Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Food Fads

This post may put some people off, but sometimes you’ve just got to speak out.
People often assume that because I’m a food geek then I’m all over the latest food trends. The thing is that in addition to food geek, I’m also a food snob and a bit of a food luddite. I feel that traditional foods exist for a reason – they fill a need for a given culture, and they fill it well. This means that when a food fad becomes too prominent and is given far more exposure than it’s worth (in my opinion, of course) I start to become … irritated.
So here are the food-related trends I’m sick of – in no particular order:
Yes, with enough work and specialized widgets you can probably prepare anything on a grill. I think I had enough of grilling many years back when I tried grilled lobster. It had that great, smokey flavor you get with a barbecue. The problem was the one thing I couldn’t taste – lobster.
Single-Use Appliances
Panini grills, juicers, veg-o-matics, ice cream makers, dehydrators, infusers, a thousand new things every year to spend money on to "save time in the kitchen." Most of the time there is a multi-purpose tool which will achieve the same end and take up a lot less space. The multi-purpose tools are usually easier to clean as well.
I like bacon, really I do, but I like things that don’t taste like bacon too. I don’t want to hear about bacon salt, bacon ice cream, bacon clothing, chocolate-covered bacon, bacon mayo, baconsicles, bacon soda, etc. If I want a dish to taste like bacon then I’ll add bacon, but most of the time I’ll skip it.
Deep Frying
Twinkies, Oreos, Mars bars, macaroni and cheese, butter – this one’s almost as bad as the bacon (in fact, people are batter-coating and deep frying bacon as well). Look, it’s nice to have something fried now and then. The frying process makes things crispy, adds the fat that people naturally crave, and even caramelizes natural sugars in foods. However, like grilling, it can also obliterate subtle flavors. What’s more, too much of this stuff will turn you into the Pillsbury Dough Boy.
Like clockwork, some agricultural collective will fund a health study which ends up showing that their product is packed full of something that conclusively reduces risks of somesuch or helps promote someother. Then for the next year or so that product is put into everything from floor wax to dessert toppings … until another study comes out and shows that the product works almost as well as a sugar pill.
Molecular Gastronomy
I suspect this term appears in a scientific dictionary and is defined as "overprocessed and overpriced". I suppose it could be considered to be edible art, but it also could be considered as food porn.
A biscuit, covered in mashed-potatoes, sprinkled with fried meat, gravy, and a ton of cheese. I’ve seen ads for all sorts of these from a variety of restaurants. Most (all?) of the time they’ve just taken the ingredients they already had on hand and plopped them down in a heap. I suppose they could just give us a trough or feed bag.
I simply hate this word. It just screams "dweeb".

Monday, January 9, 2012

La Maison Rustique - January

From: L'agriculture et maison rustique, Charles Estienne (Rouen, 1658).

The works that the laborer should do for each month of the year.
(Chapter 10)



As of January, mainly at the end, cut the wood he would like to dedicate to framing or other work, when the moon is under the earth: for the moonlight makes the wood softer, and wood to be cut this will last a long time without being corrupted.

Smoke the trees that bear fruits, without affecting their roots.

Among the trees and shrubs that flourish early: such as roses, damask plums, avant-peaches, plums and others; in cold and wet country during the first two quarters of the Moon; cut the vine in good weather and sunny, plow the land dry, light and white, slender, sandy, full of tall grass and roots, which will not be plowed until October: second will be to work to the salt land and spread straw on top of beans, or wheat and barley.

Cut poles of willow for vines and hedges; prepare good stakes to support the vines; cut and prune the trees, the Moon being waning; turn upside down all the manure made from St. Martin's day, so that is cooked when it will be spread on the field, and the like: mend make new the chariots, wagons, plows, and other instruments necessary for cultivation, provide sufficient irons for pruning and clearing trees and vines.

Throughout will be no seed, because the earth is still too rare, heavy, full of steam, and similar to badly carded wool.