[E]ven though the restaurant's cartoonish decor bordered on offensive, it was still a temple to a people and a cuisine that America couldn't ignore. Taco Bells were everywhere. In every strip mall. Off every highway exit. Even the racists, the immigrant-haters, the people who'd laugh at my elementary-school stand-up comedy routine would run for the border.John DeVore writes about finding the "unexpected, self-affirming solace" of home... at Taco Bell. [more inside]
You can laugh or sneer at Taco Bell. Shake your head at its high fat and salt content. Go ahead and lecture on what true Mexican food is. My mom would probably just roll her eyes at you, and take a broken yellow shard of crispy taco shell and use it to scoop up the pintos, cheese, and salsa.
The Washington Post investigates how chef Peter Chang stopped running and started empire-building:
The pursuit of Chang soon became an all-consuming story among exotic-food hunters: a tale of obsession, devotion and love for one chef’s authentic Chinese fare. The chase narrative transformed a Hubei province farm boy with minimal English language skills into an American cult figure, an image that, years later, still clings to the chef despite his restaurant chain that keeps expanding year after year.[more inside]
Okonomiyaki World is a surprisingly comprehensive cooking resource that includes a history, recipes and variations for both Osaka/Kansai and Hiroshima styles, information on ingredients and nutrition, supplies and utensils, restaurants serving okonomiyaki around the world, and even an okonomiyaki discussion group. The only thing it's missing is a banjo tribute that features animated, dancing cats, but this link has you covered.
Perhaps no other classical composer was as obsessed with good food and wine as Gioachino Rossini, who claimed he would only visit America if his close friend, legendary chef Antonin Carême, accompanied him. Because of his culinary devotion, many dishes are named "alla Rossini." One of the most decadent is Tournedos Rossini, a heart-stopping combination of beef filet, fois gras, butter, black truffle, and Madeira. In honor of Signor Crescendo's birthday on February 29, here is a recipe for that infamous dish. And while it’s cooking, how about some bel canto? [more inside]
The History Kitchen takes a quick look at the food of the California Gold Rush, and has a recipe for Hangtown Fry.
The Huffington Post and Yelp have collaborated to create a map showing the most popular cuisine in each state.
Since the controversial 2010 takeover of the British company Cadbury, by the makers of processed cheese slices Kraft, consumers of chocolate have been dismayed at the many changes brought in by the new owners. But the breaking point of many has been reached as the recipe for Cadbury Creme Eggs in the UK is changed, replacing dairy milk chocolate with standard cocoa mix chocolate. To add insult to culinary injury, Mondelez International, owned by Kraft Foods, is also introducing five eggs in a pack instead of three and six-packs. The opinions of actors and wallpaper designers. [more inside]
SLBBC - Three cheers for the onion: onions are eaten and grown in more countries than any other vegetable but rarely seem to receive much acclaim. It's time to stop taking the tangy, tear-inducing bulb for granted and give it a round of applause. [more inside]
Recently on The Blue we've had discussions about American Chop Suey and New Jersey Pork Roll, but what about other regional favorites, like Lutefisk, Scrapple, or the French Dip Sandwich? Just in time for Thanksgiving, here are a few links to get you started:
Lieut.-Col. Newnham-Davis was engaged in 1897 as the restaurant reviewer of the Pall Mall Gazette, and his reviews of London restaurants are collected in Dinners and Diners: Where and How to Dine in London, available online from The Dictionary of Victorian London. Newnham-Davis was a bon vivant, amateur of the theatrical world, and man of parts, and his reviews were equal parts reminiscence of the conversation with his pseudonymous companions and recollections and reviews of his opulent and lengthy Victorian dinners. [more inside]
Amy Glaze writes How To Talk Like A French Chef:
I’m not learning the kind of French I intended to. The other night on one of my days off, I ordered a cocktail at an upscale restaurant that I had never heard of before. It was a mixture of rum and spirits with fruit juice. It sounded interesting but a little too sweet for my taste. I asked the server if it was dégueulasse (deh-guh-lass), which I thought meant ‘gross’.and The Chocolate Chip Caper:
My hands are permanently blood stained (out out damn spot!) and no matter how much bleach or hydrogen pyroxide I use it won’t go away. They are swollen from gutting hunted animals by hand and getting pricked by tiny bullet shattered bones – so much so, that I can’t even get my engagement ring over my knuckle let alone make a tight fist. The scars on my hands, wrists and arms from cooking and accidents (like the time I tripped on a box left on the floor and landed hands first onto our massive hot plate stove burning the entire side of my hand and wrist) are obscene.[more inside]
MIND MELD: Food in Science Fiction versus Fantasy
This week we asked about Food and Drink in SF. Food and Drink in science fiction sometimes seems limited to replicator requests for Earl Grey tea and Soylent green discs. Why doesn’t do as much food as Fantasy? Does Fantasy lend itself more to food than Science fiction? Why? This is what they had to say…[more inside]
Food in Every Country provides information on the foodways of several dozen countries (not all of them, despite the site's name), with brief explanations of their culture and history -- and recipes! [more inside]
Conservative bon vivant Michael Anton writes about the thrill of cooking in an haute cuisine restaurant, as well as the rise of celebrity chef culture and personalities like Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman.
