Super Food, If Not Superfood

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The Good Sort. Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

Our preferred blank canvas, at least in the morning, has been oats when we have developed new restaurants recently. And we have tended to look at superfoods when we do our scouting and conceptualization for new menu ideas, and that is about food that (we try to ensure) provides health for both humans and the planet.  We have not put congee on any menus, nor has it even been on our radar, but perhaps it should be:

Congee Is the Original Grain Bowl

By Robin Raisfeld and Rob Patronite

Congee, also known as jook, or rice gruel, has long been the breakfast of billions in China — filling, cheap, energizing, and easily digestible, fit for infants and nonagenarians alike. Some swear by it as a post-exercise pick-me-up; others as a superb hangover cure. Its soothing properties are considered so powerful that congee is even served at funerals. Continue reading

Preparing Enough Food For 2050

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Thanks to Anthropocene for this summary of news explaining why We don’t really need to double food production by 2050, provided by Emma Bryce:

It sounds daunting: by 2050 we’ll have to double our food production in order to satisfy the appetite of the planet’s rapidly expanding population. This statistic has become so deeply-ingrained, in fact, that it’s being used to shape future agricultural policy. But a group of researchers, publishing in the journal BioScience, have challenged that influential estimate, arguing that it’s due for a significant upgrade to bring it in line with recent data. Continue reading

Eat Your Vegetables, If You Can Find Them

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Vegetables were rationed at supermarkets in the U.K. due to poor weather conditions in Europe. Here, lettuce, broccoli and zucchini were rationed at a Tesco store in London. Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images

Thanks to National Public Radio (USA) and the folks at the salt for this story about the implications of vegetable shortages in the UK:

It started in late January. At my local grocery store in South London, salad seemed to be just a few pence pricier than usual. But I didn’t think much of it.

Later that week, the same market had conspicuously run out of zucchini. I’m not particularly fond of it, but I lamented for the carb-conscious yuppies who depended — and subsisted — on spiralized zucchini spaghetti. How would they cope? Continue reading

You Had Us At Sweet Potato

logoWe have only recently discovered this resource but I expect you will start seeing a flow of interesting stories. sourced from Harvest Public Media, that touch on topics of interest to us here. For example, the mere mention of sweet potatoes was enough to get us interested:

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According to the USDA, sweet potato consumption in the U.S. nearly doubled in just 15 years, from about 4 pounds per person in 2000. (U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr)

Sweet potatoes are undergoing a modern renaissance in this country.

While they have always made special appearances on many American tables around the holidays, year-round demand for the root vegetables has grown. In 2015, farmers produced more sweet potatoes than in any year since World War II. Continue reading

Broccoli & Other Suprises

JASHScover.jpgToday I finally listened to an episode of the Surprisingly Awesome podcast, a series we have linked to more than once, that had exactly the intended effect. I now care deeply about a vegetable that I did not care deeply about before.

The image to the left is from the publications page of Cornell Professor Thomas Björkman, who is featured in the podcast. He is the perfect straight man explainer to complement the podcast’s creatively curious hosts.

As we move our farm to table program forward at Chan Chich Lodge, this is a podcast I am sharing with Chef Ram, and you might enjoy it too so click the soundcloud banner below:

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Food, Its Contents & Its Discontents

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Alex Reynolds/NPR

We appreciate that an immigrant restaurant owner has the courage to state the unpopular but important facts underpinning one of the popular memes of our time (thanks as always to the salt over at National Public Radio in the USA):

Cheap Eats, Cheap Labor: The Hidden Human Costs Of Those Lists

by Diep Tran

Everyone loves a cheap eats list. A treasure map to $1 tacos! $4 banh mi! $6 pad Thai! More often than not, the Xs that mark the cheap spots are in the city’s immigrant enclaves. Indeed, food media is never so diverse as when it runs these lists, its pages fill with names of restaurateurs and chefs of color.

These lists infuriate me.

Continue reading

Ancient Grain, Great Again

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It is not quite as ancient as geological time, but rye grain goes way back. And deserves as comeback, we think, almost regardless of all the nifty innovations that will determine the future of grain-growing. While we are busy with greatness-making, our thought is at this moment, let’s not forget the grains that got us here:

Rye, a Grain With Ancient Roots, Is Rising Again

By Julia Moskin

Any adventurous eater who has wandered into the woods of modern Nordic cuisine has probably tripped over a loaf of rye bread. There is wonderfully chewy rugbrod at Great Northern Food Hall in Grand Central Terminal, spice-scented Swedish limpa at Plaj in San Francisco, and darkly rugged toast at Bachelor Farmer in Minneapolis. Continue reading

Patagonia, Geological Time & Food History

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Two fossils of a newly discovered species of tomatillo that are 52 million years old. CreditPeter Wilf

They had us at Tomatillo. But mention fossils, geological timeframe, discovery and Patagonia all in the same headline and there we go:

Tomatillo Fossils, 52 Million Years Old, Are Discovered in Patagonia

By Nicholas St. Fleur

The nightshades have an ominous reputation, but this large plant family is more than just its most poisonous members, like belladonna. It contains more than 2,400 different species, including some of the most widely consumed fruits and vegetables in the world, such as potatoes, tomatoes and peppers. Continue reading

