diversions

We’re Like Rats in a Maze

image via Futurity.com


What’s dangling from your keyring?

Buy ten coffees and get one free.
Or pints of frozen yogurt, bakery muffins, or home-delivered pizza.
If you’re like most of us, you’ve got 14 loyalty cards and tags clipped to your keys or stuffed in your wallet, although just around half of them are ever used. […]

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Words and Pictures: Illustrated Food Blogs

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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

The Weird, Wild, Wonderful World of Food ‘Zines

image via the Urban Craft Center


The blogosphere seems downright sedate when you see what’s going on with zines.

For the uninitiated, a zine is a small circulation, independently produced publication. It can be a hand-drawn masterpiece or a crudely photocopied manifesto. The time and materials needed are seldom matched by sales revenue, but profit is rarely the goal of these labors of love. 1,000 copies at $3.00 apiece would be a pretty big deal to most zine publishers. […]

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No Cash? No Problem. How to Barter for Food

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My This for Your That

You used to do it as a kid. You had an innate sense of the relative value of Twinkies and would broker a lunchroom exchange.

In recent years, barter has been making a comeback. This ancient form of trade is alive and well in e-commerce. Combining the DIY ethic with social networks, online barter exchanges are flourishing in the current, shaky economy. […]

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The Edible Stay-cation

image via Betelgeuse

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You haven’t booked your Michelin tour yet?

That’s right, Michelin, publisher of the eponymous hotel and restaurant guides, bestower of stars to the crème de la crème of restaurants worldwide, is now booking culinary vacations. The drool-worthy itineraries include cooking classes with renowned chefs, wine tastings in celebrated cellars, and of course plenty of Michelin-starred dining.

Are we forgetting something?

Oh yeah; time and money. But don’t despair. With a little online browsing, you can find recipes and ingredients for any and all of the world’s culinary traditions. […]

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The Epicure’s Farm-to-Table Artisanally-Crafted Post of Over-Used Food Terms

[image via Madison Magazine]]]

They are trendy or inane, over-worked or over-wrought, misused and abused. These are the words that grate on our nerves.

Artisan

Wheat Thins artisan crackers? (Can’t you just picture them painstakingly rolled out and hand-cut by the master bakers of Kraft Foods Global, Inc.?) How about artisan flatbreads from DiGiorno’s Frozen Pizza? Like you’re back in the piazza in Naples. And pre-washed and bagged artisan salads? We’re not sure how lettuce can be artisanal, but leave it to Fresh Express, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chiquita Brands, L.L.C., to figure it out.

Mixologist

It’s true that a well-mixed drink is the result of a kind of happy alchemy. But bartending as a scientific discipline? We don’t tip the guy that runs the particle accelerator at the FermiLab, and we aren’t looking for the next Appletini that will cure cancer.

Veggies

Just say the whole word. It’s not all that onerous. Ditto for sammies (sandwiches), resto (restaurant), breakie (breakfast), chix (chicken), and apps (appetizers).

Nom nom for foodies

Let’s add to the list any word that sounds like it was coined in a nursery school (crispy, yummy, comfy, et al.).

Restaurant reviewer jargon

Toothsome; mouth-feel; authentic; playful; sauces that are napped; and dishes that are tucked into— does anybody speak like this? Can we make them stop writing like this?

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Culinary cliches: which ones bug you?

Read Gigabiting’s take on the cringe-inducing “F” word.

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Food Gone Wrong

Quentin Maraschino

Food can be funny.
Cake Wrecks tapped into this big time. Documenting the sad, silly, creepy, and inappropriate from the world of professional baking, the Cake Wrecks blog has more than one million followers on Twitter and was turned into a bestselling book.

Cake Wrecks is not alone out there.
Following are some of my favorite internet sites documenting the entertainment value of food.

TasteStopping is subtitled Feasting on Seconds. Home to the fuzzily focused and the poorly lit, the crumbly and the goopy, TasteStopping features unflattering posts that have been “rejected, declined or otherwise spurned” by Tastespotting, FoodGawker, PhotoGrazing, and other food photography sites.

