can eat Chinese buffet” to perk up slow Tuesdays and Wednesdays) into a collection of restaurants, a cooking school, a series of cookbooks, and a PBS series (shot on the same set as Julia Child’s show).  She is credited with popularizing northern-style Chinese cuisine in America.  Chen was honored in 2014 (along with Julia Child) as one of the five chefs featured on a series of U.S. postage stamps.



Written by LW

September 14, 2016 at 1:01 am

“Some days I feel like playing it smooth. Some days I feel like playing it like a waffle iron.”*…


If you’ve been paying attention to breakfast in the past 15 years or so, you might have noticed something: waffles have gotten thicker and thicker. Stockier waffles with deep syrup pockets, often topped with fruit or Nutella or mountains of whipped cream, are the new norm. They’re what men with beards are handing you out of food truck windows, and what servers are plopping down in front of you at brunch. Today, in most diners and restaurants and those omnipresent hipster comfort-food places, if you order a waffle, it’s gonna be Belgian…

Waffles, like pancakes, have been in America for centuries. Thomas Jefferson allegedly brought the waffle iron to America from France. In the early 20th century, waffles were thin and flat, a wartime breakfast that spared frills. Skinny waffles were successfully mass-marketed to the public when three California brothers debuted frozen Eggo waffles in the ’50s. (Kellogg’s purchased the company in 1968.)

But even during the peak of Eggo popularity, a taste for a thicker waffle was percolating in America. Belgium natives Maurice and Rose Vermersch first served up thick, chewy waffles, known originally as Brussels waffles, at the 1964 World’s Fair in Queens. The waffles were such a hit at the fair that the Vermerschs simplified the name, deciding that the majority of Americans wouldn’t know where Brussels was. And from there, a craze was born…

The whole enchilada at: “The Tyranny of Belgian Waffles.”

* Raymond Chandler, Trouble Is My Business


As we reach for the syrup, we might spare a thought for Curnonsky (Maurice Edmond Sailland); he died on this date in 1956.  (The name “Curnonsky” comes from the Latin cur + non “why not?” plus the Russian suffix -sky, as all things Russian were in vogue in 1895, when he coined it.)

An author who got his start as a ghostwriter for ‘Willy‘, Colette‘s husband, Curnonsky became France’s “Prince of Gastronomy,” the country’s most celebrated food and wine writer in the 20th century.  He wrote or ghost-wrote over 65 books and enormous numbers of newspaper columns. He is often considered the inventor of gastronomic motor-tourism as popularized by Michelin– he named the company’s mascot Bibendum and wrote Michelin’s weekly column “Les Lundis de Michelin” in Le Journal— though he himself could not drive. His “title,” “Prince-elu de la Gastronomie,” was awarded in a 1927 Paris-Soir poll of 3,000 French chefs, and has never been given since.  Curnonsky died by falling out of the window of his apartment. He was dieting at the time, and it is speculated that he had fainted.

Curnonsky (left) with his friend, Dr. Robine



Written by LW

July 22, 2016 at 1:01 am

“As a child my family’s menu consisted of two choices: take it or leave it”*…



From Open Table, a handy illustrated glossary of restaurant terms: Decode your menu.

* Buddy Hackett


As we order with conviction, we might send tasty birthday greetings to Lafcadio Hearn; he was born on this date in 1850.  Also known also by the Japanese name Koizumi Yakumo, he was an international writer, known best for his books about Japan, especially his collections of Japanese legends and ghost stories (e.g., Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things).  But Hearn should surely also be celebrated for La Cuisine Créole (1885), his collection of recipes from leading chefs and noted Creole housewives who helped make New Orleans famous for its cuisine– widely-agreed to have been the first Creole cookbook.

440px-Lafcadio_Hearn_portrait source



Written by LW

June 27, 2016 at 1:01 am

“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings”*…


Deb Fallows, who (with her husband Jim) is driving the American Futures project (which readers can– and should– follow here), has just posted a fascinating piece on the way that the local food movement, often assumed to be a (privileged) feature of upscale urban life, is taking hold and changing prospects in the rural U.S.– specifically, in a remote desert town with very modest financial resources, and with a long history of the health problems that arise from poor nutrition.

Ajo, Arizona, the small desert community we have visited several times and written about for American Futures, offers something unique: a thriving local agriculture and food movement in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. For starters, conditions are about as challenging as you can imagine: desert temperatures with freezes in the winter and 110 degrees in the summer; poor soil with low organic and microbial content, high alkalinity and caliche (a natural cement); and four inches of rainfall annually, often arriving in downpours.

Undeterred, the active Ajo community pooled their energy and opportunities to build an intricate, cooperative network around food. Cooperating together in this town of only a few thousand people are the school, the clinic, local gardeners, the farmers’ market, local restaurants, the town’s grocery store, student interns, adult volunteers, the food bank, the CSA, and the anchor of the Sonoran Desert Conference Center, with its spaces for gardens, a chicken coop, celebratory events, teaching and demonstration space, and a newly-finished commercial kitchen…

Read the full story– important and heartening– at “Farming in the Desert.”

* Masanobu Fukuoka


As we tend our gardens, we might send cultivating birthday greetings to Peter Henderson; he was born on this date in 1822.  An immigrant from Scotland, he settled in New Jersey, where he became a market gardener, florist, seedsman, and prolific author, publishing best-selling books like Gardening for Profit and Practical Floriculture.  The Henderson Seed Co., which he founded in 1847, operated until 1953… for all of which he is widely known as “the Father of America Horticulture.”



Written by LW

June 9, 2016 at 1:01 am

“The secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside”*…


From the always-illuminating folks at Dangerous Minds:

It’s arguably the greatest LP gatefold image of all time: the drool-inducing food porn Mexican spread from the inner fold of ZZ Top’s 1973 Tres Hombres album. Only Coven’s Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reap Souls comes close to matching it’s exemplary use of the medium, but as far as gatefold images go, it’s hard to top THE TOP.

In what is destined to be the the greatest short film of 2016, Austin chef Thomas Micklethwait lovingly re-creates this enviable meal and proceeds to eat the shit out of it.

As someone who has often dreamt of being at that fabled table, all I can say is kudos to the chef for allowing me to live vicariously through him and yet not have to experience the following day’s Afterburner tribute.

Fans of ZZ Top or grande burritos, take note:

email readers click here for video

* Mark Twain


As we settle in for Concussion Fest 50, we might recall that today is Pork Rind Appreciation Day.



Written by LW

February 7, 2016 at 1:01 am

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