The Canadian Pacific Christmas Train is a rolling holiday party for a cause. Two beautifully lit trains - on a US Route and a Canada route - cruise through the Midwest, stopping in 150 towns along the way to present live music and light shows while bringing donations of cash and food to local food banks.
Voices of the Food Chain Farmers are the iconic symbols of the food system, but food production, processing, and distribution make up nearly 15% of the American workforce. Today, StoryCorps and the Food Chain Worker Alliance are sharing videos of conversations from workers in different industrial sectors of the food system, showing how food labor crosses boundaries of culture, language, and experience. [more inside]
The New Rules of Oyster Eating, from Rowan Jacobsen of The Oyster Guide and Oysterater, home of the Oyster Map. Pearls of wisdom within.
Who Owns Chicken Tikka Masala? Complicating a popular origin story.
Michael Twitty is becoming one of the most transformative figures in the world of food. Reinterrogating and recreating African-American history in the context of American culinary history through his blog Afroculinaria, Twitty argues for "culinary justice" in food writing and the conversation on food history. His project (and forthcoming book of the same name) The Cooking Gene is in part a product of his Southern Discomfort Tour, a journey retracing the preservation and transmission of culinary knowledge before, during and beyond slavery. [more inside]
How Mountain Dew Came to Perpetuate a Deep-Seated Appalachian Stereotype As Mountain Dew taps into tropes of corn-syrup-free authenticity and nostalgia for "backwoods" "renegades" and "rebels" with its throwback drink Dewshine, a daughter of Appalachia considers how the beverage reflects cultural stereotypes. [more inside]
" “I tell my daughters that when I go, they’ll know the good recipes from the dirty pages.” [NYT]] A group of Nashville writers mounts an exhibit of the dirty pages from their own family cookbooks.
"New Englanders learn quickly to dismiss the chowder where tomato ruins its gorgeous broth, where references to New York tarnish its name...However, few know how such distinctions came about in the first place, what processes were involved that resulted in one person's disgust of another's beloved creation, and why, to this day, do we stand by such convictions?" The New England Chowder Compendium, from the McIntosh Cookery Collection at the UMass Amherst library. [more inside]
Archibald Query 's creation, Marshmallow Fluff, followed a winding path to household name. Most famous as a component of the Fluffernutter sandwich, this icon of New England cuisine appears in hundreds of other recipes, including whoopie pies and Mamie Eisenhower's Never Fail Fudge. You can even try making it yourself. . Other homages include the pop-style "Fluffart" of Susan Olsen, perhaps better known to us as the Brady Bunch's Cindy; some video tributes, and the What the Fluff? Festival in Somerville, MA (previously),
Ice Cubes - A Recipe. The comments offer many helpful tips.
The Perennial Plate: An American Food Trip is an online documentary series of short videos featuring "adventurous and sustainable eating" beginning in Minnesota and continuing around the US.
Diner's Guide to the Working Conditions of American Restaurants [PDF] published by labor advocates at Restaurant Opportunities Centers United.
"It's a different way of thinking about 'local' that's not quite as literal," says a consumer research consultant in an article running this week in alternative newspapers nationwide. The piece (by Stacy Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance) describes the response of global and national companies to the reality that consumers are moving more of their dollars into purchasing at locally owned businesses, representing both a threat, and an opportunity for companies that can successfully rebrand themselves as 'local'. As with greenwashing before it, 'localwashing' seeks to lure customers based on perception of values alone, resulting in such phenomena as Frito-Lay highlighting farmers from 27 states as the "local" growers for its potato chips and Hellman's Mayonnaise piloting a campaign in Canada to present its product as 'local' because most of the ingredients are from North America.
Ivan Day is both chef and historian. Using old equipment and original research in primary sources for recipes and descriptions, he can "cook a meal from any time from the Battle of Agincourt to the First World War," recreating historic banquets and collations in full detail. Galleries of his food exhibitions show that he can back that claim up, and that rapid changes in culinary trends are not of recent vintage. [more inside]
The Southern Foodways Alliance is one weighed-down church-supper table, full of oral history/blog projects like The Tamale Trail, the Boudin Trail, interviews and recipes from the Bartenders of New Orleans, photo essay/interviews from Birmingham's Greek-Americans, a mess o'homemade films, and a passel of event and BBQ-shack photos on Flickr, all smothered in the tangy-sweet academic goodness of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at Ole Miss. These folks get my vote for most flavorful, funkiest food-loving folklorists in the lower forty-eight. [more inside]
King of Fruits, Tempter of Adam, Prize of Paris: It's apple-picking time. The apple's origins reach into prehistory. Thanks to tremendous genetic variance in each new generation, humans have cultivated a dizzying number of named varieties, as many as 17,000, of which 7500 are available as growth stock. In the past, different apples were prized for particular strengths: cider pressing, storage, cooking, drying, or eating out of hand. Despite this bounty, just 15 shelf-stable, shiny, easy-to-pick varieties account for 90% of apple sales today. But heirloom apple growers are working to preserve the old flavors of the Roxbury Russet, the Westfield Seek-No-Further, the Fallawater, the Limbertwig, the King Luscious...
This is Our Slaughterhouse "I never thought of making a documentary. It took a friend to convince me that not everyone grew up working in a slaughterhouse. I realized the slaughterhouse I had worked in all those years was bizarrely entertaining enough that it might make an interesting documentary..." 22-minute short film on a small-scale poultry processing plant.
Waffle House Family and other classics are now available for listening in the comfort of your own home via online jukebox. No longer must you drive the darkness of the American Highway seeking that 24-hour beacon of yellow squares; no longer suck your sweet tea from the straw as you seek out original Waffle House tunes while waiting for your hash browns (
scattered, smothered, and covered, of course) to arrive. Mary Welch Rogers, wife of House founder Joe Rogers, is one of several artists who recorded Waffle House-themed songs for the fast-food chain's jukeboxes. Most were penned by Buckner and Garcia of Pac Man Fever. While you're at it, visit the shrine, and enjoy David Wilcox's song about feel the peace that's cooked in grease.
How We Eat A photo gallery of families around the world, and what they eat over the course of one week. Text in French.
"In a close-knit Chesapeake Bay community, the world’s fastest muskrat skinners face off in a truly cutthroat competition at the National Outdoor Show. One lucky young lady gets to be their queen." [Warning: Fiddle tunes!] Muskrat Lovely, a documentary about the conflation of the world muskrat-skinning championships with the Miss Outdoors beauty competition. The film will air soon on the PBS program Independent Lens. Catch some of the brackish flavor of the Chesapeake Bay's traditional regional culture, including some muskrat recipes and skinning tips.. And don't miss the link to Everything Muskrat.
How Much Fossil Fuel Does Your Dinner Burn? Ingredients for the average American meal travel well over 1500 miles to reach your plate. Our food might be inexpensive, but it's costing the planet a lot (and doesn't taste so hot either, since it's bred to withstand shipping and have long shelf life rather than to taste good). So what happens when people reject the large-scale industrial food system? One recent development in the growing localism movement is the 100-Mile Diet, originated by a Canadian couple who spent a full year eating only foods grown or raised within 100 miles of their home. They'll even give you a road map to having a 100-Mile Thanksgiving. For other variations on the eat-local idea, check out ideas like the Eat Local Challenge, Slow Food, and Locavores encourage you to rediscover your place on earth, build community, and enjoy the Local Harvest.