Food Network Humor invites you to “Cook with them. Laugh with us.” It satirizes and parodies the ripe-for-parody-and-satire shows and stars of television’s Food Network. “Sandra Lee’s Kwanzaa cake? Ina Garten’s endless circle of gay-only friends? Giada’s hideous over-enunciations of every Italian word?” Food Network Humor takes spot-on potshots and deflates egos with the affection of a true fan.

The Museum of Food Anomalies calls itself an online exhibition of the Art of Regular Food Gone Horribly Wrong. With categories like Creepy Creatures, Conjoined, Religious Artifacts, and the catch-all Indescribable, this is where you’ll see the Virgin Mary banana chip, carrots shaped like human feet, and a smiley face calzone.

Food’lebrities combines celebrity names with food terms and images to create hybrid puns. Rieseling Witherspoon, Chive Owen, Jack Pickleson, Papaya Angelou, Nicoleslaw Kidman- the puns can be silly, tortured, esoteric, or inspired- and indescribably funny.

Don’t just take my word for it. Check out some of the sites for yourself; and send along any favorites of your own.

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Is Everything Better on a Stick?

   image courtesy of the Kentucky State Fair

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You coast dwellers can keep your Jersey shore and your Venice Beach. August is state fair season, and the middle of the country is happy to stay right where they are, thank you very much. There are 4-H exhibits and livestock competitions, country music stars and carnival rides, but the real draw is the food.

If it’s worth eating, it’s worth eating on a stick.

The state fair tradition of food-on-sticks dates back to the 1947 introduction of the Pronto Pup, a corn dog-like deep-fried hot dog encased in a pancake batter coating. The modern food-on-sticks era can be traced to the seminal 2001 season of the deep-fried candy bar-on-a-stick. When macaroni and cheese-on-a-stick was introduced the following year, it was game on; competition and creativity merged as vendors vied to outdo one another to create the best-selling, the tastiest, and the most outlandish food-on-a-stick.

Frying the unfryable.

State fairs are synonymous with crowd-pleasing fried foods. Since the stick is a handy vehicle to dunk skewered products into a deep-fryer, crispy foods-on-sticks abound. Past successes from the genre include deep-fried kosher pickles; Big Fat Bacon (a one-third pound deep-fried slab); mashed potatoes, and turkey stuffing-on-a-stick, the last two of which emerge from the oil like over-sized bread-crumbed lollipops. Less successful were batter-coated spaghetti-stuffed meatballs, fried corned beef reuben sandwiches, too-chewy pig ears, and crispy, crumb-coated chopped liver-on-a-stick.

Wisconsin, Iowa, Arizona— they all have their stick cultures, but nowhere is the competition fiercer and the passion more fervent than at the Minnesota State Fair. One-upmanship has resulted in 81 foods-on-stick at last year’s fair, known as the Great Minnesota Get-Together.

As they say in Minnesota, If you can’t eat it on a stick, then my goodness, why bother eating it at all?

Preview the 2012 lineup when it goes live on the Minnesota State Fair Food Finder. Fittingly, on-a-stick is a search term.

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What I Ate On My Summer Vacation

Let’s cut to the chase.
Sure, you can sit on a beach or breathe in the clean mountain air. You can tromp through museums and national parks, or get your thrills at a theme park. But you know that what you really look forward to on your vacation is the food.

What if the food is the vacation?
Food and wine festivals are in season. Late summer and fall are prime time for culinary tourism. You can partake of local delicacies, attend a demonstration or masterclass, or rub shoulders with a celebrity chef. There are farm dinners, winemakers’ dinners, and festivals of food trucks. And it all takes place in the company of like-minded food lovers.

