diversions

Dear Gwyneth.

 

Dear Gwyneth,  
Can I have a word with you, friend to friend?

Please stop writing cookbooks.
I’m sorry, but it had to be said.
And be grateful that it’s coming from me, because there are plenty of harsher critics out there.

The Atlantic Wire dubbed your new one (It’s All Good: Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great) ‘the Bible of laughable Hollywood neuroticism,‘ and the New York Post likened it to a ‘manifesto to some sort of creepy healthy-girl sorority’ under the headline A Recipe for Ridicule. According to Eater, it’s full of a chatty faux-populism that could only come from a rich person fearlessly boasting about her life of privilege,’ and the U.K. Guardian calls it completely crackpot served up with a hefty side of overprivilege.

Yes, Gwyneth, it’s happening again.
Two years ago your first cookbook inspired snarky critics to hunt down its most unintentionally funny line (sample contender: “I first had a version of this at a Japanese monastery during a silent retreat…”). Maybe it was the way you instructed us to “nourish the inner aspect,” or maybe it was that book’s rundown of kitchen ‘essentials’ that had us scouring specialty stores and digging deep into our wallets, and then wondering what the hell to do with an opened bottle of $40 ginger liqueur, although you did allow that in a pinch we could substitute bacon for duck prosciutto.

I gotta tell you, Gwyneth, sometimes you come off like a modern-day Marie Antoinette.
I suppose I could cut you some slack. You had a posh and fabulous early Hollywood life (is Steven Spielberg really your godfather?), a charmed career (an Academy award in your 20′s!), and some not-too-shabby romances (Ben Affleck and Brad Pitt before the rock star husband). The willowy blond thing doesn’t hurt either. Of course we can’t relate. But the real problem is that you seem incapable of relating to us.

The fact is that really very few of us keep duck eggs in our refrigerators to whip up your omelette recipe, and I for one don’t aspire to a diet based in ‘psychospiritual nutrition’ that leaves you with something you scarily describe as “that specific hunger that comes with avoiding carbs.” And do you know how out of touch you sound when you say things like: “I would rather die than let my kid eat Cup‑a-Soup”?  But when it comes to statements made out of a blinkered sense of entitlement, there is none more clueless than your USA Today interview:  “One of my most negative qualities is this perfectionism that I have, and I think that I unconsciously project that because it comes from self-doubt and insecurity, and that’s the ironic part. I’m so deeply flawed. I’m just a normal mother with the same struggles as any other mother who’s trying to do everything at once and trying to be a wife and maintain a relationship.”

Oh, Gwyneth!

 

image via SFGate

image via SFGate

 

 

 

Posted in diversions, Entertainment, funny | 1 Comment

Oh Cap’n! My Cap’n!

Capn_Crunch

 

Does Cap’n Crunch have more lives than Tony the Tiger?

Back in 2011, the rumor mill started grinding with an article in AOL’s Daily Finance. A reporter noted that Cap’n Crunch cereal was nowhere to be found on the Quaker website. The article’s speculative title asked the question Is Cap’n Crunch Easing Quietly Into Retirement?
The piece was a rumination on the challenges facing the brand: its shrinking market share, public criticism of food companies that market to children, and White House pressure to make healthier products. It concluded that this is a pretty good time for the Cap’n to maintain a low profile.

The blogosphere then took that thread of speculation and ran with it:
Cap’n Crunch Retires (Seattle Post-Intelligencer); Cap’n Crunch sails into obscurity (Today on MSNBC); Cap’n Crunch Retirement (Yahoo! Buzz).
Fox News, as is its wont, took it a step further, fabricating a political angle: Food Police Kill Cap’n Crunch (Fox Nation)inspiring headlines in conservative blogs like Obama’s Soggies Force Cap’n Crunch Into Early Retirement (AsianConservatives.com), and Cap n’ Crunch: Michelle Obama Forces Captain Crunch’s Retirement?(Conservative BlogsCentral).

This spring Cap’n Crunch is sailing back from the brand equivalent of the Bermuda Triangle.
Beginning May 7th he’ll be hosting his very own YouTube talk show set in a giant cereal bowl aboard his old ship, the S.S. Guppy. In the language of the Pepsico press release, the show’s content is described as a mix of ‘interesting guests, topical banter, and comedy sketches.’ The Cap’n’s faithful companion Sea Dog will serve as his on-set sidekick. The show’s official teaser can be viewed here. New videos will be added to the YouTube channel every other Tuesday through spring and summer.

Count Chocula could not be reached for comment.

 

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Because the Soul Needs Feeding Too

 

Perhaps the World Ends Here

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.

by Joy Harjo

 

national_poetry_month_2013_logo_large

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Where’s the Line Between Free Samples and Shoplifting?

image via Colors Magazine

image via Colors Magazine

 

Spear one cheese cube with a toothpick and you’re sampling. Are you pilfering if you snare a dozen? Is it shoplifting if you dump the plateful in a produce bag for later?
How much is too much? Exactly what constitutes a free sample?
These are the questions at the heart of a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court.

The plaintiff, 68 year-old Erwin Lingitz, went into the Cub Goods supermarket in White Bear Township, Minnesota to pick up a prescription. He helped himself at two un-hosted displays offering free samples of lunch meat, and then packed some up for his wife who was waiting outside in the car. He was arrested by store security as he exited the store.

An attorney for the supermarket chain itemized his haul: “Plaintiff had approximately 14-16 packets of soy sauce along with one plastic produce bag containing 0.61 pounds for [sic] summer sausage and another plastic produce bag containing 0.85 pounds of beef stick in his pockets,” She also claims that the store’s manager had spotted Mr. Lingitz on previous occasions filling plastic produce bags “with 10-20 cookies from the kids’ cookie club tray, which specifically limits the offer to one free cookie per child.”

The supermarket calls it theft, arguing that “The plaintiff violated societal norms and common customer understanding regarding free sample practices.” In an interview with the Twin Cities’ Pioneer Press, Lingitz’s wife, Frankie defends her husband with the statement: “Something is either free or it isn’t. You can’t arrest somebody for thievery if it is free.”

Mr. Lingitz is hardly standing alone on that slippery slope between sampling and stealing.
There’s the Definitive Guide for Food Grazing (for free) at Costco, and another site that shows you how to save $2,000 a year in grocery bills and grow your net worth by eating free samples. And of course who among us has never popped a grape in their mouth in the produce aisle?

