Scientists have figured out what makes Indian food so delicious. [Washington Post]
In a large new analysis of more than 2,000 popular recipes, data scientists have discovered perhaps the key reason why Indian food tastes so unique: It does something radical with flavors, something very different from what we tend to do in the United States and the rest of Western culture. And it does it at the molecular level.
The Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery is an annual weekend conference discussing food, its history, and culture. Since 1981 the papers presented at the Symposium have been collected into a conference volume called the Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery, most of which have been made available for free in their entirety via Google Books. Each volume consists of about 25-40 papers surrounding the theme of that year's Symposium (e.g. Eggs, Authenticity, or The Meal). [more inside]
"The Notorious MSG’s Unlikely Formula For Success: The umami craze has turned a much-maligned and misunderstood food additive into an object of obsession for the world’s most innovative chefs. But secret ingredient monosodium glutamate’s biggest secret may be that there was never anything wrong with it at all."
The Great Hog-Eating Confederacy
Early Southerners ate a rather limited and unvarying diet. At table the famished guest seldom found more than bacon, corn pone, and coffee sweetened with molasses. Pioneering sociologist Harriet Martineau complained that “little else than pork, under all manner of disguises” sustained her during her visit to the American SouthFor the most part, slaves observed the same diet as poor white farmers. Though many kept gardens, and thus supplemented their rations of pork and corn with a wide variety of vegetables, they had otherwise little opportunity to augment their diet.. Another traveler griped that that he had “never fallen in with any cooking so villainous.” A steady assault of “rusty salt pork, boiled or fried … and musty corn meal dodgers” brought his stomach to surrender. Rarely did “a vegetable of any description” make it on his plate, and “no milk, butter, eggs, or the semblance of a condiment” did he once see.Christine Baumgarthuber is a writer for The New Inquiry and runs the blog The Austerity Kitchen. [more inside]
TOKYO GASTRONOMY is the YouTube account of Seiji Yamamoto, chef and owner of the Nihonryori RyuGin restaurant. His videos demonstrate traditional Japanese cuisine preparation in a serene and focused way. The ones that really hooked me was this 9 minute video of Ichiban Dashi creation and spring vegetable soup.
We know the Obamas planted a vegetable garden in 2009, bringing back the tradition of a White House Vegetable Garden (7:44 YT video), and Barack has home-brewed beer. The White House then released the recipes for their honey ale and honey porter, but what of the other White House recipes? Here are some modern Thanksgiving recipes, but what about the rest of the year? Our White House provides a glimpse into past White House kitchens, menus, and recipes, but that's still too thin. More than 50 White House recipes? Still not enough! OK, how about the complete White House Cookbook from 1887 (on Archive.org, also on Project Gutenberg and Google books). Vintage Recipes has kindly provided a tidied up table of contents and recipes for quicker browsing, but be warned, the techniques are dated, and some of the household tips are a bit questionable. More on presidential gastronomy, previously.
Eat the Invaders - Fighting invasive species one bite at a time.
"What's on the menu?", the New York Public Library asks. Cincinnati Ham, Champagne Sauce. Baked Weakfish. Republican Punch. Cup of Beef Tea. [more inside]
Journeyman Pictures has uploaded nearly 4000 videos to YouTube. Many of these are trailers for the documentaries they sell, but they have also posted hundreds of full-length videos. Most are for short documentarie, but there are a lot of features too. It's somewhat daunting to explore, but the playlists are a good place to start, and so are the shows: Features, Shorts, News and Savouring Europe, a European travelogue series. Here's a few interesting ones: Gastronauts, about French culinary students working to make astronaut food more palatable, Demon Drummers, about student Kodo drummers, India's Free Lunch, about the effects of free school lunches on Indian society, The Twitter Revolution, about YouTube and Twitter's role in the 2009 Iranian uprising, Europe's Black Hole, about Transnistria, the breakaway region of Moldova, Small Town Boy, about a gay male carnival queen in a small town in England, The Vertigo of Lists, Umberto Eco talks about the ubiquity of lists in modern culture and Monsters from the Id, about scientists in the science fiction films of the Fifties.
The Language of Food is a blog with only four entries, but each one is an excellent, well-researched essay on, yes, food and language: ketchup, entrée, dessert, and ceviche. The author, Dan Jurafsky, teaches a parallel course at Stanford, the syllabus for which you can peruse here. via (mefi's own) honestengine.blogspot.com
With flagrant disregard for their waistlines and their own gustatory limitations, Giles Coren and Sue Perkins (known as The Supersizers) have been going back in time to the diets of their ancestors for the (education?) amusement of the general public (well, people who watch BBC Two). Restoration | Edwardian | Victorian | Wartime | Seventies [more inside]
The Mexican kitchen's Islamic connection :"When Mexico’s leading writer, Nobel Prize laureate Octavio Paz, arrived in New Delhi in 1962 to take up his post as ambassador to India, he quickly ran across a culinary puzzle. Although Mexico and India were on opposite sides of the globe, the brown, spicy, aromatic curries that he was offered in India sparked memories of Mexico’s national dish, mole (pronounced MO-lay). Is mole, he wondered, “an ingenious Mexican version of curry, or is curry a Hindu adaptation of a Mexican sauce ?” How could this seeming coincidence of “gastronomic geography” be explained ?"
"Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of mankind" - H.G. Wells
Carbonated watermelon. Gelatin spheres with liquid centers. Broths and sauces whipped into foams. When the world's best chefs want something that defies the laws of physics, they come to one man: Dave Arnold, the DIY guru of high-tech cooking. Want to turn your kitchen into a science lab? Check out 25 extreme kitchen gadgets. Related, previously on Mefi: molecular gastronomy.
Multicultural toasting as an accoutrement for Gunther Anderson's guide to making liqueurs at home [ Principles | Science | Materials | Example recipe | and more... ]
Chez Pim the gastronomic blog of a little thai woman.... and her very own write up in the observer. I sort of agree with one of the comments.... the shots of the food make me feel empty.
Inkjet sushi - Some argue the kind of molecular gastronomy created by chefs like Moto's Homaro Cantu sucks the soul out of gourmet dining. Others turn it into better cooking for the unwashed masses, while still others turn it into a science project for the kids.
Go Ask Alice When She's Ten Feet Tall: Alice Waters's extraordinary influence on the way we shop, cook and eat makes her one of the great American heroes (and European too, check out the Larousse Gastronomique), mostly to those of us who have never been (and will never be) lucky enought to eat at Chez Panisse. [More inside.]
Food For Thought For Serious Foodies And Would-Be Pros: Egullet.com is mainly written by professional cooks for professional cooks but obsessive, perfectionist gastronomes like you and I can join in too. It's delightful and delicious; like a MetaFilter for fussy gluttons, over-curious gourmets and gastro-porn addicts. Today, celebrated chefs Dan Barber and Michael Anthony, currently wowing New Yorkers at the Blue Hill restaurant, will be answering questions from hoi-polloi such as ourselves. My question's already in...[ From the August issue of Food and Wine magazine, where Michael Anthony was interviewed as one of the best new American chefs.]