Category Archives: Feature

Pick of the Month: What It Means to Be a Real Foodie (Vice Munchies)

Foodie poseurs are coming out of the woodwork these days talking a big game about the nuances of food. It’s more than just a word on your Facebook profile or the way you pronounce prosciutto.

I am such a Foodie. Ever since I can remember, I’ve always loved putting edible things into my mouth and chewing them, then swallowing and digesting them. I’m salivating just thinking about it.

Check out my blog if you don’t believe me. That’s where I document my extraordinary journey as a Foodie, and where you’ll see photos of all different kinds of food inside my mouth.

People sometimes tell me they can’t make out what they’re looking at. Well, I’ll tell you what you’re looking at—the early stages of my body metabolizing sustenance into nutrients, that’s what.

A big part of being a Foodie is knowing how to get food into your mouth. A non-Foodie would probably just scream out “Fork!” right now and be done with it. Don’t get me wrong, I use forks. I love forks. But I also might decide to go with a spoon depending on how liquidy the food is, or chopsticks depending on how Asian-y it is, or hands depending on how banana-y it is.

I try to not be one of those Foodies who judges other people for not knowing the things I know, but when I see someone trying to eat a sandwich with a ladle, it’s hard.

People have accused me of jumping on the Foodie bandwagon. They’re like, “I never heard you talk about napkins before they became a thing.” Yeah, I’ll admit to being a little influenced by all the hype. I’m human. But truthfully, napkins have been a major part of my Foodie regimen for years now, I just haven’t felt the need to brag about it.

Foodie poseurs are coming out of the woodwork these days talking a big game about the nuances of food and how they can totally pinpoint when something they’re eating is sweet or salty or even hot or cold. But you can totally hear in their voices that it’s all guesswork. Crunchy? Really? Because that looks a hell of a lot like a yogurt, so let’s cut the Foodie act, shall we?

I’m well aware that being a foodie comes with a responsibility to share my knowledge with others. That’s why I feel compelled to write restaurant reviews on the Internet. Here’s a quote from a recent review I wrote for a local place near my house. “Mmmmm.”

When I’m not writing about food, one of my favorite Foodie things to do is head over to the farmer’s market on a Saturday and jam my tote with as much beautiful local farm crap as it can hold, then walk home and throw it all right into the garbage. All of it. I call that Support and Release. Just my little way of illustrating that a Foodie’s responsibility is far greater than simply eating.

In the end, being a Foodie is more than just a word on your Facebook profile or the way you pronounce prosciutto. It’s also a word on your Twitter profile and the way you pronounce Doritos.


Original link:
https://munchies.vice.com/en_us/article/pgxq5m/what-it-means-to-be-a-real-foodie

Written by: Colin Nissan
Image by: Phil Roeder

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Pick of the Month: What Trump’s Budget Means for the Filet-O-Fish (New York Times)

Consider the pollock.

It is the most voluminously caught fish in the United States, accounting for a quarter of everything Americans catch. As such it is the major bulwark against the United States’ multibillion-dollar seafood trade deficit — the second-largest deficit in our trade portfolio, after crude oil. And it is, today, the main component in the McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish, or the “fish delight,” as Donald Trump likes to call it.

Now consider the president’s budget for the people who make his preferred sandwich possible.

If Congress seriously entertains the White House’s suggestions, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — a popular target for conservatives, who see it primarily as a source of pesky climate-change research — and the National Marine Fisheries Service it oversees will lose 17 percent of its funding. This despite Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross’s desire to “try to figure how we can become much more self-sufficient in fishing and perhaps even a net exporter.”

As the three of us consider this statement, a common wry fisherman’s response comes to our lips: Yeah, good luck with that, buddy.

Because of repeated sacrifices made by American fishermen working with NOAA over the past 40 years, the United States now has the most robust and well-managed wild fisheries in the world. Federal observers oversee 99 percent of the large trawlers fishing for pollock, ensuring that this largest of fisheries maintains an impeccable set of management tools.

But in spite of all of our success, only around 9 percent of the seafood available in American markets comes from American fishermen. In fact, the last traditional fishing communities in the United States are fighting for their very existence. Fair-trade local fishermen remain unable to compete in our domestic marketplace, which is overwhelmed and flooded with cheap, untraceable imported seafood.

More than half the imported seafood here comes from fish farms, mostly in Asian countries, where there is little regulation of food safety. The rest, which is wild, is often from illegal sources. Rates of seafood fraud and deceptive mislabeling in the domestic marketplace are soaring to unprecedented levels.

Which government agency is at the forefront of combating this fraud? NOAA. Any funding for NOAA programs that help consumers reconnect to clean, healthy, sustainable seafood swimming off our shores is funding that we cannot afford to lose. The costs of managing our wild fisheries will not disappear with budget cuts; instead, the financial burden for programs like federal at-sea monitoring will continue to shift onto the shoulders of the last remaining American fishermen.

And it’s not just wild American seafood that risks disaster. Aquaculture, the fastest-growing food sector in the world and one of the most promising new industries in the United States, will be crippled by President Trump’s budget cuts. The United States already ranks 17th in world aquaculture production, behind Myanmar. Yes, sad! Without NOAA, things would be even sadder.