Mr. Lingitz is suing for $375,000 in damages claiming that the arrest was a violation of his civil liberties and that he sustained injuries during it. His case hinges on whether it was a lawful arrest, which will depend on whether or not the judge considers it a crime to take too many free samples. It’s potentially a landmark case for retailers since there is currently no legal definition for free samples.

The store’s defense is that free samples are governed by “a common-sense rule.”
A few try-before-you-buy grapes is on one side of it, while stuffing a T-bone inside your raincoat is clearly on the other side. The question is, where does 1.46 pounds of ‘free’ lunch meat fall on the side of common sense?

 

 

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The Grand Tradition of Meat Art

That’s right, meat art.
Meat art is art that uses meat as the medium and art that uses meat as the model. Artists have always found inspiration in meat, and now a new generation of artists is exploring and reinvigorating the meat art genre through a wide range of visual art, art experiences, and performances.

5th Egyptian Dynasty (around 2,400 bcd) deceased with food offerings

5th Egyptian Dynasty (around 2,400 BC) deceased with food offerings 

2010 MTV Video Music Awards - Show

Lady Gaga’s Meat Dress, 2010

Long before Lady Gaga put on a meat dress for the MTV Video Music Awards, the Ancient Egyptians included fanciful meat drawings in their offerings to the gods, and the Greeks and Romans paved their rooms with meat-focused mosaics. But meat’s real heyday was the still life painting of the 16th and 17th centuries when elaborate tableaux of banquet-ready roasts and hanging carcasses of sinewy slaughtered animals were depicted with realism and meticulous detail.

Rembrandt, The Slaughtered Ox, 1655

Rembrandt, The Slaughtered Ox, 1655

Pieter Aertsen, The Butcher Stall, 1551

Pieter Aertsen, The Butcher Stall, 1551

Why meat?
The early still life painters loaded their canvases with religious symbolism and meat was a handy visual metaphor. A leg of lamb could be a stand-in for gluttony or decay; a slaughtered animal could symbolize spiritual death or represent the body of Jesus. Contemporary artists still use meat to explore themes of morality and mortality, but they’re also making statements about violence, technology, sex, and gender politics.

Modern landmarks in meat art history:

Paul Thek, Untitled (Four Tube Meat Piece), 1964

Paul Thek, Untitled (Four Tube Meat Piece), 1964

Damien Hirst, The Prodigal Son, 1994

Damien Hirst, The Prodigal Son, 1994

Thirty years before Damien Hirst began pickling calves and sharks in formaldehyde there was Paul Thek. For his 1960’s Technological Reliquaries series Thek sculpted replications of raw meat and encased them in glass and plexiglass vitrines, wire cages, and an Andy Warhol Brillo box. Thek’s meat sculptures question our capacity to live compassionately even as science and technology encroach on our humanity. The questions are provocative and the imagery is still potent three decades later when Hirst covers the same ground .

Carolee Schneemann, Meat Joy, 1964

Carolee Schneemann, Meat Joy, 1964

Carolee Schneemann’s Meat Joy debuted at the First Festival of Free Expression in Paris in 1964, and the film version has been exhibited worldwide at museums like the Guggenheim, the Whitney, and the Louvre. It’s considered to be a groundbreaking achievement featuring partially nude dancers performing a kind of sloppy erotic rite with raw fish, chickens, and sausages.

Jana Sterbak, Vanitas: Flesh Dress for an Albino Anorectic, 1987

Jana Sterbak, Vanitas: Flesh Dress for an Albino Anorectic, 1987

50 or so pounds of raw flank steak is stitched together and hung on a hanger in Jana Sterbak’s 1987 Flesh Dress for an Albino Anorectic, the precurser to Lady Gaga’s fashion statementSalted and unrefrigerated, the piece cures with age as it steadily decomposes, asking the viewer to consider personal vanity while confronting the fleeting nature of beauty. The dress hangs in the permanent collection of  the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis where, to be properly displayed, a fresh dress has to be sewn every 6 weeks.

 

More recently, the meat artists have lightened up their metaphors. Today’s self-consciously carnivorous diner embraces the every-day grotesqueries of whole animal butchery and nose-to-tail cooking. They’re less inclined to recoil from stagings of flesh as art and more willing to celebrate the tactile and visual beauty of meat. Meat artists have responded with a more playful approach to their work.

The 2008 group exhibition Meat After Meat Joy obviously referenced Carole Schneeman’s seminal performance when it brought together a roster of best-in-class contemporary artists who use meat in their work. The show included Betty Hirst’s American flag rendered in meat and lard, Zhang Huan’s pumped-up superhero meat suit, and Adam Brandejs flesh shoe. The art was politically provocative while keeping the revulsion at bay.

Betty Hirst, American Flag, 2008

Betty Hirst, American Flag, 2008

Zhang Huan, Meat Suit, 2002

Zhang Huan, Meat Suit, 2002

Adam Brandejs

Adam Brandejs, Animatronic Flesh Shoe, 2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jennifer Rubell, Creation, 2009

Jennifer Rubell, Creation, 2009

2009’s Creation was a meat art ‘happening’ that spoke directly to our over-heated food culture of  pickling classes and restaurant pop-ups. Staged at the opening of the Performa Biennial, a vast, performance art invitational, the centerpiece, inspired by the biblical tale of Adam and Eve, was a literal ton of ribs in a single, massive pile. The meat was lubricated by streams of honey that poured from vats suspended from the ceiling. The interactive work demanded that its 500 participants dine sans napkins.

You can see the future of meat art where the current crop of creators gathers online at the Meat Artists blog and gallery.

Silly you, thinking that meat is just for cooking and eating.

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Food Trucks For Dogs Have Arrived

[image via K99]

[image via K99]

Seriously. Food trucks for dogs.
They roll through neighborhoods and downtown streets drawing four-legged foodies with cat meows and cow moos played over PA systems. Menus lean toward meat-flavored ice cream and peanut butter baked goods, and rely heavily on punny names like poochi sushi, spaghetti and muttballs, and chicken with grrr-avy.

Chicago’s Arrfscarf peddles meaty treats like bacon macaroons and beef brisket-flavored frozen yogurt. Central Florida’s Sit ‘n Stay Mobile Pet Cafe serves beef jerky sushi and meatballs made from locally raised, grass-fed beef and lamb. Tiki’s Playhouse cruises the streets of Baltimore scooping $3 cups of Frozen Woofy’s Treats in flavors like Barkin’ Berry and Banana Rama Ding Dong—described by one dog owner as “flavors which would be interesting to me if I were a dog.” And it’s not just a local phenomenon. Big players in pet food are jumping into the trend. Rachael Ray launched her pet food line Nutrish with a food truck that dished out samples of Chicken Paw Pie and Beef Stroganwoof on the streets of Manhattan, and Chef Michael’s Food Truck for Dogs is a project of Nestle Purina PetCare.