Delicious destinations:
There’s Maine lobster, persimmons in Indiana, Sheboygan bratwurst, and chiles in Santa Fe. New York and Los Angeles both host celebrity-studded festivals. Any region, any tastes: the toughest part is choosing.
FoodReference.com lists events, expos, agricultural fairs, and food and beverage festivals through 2012, searchable by date, nation, or U.S. state.
The Big, World-Wide List of Festivals is a comprehensive list of links with special emphasis on wine and spirits;  LocalWineEvents. com can locate something closer to home.
Eventbrite.com tracks small food-related events like workshops, lectures, and films, many geared toward the food professional.
Alison Wellner blogs about culinary travel, and moderates a forum where you can post questions and learn from the experiences of fellow travelers.

Alternatively, you could always take a trip to Cincinnati,

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Or Six Flags over somewhere,

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_XtwGfqg0CKY/Slf2XRd0HbI/AAAAAAAABOo/D3wT6B6_fm0/s320/Picture+18.png

or visit the folks back home.

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Lickable Ads + Cards: even better than scratch-and-sniff!

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It’s tough out there in the 21st century. What’s a magazine to do? The internet is running circles around print. And greeting cards? How can they compete against e-cards with their music and animation?

Welcome to the world of sensory marketing.

For years perfume and cologne companies have been using scented strips to introducing customers to their fragrances. Scratch-and-sniff advertising had a burst of popularity in the late 1970’s. Now peel-and-lick lickvertising is having its moment. […]

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What If Alfred Hitchcock Had Watched The Food Network?

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… or if Stephen King was a foodie?

You would end up with a movie very much like Bitter Feast, which just had its world premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival.

Bitter Feast tells the story of a chef whose career is in a tailspin. His restaurant is struggling, and the ratings have slipped for his television cooking show. The final blow is dealt by a food blogger who trashes the restaurant online, describing the food served as ‘vomitous.’ Fired from both the restaurant and the network gig, the chef kidnaps the blogger to exact his revenge. […]

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Eat like a South African

If you want to know what South African food is like, it’s easier to jump on a plane for Johannesburg than to track it down in the U.S.

The population of South Africans in the United States numbers in just the tens of thousands. With barely a handful of markets and restaurants catering to the homesick expats, the foods are unfamiliar to most Americans.

It’s a true polyglot cuisine. There are a few enduring, indigenous dishes, but most South African cooking reflects the contributions of settlers from Portugal, the Netherlands, Malaysia, Germany, France, India, and the U.K. As soccer fever engulfs the planet, let’s take a look at some popular dishes of the World Cup’s host nation. […]

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AirFork One: rethinking airline meals

This fall, Continental joins every other major U.S. airline when it ends free economy-class meals on domestic flights. Like checked luggage and bulkhead seats, in-flight meals join the list of existing amenities that airlines are looking to spin into upgrades. The stuff of jokes probably since the dawn of aviation, few are mourning their passing.

Entrees On Trays

Prison food, hospital food, school cafeterias— has anything good ever been served on a divided tray? In fairness, serving meals at 40,00 feet poses unique challenges of logistics, space, cooking technology, and security. On top of all that, the altitude messes with the body’s sense of taste. […]

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Fantasy Camp for Cooks

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You’ve heard of rock and roll fantasy camps where aging boomers go to dust off their Dionysian rebel dreams and jam with classic rock legends. There are the fantasy sports camps, where 20 years and 40 pounds is never a barrier to living out big-league dreams.

If you had three wishes…

For those of us who dream of running a kitchen, who fall asleep counting Michelin stars and long to wear chef’s whites and slip-proof clogs; we get our own fantasy camps. […]

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Butter Carving Comes to Hollywood

Barack Obama rendered in butter courtesy of Norma "Duffy" Lyon
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Jennifer Garner has a taste for Butter.

Garner is producing and starring in a film of that name set in the cut-throat world of competitive butter carving.

Butter tells the story of a young, African-American orphan who is adopted by a white, midwestern family. She is discovered to have an uncanny talent for butter carving, a much-revered skill in America’s agricultural heartland. When the girl enters the butter carving contest at the Iowa State Fair she is pitted against Garner’s character, the ultra-competitive, limelight-seeking wife of the sport’s reigning champion. Garner’s husband is forced to step down after fifteen consecutive blue ribbon wins, and she is expected to step into his shoes. […]

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