February 20, 2014
How To Make a Simple Cup of Coffee

Today’s coffee-shop owners don’t just place orders for beans. They backpack up the sides of volcanoes in Guatemala and Panama to find previously undiscovered farmers who will grow and process beans to their specifications. And if they’ve paid to trek to Central America, you don’t think they’ll just make you a quick cup, do you?
The current fashion is to make what should be the simplest of brewing techniques—pouring hot water over ground beans to coax out their subtle, delicate flavors—an exercise in endurance. Instead of simply opening a spigot on an urn, a barista will set a filter into a carafe and place it on an electronic scale before adding the coffee, to be sure of the exact ratio of water to grounds. Relying on a timer to ensure a prolonged pour (sometimes up to four minutes), the barista will then use a swan-neck pitcher to ever so slowly drip the right amount of temperature-controlled water into the filter, all while giving you a lecture on the new crop of Borboya Yirgacheffe. The experience seems calibrated to produce maximal annoyance.
Read more. [Image: The Food Passionates/Corbis]

How To Make a Simple Cup of Coffee

Today’s coffee-shop owners don’t just place orders for beans. They backpack up the sides of volcanoes in Guatemala and Panama to find previously undiscovered farmers who will grow and process beans to their specifications. And if they’ve paid to trek to Central America, you don’t think they’ll just make you a quick cup, do you?

The current fashion is to make what should be the simplest of brewing techniques—pouring hot water over ground beans to coax out their subtle, delicate flavors—an exercise in endurance. Instead of simply opening a spigot on an urn, a barista will set a filter into a carafe and place it on an electronic scale before adding the coffee, to be sure of the exact ratio of water to grounds. Relying on a timer to ensure a prolonged pour (sometimes up to four minutes), the barista will then use a swan-neck pitcher to ever so slowly drip the right amount of temperature-controlled water into the filter, all while giving you a lecture on the new crop of Borboya Yirgacheffe. The experience seems calibrated to produce maximal annoyance.

Read more. [Image: The Food Passionates/Corbis]

1:55pm
  
Filed under: Food Coffee 
February 7, 2014
Come Tour the McNugget Factory

In a popular gesture of transparency-in-advertising this week, McDonald’s gave the world a walking tour of its McNugget creation process. Depending which tales you have heard about what’s inside mass-produced chicken nuggets, the company’s disclosure lands somewhere between semi-reassuring and fascinating in a not-at-all-appetizing way.
The video is an installation in an ongoing series produced by McDonald’s Canada, the Canadian version of McDonald’s America, bent on dispelling rumors about their food. In this case, that the insides of McNuggets are a slurry of assorted animal parts.
In actuality, the video shows that it’s a slurry of pure chicken breast and skin.
The video has, in this era of food-vigilante justice, been received warmly. That’s in part because it feels authentic. If what we’re shown is as good as McDonald’s can make the process look, it must be honest. Their nugget portrayal is distantly removed from the pristine portraits that make it to billboards. The nugget they put before us now is cold, battered, soulless.
Read more. [Image: Ali Jarekji/Reuters]

Come Tour the McNugget Factory

In a popular gesture of transparency-in-advertising this week, McDonald’s gave the world a walking tour of its McNugget creation process. Depending which tales you have heard about what’s inside mass-produced chicken nuggets, the company’s disclosure lands somewhere between semi-reassuring and fascinating in a not-at-all-appetizing way.

The video is an installation in an ongoing series produced by McDonald’s Canada, the Canadian version of McDonald’s America, bent on dispelling rumors about their food. In this case, that the insides of McNuggets are a slurry of assorted animal parts.

In actuality, the video shows that it’s a slurry of pure chicken breast and skin.

The video has, in this era of food-vigilante justice, been received warmly. That’s in part because it feels authentic. If what we’re shown is as good as McDonald’s can make the process look, it must be honest. Their nugget portrayal is distantly removed from the pristine portraits that make it to billboards. The nugget they put before us now is cold, battered, soulless.