Dog owners are known to complain about the limited dining options for pets. They protest health code-imposed restaurant bans and push to expand access to street fairs and farmers markets. A survey of dog owners revealed that 84 percent believe that mealtime is a perfect opportunity to show their dog how much they love him or her. Food trucks finally provide them with the opportunity to share their dining passions with their pets.

Did someone forget that dogs are also fond of eating socks and cat feces?
For all of our own foodie-isms projected on pets, the fact is that dogs have a mere fraction of our taste buds and they will pretty much eat anything. We’re really just projecting our own culinary sensibilities. The problem is we’re also sharing our taste for high-protein, high-fat diets. It should come as no surprise that dogs, just like their human owners, are fat: about half of all dogs in American homes are overweight or obese.

We teach our dogs to heel and to roll over. Now they have to learn that they can’t always have a chicken sorbet.

 

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The World’s Most Expensive ____________(fill in the blank)

[image via TrustedHealthProducts.com]

[image via TrustedHealthProducts.com]

Who else is fed up with the world’s most expensive food’ trend?
I’m talking about the $450 pizza (topped with lobster thermidor and black cod) or the $295 hamburger (made with white truffle butter-infused Japanese Wagyu beef and black truffles served on a gold-dusted roll capped with creme fraiche and caviar).
What a waste. Such fine ingredients are assembled but the goal is not to offer a magnificent dining experience but merely a budget-busting one. It’s doubtful that the dishes even originated with a chef. These are shameless stunts perpetrated by restaurant publicists, and most don’t even taste good.

The restaurateur as P.T. Barnum.
The more gimmicky and outrageous the stunt, the more it’s re-posted, re-pinned, and re-tweeted. And not just by the hype-hungry Buzzfeeds of the world: last December’s Most Expensive Christmas Dinner (a gold leaf-wrapped turkey served with 100-year old wine decanted through a filter of diamond dust) got plenty of column inches from traditional media like Time, ABC News, and the Washington Post. This kind of fleeting fame propels ever more short-sighted restaurant owners into the fray of culinary one-upsmanship.

There’s no question that the world of the one-percenters can be a fascinating place of lavish spending and culinary indulgence that the rest of us can only dream of. But this current fascination is not about elite and refined dining; it’s meals for one percenters with 99-percent tastes. It’s pub food like a $760 Scotch egga $1,565 rendition of the peasant chicken stew coq au vin, and even a $17 ‘Diva’ corn dog made with sweetbreads, bone marrow, truffle, and foie gras. And it’s impossible to keep up with the high-stakes most expensive hamburger category where there seems to be a revolving door to the title from all the jostling for preeminence.

Let’s say you want to set a new world’s record.
To make it official you need to go through the ‘Set a Record’ service on the Guinness World Records website. Once the category and methodology have been approved, verification of the feat requires signed statements from two witnesses plus photographic evidence, or the record-setter can pay for the presence of an official Guinness adjudicator. You can see the appeal from the restaurant’s standpoint: it’s a small investment, a quick and easy process, and if they hit it just right it’s a public relations bonanza.

These stunts have worn out their welcome.
Even at their best they’re one-offs based in novelty. Now, absent the novelty we’re left with a joyless can-you-top-this desperation. That plus a bad taste in the mouth from the realization that the world’s most expensive kebab costs as much as the per capita income of a Ugandan.

 

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SXSW Makes Room at the Table for Food

 

 

[image via bonappetit.com]

[image via bonappetit.com]

South By South West rolls into Austin this weekend.
The wildly influential set of film, technology, and music festivals and conferences will screen about 300 feature films and shorts; more than 2,000 musical acts will perform at showcases; and the biggest names and brightest minds in emerging technology will captivate audiences at hundreds of interactive sessions.
Care to guess what all those artists and thought leaders will be talking about?

At last year’s SXSW, the online media monitors at Meltwater Group identified around 300,000 Twitter conversations (the social network of choice for festival attendees) taking place in social spaces surrounding SXSW. According to Meltwater’s data, most of that social bandwidth was buzzing about food. Food tweets outnumbered tweets about performances, events, and panels at a rate of three to one.

In the early years of SXSW, food appeared mostly to help soak up all the free beer flowing at the festival. The interactive conference didn’t host its first panel on food blogging until 2009, but each year since has seen a steady increase in food-related topics. Food themes are scattered liberally throughout this year’s conference sessions tackling topics like the niche food blog, the culture of ‘pop-ups,’ product branding for artisan producers, and the ways that technology can enhance the food shopping experience. A strong line-up of keynote speakers includes the founders of Whole Foods and Panera, and the provocative New York restaurateur Eddie Huang who will headline a panel titled The Social Media Chef.

The food scene outside of the Austin Convention Center is also a major draw.
More than 18,000 attendees have already registered for this year’s inaugural food crawla self-guided walking tour through some of downtown Austin’s notable eateries. Food trucks show up from as far away as Los Angeles—that’s a 1,400 mile trek in a rolling kitchen—for a spot at the annual Street Food Fest. So many marketers are looking to put their wares in front of the SXSW crowd that there’s a guide to all the free food and drinks.

From apps to check the ingredients in your cereal box to online reservations and new payment methods, technology permeates the way we consume and experience food like never before. Follow the happenings at SXSW to see how industry stakeholders are leveraging technology to help the food system become more efficient, entertaining, healthy, just, and sustainable.

You can’t make it to Austin? No problem. Many of the showcases, speaker panels, and interactive keynotes will be streaming live at  sxsw.com/live. You can also follow the festival via official SXSW social media:

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Oh, Sweet Heaven

[image via Sign Fail]

[image via Sign Fail]


Adios, Apricot.
Rest in peace, Rainforest Crunch.
Peppermint Schtick, we hardly knew ye.

There’s a grassy knoll in rural Vermont where ice cream flavors go to die.
A white picket fence surrounds the headstones of the dearly departed.

