Food Rules to Get You Through the Winter


Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Michael Pollan crammed a world of food choices into those seven words. During the summer months of stone fruits and heritage tomatoes we’re all believers. But Labor Day has come and gone, the farmers markets will soon pack up their tents, and Pollanesque choices will start to dwindle. What will we eat then?

Pollan compiled a list of rules to back up his simple edict.
A mention of the project on his blog resulted in literally thousands of reader-submitted suggestions. He culled and compiled to create the easy-to-digest principles and instructions of Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual.

It’s no easy feat to navigate the landscape of modern food.
We want our food to be nutritionally sound with no trans fats, high-fructose corn syrup, or growth hormone. The sodium should be low and the carbs complex. We want our food growers and manufacturers to trade fairly with their vendors and pay a living wage to their employees. They should conserve energy, limit emissions, and recycle. And somewhere in there we also want our food to taste good.

Ultimately, Michael Pollan settled on 64 food rules.
It’s mostly common sense guidance: Avoid foods you see advertised on television (#11); Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk (#36).
So go aheadEat your colors (#25); treat treats as treats (#60); and best of all, break the rules once in a while (#64).

Posted in blogging, diet, sustainability | 2 Comments

Nose to Tail Starts With the Head



Let’s start by getting the ‘head’ and ‘cheese’ business out of the way. 
Yes, it’s made with a head; usually that of a pig, but sometimes from a calf, cow, or sheep (good to know if you keep kosher).
No, there isn’t any cheese involved (the lactose intolerant can relax). The name evolved from the Latin word forma—a basket or box used as a mold—most often to compress and form cheese curds but also for meat terrines; as forma, and then fromage, became the word for cheese, the molded meats were swept along.

Said head is plucked and shaved, the earwax is cleaned out, and it’s simmered for hours— skin, snout, eyeballs, tongue, and all. The cooked meat is seasoned and packed into a mold along with the collagen-enriched stock (from all the bone and cartilage) which gels as it cools.

Looking at a well-constructed slice of head cheese can be like peering through a stained glass window with its mosaic effect of shimmering aspic dotted with suspended jewels of braised pork bits. At its finest, a slice of head cheese is tender meat and wobbly gelatin that melts on the tongue. Bad headcheese can be grayish, dry, and pasty, studded with the occasional bristle or tooth missed in straining, but that’s another story…

Any cuisine that cooks with pork has a version of head cheese, since when it comes to the pig’s head, it’s pretty much head cheese or toss it. In Germany it’s called sülze, it’s queso de puerco in Mexico, giò thủ in Viet Nam,and formaggio di testa in Italy. The Brits call it brawn and in the southern U.S. it’s known as souse. You probably eat more head cheese than you realize a slice can be snuck into a Vietnamese banh mi sandwich or served as a salumi alongside its charcuterie cousins.

Your kitchen will look like the set of a slasher flick, but it’s otherwise not that difficult to make your own head cheese. So if you ever find yourself in possession of a whole pig’s head and a dozen or so friends willing to share in the results (that’s why they’re your friends), you’ll be amply rewarded with pounds of the stuff.

London chef Fergus Henderson’s cookbook The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating was an instant classic of  ‘nose to tail’ cooking. The book inspired the blog Nose To Tail At Home documenting the efforts of home cook/blogger Ryan Adams as he bravely cooks his way through the book, one pig knuckle or rolled spleen at a time.


Posted in blogging, cook + dine, food knowledge | 2 Comments

The WikiGullet Project: the new ‘Wikipedia’ of food

 image via Will Write for Food/Dianne Jacob


Who doesn’t love Wikipedia?
It’s vast, fast, and always up-to-date. It’s the first place we turn to settle disputes.
It’s also messy, quirky, and sometimes less than authoritative—very much a human product.

You too can have a hand in shaping the ‘Wikipedia’ of food.
Like Wikipedia, the WikiGullet Project aims to be a community creation, written an entry at a time by a broad assemblage of volunteers. […]

Posted in blogging, cyberculture | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Salt. Cure. Blog. Repeat (every 30 days).

Saint Antonio Abate, Patron Saint of Butchers


You know it as 2011. To others, it’s The Year of Meat.
It’s Charcutepalooza, a name that doesn’t exactly roll trippingly off the tongue, but it’s all part of the slightly off-kilter, home-spun appeal. […]

Posted in blogging, cook + dine | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Things Hipsters Like: Wine

Friends don’t let friends drink PBR

The cool kids are drinking wine.
That’s right; they are taking a pass on canned beer and putting down the bong for a nice Shiraz.