Most Americans probably think NOAA focuses on the weather. It does, but it does much more. NOAA gave birth to domestic shellfish farming in the 1930s and continues to fund innovations like seaweed and land-based salmon farming, which has in turn opened up new horizons for unemployed fishermen and their children. In Rhode Island alone, oyster growers raked in more than $4.3 million and have swelled their ranks by over 20 percent. And if revival of the blue-collar economy is the goal, according to the World Bank, building a network of seaweed farms covering a piece of ocean less than 5 percent of American waters could generate up to 50 million new jobs globally.

The president’s budget also zeros out Sea Grant programs, which provide education and technical assistance for aquaculture and other ocean-based industries. In the last two years these programs generated $575 million in economic impact and created or sustained over 20,000 jobs.

For those who work at sea, economic opportunity is inextricably tied to environmental protection. An Environmental Protection Agency initiative to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus pollution, now on the chopping block, has been the catalyst for more than 500 new ocean farms in the Chesapeake Bay in the last five years.

Last, for everyday Americans who need fish for good nutrition, particularly school-age children, endangering the supply of clean, traceable, healthy American seafood risks our very future. It is estimated by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization that pregnant women who eat eight to 12 ounces of seafood per week bear children with better brains and eyes, and I.Q. scores 5.8 points higher than the children of mothers who did not eat the recommended amount of seafood.

Cutting NOAA’s budget is a bad idea, both for parents who want their children to realize their full potential and for a president who wants to keep eating his favorite sandwich. And if all that fails to convince, consider this: NOAA tracks storms and wave heights, allowing thousands of fishermen to work safely. Without adequate funding, many could find themselves literally lost at sea.


Correction: April 25, 2017 

An earlier version of this article misstated the percentage of large pollock trawlers overseen by federal observers. It is 99 percent, not 80 percent.


Bren Smith is a kelp and shellfish farmer and the founder of Greenwave. Sean Barrett is a co-founder of Dock to Dish, an international network of community-supported fishery programs. Paul Greenberg is the author of “Four Fish” and the correspondent for the forthcoming “Frontline” special “The Fish on My Plate.”


Original link: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/25/opinion/what-trumps-budget-means-for-noaa.html

Written by: Bren Smith, Sean Barrett, Paul Greenberg
Illustration by: Justin Renteria

Here are the Reasons Why You Should Become a Coffee & Tea Aficionado

We are now becoming more enthusiastic than ever with the art of drinking tea and coffee. I personally still find it fascinating to see some who are willing to go any length for the ultimate pleasure. As someone who enjoys both coffee and tea, here are my thoughts on why we should keep up with the trend based on my observation as a foodie and a global citizen.

Coffee is the talk of the town. Single origin batches from certain estates that produce high quality coffee are highly prized. Albeit some coffee shops would argue about the profitability in the long run when dealing only with single origins, it seems that individual drinkers are too enthusiastic to bother about that. It’s always a hype whenever we encounter geisha beans for example at a local coffee shop and certainly it attracts everyone! At the end of the day, a small batch of this rare find would end up somewhere in the hands of a true aficionado.

While coffee is still pretty much the talk of the town, Jakarta is also celebrating more appearances of tea houses as well. A few years ago, they had seen better days but the age of discerned foodies has arrived and revive the business. Foreign brands have been introducing their products here for quite some time to ride on the momentum. Interestingly, Indonesians brace the competition by also presenting tea more properly this time. Aside from familiarizing people with the concept of drinking tea as an art, we are also exposed with literally limitless variants of tea from all over the world.

Nowadays, coffee aficionados would invest their money on hand grinders, expensive espresso machines, or the popular manual brewing gadgets. Not surprisingly, tea lovers would also do the same to achieve that perfect cup. From learning the techniques to collecting different types of tea from different countries; they would also spend more on cups, affordable electric kettles, and up to the rare, decorative tea pots from all over the world!

One important thing to highlight here is certainly not about how expensive our gadgets should be to appreciate the finer things. Even for starters, you can already enjoy so much from the most affordable gadgets you can spend for now. A word of advice, befriend the experts and you will know what to buy first and why.

In addition to that; classes, competitions, and conferences make us feel more connected with the whole industry. We get to know more about the diversity of the products, the experts who set the examples, about the farmers and how we should appreciate their hard work, and many more. Certainly we can always start with the know-how to maximizing its potential fully in our cups.

I suppose at this point, we might want to agree that the colorful world of tea and coffee is not just about its geeky side or how methodical we should be for perfection. There’s always the sunnier side about it and that is about having fun with it, exploring the endless possibilities, and spending the extra dime for the best beans or the gadget of your dream!

Why Superfood Can Save Your Eyes, Research Suggests

Within the spectrum of visible lights, the blue light is among that has the highest energy. It is actually found everywhere like for example when the sunlight collides with air molecules in the atmosphere, that causes the sky to go blue. On a smaller scale, the blue light is also found on electronic devices such as laptop computers, cell phones, or the LED lights and fluorescent bulbs.