Over the years, Ben & Jerry’s has retired about 300 flavors.
Sometimes a successful flavor falls out of fashion and favor, like Strawberry Banana Smoothie. Others were misfires from the get-go, like the forgettable Honey Apple Raisin Chocolate Cookie. Especially painful are the much beloved flavors that met an untimely fate because an ingredient became too costly or a process proved impractical. Each year eight to twelve flavors give their lives for the greater good, clearing the way for future experimentation and innovation.

The Flavor Graveyard behind the Ben & Jerry’s factory gives ice cream lovers a chance to pay their respects to those no longer with us. The distinctive pint container illustration for each fallen flavor appears on its headstone, re-imagined with an ice cream cone ascending to heaven on little angel wings, and the epitaph pays tribute in elegiac verse.

The ill-conceived Peanuts! Popcorn!Peanuts, popcorn! Mix ’em in a a pot! Plop ’em in your ice cream! Well, maybe not.

Rainforest Crunch, a tragic victim of tree nut price volatility: With aching heart and heavy sigh, we bid Rainforest Crunch goodbye; that nutty brittle from exotic places got sticky in between our braces.

The baffling downfall of the once top-selling Holy CannoliNow in front of the pearly gates, Holy Cannoli sits and waits. What brought its ruin no one knows; must have been the pistachios.

Georgia Peach, with an early demise chalked up to the fruit’s fragility: Fresh-picked peaches trucked from Georgia, tasted great but couldn’t last. Cuz Georgia’s quite a-ways away, and trucks don’t go that fast.

Gone but not forgotten.
Occasionally a flavor is taken before its time. With enough coaxing from the ice cream-buying public, Ben & Jerry’s is willing to wrestle a flavor from death’s grip. A few years ago a write-in campaign succeeded in resurrecting Wavy Gravy from the Flavor Graveyard, only to send it back down after a few sluggish months of sales. Even so, the company remains open to the possibility of breathing new life into retired flavors. Exhumation suggestions are taken through the Resurrect My Favorite Flavor form on the Ben & Jerry’s website.

Here’s the complete list of Ben & Jerry’s Discontinued Flavors.

 

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Crowdsourcing: You Pick the Flavors

you-decide

Crowdsourcing is bigger than ever.
Pepsi, Lincoln, and Dannon all used it for their Super Bowl ads. We recently saw an indie music star crowdsource his tattooYahoo’s CEO crowdsourced her baby’s name, and an online mob of Monopoly fans convinced Hasbro to dump the iron, a game piece since the beginning, and replace it with a cat.

The food world is especially cozy with crowdsourcing .
Everyone eats, and everyone has an opinion about what they eat—witness the ever-expanding online universe of food discussion boards, reviewing sites, dining guides, and food blogs. The target market is already doing the work; crowdsourcing campaigns are just a way for food marketers to tap into all that passion, creativity, and collective intelligence.

Crowdsourcing pioneer Ben & Jerry’s has always relied on customer input. Even before the world had taken to the internet the company was selling ice cream flavors born from customer suggestions. In 2009 Ben & Jerry’s made it official with a crowdsourcing contest called Do the World a Flavor. They were looking for the next Cherry Garcia, Chunky Monkey, or Chubby Hubby, bestselling flavors that were all suggested by customers, and highlighting the company’s use of fair trade ingredients in its ice cream. The winner was Almond Delight, a caramel ice cream with praline almonds and a caramel swirl (later renamed Dulce Almond due to trademark issues), chosen from 100,000 entries.

Beer is social by its very nature, but brewers haven’t quite figured out the fit with social media. The Boston Beer Company used virtual sampling to develop a new beer through its Sam Adams Crowd Craft Project. Budweiser, though, wanted true sensory feedback for its crowdsourced Black Crown brews and combined local tasting events with online feedback through Budweiser Project 12.  Heineken clearly wants to engage online but doesn’t seem to want its customers anywhere near the beer. So far the company has turned to the crowd to create a pop-up nightclub and to design a commemorative anniversary bottle, but it hasn’t relinquished control over what’s in the bottle.

By contrast, Dunkin’ Donuts seems happy to hand over the keys to the donut shop. Their website and Facebook page periodically feature interactive donut-building tools that invite customers to get creative. Dunkin’ even paid $12,000 apiece to the online originators of Toffee For Your Coffee (glazed sour cream with Heath Bar chunks) and Monkey See Monkey Do-nut (banana filling, chocolate icing, and Reese’s Cup shavings).

Glaceau VitaminWater boasted of the first Facebook-created flavor. While not a purely virtual creation, the ‘Flavor Creator Lab’ monitored social media chatter on sites like Google, Twitter, Flickr, and Foodgawker. The application tabulated  tweets, blog posts, images, and searches to create a list of the 10 most buzzed-about flavors, and then let its Facebook followers vote for their favorite. The winner was a caffeinated black cherry-lime blend that was aptly named Connect.

Facebook has spoken. It said Cheesy Garlic Bread, Sriracha, and Chicken & Waffles. What? No Cajun Squirrel?
It’s the final phase of the mother of all crowdsourcing campaigns.
Snack food giant Frito-Lay put out the call for a new potato chip flavor on its Lay’s Facebook page, offering a million dollar bounty for the winner. Within a matter of weeks there were nearly four million submissions; they were whittled down to the three finalists. This week bags of Cheesy Garlic Bread, Sriracha, and Chicken & Waffles chips began shipping to stores nationwide.

From now until May 4th you can vote for your favorite flavor to become a permanent addition to the Lay’s product line. The two runners-up will each get $50,000, and the inventor of the top vote-getter will win the $1,000,000  prize or 1% of this year’s sales of the flavor. So far, Sriracha is looking like the odds-on favorite. You can vote via Facebook, Twitter (with hashtags #SaveGarlicBread#SaveSriracha, and #SaveChickenWaffles), or by texting VOTE to 24477.

The Lay’s campaign is new to the U.S., but in 2008 Frito-Lay held the first of it chip flavor competitions in the United Kingdom for its Walkers brand. Finalists Chilli & Chocolate and the aforementioned Cajun Squirrel were bested by the winning Builder’s Breakfast, tasting of bacon, sausage, and eggs. A 2009 Australian campaign produced the winning Caesar Salad-flavored potato chips, India went for Mango-flavored chips in 2010, and in 2011 Serbians chose Pickled Cucumber.

You can see all the global chip flavor winners at Ad Age.

 

 

 

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Luck! Prosperity! Harmony!

