Food For The Ages

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Cole Wilson for The New York Times

Shoutout to our food friends in Ithaca, among other places and to all the back to the land folks who make our food better in terms of both taste and ecology:

The Hippies Have Won (the Plate, at Least)

By

The current food mood may also be a reaction to the more exhausting aspects of life in the digital era.

“It’s a weird mixture of technology and palo santo” — iPhones and incense — said the chef Gerardo Gonzalez, suggesting that people who live online may be moved to seek out the restorative properties of natural foods. “You’re constantly in this thing that’s not reality, and eating food can be the most real act you can partake in.”

It’s Moosewood’s world. We’re just eating in it.

Consider granola: The word used to be a derogatory term. Now it’s a supermarket category worth nearly $2 billion a year. Kombucha was something your art teacher might have made in her basement. The company GT’s Kombucha brews more than a million bottles annually and sells many of them at Walmart and Safeway. And almond milk? You can add it to your drink at 15,000 Starbucks locations for 60 cents.

Just as yoga and meditation have gone mainstream (and let’s not get started on designer Birkenstocks), so have ideas and products surrounding health, wellness and eating that play like a flashback to the early 1970s.

Co-op staples of that time — the miso, tahini, dates, seeds, turmeric and ginger that were absorbed from other cultures and populated the Moosewood restaurant cookbooks — now make appearances at some of the most innovative restaurants in the country, where menus are built around vegetables and heritage grains. Vegetarianism and veganism are on the rise; and kale, the bacon of the clean-eating moment, is now routinely heaped on salad plates across the land.

The hippies may not have won the election, but they are winning the plate. (Or rather, the bowl.)

“The counterculture is always ahead of what’s happening in mainstream culture,” said Peter Meehan, the editorial director of Lucky Peach magazine. “It’s as true in any creative field as it is in food.”

Deborah Madison, the author and chef who made vegetarian cooking sophisticated with her 1987 cookbook, “Greens,” has seen this food before: She cooked it in the 1960s and ’70s, as one of “a growing number of people who were trying to cook differently from our parents,” she said.

“Our intentions were good,” Ms. Madison continued. “We were using wholesome foods in contrast to our mothers’ new reliance on cake mixes, white flour, TV dinners and that sort of thing.”

The problem, she said, was that her generation didn’t know much about cooking.

“What we cooked was very much on the stodgy side,” she said. “Today the same foods are now seen as interesting and delicious and worth eating. We can appreciate their flavors, textures and general possibilities because we — that is, the big collective we know so much more about cooking foods of all kinds.”

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At Destroyer, the chef Jordan Kahn incorporates elements like puffed rice and pickled mushrooms into his visually arresting cooking. Credit Oriana Koren for The New York Times

The current food mood may also be a reaction to the more exhausting aspects of life in the digital era.

“It’s a weird mixture of technology and palo santo” — iPhones and incense — said the chef Gerardo Gonzalez, suggesting that people who live online may be moved to seek out the restorative properties of natural foods. “You’re constantly in this thing that’s not reality, and eating food can be the most real act you can partake in.”…

Read the whole story here.

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