The trailer for the 2012 documentary The Raw and the Cooked stands alone as a work of art, by capturing perfectly the best scenes from this beautiful film. Created by German filmmaker Monika Treut. Background.
Sinsemil.la isn’t about getting high — it is about haute cuisine. Founded in New York City, this underground supper club highlights exceptional and locally-sourced ingredients according to season. Marijuana varietals are tested not just for their organic qualities, but specifically to balance the flavors of each dish and for their psychoactive properties throughout the flow of the dinner.
"....many a tragic episode in family life is superinduced by the baleful influence of a tortured stomach. Mighty is the hand that holds the ballot-box, but mightier is the hand that wields to advantage the pepper-box, the salt-spoon, and the sugar-shaker." read the entirely of Maud C. Cooke's, Breakfast, Dinner and Supper; or, What To Eat and How To Prepare It (1897) online and enter a world of home remedies, large scale recipes, sound advice, leftover wizardry, squirrel stews, scientific digestion, and horrible things done to vegetables.
Scrapple, Half-smokes, Marionberry Pie, Cowboy Cookies and Akutaq: Deadspin responds to Slate's wonderful state-by-state sports map (previously) with a map of regional foods, complete with highly opinionated rankings and commentary.
"My wife and I were chatting while she was slicing potatoes on a mandoline..." A list of kitchen accidents, both personal and professional. (Maybe NSFW, definitely gory, though entertaining as hell.) [more inside]
For the past eighteen years, Gil Garduño has been chronicling his adventures in New Mexican cuisine on his NM Gastronome blog. With over seven hundred reviews of restaurants around New Mexico, Gil's got you covered, whether you like classic New Mexican food, green chile cheeseburgers, or even other types of food that happen to be well-represented in the state. Gil is fierce in his defense of homegrown eateries over chains, saying that "word of mouth is crucial to survival and through this bully pulpit, I’ll do my best to extol the great value and virtue of supporting local restaurants." A warning, however: if you like food, and particularly New Mexican food, Gil's excellent and evocative writing about (and photography of) great dishes is likely to make you more than a little bit hungry.
You got your cuisine in my astrophysics; no, you got your astrophysics in my cuisine: Neil deGrasse Tyson interviews Anthony Bourdain. (SYTL)
So, I’ve been doing my research. Because there are so many prefectures and so many famous foods, I’m going to be breaking this article up into two parts. One for North, East, and Central prefectures of Japan, and one for West and South prefectures of Japan. At the end of the second part, we’ll also include a printout that has a map with numbers on all the prefectures corresponding to a list down below it. That way you can print this out, take it with you, and go on a rompy food excursion in Japan.
Vice details dining on dog in Hanoi. (Trigger warning; pics of roast dog, graphic text). Dog eating is not limited to South East Asia, there's a historical precedent almost everywhere in the world, and is still eaten in parts of Europe. [more inside]
The five scholars explored the question, “What is the meaning of food?” and debated its role in ethnic and religious tensions. They also examined the possibility that “food, which is something that all of us share, albeit in different ways, can be used to bring people together instead of differentiating between us.” According to Goldstein, one of the most important ideas to come out of the group was that food is a social process rather than a commodity and thus is central to multicultural understanding: “[Food] has to do with how we live and it’s not just an object that we ingest.” Food: History & Culture in the West [PDF], was a 2010 UC Berkley Symposium exploring multiple links between food and culture: [more inside]
Historically, the city states of the Malay Peninsula often paid tribute to regional kingdoms such as those of China and Siam. Closer relations with China were established in the early 15th century during the reign of Parameswara, founder of Melaka, when Admiral Zheng He (Cheng Ho) sailed through the Straits of Malacca. Impressed by the tribute, the Yongle Emperor of China is said to have presented Princess Hang Li Po* as a gift to Mansur Shah, then Sultan of Malacca (+/-1459 AD). Tradition claims the courtiers and servants who accompanied the princess settled in Bukit Cina, intermarried with the locals and grew into a community known as the Peranakan. Colloquially known as Baba-Nyonya, the Peranakan or Straits Chinese, they retained many of their ethnic and religious customs, but assimilated the language and clothing of the Malays. They developed a unique culture and distinct foods. Nyonya cuisine is one of the most highly rated in the South East Asian region, considered some of the most difficult to master but very easy to love and enjoy.