 

[lucky feng shui cat]

[lucky feng shui cat]

Feng Shui is not just a collection of superstitions.
Feng shui is a system of aesthetics that adds up to a technique for living. Global businesses like McDonald’s and Disney are regularly guided by feng shui principles when they develop properties, and some U.S. cities have toyed with incorporating the techniques into their building codes. They know that when the elements of your environment are in harmony, and negative energy is deflected, there’s a flow of positive energy that brings balance and vitality to your life. Health, wealth, fertility, personal growth, and positive relationships will find you.

Feng shui in the kitchen.
The kitchen is an important room in both Eastern and Western cultures. It’s the most heavily trafficked room of the house, and the place most closely aligned with a household’s prosperity and well-being. Eating is critical to the entire cycle of health, humor, work, and family. It’s also entwined with the five natural elements—wood, fire, earth, metal, and water—that play a role in feng shui. The kitchen needs a little special attention.

Layout
Ideally, you shouldn’t be able to walk into your home and see the kitchen right off the bat. That would portend digestive and nutritional disorders because of all the coming and going. If your kitchen is visible from the entry you need to draw attention away from it by placing an eye-catching object or artwork in a different direction. The cook should been in command with a good vantage point. A cooking island is an excellent option.

The stove is all-important. It shouldn’t be under a window, face a bathroom, or be situated beneath a bathroom that’s on an upper floor. Rotate the burner you cook on to keep your wealth circulating. Empty the tea kettle when you’re done using it: since the stove is a fire element, water shouldn’t sit on the stove for long periods of time or it can dampen your passion for life. Microwave ovens are convenient but don’t lead to serenity.

Color
Reds, pinks, and purples overload a kitchen with fire and can lead to family squabbling at mealtime. You also don’t want to use too many water colors like deep blues or greens that will compete with the ever-present fire of the stove. White symbolizes purity and cleanliness, so it’s always a good choice. If there’s not a lot of natural air and light, non-fluorescent lighting and circulating fans will keep the positive energy moving. Crystals will further magnify and enhance this.

What’s sitting out?
Knives can cut the energy flow so they should never be in an open rack with the blades visible. A hanging rack of pots and pans can be overwhelming. If you have one, make sure it’s not directly above an area where you cook or eat. Fresh flowers bring uplifting energy to the kitchen. Dried flowers are not recommended. Best of all is a bowl of oranges for good luck— arrange nine of them together to bring the most power to the room.

Try to limit kitchen clutter. Unanchored objects disrupt the peace and they can drag you down with their extra weight, especially if you want to lose some weight of your own. Dieters will do best in a clutter-less kitchen. Keep counter tops clear and drawers and cupboards tidy. Don’t allow food to linger too long in your pantry or refrigerator—stale food will bring stale energy to your kitchen.

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Make Your Own Gin (no bathtub necessary)

 

Homemade-Gin-Kit-4

[image via The HomeMade Gin Kit]

 

Gin is just vodka with some added flavorings.
Sorry, gin aficionados, but it’s true. The gin might find itself retailing for a few times the vodka price in a handblown crystal bottle with a bejeweled stopper, but they both started life as the same, un-aged, flavorless, grain alcohol.

That’s why it’s so easy to make your own gin.Commercial gin producers start by distilling grain into the vodka-esque base. Most producers will put it through a second distillation to get the flavoring in there in vapor form, but some will simply flavor it and bottle it. That’s what you’re going to do, and it makes a perfectly respectable gin, especially since you get to flavor it to your liking.

Home distilling is illegal.
In fact it’s illegal in every single country in the world, with the sole exception of New Zealand. No worries though, because there’s plenty of inexpensive, already distilled, neutral-tasting alcohol to use as your base. In other words, you’re going to start with some cheap vodka.

The basic recipe is no more complicated than making tea. You soak juniper berries, coriander, and citrus peel in the vodka and strain them out when it’s flavored. A funnel and cheesecloth will do, although a Brita-type filter pitcher is even better (and as any budget-conscious cocktail lover knows, an initial run through the Brita does wonders for inferior vodka).

Premium gins are distinguished by subtle differences in their taste profiles—Tanqueray is pungent with juniper, Bombay Sapphire has a hint of licorice, Hendrick’s tastes like cucumbers—but the precise blend of spices and botanicals in each is usually a closely guarded secret. Homemade gin gives you license to experiment. You can spice it up with dried chiles and peppercorns; warm it with spices like star anise, cloves, and cinnamon sticks; and add herbal, fruit, or floral notes.

Aspiring mixologist types that don’t know where to start can buy a gin-making kit complete with a pre-mixed blend of spices, botanicals, flowers, and aromatics.
You can also find plenty of gin-making recipes and other resources at any of the social networks for cocktail enthusiasts like Imbibe, See My Drink, On the Bar, and eGullet’s Spirits & Cocktails Forum.
DIY G&T:  Serious Eats has a recipe for homemade tonic water.

Posted in beer + wine + spirits, diversions, home | 1 Comment

Mike Tyson is the Ideal Vegan Role Model

mike-tyson

 

Mike Tyson was once the planet’s most notorious flesh eater. 
He snacked on Evander Holyfield’s ear. He threatened to make a meal of Lennox Lewis’ children.
But these days there’s nothing meatier than a seitan cutlet sizzling on his George Foreman Grill.

Mike Tyson: vegan role model?
He’s a man known for brutality in and out of the ring. He’s been dogged by a string of charges for assault and spousal abuse, and served time in prison for rape, drug possession, and DUI.
He’s hardly the poster boy for a compassionate diet.

Mike Tyson didn’t come to veganism in the usual way.
The vegan diet requires personal deprivation and self-sacrifice. The commitment tends to be inspired by compassion for animals and a moral imperative to combat environmental degradation and world hunger. Mike Tyson describes his own conversion this way:
“I really got tired of every time my prostitute girlfriend came back from a trip I had to sleep with her, so I said you know, I’m going to live a different life.”

Iron Mike, not iron deficient.
The reality is Mike Tyson can be a heck of a role model for the the vegan lifestyle. His brutish reputation stands in rebuke to the old vegan stereotype of bunny-cuddling, tree-hugging sensitive souls. His virile, bulked-up physique speaks of the robust healthfulness of the vegan diet.

Vegans come from all walks of life.
Check out the politicians, movie stars, scientists, pop stars, and athletes on the VeganWolf’s list of herbivores.

 

 

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Starbucks Baristas to Wear Name Tags. Still Can’t Get Your Name Right

StarbucksCup

 

Starbucks has announced that its baristas will be required to wear name tags.
The company has gone back and forth on this for years. The hope is that it humanizes the experience; the fear is that it’s too ‘fast food.’
That’s all well and good, but what about our names?

