Category Archives: food

Today’s breakfast

One can think of eggs in many ways (including, in the case of my brother John, not at all), but this is one of my favorite breakfasts. No two iterations are the same, what with the variability in eggs, the heat of the pan, the attention paid to the magic moment for over-easying, the state of the toast… Nothing special, but mine own:

Apotheosis of Hen Fruit Apotheosis of Hen Fruit

…and sambal oelek and a touch of pepper, on pumpernickel:

Apotheosis of Hen Fruit

Thinking about food blogging

A recent correspondence thread has got me considering how I might blog about food (one of the realms of interest that I’ve developed ummmmm fully…), and so I’m sort of looking out for food-related material. A story in today’s Guardian on making sausages [by Tim Hayward] is worth a look if this sort of thing rings any personal bells [emphasis added, and don’t miss the Comments]:

The truly ideal way to cook a sausage is to poach it slowly sunk to its hips in a bath of olive oil but, failing that, massage each individually with oil first then slide them into an oiled pan and keep them rolling, on a low heat, for as long and as continuously as possible.

Trust me, even 25 minutes of gently rolling them back and forth, jostling their plumply greased little bodies against each other is not too long. As the skins change to a light tan, then begin to caramelise as the Maillard reaction takes place, you’ll find yourself shifting into the perfect meditative state to honour your sausage.

Vegetarian friends may gag at the very thought, but for those of us without qualms there’s something ineffable in the guilty pleasure of a well-turned sausage. Dunno that I care to put all that work into stuffing casings myself, but I wish I could lay my hands on the Julia Child “stuff it yourself” episode.

addendum

In spite of my cold-oatmeal attitudes toward Education and IT, I do continue to follow the doings of people whom I know to be On The Right Track, among whom I include Stephen Downes, Bryan Alexander, CogDog, GeekyMom, and Brian Lamb. The most recent posting at Abject Learning quotes Stephen Downes and is worth reading for itself, but it also echoes what I’m finding in John Thorne this morning:

I have written before –most specifically when recounting my wood-fired bread oven adventures– that I do not take instruction gladly. Push a book in my hand and tell me I just have to read it and chances are it will be a decade before I can bear to pick it up… Facts only interest me when they are pieces to a puzzle I have already decided to assemble, and I would rather find them after hours of rooting around in a junkyard than have them handed to me on a plate. (page 29, Mouth Wide Open)

Cooking, learning… pretty much the same Thing, innit?

It being Thanksgiving

OK, you know I’m an unrepentant foodie. Stuff like today’s EatingAsia is what I hope for when I fire up the computer each morning (and I affect not to like liver…). And I read about food all the time, too. So last night I had some time to kill at Borders (where I’d gone to grab a special on Joss Whedon’s Firefly, $20 for the whole series…), and I looked at all sorts of books without much in the way of frisson. But I had to have something to read while visiting Gelato Fiasco in Brunswick (a Wednesday evening ritual), and I just happened to be in the Food section, and what did I see but John Thorne’s Mouth Wide Open: A Cook and His Appetite, which I knew about but hadn’t bought/read yet… If John Thorne isn’t already on your List of Essentials, take a look at the Simple Cooking Website. I’m a long-time subscriber to his Newsletter. Anyway, Mouth Wide Open is as charming and mouth-watering as his other books, and his slightly asperitous take on the world of food is generally in accord with my own prejudices. A few examples from the Preface, to give you some reasons to get the book yourself:

More than anyone else, chefs know that there’s so much good food around these days that only a fool takes any of it seriously for longer than a moment. One’s eyes must always be fixed on the horizon for the appearance of the next best thing. Their recipes are a restless amalgam of many ingredients, looking for a combination potent enough to seize the eater’s fickle attention… (pg. xxvi)

…as chef culture continues to spread, my attitude toward it has turned me more and more into an outsider, uninterested in and out of touch with important changes in America’s culinary life. In other words, without really noticing it, I’ve become an old fossil. Maybe the time has come to stop staring, mouth agape, at the antics of Bobby Flay, Mario Batali, Emeril Lagasse, Anthony Bourdain and company –and to try to comprehend what my cooking aesthetic would be like if I found them a source of inspiration. (pg. xxvii)

These passages brought me up short and broadened my comprehension of why I read food books, as I substituted my own increasing distance from the frontiers of Education and IT which used to engage my attention. And this next is Good Advice, in both foodie and digital realms:

My own rule of thumb, for what it’s worth, is to try to eat moderately, graze widely –and, most importantly, let others volunteer to be the zeitgeist’s guinea pigs. (note, pg. xxix)

uborka szezon

My affection for gustatory exotica is, well, a byword. Among the food-oriented (or even -orientated) blogs I follow is Dumneazu: Ethnomusicological Eating East of Everywhere, and today’s posting, on half-sour pickles, would be wonderful even if it didn’t include this bit of lore:

Readers of this blog already know my attachment to Katz’s, the only place in the world where I would not think of complaining about paying $15 for a pastrami sandwich. The sandwich is really only a vehicle for the mustard and pickle. And the New York half-sour garlic pickle is the perfect food for the summer, hardly defined someplace between a raw veg and a salad. At Katz’s you should tip the counterman a dollar – he’ll cut your meat more generously, but more important, he’ll dump a half kilo of mixed pickles on a plate for you. It pays to tip your man at Katz’s.

Almost enough to entice me to New York. Not quite…

Who Knew? the Wet Pet Food Recall

Connoisseurs of the Baroque in the North American food system are surely slavering over the “pet food” scandal, but I have yet to see anybody commenting on the remarkable scale and concentration revealed. Here’s a bit of the San Jose Mercury News coverage:

The recall now covers dog food sold throughout North America under 51 brands and cat food sold under 40 brands, including Iams, Nutro and Eukanuba. The food was sold under both store and major brand labels at Wal-Mart, Kroger, Safeway and other large retailers. The recall covers the company’s “cuts and gravy” style food, which consists of chunks of meat in gravy, sold in cans and small foil pouches, from Dec. 3 to March 6…

So the North American market seems to run on what’s basically commodity pet food, despite the differences in labelling and price… and the Canadian Menu Foods seems to be a pretty big player. Here’s how investcom.com summarizes:

Menu Foods Income Fund is a limited purpose trust established to hold approx. 51% of the partnership units of Menu Foods L. P., which will, in turn, acquire all the securities and assets of Menu Foods Ltd. Menu is a leading North American manufacturer of private-label wet pet food products, selling its products to supermarket retailers, mass merchandisers, pet specialty retailers and other retail and wholesale outlets. Menu currently produces more than 800 million containers of wet pet food per year and is focused on the manufacture and sale of premium private-label wet pet food products.

I saw a news story this morning suggesting that the Problem was thought to be in the wheat gluten used as a “filler”, and snopes.com says that a Menu Foods spokesperson

…said that recalled products were made using wheat gluten purchased from a new supplier, a change that coincided with the onset of complaints about pet illnesses. Since discovering the problem, the company no longer uses that supplier and has instead turned to another source for its wheat gluten (but it is not yet known whether that ingredient was related to the reported pet illnesses).

I have yet to see a story about Senior Citizens made ill by eating pet food paté, but I’ll bet there will be one sometime soon…