ShortList has been reviewing British high-end (gourmet) burgers for the last few months. [more inside]
The BBC explore the olfactory delights of rakfisk, "trout sprinkled with salt and fermented in water for up to a year." But is it as smelly as Surströmming, fermented Baltic Herring from neighboring Sweden, or as extreme as the Icelandic Hákarl, basking shark buried in a hole and fermented for several months and tasting "similar to very strong cheese slathered in ammonia"? [more inside]
Food writing’s shameful secret, wrote John Thorne his seminal essay, “Cuisine Mécanique”, is its intellectual poverty. John himself is a notable exception. He is one of those rare authors who have the gift of transporting us into a world of their own creation which we are happy to occupy for a while in preference to any other. They are Virgils to our Dante, showing us around the territory and introducing us to the natives. In these magic realms, strangers speak to us immediately as old friends; arriving unexpectedly at dinner time, we find a place already set for us. [more inside]
"The future of gull cuisine in Totnes is optimistic. We hope to see further exploration in developing exciting and innovative dishes."
Each bite brought a delicate balance between pleasure and pain—deliciously peppery flavor, bought at the price of having your mouth feel like you’d swallowed fire. But the pain was a good pain, somehow. It forced you to slow down and experience each bite, and that’s a rare experience these days. No one mindlessly gobbles Sichuan hot pot, simply because it’s physically impossible to do so without powerful anesthetic.
You have only 128 days left to eat at Charlie Trotter's eponymous restaurant in Chicago. [more inside]
From the How To Be A Retronaut archives: U.S SENATE DINING MENU, Thursday August 27th, 1964
The San Francisco Street Food Festival is an annual Summer event in the Mission District that features around 60 different Bay Area vendors and is attended by tens of thousands of foodies. This year the usual mainstays were joined by Don Bugito, which served up insect-based dishes and billed itself as the first "PreHispanic Snackeria." When the food truck commences permanent operations this month, it may be the first eatery in the country devoted exclusively to preparations involving insects. But they're not the only entomophagy pioneers in San Francisco, where Bug Cuisine is Booming. So just how tasty are insects? (Via) [more inside]
Reconstructing nostalgic childhood food at Grant Achatz Next Restaurant. Background on 'Eater'. Previous menu of 1906 Paris. The business behind Next. Moléculaire!
Pasta alla carbonara (usually spaghetti, but also fettuccine, rigatoni or bucatini) is an Italian pasta dish based on eggs, cheese (pecorino or parmesan), bacon (guanciale or pancetta), and black pepper. [more inside]
Michelangelo’s Pizza Taste Test. [Video] Converting the gross-pizza-topping jokes (ex: chocolate sprinkles and clam sauce) from the TMNT cartoon into real world comestibles. [more inside]
The Sabich is a popular Israeli pita sandwich based on the traditional Babylonian-Jewish Shabbat morning meal. It it is usually seasoned with Amba, the mango pickle condiment of Indian Origin which the Baghdadi Jewish community of India brought to Baghdad (along with Sambusak, a variant of the Simosa). [more inside]
Modernist Cuisine, a 2400-page, 6-volume lavishly-illustrated and highly-anticipated $625 list price set (available for pre-order) by authors Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young, and Maxime Bilet, expounds a deeply scientific and avant-garde take on cooking techniques and been praised as the most important cookbook of the last 10 years. Its burger recipe. Its kitchen.
Marcella Polini Hazan, Cavaliere della Stella della Solidarietà Italiana, has Lifetime Achievement Awards from both the James Beard Foundation and the International Association of Culinary Professionals. She's also got one of those "cooking every recipe in her book" blogs.
A newspaper story about cooking testicles, featuring Chris Onstad, writer of Achewood. Also featuring an excerpt from his new Achewood cookbook, in which everyone's favorite Appalachian serial killer teaches us how to easily cook fried chicken. (Perfect fried chicken, previously on metafilter)
While it should not come as a surprise that some chefs get high, it’s less often noted that drug use in the kitchen can change the experience in the dining room.
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