You know the drill. You order a coffee and they ask for your name so you can be summoned when it’s ready. The cashier scrawls it on a cup, the barista calls it out, and fingers crossed, the name that comes back will be close enough that you’ll recognize it as your own.

Starbucks’ name butchery is legendary. It’s like your name went ten rounds with AutoCorrect: Amanda becomes Tammy, Andrew becomes Stanley, and God help you if your name is Gaelic in origin, has more than two syllables, or rhymes with any part of the female anatomy. Dozens of websites like That’s Not My Name, StarbucksThe Starbucks Name Game, and Starbucks Got My Name Wrong serve as repositories for the most outrageous and egregious of the the cup misspellings.

Meet Minnie
Minnie always orders my coffee. She’s unfailingly polite and an excellent tipper.
Minnie is my coffee name. 
Unlike my real name, Minnie rarely needs to be repeated, enunciated, or spelled out. And it’s a source of mild amusement when Minnie’s Grande is announced.

The Starbucks alter-ego is a common phenomenon.
Some use it in the interest of privacy, some want to avoid the tiresome task of spelling out an uncommon name, and some coffee pseudonyms are just for giggles. I once stood in line behind an iced tea duo of Mary-Kate and Ashley, and have seen tittering middle-schoolers retrieve frappuccinos made for the likes of Seymour Butts and Hugh Janus. One unflappable barista took Voldemort’s order and returned a cup marked He Who Must Not Be Named.

What’s your Starbucks name?
Create your own with the Starbucks Name Generator.

Saturday Night Live nailed it.
Watch this parody of Starbucks’ at-home brewing system to see how the Verisimo can mess with your name in the comfort of your own kitchen.

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10 Reasons Why You Should Buy Girl Scout Cookies

Yup, it’s Girl Scout cookie time.
Those girls time it just right. Just as your New Years diet resolve is weakening, they come a’knocking.
In case you need a little nudge toward an extra box of coconut-caramel Samoas, here are 10 good reasons why you should buy Girl Scout cookies.

scouts

 

 

 

10) They’re not Boy Scout cookies.

 

 

 

gsuniform

9) You can thumb your nose at Conservative mudslingers.
Prominent voices on the Christian Right claim that we’re distracted by the cute green outfits and cookies; that the Girl Scouts are really out to feed us a radical feminist lesbian agenda along with a box of peanut butter Do-Si-Dos. The Family Research Council published Girl Scouts Not Pro-Abortion! Earth Not Round!; WorldNetDaily blared the headline GIRL SCOUTS EXPOSED: LESSONS IN LESBIANISM; and HonestGirlScouts.com created a timeline titled  A History with Planned Parenthood, United Nations, Radicals & More as part of its Girl Scouts Hall of Shame.

girlscoutgps  

 

8) Cookie app!

cookiedo


7)There’s something to this Girl Scouts thing.
Nearly three-quarters of all the women serving in Congress, including 14 of the 20 women senators, are former Girl Scouts. This is especially notable when you consider that less than 10% of U.S. women were scouts in their youth.

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6) The Girl Scouts take credit cards.

Girl-Scout-Cookie

 

 

 

5) New cookie boxes.
The re-designed packaging features girl-power images from the Pulitzer Prize winning photographer David Hume Kennerly who has photographed four decades of American presidents, documented the Jonestown massacre, and produced a book about the last Seinfeld episode.

rainbowpatch

4) The Girl Scouts made LGBT history welcoming the first transgender scout.
Last year’s statement from the Girl Scouts of Colorado: “Girl Scouts is an inclusive organization and we accept all girls in kindergarten through 12th grade as members. If a child identifies as a girl and the child’s family presents her as a girl, Girl Scouts of Colorado welcomes her as a Girl Scout.”

 

women-leaders

3) Do it for Hillary.
Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton. Sandra Day O’Connor, Janet Reno, and Madeleine Albright. Every woman astronaut that’s ever flown in space. Gloria Steinem, Barbara Walters, Martha Stewart, Taylor Swift, and Venus Williams. All told, the Girl Scouts of America claim 64% of today’s women leaders—civic, athletic corporate, political, arts and sciences— as their own.

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2) National Girl Scout Cookie Day is coming.

CookieMagnet_ThinMints

 

  1) Thin Mints.

 

 

Posted in cookies, diversions, kids, shopping | 5 Comments

Foodie Dating Hits the Million Mark

Heart-shaped-sugar-cubes

Heart-shaped sugar cubes via Prima Donna Bride

 

Foodies need love too.

Could you date someone who’s a vegan? What if that potentially special someone doesn’t like Chinese food? Or chocolate? Or pasta? You could be chevre on a crusty baguette and they’re Velveeta on white. Or you’re gluten-free and they’re all about pancake breakfasts.
Forget about personality types, pheromones, and horoscope signs; true compatibility is all about the food.

It’s been a year since the Eater blog hooked up with HowAboutWe to launch its foodie matchmaking service.
Instead of matching singles by their online profiles, daters pair up by filling in the blank:  How about we…
Proposals tend toward …shop for sea salt and make our own caramels  try every grilled cheese sandwich on the menu of the new food truck  ...load up on charcuterie and have a picnic…

On the Gen X dating giant OK Cupid, you can’t just call yourself a foodie, you have to prove your bona fides with a foodie test. The flavors and spices section asks daters to name an herb that’s described as ‘woody.’ The plating section of the test goes multiple choice with the question of appropriate garnish for a gin-brined pork tenderloin (would it be fresh parsley, creme fraiche, lemon twist and juniper berries, or a swirl of basil emulsion?).

If you want something more low-key with fewer strings attached than traditional one-to-one dating, there’s the pre-arranged double dates of Tandem and group dining sites like GrubWithUs and BlendAbout. These are services that facilitate something like a smörgåsbord of blind dates bringing together a dinner party’s-worth of singles— typically a table of four or eight with some pre-screened interests and compatibility. Still too much of a commitment? Try meeting someone Over Coffee.

There’s dating for vegetarians and vegans, Singles With Food Allergies, special dieters, and a site that matches couples based on refrigerator contents. Non-cooks can also look for their own Single Chefs to date.

On the occasion of enabling its one-millionth date, HowAboutWe looks at how all their foodie daters filled in the blank. The One Million Date infographic tallies up the pour-over coffee dates, shared house made pickle plates, and thousands of artisan bitters-infused cocktail meet ups for a revealing look at the dating habits of food-obsessed singles.