Boosting Crop Yields Without GMO

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Yann Coeuru/Flickr.com

Thanks to Anthropocene for this summary on agricultural technology possibly breaking through the GMO debate in the near future:

A non-GMO approach to producing bigger, better wheat

by Catherine Elton

Researchers have developed a new technology that not only increases the yield of wheat plants, but also makes them more resilient to drought. What makes this technology so interesting is that—if  successful in field trials—it might provide an alternative to genetic modification approaches to boosting wheat yields. Continue reading

Shellfish, Climate Change & Future Shock

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Dungeness crabs for sale at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. California’s Dungeness crab season was shut down in 2015, when record high ocean temperatures and lingering toxic algae blooms raised the domoic acid in shellfish to unsafe levels. A new study links dangerously high levels of the neurotoxin to warmer ocean temperatures, suggesting such closures could become more common in the future. Eric Risberg/AP

Thanks to the salt folks over at National Public Radio (USA) for one more bit of bad news related to our food preferences and the future as affected by climate change:

Warming Oceans Could Boost Dangerous Toxin In Your Shellfish Dinner

CLARE LESCHIN-HOAR

West Coast crab fishermen just ended an 11-day strike over a price dispute. But a more ominous and long-term threat to their livelihood may be on the horizon. A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found a link between warming ocean conditions and a dangerous neurotoxin that builds up in sea life: domoic acid. Continue reading

Food’s Future Seen In Urgent Present Perspective

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Cristiana Couceiro

When this particular chef develops a thought into action, we are at least curious. When he shares a short essay on how the future of food might work, such as A Blueprint for the Future of Food, we take note. The following is from Turning Points, exploring how key moments from this year might signal something important coming in the year ahead.

Turning Point: France becomes the first country to outlaw food waste.

Not long ago, just before boarding a trans-Atlantic flight, I overheard a woman tell her friend that she had packed her own water bottle because she disliked wasting all the plastic bottles given out on planes. A few minutes later she was on the phone with another friend, explaining that she was on her way to Europe for the weekend to shop and relax. Continue reading

Better Food, Faster

little-quinoaisthenewbigmac-1200It’s time to change fast food for the better, forever.

Fresh and nutritious food doesn’t have to cost a fortune or take forever to prepare. At eatsa, we’ve upped the taste factor alongside affordability and speed, with bold flavors, seasonal ingredients, and hearty portions. Our commitment to you is simple: faster, nutritious, more affordable and tastier food. Continue reading

App For Food Waste Reduction

‘A love for food and a distaste for waste’: Iseult Ward (left) and Aoibheann O’Brien in the FoodCloud warehouse in Dublin. Photograph: Mark Nixon for the Observer

‘A love for food and a distaste for waste’: Iseult Ward (left) and Aoibheann O’Brien in the FoodCloud warehouse in Dublin.
Photograph: Mark Nixon for the Observer

Thanks to the Guardian for their coverage of stories about reducing food waste:

FoodCloud: new app proves a nourishing idea for wasted food

The distribution of surplus food in Ireland is being transformed by FoodCloud. Killian Fox meets the duo behind the venture

Killian Fox

Within one community, there can be a business that’s throwing away perfectly good food and just around the corner there’s a charity that’s struggling to feed people in need,” says Iseult Ward of FoodCloud, a remarkable social enterprise which she co-founded with Aoibheann O’Brien in 2012. “We wanted to connect the two.” Continue reading

New York City Food Heritage

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In a photo from 1945, Broadway and 42nd Street in Manhattan in front of the Horn & Hardart Automat. Credit Andreas Feininger/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

This Travel section interview–Best Eating in New York? A Food Historian Has Some Advice By JOHN L. DORMAN–in the New York Times catches our attention:

9780199397020 When the food writer Andrew F. Smith had an idea for a new book on New York City, he went for an intriguing angle. “We preserve the homes of people who were born here and later became famous, and we preserve all sorts of artwork,” he said, “but people don’t think about preserving a city’s food heritage, which was something that was missing in New York.”

His idea resulted in the book “Savoring Gotham: A Food Lover’s Companion to New York City,” which he edited. The topics range from the culinary history of the Lower East Side to the emergence of Automats, Continue reading

Learning How To Eat

9780007549702When an author of Bee Wilson’s stature publishes it is not surprising to see reviews in the news outlets that we tend to source from in these pages. For the book to the right the first we saw was How Do We Get To Love At ‘First Bite’? on National Public Radio (USA), followed by reviews in the New York Times and the Guardian among others. We had even read the publisher’s blurb:

The way we learn to eat holds the key to why food has gone so disastrously wrong for so many people. But Bee Wilson also shows that both adults and children have immense potential for learning new, healthy eating habits. An exploration of the extraordinary and surprising origins of our taste and eating habits, First Bite explains how we can change our palates to lead healthier, happier lives.

