Surprise Food Job: Food Myth Buster

“Imagine that you have been washed up on a desert island. There is fresh water available, but you can have only two other foods.” Paul Rozin, professor of psychology at The University of Pennsylvania, asked the following: “From this list, which would keep you going until help arrives: corn, alfalfa sprouts, hot dogs, spinach, peaches, bananas, or milk chocolate?”

The correct answer is hot dogs and milk chocolate. They come closest to providing a diet of survival.”

The researcher Anna Frost explains:

“While they may not be the best everyday diet in normal life, hot dogs and milk chocolate both contain fat, protein, and, in the case of the hot dogs, a better amino acid balance, which give a human sufficient nutrition to survive for a year. Foods like bananas and peaches lack these precious nutrients: they are primarily composed of carbohydrates, water, vitamins, and minerals, and constitute only part of a complete diet. The point of this question is not to prepare people to reenact Gilligan’s Island with a year’s supply of Hebrew National [hot dogs], but instead to consider how we stereotype foods as “good” or “bad.”

Food Job: Myth Buster

Sustainable Cuisine-Finding the Right Balance

I’ve been thinking a lot about the elements that characterize a sustainable cuisine but recognize the journey is never-ending because new aspects of the subject are constantly arising and offering fresh areas to explore.

Cattle at feedtrough  courtesy of vegantimes.org

Cattle at feedtrough courtesy of vegantimes.org

For instance, the thrilling news was announced that a group of microbiologists at Cornell University have found a way to wipe out the deadly E. Coli bacteria in cattle by the simple means of feeding the animals their natural food, hay, instead of the usual feedlot grain-based diet during the week before they go to slaughter. This is yet another proof of the value of taking a natural, sustainable approach to raising the food we eat. Continue reading

My NAME IS…

I just heard a politician say that he is reintroducing himself. (He had recently been released from prison.) “What a good idea!,” I thought.

I’ll do the same thing: the introducing part, not the prison bit.

To begin at the beginning, my name is not Ilona Chompers. It is Irena Chalmers.

I began my professional life as a British nurse and have been caring about the food and the people who eat it or need it for many years.

I’ve worked in and around restaurants, and recreational and professional cooking schools for what seems like forever. Continue reading

2013: The A-Z Food Year That Was

A

Airline food: There was no more pie in the sky. High in the clouds didn’t translate into haute (cuisine).

Amuse bouches were crafted to be picked up with our eyelashes. Mini morsels of oxtail perched on a sliver of sardine, topped with two petunia petals were presented as an itty bitty “gift” from the chef. A tasting menu in deed!

All socially responsible consumers and food companies hailed appetite for Fair Trade.

B

Bacon became the next sizzling fad. Bacon lipstick, bacon (de)oderant, bacon dental floss, bacon ice cream and other bizarre foolishnesses streaked along the highway of absurdity.

Bees buzzed off. Many feared there would be no more almond joy.

Broccoli was not adored properly. Continue reading

Goat Cheese Cheers

goat cheeseIt’s fair to say that New American Cuisine was based on charismatic goat cheese.

It is served warm, with a flourish of baby lettuces and rolled in fruitwood ash and floated upon sea-green virgin oil. It is sliced into medallions and garnished with nasturtium petals. It is topping fancy pizzas. It’s crumbled into pricey salads and mounded onto crisp baguette slices to accompany ultra-cool chardonnays and fumé blancs.

How odd it is that we swoon over this creamy, tangy cheese yet curl our lip at the notion of eating the meat of goat from whence it comes.

I’ve been wondering if the problem lies with the goat beards that are known as goatees?goat2

We have always been suspicious of beards, on account of their connection with intellectuals and other dangerous left-wing subversives.

Another clue to our disdain may stem from saddling them with the name “Billy Goat” and calling their offspring “Billy the Kid.”

Billy – and Tom – as in Tom Cat, implies a tendency toward night prowling and the kind of lascivious behavior that leads to such wanton tendencies as begetting.

Naturally, thoughts about ‘right and wrong’ made me think the image problem might have something to do with goat’s hooves, which you will have noticed, are cloven. This anatomical anomaly, coupled with the dreaded horns mounted on their heads, leads to worrisome comparison with the Devil, the Greek goat god Pan, satyrs and yet other symbols of bawdy naughtiness, that have largely fallen from favor in the current climate if modified Puritanism.

And, of course, we all remember the Bible’s forecast of the Last Judgment, during which we will be separated into sheep and goats, and receive our long-term assignments accordingly.

capricorn constellationThe probable origin of the phrase, “getting our goat,” is the French expression prendre le chèvre, meaning, “to take the milch goat,” which could well be a poor person’s sole source of food or livelihood.

Today the goat association would prefer we cease to think of a goat as a disagreeable small, horned ruminant animal and instead come to regard it in astrological terms as it pertains to the constellation of Capricorn.

Even so, I am pretty much convinced that goat meat could provide us with another fabulous fad to distract us from the hard economic times that threaten to engulf us.

The young superstar chefs are rapidly approaching middle age and urgently need to come up with something fresh to capture our attention.  They could offer us roasted goat with octopus salad or maybe fricassee of stir-fried goat haunch with smoky chipotle and Armagnac-infused dried plums–formerly known as prunes–or even goat tortellini with lemon grass and rhubarb crumble.

The possibilities are infinite. Imagine if the nutritionists teemed up with the advertisers. Pretty soon we would be urged to have ‘an oat with our goat’! And there is plenty of work for farm-to-table birthers, rearers, milkers and artisanal goat cheese makers too.

As I was thinking about goats, I had quite forgotten that goats are also the source of MOhaiR and CASH$mere, our softest, costliest wools. We could consider combining the MO   R with the CASH. When this item appeared on the menu, we would cry out with one voice:

“What we want is MO—R  CASH!”

 

 

 

Fries

French Fries (Photo by Robyn Lee, Serious Eats)

This is a short excerpt from “The Trouble with Fries” by Malcolm Gladwell that appeared in The New Yorker.

“We like [French] fries not in spite of the fact that they’re unhealthy but because of it.”

“That is sobering news for those interested in improving the American diet. For years, the nutrition movement in this country has made transparency one of its principal goals; it has assumed that the best way to help people improve their diets is to tell them precisely what’s in their food, to label certain foods good and certain foods bad. But transparency can backfire, because sometimes nothing is more deadly for our taste buds than the knowledge that what we are eating is good for us.”

By gum! He’s right. To my mind, Malcolm Gladwell has ascended to the pinnacle of original thinkers of our time…

Sign seen at a Zoo in Budapest: “Please do not feed the animals. If you have any suitable food, give it to the guard on duty.”