 

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Waking Up to Breakfast Beers

Rooster logo via BeerBreakfast.com

Rooster logo via BeerBreakfast.com

 

Brewers have turned their attention to one of the few underserved market segments: morning beer drinkers.

The eye-opener, the hair-of-the-dog, the morning brewskie
Beer for breakfast was once the domain of problem drinkers and spring break partiers.
It’s as if there was an unwritten law that liquor marketers wouldn’t try to mess with the social standard of the booze-free morning. Not any more. There’s a whole slew of new brews aimed at getting you out of bed.

Founder’s Brewing calls its Breakfast Stout ‘the coffee lover’s consummate beer’ with ‘an intense fresh-roasted java nose,’ and the recommended food pairing with Left Hand Brewing’s Milk Stout is a bowl of granola. Wells and Youngs brews a Banana Bread Ale; Terrapin’s Wake ‘N Bake is more bake than wake at 8.6% alcohol, but it’s infused with high-test Jittery Joe’s coffee beans; and Rogue Brewing might have created the ultimate breakfast combination with its Voodoo Donut Bacon Maple Ale.

Defenders of the morning quaff point to its traditional standing in many cultures.
In earlier centuries, beer was the default breakfast beverage of the British, when coffee and tea weren’t widely available and safe drinking water was hard to come by. Hong Kong stockbrokers like to fortify themselves with a morning pint before the market opens, and instead of a coffee break, Eastern Europeans have always favored beer for their mid-morning brotzeit, or second breakfast. Beer is high in carbs, loaded with empty calories, and its soporific effects can derail your morning get-up-and-go; but swap the alcohol for sugar and you’re basically looking at the nutrition profile of many breakfast cereals.

Others shudder at the the thought.
It might be beer ‘o clock somewhere, but not everyone has the stomach for an eye-opening jolt of bitter carbonation. It also strikes many as irresponsible behavior, from a health and addiction perspective. Morning drinking is considered a sign of addiction; it can be a gateway to more daytime drinking, and leads to higher rates of alcohol-related liver disease and dementia.

Have your own breakfast of champions.
The Wall Street Journal recommends food and beer breakfast pairings that it claims ‘can be as perfect a breakfast accompaniment as O.J.’

Brubar is the breakfast bar for beer lovers. It’s the creation of a home brewer who marries malty beer flavors with a non-alcoholic energy bar.

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Good Luck Foods for the Bad Luck Year

crossed-fingers

 

We all have our little fears and phobias.
We might cringe at spiders, run from clowns, or break into a cold sweat when an airplane takes off. But none are as timeless, universal, and even institutionalized (when’s the last time you stayed on the 13th floor of a hotel?) as the fear of the number 13.

2013 is bringing it out in all of us.
Couples are planning to delay weddings and children for 12 months. Car dealers anticipate a huge drop in demand for the new model year. In Ireland, where the last two digits of the year are always shown on car license plates, the system is being modified for 2013. Four-leaf clovers, gold coins, and a Buddha statue are being installed in Times Square to reassure New Years Eve revellers when the ball drops at midnight.

This seems like a good time to try some of the good luck foods from New Year’s traditions around the world. Superstitious or not, it can’t hurt

  • Beans, peas, and lentils
    These are symbolic of prosperity in many cultures because they’re thought to resemble coins when they’ve been cooked. Legumes are often paired with pork, which has its own lucky associations, so the combination makes for a most propitious meal. Italians eat sausages and green lentils just after midnight. Germans usually eat their New Years legumes in lentil or split pea soup with sausage. Hoppin’ John, a dish of black-eyed peas cooked with ham, is a tradition in the American south.
  • Noodles
    Long noodles like are eaten as a symbol of a long life.
  • Round or ring-shaped foods
    These represent a year coming full circle. Mexicans eat the ring-shaped rosca de reyes cake, the Dutch eat the donut-like ollie bollen, and in Greece, families bake a lucky coin into the round vassilopita cake.
  • Fish
    Fish makes frequent appearances on New Years tables. There’s herring at midnight in Poland, boiled cod in Denmark, and the Germans not only feast on carp, they also put fish scales in their wallets for a successful new year. In Japan, herring roe is consumed for fertility, shrimp for long life, and dried sardines for a good harvest.
  • Grapes
    In Spain it’s traditional to eat 12 grapes at midnight, one for each month of the coming year. The taste— sweet or sour— gives a clue to the character of each of the coming months. Spanish state television broadcasts the New Years chimes and nearly 4 million pounds of grapes (in little 12 grape packets) are sold in the last week of the year.

What Not to Eat

Lobster and crab: these are poor choices for a new years meal because they scuttle sideways and backwards which can lead to setbacks, regrets, and dwelling on the past.

Chicken: you don’t want your good luck to fly away.

White foods: the Chinese avoid eggs, cheese, and tofu, because white is the color of death.

And never clean your plate.
A little leftover food will usher in a year of plenty and guarantee a stocked pantry.

 

Posted in diversions, holidays, New Years | 6 Comments

Marijuana and Food: How Chefs Feed the Munchies

 

image via Everything About Weed

image via Everything About Weed

 

The munchies are a well-documented phenomenon.
Generations of stoners, chemotherapy patients, and now a scientific study conducted under rigorous, double-blind controls can all confirm that smoking weed makes you hungry. And not regular hungry but craving food of the sweet, salty, or fatty variety.

Marijuana perks up the taste and hunger receptors in your brain and body in the same way as they are stimulated when you eat fatty foods. Flavors are heightened on the tongue, happy-making mood compounds course through your body, and your brain craves more, more, more. It’s why you’ll never stop at one french fry, and it’s why even brownies made from a boxed mix will taste so damn good when you’re stoned.

Chefs are often uniquely attuned to the cravings.
Restaurant workers and marijuana go together like salt and pepper, and many, many chefs blow off steam after a long shift in the kitchen by smoking a little dope and heading out to feed their munchies. Anthony Bourdain, who famously chronicled his own taste for drugs and debauchery, claims  “There has been an entire strata of restaurants created by chefs to feed other chefs. These are restaurants created specially for the tastes of the slightly stoned, slightly drunk chef after work.”

Chef recommendations:
The best munchies are familiar but with a twist, with big, contrasting flavors that go down easy. You don’t want to be fussing with little fish bones or seeds or sorting through too much tableware. Soft is good, mushy is bad, and not so hot or cold as to startle.