Read more. [Image: Ali Jarekji/Reuters]

January 23, 2014
The New Way to Love Food

As in romance, a solid relationship with food may benefit from time apart. The “every-other-day diet” involves one day of eating whatever you want, followed by a day of eating very little. Of this year’s eating fads, intermittent fasting stands out as one less ridiculous than it might sound.
Read more. [Image: geishaboy500]

The New Way to Love Food

As in romance, a solid relationship with food may benefit from time apart. The “every-other-day diet” involves one day of eating whatever you want, followed by a day of eating very little. Of this year’s eating fads, intermittent fasting stands out as one less ridiculous than it might sound.

Read more. [Image: geishaboy500]

January 17, 2014
What’s In Those Haribo Gummy Bears?

In all fairness, you were warned. The Amazon description for sugar-free Haribo Gummy Bears reads, in part: “This product is a sugarless/sugarfree item with ingredients that can cause intestinal distress if eaten in excess.”
"Intestinal distress," in this case, might be an understatement for what a series of viral Amazon reviews call, “trumpets calling the demons back to Hell,” “guttural pronouncement so loud it threatened to drown out my own voice," and "100% liquid. Flammable liquid. NAPALM.”
So why is it that gummy bears, an otherwise delicious, springy snack, become so sphincter-confounding once the sugar is removed?
Read more. [Image: [jromero]/flickr]

What’s In Those Haribo Gummy Bears?

In all fairness, you were warned. The Amazon description for sugar-free Haribo Gummy Bears reads, in part: “This product is a sugarless/sugarfree item with ingredients that can cause intestinal distress if eaten in excess.”

"Intestinal distress," in this case, might be an understatement for what a series of viral Amazon reviews call, “trumpets calling the demons back to Hell,” “guttural pronouncement so loud it threatened to drown out my own voice," and "100% liquid. Flammable liquid. NAPALM.”

So why is it that gummy bears, an otherwise delicious, springy snack, become so sphincter-confounding once the sugar is removed?

Read more. [Image: [jromero]/flickr]

January 15, 2014
The Dark Side of the Truffle Trade

Nighttime heists, Chinese knockoffs, and poisoned meatball-sabotage: the high-stakes pursuit of the world’s most-prized fungus,
Read more. [Image: Reuters/Stefano Rellandini]

The Dark Side of the Truffle Trade

Nighttime heists, Chinese knockoffs, and poisoned meatball-sabotage: the high-stakes pursuit of the world’s most-prized fungus,

Read more. [Image: Reuters/Stefano Rellandini]

January 15, 2014
Here Are the Countries That Drink the Most Coffee (The U.S. Isn’t in the Top 10)

Only one nation averages more than 2 cups of coffee per day. It’s the Netherlands.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]

Here Are the Countries That Drink the Most Coffee (The U.S. Isn’t in the Top 10)

Only one nation averages more than 2 cups of coffee per day. It’s the Netherlands.

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

4:55pm
  
Filed under: Coffee Coffee drinking Food 
January 8, 2014
Kale, Kale Everywhere, But Only Cheetos to Eat

A food desert, according to the USDA, is an area that lacks grocery stores, farmer’s markets, and other sources of healthy food. People living in food deserts often struggle to buy fresh produce, the thinking goes, so they rely on junk- and fast food, which contributes to their health problems. 
But what happens when you live in the opposite of a food desert? A place that is literally surrounded by the freshest food possible—a farm?
According to a wonderful recent piece in Modern Farmer, today’s busy farmers are like the ancient mariner: Kale, kale everywhere, but only Cheetos to eat.
Farmers’ days often stretch to 12 and 16 hours as they rush from field to CSA pickup to farmer’s market. As with Americans in other professions, the time crunch means cooking is often the first thing to go. A variety of growers told Modern Farmer that they snack on candy all day and their families live on pizza during harvest season. 
“At the height of the season, it is a feat in and of itself to sustain the energy to work let alone come home and start preparing food,” one Massachusetts farmer told the magazine.
Read more. [Image: alice_henneman/flickr]

Kale, Kale Everywhere, But Only Cheetos to Eat

A food desert, according to the USDA, is an area that lacks grocery stores, farmer’s markets, and other sources of healthy food. People living in food deserts often struggle to buy fresh produce, the thinking goes, so they rely on junk- and fast food, which contributes to their health problems. 

But what happens when you live in the opposite of a food desert? A place that is literally surrounded by the freshest food possible—a farm?

