The Cheese Shop at Cato Corner Farm. Credit Sherry Peters for The New York Times
A brief history of the cheese-making craft in North America reveals a little-known fact about a domain where women rule:
The cheese maker Mark Gillman, of Cato Corner Farm, slices a wedge of Womanchego in the farm store. Credit Sherry Peters for The New York Times
…Second-wave pioneers taking back the land in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s included Judy Schad of Capriole Inc. in Greenville, Ind.; Laini Fondiller of Lazy Lady Farm in Westfield, Vt.; and Sue Conley and Peggy Smith of Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes Station, Calif.
Bearded Lady cheese from Prodigal Farm in Rougemont, N.C.
Last year Ms. Schad, 75, introduced Flora, named for her grandmother, who made cheese under less than ideal conditions on her back porch. It joined Piper’s Pyramide, inspired by Ms. Schad’s own first, redheaded granddaughter (“bright and spicy — just like her namesake!”); Sofia, for a longtime friend (“a queen at any age!”); and Julianna, after a Hungarian intern. “Beneath her wrinkly exterior lies a complexity not often found in such a young cheese,” reads Capriole’s description of the Wabash Cannonball, a popular, prizewinning cheese named for the folk song about a fictional train sung by Johnny Cash. Continue reading
Thanks to National Public Radio (USA) for bringing this to our attention:
Is It Insulting To Call This A ‘Hut’?
The complaints came in shortly after we ran a story on a government aid program that gave cash to the poor in Zambia. The piece included a profile of a young woman who, along with her husband, had used the money to start a business that had lifted their family to a level self-sufficiency they’d never enjoyed before.
Several readers — okay, just two, but still, it made us take note! — wrote to take issue with my use of the word “hut” to describe the family’s dwelling. Continue reading
What a great book, seriously.
When Cory Doctorow says it so simply, we take him at his word. Trendy, pretty shiny things can invoke laughter as well as wonder. As mentioned in yesterday’s post, there is plenty to laugh at in the growing obsessions with precious food, among other social phenomena; and Robin Sloan’s new book may be the best compilation, as this review in Mother Jones makes clear:
And here are our favorite Sourdough food trend send-ups:
1. Hipster bakers. Sourdough‘s protagonist Lois learns to bake after reading The Soul of Sourdough, written by a young baker, Everett Broom, “with a thick black beard below a face so clean and cherubic it made the beard appear glued on.” The bread bible recounts Broom’s “flameout as a professional skateboarder, his addiction to a home-cooked drug known as spaz rocks, and finally his retreat to a bread-baking shack on the beach.” Continue reading
The publisher’s blurb starts with an annoying claim, as if there is one chef better than all others in the world, that illustrates why foodie-ism is less and less linked to on this platform. Nonetheless, the book sounds worthy of attention:
Massimo Bottura, the world’s best chef, prepares extraordinary meals from ordinary and sometimes ‘wasted’ ingredients inspiring home chefs to eat well while living well.
‘These dishes could change the way we feed the world, because they can be cooked by anyone, anywhere, on any budget. To feed the planet, first you have to fight the waste’, Massimo Bottura
Bread is Gold is the first book to take a holistic look at the subject of food waste, presenting recipes for three-course meals from 45 of the world’s top chefs, including Daniel Humm, Mario Batali, René Redzepi, Alain Ducasse, Joan Roca, Enrique Olvera, Ferran & Albert Adrià and Virgilio Martínez. These recipes, which number more than 150, turn everyday ingredients into inspiring dishes that are delicious, economical, and easy to make.
We remember the genesis of this from a story by Adam Robb a couple of years ago:
The renovated Refettorio Ambrosiano in Milan’s Greco neighborhood will house a charity event organized by chef Massimo Bottura during Expo Milano 2015. Credit Adam Robb
Italy’s most progressive exhibition of sustainable cooking commences this Thursday, when the Michelin-starred chef Massimo Bottura throws open the doors of Refettorio Ambrosiano, the once-derelict theater repurposed to educate and feed the refugees and working poor who reside far across town from the multinational pavilions welcoming culinary tourists to this summer’s Expo Milano 2015. Continue reading
Thanks to Mandalit del Barco and the National Public Radio (USA) folks at the salt for this book review that has special resonance to those of us with immigrant street vendor heritage:
How many taco trucks do you know that not only have a cookbook but a theme song? Wes Avila’s Guerrilla Tacos truck does – and has once again made food critic Jonathan Gold’s influential list of favorite Los Angeles eateries.
Five years ago, Avila was working as a sous chef at a pop up restaurant called Le Comptoir. It was only open four days a week, and Avila says he wasn’t making enough money to cover his rent. So he bought a simple food cart. He used his last $167 on ingredients. Then he and a friend began selling tacos in the arts district in downtown Los Angeles without the required health department permits.