Outstanding examples of the form cited by New York chefs include the cereal milk soft-serve ice cream at Momofuku Milk Bar—a dessert based on the slightly sweet flavor of the milk left at the bottom of a cereal bowl; the breakfast burrito pizza at Roberta’s in Bushwick, Brooklyn; and the deep-fried cheese steak hot dog served at Crif Dogs in the East Village.

On the West Coast, Los Angeles chefs are fans of the fleet of Kogi Korean taco trucks circulating through the city, and they single out the French-Canadian dish poutine as served at Los Angeles’ Animal, combining french fries and cheddar cheese doused in oxtail gravy. San Francisco has the haute stoner dish known as the Lincecum, named for Tim Lincecum, the famously toking star pitcher for the Giants. At the Ritz-Carlton dining room it’s served as quail eggs and caviar sealed in a porcelain bowl with billowing smoke that’s pumped in by a fan-driven bong.

When it comes to munchies from the home kitchen, even the professionals go for quick, easy, and familiar. Grilled cheese sandwiches are a favorite of chefs, as is oatmeal with sweet and crunchy toppings like toasted nuts and caramelized bananas. Top Chef’s Betty Fraser has some sound advice (that has the ring of experience) to go along with her favorite at-home treat: “If you want to blow your friends’ minds grab some cookie dough, crush a package of pretzels or potato chips, roll the dough around until it’s covered and then bake. Here’s a Professional Chef Tip: Turn off the oven when you’re done.”

 

Posted in cook + dine, diversions, restaurants | 1 Comment

TV Dinners: TV Show Cookbooks

 

Where would Andy and Opie be without Aunt Bee’s pies? Or the Brady Bunch without Alice’s pork chops and apple sauce? Jerry Seinfeld could build an entire episode around a babka, Tony Soprano happily traded his gun for a fork when Carmela whipped up her baked ziti, and Betty Draper’s kitchen is a model of midcentury cooking with gems like turkey tetrazzini and pineapple upside-down cake.

A TV tie-in cookbook combines cultural anthropology, a food-annotated episode guide, and a culinary love letter to the characters. Publishers love them for their immediate brand recognition and built-in audience. The best of the cookbooks are filled with well-tested recipes that take genuine inspiration from their shows and characters. Others, like the Star Trek Cookbook, require a bigger stretch of the imagination since we never actually saw Mister Spock stirring a pot of kasha varnishkas à la Vulcan or Bones McCoy recreating the smoked baked beans of his Tennessee childhood.

Andy Taylor’s Aunt Bee is perhaps television’s most beloved homemaker; so much so that when Aunt Bee’s Mayberry Cookbook was published decades after Andy of Mayberry had gone off the air, it sold 900,000 copies. After moving in with her widowed nephew to help raise the motherless Opie, Aunt Bee was perpetually up to her elbows in wholesome, home-cooked meals. She baked fruit pies for church suppers, entered her pickles in the county fair, and brought picnic baskets of fried chicken to the town drunk residing in Mayberry’s homey jail cell. The dishes are all in the book, along with Andy’s favorite cornmeal biscuits and Aunt Bee’s justly celebrated butterscotch pecan pie.

 

She’s no Aunt Bee but Carmela Soprano knows her way around a baked ziti. The Sopranos Family Cookbook  shares the secrets of Carmela’s ziti and sautéed escarole, and shows you how to recreate quail Sinatra-style and other specialties of Artie Bucco’s Vesuvio Restaurant, home to the finest Napolitan cooking in Essex County, New Jersey. Uncle Junior contributes Little Italy-style potato croquettes and Bobby Bacala offers cannoli-stuffing tips.

Vampires and mortals mingle over the Cajun cooking of True Blood’s fictional Louisiana town of Bon Temps. True Blood: Eats, Drinks, and Bites from Bon Temps has classics like banana pudding, gumbo, baking powder biscuits, and crawfish dip as well as a slew of blood-red dishes like beet bisque, blood orange gelato, and the Tru Blood cocktail of carbonated orange soda, grenadine and lemon juice, hold the plasma.

You seldom saw Monica cooking, even if her character was a chef. Maybe that’s why most of the recipes in Cooking With Friends exist mostly as an excuse for some Friends-centric jokey recipe names like ‘Janice’s Foghorn Fish Dish,’ ‘Marcel’s Monkey Lovin’ Mocha Mouthfuls,’ and ‘Chandler’s Could THIS Be Any More Fattening? Cheesecake.’

 

A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Game of Thrones Companion Cookbook breaks the mold of the tie-in cookbook. More scholarly than kitschy, it’s a meticulously researched and detailed culinary document that updates recipes while staying true to the Game of Thrones’ late medieval setting. Dishes are based on those found in 15th-century manuscripts and ingredients adhere to the seasons and imagined geography across the Seven Kingdoms and over the Narrow Sea.

If a food or drink was so much us mentioned in an episode of the show, it made it into The Unoffical Mad Men Cookbook: Inside the Kitchens, Bars, and Restaurants of Mad Men. There are Oysters Rockefeller from Sterling Cooper power lunches, the gazpacho served at Betty’s around-the-world dinner party, and lots and lots of cocktails (even little Sally Draper is known to mix a mean Tom Collins). Dishes were recreated using recipes that were adapted from cookbooks that would have been popular at the time or from Manhattan restaurants visited by the characters.

 

Bree is a brittle striver in the kitchen; Lynette is a time-challenged multi-tasker; Edie is a sensualist; Gabrielle is a spicy Latina; and Susan doesn’t know which end of a spatula to stir with. Some recipes in The Desperate Housewives Cookbook come straight from the show’s episodes while others use the characters’ wildly different personalities as a launching point for some culinary imaginings.

The most anticipated TV tie-in cookbook since Aunt Bee’s opus is next summer’s Treme: Stories and Recipes from the Heart of New Orleans. The HBO series provides substantial raw material. Treme is a favorite of chefs like David Chang and Eric Ripert who have guest-starred in past episodes and contributed material to the book. It’s set in in New Orleans, one of our greatest eating cities. Plot lines revolve around a fictional chef who’s ‘worked’ at some of the city’s top real world restaurants like Brigtsen’s, Emeril’s, and Gabrielle. Kitchen scenes on the show are scripted by Anthony Bourdain, who also wrote the book’s foreward.

It’s not out in time for holiday giving, but Treme: Stories and Recipes from the Heart of New Orleans can be preordered at Amazon where it’s already racking up some serious sales numbers.

 

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