But we had not gotten around to linking out to any of these reviews. Better late than never:

TEACHING GROWNUPS HOW TO EAT

By Nicola Twilley

Until the twentieth century, Japanese food was often neither delicious nor nourishing. Junichi Saga, a Japanese doctor who chronicled the memories of elderly villagers from just outside Tokyo, in the nineteen-seventies, found that, in the early years of the century, most families scraped by on a mixture of rice and barley, accompanied by small quantities of radish leaves, pickles, or miso. Animal protein was almost entirely absent in the Buddhist country, and even fish, as one of Saga’s informants recalled, was limited to “one salted salmon,” bought for the New Year’s celebrations, “though only after an awful fuss.” Continue reading

Food Waste Approaching Zero (Goals Are Powerful)

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Junior Herbert, a volunteer with Olio, collects leftovers from vendors at London’s Camden Market. London has become a hub for apps and small-scale businesses that let restaurants and food vendors share leftovers with the public for free, and otherwise reduce the amount of edibles they toss. Maanvi Singh for NPR

Green entrepreneurship is alive and well in London (thanks to National Public Radio, USA, and its program the salt for this story):

Eat It, Don’t Leave It: How London Became A Leader In Anti-Food Waste

MAANVI SINGH

It’s around 6 o’clock on a Sunday evening, and Anne-Charlotte Mornington is running around the food market in London’s super-hip Camden neighborhood with a rolling suitcase and a giant tarp bag filled with empty tupperware boxes. She’s going around from stall to stall, asking for leftovers.

Mornington works for the food-sharing app Olio. “If ever you have anything that you can’t sell tomorrow but it’s still edible,” she explains to the vendors, “I’ll take it and make sure that it’s eaten.” Continue reading

The Future Of Food & Taxes

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Food production causes a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions, largely from the raising of cattle and other livestock. Photograph: Mike Kemp/Getty Images

Tax meat and dairy to cut emissions and save lives, study urges

Surcharges of 40% on beef and 20% on milk would compensate for climate damage and deter people from consuming as much unhealthy food

Damian Carrington

Climate taxes on meat and milk would lead to huge and vital cuts in carbon emissions as well as saving half a million lives a year via healthier diets, according to the first global analysis of the issue. Continue reading

Quail Eggs & Food Culture

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Quail eggs have fewer calories than chicken eggs, and with their higher protein ratio two or three can make for a surprisingly hearty breakfast. PHOTOGRAPH BY WOLFGANG KAEHLER / LIGHTROCKET VIA GETTY

This post on the New Yorker’s website is a good sample of what has changed about the writing style, among other things, in the changing food culture of North America. We have left out the first half of the post, which is not for the squeamish in general and certainly not for animal rights activists. Yet, it is realistic, honest, transparent and alot of other things that our global food systems have not been in the last century:

QUAIL, THE QUIETER BACK-YARD EGG OPTION

By

…In her book, “The Coturnix Revolution,” Alexandra Douglas makes a convincing case for quail’s superiority over chickens: they are less expensive, take up less space, and convert feed into edible protein more efficiently. Not only is a quail cage quieter than a coop of squawking chickens, it can be small; a square foot is plenty of room for a single quail. Continue reading

If You Happen To Be In Oxford (MS, USA)

9780871406804Paul Freedman in conversation with John T. Edge

If we could, we would be there to hear this conversation; no less a part of the attraction is to do so at an institution worthy of everyone’s book orders:

Monday, September 26, 2016 – 5:00pm
Square Books
129 Courthouse Sq
Oxford, MS 38655

Whether charting the rise of our love affair with Chinese food through San Francisco’s fabled The Mandarin, evoking the richness of Italian food through Mamma Leone’s, or chronicling the rise and fall of French haute cuisine through Henri Soule’s Le Pavillon, food historian Paul Freedman uses each restaurant to tell a wider story of race and class, immigration and assimilation. Freedman also treats us to a scintillating history of the then-revolutionary Schrafft’s, a chain of convivial lunch spots that catered to women, and that bygone favorite, Howard Johnson’s, which pioneered midcentury, on-the-road dining, only to be swept aside by McDonald’s. Lavishly designed with more than 100 photographs and images, including original menus, Ten Restaurants That Changed America is a significant and highly entertaining social history.

In case you missed it, a review of this book is finally available from one of the great food writers of our time:

Continue reading

Wulff & Konstali & Hygge

 

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Image from the Galleri of Wulff & Konstali’s website

It is just after 10am Sunday morning in Kerala, as I type this. Maybe because brunch is associated with late Sunday mornings, or maybe because I just read Jocelyn’s post (or maybe both) my mind is wandering in the direction of food experience. While we have had (and hosted) many a fine brunch in Kerala at the moment my brunch-thinking has drifted to Copenhagen. You do not need to speak Danish to sense the hygge in the image above, or to want to experience it in the space pictured below.

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Image from the Galleri of Wulff & Konstali’s website

If you need a primer on hygge, the best place to find it is this article just published in the Guardian, which also happens to be how my attention was brought to Wulff & Konstali:

…“Hygge is when you treat yourself, it’s not that healthy, but it’s good food,” Agnete says. Continue reading