While the blue light has its benefits such as boosting our alertness, helps our cognitive function, and even elevates our mood; it also has its downside. Among which is something that many of us might be unaware of – it is hazardous to our eyes.

The macula functions as the filter of harmful light for our eyes and as it degenerates, we may experience the loss of vision. It is currently the leading cause of blindness in the West and an estimate of 1 in 10 people over 65 suffers from advanced age-related macular degeneration. 

On the bright side; superfood is known as the source of nutrients with large doses of antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals. We see many kinds of superfoods now on daily basis as they are incorporated with modern culinary techniques to create not just for an alluring presentation or the usual important features such as textures or taste, but also for their health benefits.

Macular degeneration can be fought by consuming more lutein and zeaxanthin found in superfood, and this is based from the recent study by Harvard University. Several types of superfood vegetables with the highest quantity of lutein and zeaxanthin are kale, cress, spinach, peas, asparagus, and more. 

Rated as an ingredient with the highest count of lutein and zeaxanthin, kale is easily the most famous among superfoods. It is ubiquitous and can be obtained in local markets quite affordably. From appetizers to main courses, kale is a highly versatile ingredients fit for everyday use. Professional chefs love to play around with the ingredients and there are a lot of easy recipes for us to try.

For more information about macular degeneration, you can check this elaborated infographic below. Let’s keep our eyes healthy with superfoods!


Infographic credit: Focus Clinics

Thank the Ottoman Empire for the taco al pastor (via PRI)

Tacos al pastor from Carmela’s Mexican Restaurant in Beaumont, Texas

At the Supermercado Mexico in Portland, Oregon, you’ll find a turning spit of pork, basted with chili and onions, dripping fat and flavor. Shave some off into a tortilla and you’ve got a taco al pastor, the classic Mexican street food.

It’s a similar scene halfway across the world in Jerusalem. At the hole-in-the-wall Al Waary restaurant, there’s a vertical rotisserie of beef spinning next to the flames, flavored by tangy vinegar. Shave some off into a pita, and you’ve got shawarma — the quintessential Middle Eastern street meat.

If you’re thinking these beloved dishes might be linked, you’re right. So we hit the street food trail to find out, starting in Jerusalem.

“Shawarma is very, very interesting,” says Ali Qleibo, a Palestinian anthropologist, sitting at the Al Waary shawarma joint. The origin of the word shawarma comes from the Turkish word çevirme, which means “turning.”

Ali Qleibo, a Palestinian anthropologist, in front of Al Waary shawarma stand in Jerusalem

You can find some version of shawarma everywhere in the Middle East where the Ottoman Empire once reigned.

“Turks call it döner kebab; Greeks call it gyro; Iraqis call it kas,” Qleibo says. “This shows you the all-pervasive influence of the Ottoman Empire, because all the subjects of the Ottoman Empire eat shawarma even though they call it by different names.”

Of course, the people of the Ottoman Empire didn’t all stay there. About 36,000 people under Ottoman rule left for Mexico between the late 19th and early 20th century.

“People came from as far as Egypt. I found some people [who] came from Iraq,” says Theresa Alfaro-Velcamp, a history professor at Sonoma State University who has tracked the migration of Middle Easterners to Mexico. “The majority came from the Levant, as it was called during that time, which is now modern-day Lebanon and Syria.”

The migrants left for the usual reasons: looking for economic opportunity, dodging army conscription and escaping sectarian violence. And when they arrived, they brought their food with them. “By the 1930s, there were restaurants that served shawarma,” says Jeffrey Pilcher, a historian and author of the book “Planet Taco.”

A shawarma sandwich in Jerusalem. Swap in pork for lamb, and a tortilla for a pita, and you’ve got the Mexican classic, Taco al Pastor

Then the cuisine morphed: “During the 1960s, the Mexican-born children of these Lebanese migrants … start opening up their own restaurants, and they start to create a kind of a hybrid cuisine,” Pilcher says.

“They take the technology that they grew up with in these Lebanese restaurants, the vertical rotisserie — but instead of using lamb, they use pork,” Pilcher says. “They marinate it in a red chili sauce, which gives it that distinctive color, and they cook these up and serve them and call them tacos al pastor.”

Even the term “al pastor,” which means “in the style of the shepherd,” is a nod to the original Middle Eastern lamb version of the dish.

When Mexico’s economy boomed after World War II, tacos al pastor moved from small towns to bigger cities and eventually into the US.

The fact that this classic dish was a relatively recent import from the Middle East doesn’t necessarily make it any less Mexican, adds Pilcher, the taco historian. “Authenticity isn’t always something that dates back to the ancient Aztecs and Mayas,” he says. “That meaning of Mexico is continually being recreated in every generation.”

But whether it’s lamb or pork, tortilla or pita, Jerusalem or Portland, the essentials have remained the same: Fat and fire, a handful of spices, a quick meal —  and a taste of tradition.


Source: https://www.pri.org/stories/2015-05-07/thank-ottoman-empire-taco-youre-eating

Photography: Daniel Estrin, Randy Howards, Joanne Rathe