“We were kind of bending the law, not necessarily breaking the law. We had to move around so we wouldn’t get caught — you know, like guerrilla warfare,” Avila says. “That’s why we had that name, because we’d be in random alleys, random streets, being kind of renegade like that.” Continue reading
Search on the three words “seeds of change” on this platform and you will find dozens of stories dealing with topics like botanical hazard initiatives or innovative approaches to flora conservation and/or climate change and some of the radical plans made to prepare for it that we have linked to over the years. Type the same three words into your favorite search engine and the topics are much more diverse. The three words are also the name of an evolving exhibition, and the subject of an article that mixes art, academia and activism:
An exhibition using plants brought to New York in ships’ ballast illuminates the city’s hidden past using stinging nettle, milk thistle and amaranth. Continue reading
The British visionary Samuel Palmer drew “Oak Tree and Beech, Lullingstone Park,” ca. 1828, using pen and ink, graphite, and watercolor. Thaw Collection; The Morgan Library & Museum
We try not to judge a book by its cover, but if the sample above is any indication this looks like a show worth visiting:
From a study of drapery by a German artist circa 1480 to an Ellsworth Kelly collage from 1976, the collection is almost unbearably excellent.
The almost unbearably excellent show “Drawn to Greatness: Master Drawings from the Thaw Collection” begins with a love story. In 1954, the dealer Eugene Thaw—the son of a heating contractor and a high-school teacher, from Washington Heights—had a prescient assistant who suggested that he start buying art for himself. Continue reading
An African subject, for a second day in a row; thanks to Andrew McCarthy and the New York Times for this:
Both dams and overtourism threaten the Omo Valley. But a sustainable travel initiative offers an intimate experience with local peoples. Continue reading
A few months ago we saw this interview with James Suzman, but delayed linking it until we had an opportunity to get ahold of the book. Our interest was caught by his explanation for why the topic was important:
The author James Suzman.
…If we judge a civilization’s success by its endurance over time, then the Bushmen are the most successful society in human history. Their experience of modernity offers insight into many aspects of our lives, and clues as to how we might address some big sustainability questions for the future.
And then we neglected to post it until today, reminded about the book by the folks at National Public Radio (USA) in a new interview with the author on the same topic:
There’s an idea percolating up from the anthropology world that may make you rethink what makes you happy.
The idea is not new. It surfaced in the popular consciousness back in the late 1960s and helped to galvanize a growing environmental movement.
And now several books are bringing it back into the limelight.
The idea is simple: Perhaps the American and European way of living isn’t the pinnacle of human existence. Humanity hasn’t been marching — in a linear fashion — toward some promised land. Perhaps, Western society isn’t some magical state in which technology free us from the shackles of acquiring basic needs and allows us to maximize leisure and pleasure. Continue reading
A barbecued vegetable platter, top, with kale rib and carrot “brisket.” Beluga lentils, black rice and chimichurri broth, left, and a side of crisped smoked beef from Stemple Creek Ranch. Credit Preston Gannaway for The New York Times
Although not quite an example of “Model Mad“, this culinary entrepreneurial activism sends a message to both consumers and food industry colleagues alike.
Karen Leibowitz and Anthony Myint opened the Perennial in San Francisco last year with a clear mission in mind: Run an environmentally friendly restaurant with a minimal carbon footprint, and inspire other restaurateurs to do the same.
As [the current administration] has questioned the existence of climate change, Ms. Leibowitz and Mr. Myint have emerged as activists, at the forefront of a growing movement of chefs who not only recognize and measure the impact of their industry on the planet, but also look for new ways to undo the damage.
Mr. Myint and Ms. Leibowitz, who are married, have been immersed for the last few years in the research that directs every decision at the restaurant, like choosing the kitchen’s energy-efficient equipment and its raw ingredients, many of which are grown in ways that can regenerate the soil. Continue reading
Charles-Donatien paints and lacquers goose feathers in his studio. Photograph by Pari Dukovic for The New Yorker
The Style issue of the New Yorker is the least interesting of the year, from the perspective of these pages; and yet on occasion even in this one they deliver something we can mull over:
We’ve been dressing up as birds since the Stone Age. Eric Charles-Donatien has brought the craft of featherwork into the twenty-first century.
Not surprisingly Burkhard Bilger is the journalist who pulls this off. Our Bird Of The Day (365 times for seven years running) feature exposes us to feathers of such variety that we could not resist giving Mr. Bilger the benefit of the doubt on this one:
There is such a thing as too much beauty. So the stuffed bird on the counter seemed to be saying. It was a Himalayan monal, Lophophorus impejanus, Liberace of land fowl. Its head was emerald, its neck amber and gold, its back a phosphorescent violet that flared to a sunburst at the tail. A pouf of feathers jutted from its head like a tiny bouquet. Named for Lady Mary Impey, the wife of the Chief Justice of Bengal in the late seventeen-hundreds, it had a stout, ungainly body swaddled in bright plumes as if for an audience with the maharaja. It was a turkey that wanted to be a hummingbird. Continue reading
Yurok dance feather regalia in cedar boxes, at Dave Severns’s camp on the Yurok Indian reservation. Credit Talia Herman for The New York Times
As important as cultural conservation is to us it gets half as much attention in these pages as nature conservation (a matter of life and death), so we are more than happy to share stories like this one (thanks to Patricia Leigh Brown) when they land on our desk:
Dance feather regalia dry in the sand, made by Dave Severns, whose culture camp teaches young men a nearly forgotten art form. Credit Talia Herman for The New York Times
KLAMATH, Calif. — The gathering known simply as “Uncle Dave’s camp” begins at daybreak on the pebbled banks of the Klamath River, the age-old spruce and redwoods on the bluffs shrouded in mist.