In the last seven years, 21- to 27-year-olds have increased per capita wine consumption in the United States by 40 percent—the largest increase in the wine industry’s history. They already make up 21% of core wine consumers- people who drink wine three or more times a week- and there’s another 20 million of them turning 21 over the next five years.

Twenty-somethings start drinking wine in earnest right out of college. Unlike previous generations who grew up with little more than a glass of Chenin Blanc with the Thanksgiving turkey and a New Year’s champagne toast, they learned at the knee of baby boomer parents who were responsible for the wine boom of the 1980’s. Their parents passed to them a comfort and fluency that allows them to approach wine casually, with little of the reverence and pretension of earlier generations of wine drinkers. […]

Posted in beer + wine + spirits, blogging | Tagged , | 3 Comments

The Chef Really Does Hate You

Beastie Feastie mask via

And your waiter, the busboy, and probably even the guy who parked your car.
They read Yelp. They know what you’re saying about them. And they’re sick of getting dumped on by customers.

Turning the tables on you.
Servers have been having their say for years on blogs like Bitter Waitress and Waiter Rant; the bashing of bad tippers is an industry unto itself. But recently, the chefs have been speaking up. […]

Posted in blogging, restaurants | Tagged , , | 16 Comments

When the Chosen People Choose Bacon


[image via Chan4Chan]

The current infatuation with all things bacon has even reached the Jews.

A delicatessen in New York sells a sandwich dubbed the conflicted Jew (bacon and chopped liver on challah), and a Queens bagel shop flecks its bagel dough with bacon.
A television ‘Top Chef’ creates a bacon-wrapped matzoh ball amuse bouche, while another Jewish celebrity chef instructs Jews to cook their Hanukkah latkes in bacon fat.

Bacon-loving Jews are running blogs like BBQ Jew, Bacon Jew and the Bacon Eating Jewish Vegetarian (how’s that for conflicted?!). There’s even a children’s book to explain it all (Baxter, The Pig Who Wanted to Be Kosher). They’re not just eating it; they’re bacon overachievers.

The bacon awakening.

Sure, there have always been Jews who would eat certain pork products. It was a guilty pleasure usually reserved for dumplings and spare ribs in Chinese restaurants, and coffee shop BLTs. But this is different. Artisanal sausage, pork bellies and Spanish hams are flaunted. In young, progressive Jewish circles, pork eating can have a kind of social currency— treyf is hip.

Most bacon-loving Jews can blithely violate the ancient laws with little ambivalence. Although others in the Jewish community take offense, the pork-eaters claim no agenda of assimilation or rejection of traditional values. To them, it’s a gratuitous gesture tinged with irony rather than rebellion, complete with its own line of ironic t shirts (Kosher Ham). And bacon tastes so good.

Deuteronomy got a lot of things right. I’m not so sure the bacon prohibition was one of them.


Posted in blogging, food trends | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Words and Pictures: Illustrated Food Blogs


We have camera flashes going off in restaurants. Food blogs are full of lush, color-saturated close-ups of food at its most delicious: the drizzle of olive oil glistens atop a gorgeous plate of ripe tomatoes; the charred flecks of the bruléed sugar crust has us practically listening for the crackle as spoon meets custard.

Illustrated food blogs can feel like a relief after the sensory overload of too much food porn. […]

Posted in blogging, media | 4 Comments

Food Photography: Have you had your fill?


Everything he ate

Back in 2004 it was a novel concept. Tucker Shaw snapped a photo before taking a bite of every single meal for a full year and published the collection as Everything I Ate: A Year in the Life of My Mouth.

The book fascinated on a number of levels. We gawked at Shaw’s love affair with the dizzying array of dining options in his hometown of New York. We were charmed by the inside joke of his nearly nightly bowl of cold cereal. It was quirky and tedious and funny and repetitive, and it challenged you to put it down before you looked up what he ate on your birthday that year. […]

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Other People’s Refrigerators: Let’s look inside.


They say that the eyes are the window to the soul…I say, look inside the refrigerator.

Refrigerators are as individual as fingerprints. More than the clothes we wear or the cars that we drive, the food in our refrigerators speaks of income and education, age and health, religion and ethnicity, even where we like to go on vacation. Refrigerators can be treasure troves of exotica or wastelands of deprivation. They can speak of careful planning or organized chaos. They can remind us that we are overscheduled or underpaid. And sometimes they just scream Take out the trash!

The magnets we stick on the door, the stash of Girl Scout cookies, the science project growing in the back of the produce bin; refrigerators combine public display, private pleasures, and dirty secrets. It’s that combination that tempts us to peep. […]

Posted in blogging, cyberculture | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments
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