Here on the Yurok Indian Reservation near the Oregon border, so remote that certain areas have yet to receive electricity, young male campers sit on cedar logs while keeping tabs on a river rock heated in a fire. The rock, hand-hollowed and chiseled with basketry patterns, contains a molten glue made from the dried air bladders of sturgeons. The syrupy concoction is a crucial ingredient for making feathered headdresses, hide quivers, obsidian-blade sticks and other forms of ceremonial dance ornaments, or regalia, that are at once works of art and living conduits to the spirit world. Continue reading
A life of hunting and gathering had advantages over one of farming and settlement. Illustration by Golden Cosmos
John Lanchester’s article, pondering technology versus science, gives fire its due in the course of reviewing a new book about how hunting and gathering gave way to progress. At the same time, Lanchester raises reasonable doubts about the gains:
…We don’t give the technology of fire enough credit, Scott suggests, because we don’t give our ancestors much credit for their ingenuity over the long period—ninety-five per cent of human history—during which most of our species were hunter-gatherers. “Why human fire as landscape architecture doesn’t register as it ought to in our historical accounts is perhaps that its effects were spread over hundreds of millennia and were accomplished by ‘precivilized’ peoples also known as ‘savages,’ ” Scott writes. Continue reading
Greenthread (Thelesperma) is a wild plant that thrives in the mid-summer heat of the American Southwest. This bunch is freshly cut, and waiting for rinsing and drying to make Navajo tea. Courtesy of Deborah Tsosie
Give yourself a few minutes for this story about the link between seasonal produce and cultural patrimony:
In the dusty red earth of eastern Arizona’s portion of the Navajo Nation, the main road stretches out beneath the massive white-cloud sky and rubs against barren, chalky mesas; sometimes it skirts the deep, dry crack of a canyon stubbled with sagebrush. Small fields of corn occasionally sprout up beside the road, the short stalks still far from ripe.
But away from the road, tucked beside lakebeds or the foot of a hillside, a mid-summer visitor will find bright yellow flowers beginning to open. They are the crowning blooms of a thin plant that can grow up to two feet tall and which thrives in the heat of this arid region. Called greenthread (Thelesperma), it is used to make Navajo “tea.”
A garland of greenthread. The dried bundles are brewed with sugar or honey. Courtesy of Ada Cowan
On September 25, 2017 the Berkley Center for New Media is presenting “World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech” that has our attention:
Franklin Foer reveals the existential threat posed by big tech and offers a toolkit to fight their pervasive influence. Elegantly tracing the intellectual history of computer science—from Descartes and the enlightenment to Alan Turing to Stuart Brand and the hippie origins of today’s Silicon Valley—Foer exposes the dark underpinnings of our most idealistic dreams for technology. The corporate ambitions of Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon, he argues, are trampling longstanding liberal values, especially intellectual property and privacy. This is a nascent stage in the total automation and homogenization of social, political, and intellectual life. By reclaiming our private authority over how we intellectually engage with the world, we have the power to stem the tide. At stake is nothing less than who we are, and what we will become. In this talk, Foer explains not just the looming existential crisis but the imperative of resistance.
That got our attention at the same time as this book did, thanks to Elizabeth Kolbert’s review in this week’s New Yorker:
…Taplin, who until recently directed the Annenberg Innovation Lab, at the University of Southern California, started out as a tour manager. He worked with Judy Collins, Bob Dylan, and the Band, and also with George Harrison, on the Concert for Bangladesh. In “Move Fast and Break Things,” Taplin draws extensively on this experience to illustrate the damage, both deliberate and collateral, that Big Tech is wreaking. Consider the case of Levon Helm. He was the drummer for the Band, and, though he never got rich off his music, well into middle age he was supported by royalties.
This is not a mainstay theme in these pages, but we have felt compelled from time to time to pass along an informative read on a topic that seems likely to continue growing in importance.
“Dance,” a sculpture made in 2000 by Honda Shoryu, in “Japanese Bamboo Art: The Abbey Collection,” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Credit Jake Naughton for The New York Times
Bamboo is an important part of the ecosystem in just about every place where we have worked over the last two decades; thanks to Roberta Smith for this:
San Francisco? Soho? Try Guatemala City, inside El Injerto, a coffee shop. Guatemala is home to an expanding coffee scene. Credit Daniele Volpe for The New York Times
Thanks to Elisabeth Malkin for her visit to Guatemala on behalf of the coffee lovers who read the New York Times:
GUATEMALA CITY — In the narrative spun around specialty coffee, there are two kinds of places: those where people cultivate the beans and those where people consume the end result. Continue reading