According to a wonderful recent piece in Modern Farmer, today’s busy farmers are like the ancient mariner: Kale, kale everywhere, but only Cheetos to eat.

Farmers’ days often stretch to 12 and 16 hours as they rush from field to CSA pickup to farmer’s market. As with Americans in other professions, the time crunch means cooking is often the first thing to go. A variety of growers told Modern Farmer that they snack on candy all day and their families live on pizza during harvest season. 

“At the height of the season, it is a feat in and of itself to sustain the energy to work let alone come home and start preparing food,” one Massachusetts farmer told the magazine.

Read more. [Image: alice_henneman/flickr]

January 3, 2014
How Did People in Ancient Popmeii End Up Eating Giraffes?

The tech infrastructure of the city hints at the varied diets of the people of the Roman empire. 
Read more. [Image: University of Cincinnati]

How Did People in Ancient Popmeii End Up Eating Giraffes?

The tech infrastructure of the city hints at the varied diets of the people of the Roman empire. 

Read more. [Image: University of Cincinnati]

January 2, 2014
The Sugar Addiction Taboo

Now that the holidays have come and gone, it’s time to look in the mirror and ask ourselves, “Did I really need to eat the whole box of chocolates?” If you did it in one sitting, you may suffer from Binge Eating Disorder, a newly-sanctioned psychiatric diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-V by the American Psychiatric Association. But even if you ate the box over several sittings, you might still suffer from its more controversial cousin—Food Addiction, not yet included in the DSM-V.
There’s been a lot of heat about food addiction, but little light. None other than Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse, has spoken out in favor of the diagnosis. Yet the psychiatric and the scientific communities have been slow to get on the bandwagon. Many scientists eschew the diagnosis while others embrace it. Not surprisingly, the food industry has largely dismissed the notion. No one argues that food isn’t pleasurable, or even that food doesn’t activate the “reward center” of the brain. But can food truly be addictive? In the same way that alcohol, tobacco, and street drugs are?
Read more. [Image: adriennf/flickr]

The Sugar Addiction Taboo

Now that the holidays have come and gone, it’s time to look in the mirror and ask ourselves, “Did I really need to eat the whole box of chocolates?” If you did it in one sitting, you may suffer from Binge Eating Disorder, a newly-sanctioned psychiatric diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-V by the American Psychiatric Association. But even if you ate the box over several sittings, you might still suffer from its more controversial cousin—Food Addiction, not yet included in the DSM-V.

There’s been a lot of heat about food addiction, but little light. None other than Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse, has spoken out in favor of the diagnosis. Yet the psychiatric and the scientific communities have been slow to get on the bandwagon. Many scientists eschew the diagnosis while others embrace it. Not surprisingly, the food industry has largely dismissed the notion. No one argues that food isn’t pleasurable, or even that food doesn’t activate the “reward center” of the brain. But can food truly be addictive? In the same way that alcohol, tobacco, and street drugs are?

Read more. [Image: adriennf/flickr]

December 27, 2013
EU Worried Danish Cinnamon Rolls Could Cause Liver Damage

Hopefully we know by now not to eat a heaping spoonful of cinnamon, no matter what hilarity and brief Internet fame may ensue. But used appropriately in, say, a pastry context, you’d think would be okay. The European Union seems to be of a different opinion, though—that you can overdo it, even on a seemingly-innocuous cinnamon roll. 
The EU’s regulations on a common type of cinnamon called cassia limit how much bakers can use: 50 milligrams per kilogram of dough, if it’s a traditional or seasonal pastry, or 15 milligrams per kilogram if it’s just a regular old everyday pastry. The concern is that cassia contains high levels of coumarin, a natural substance that can cause liver damage, if you eat too much.
This particular kerfuffle comes because the Danish food authority recently classified kanelsnegler, or cinnamon rolls, as an everyday pastry, which gives bakers a lot less cinnamon to work with than if the rolls were considered “seasonal.”
Read more. [Image: .vlctor Casale./Flickr]

EU Worried Danish Cinnamon Rolls Could Cause Liver Damage

Hopefully we know by now not to eat a heaping spoonful of cinnamon, no matter what hilarity and brief Internet fame may ensue. But used appropriately in, say, a pastry context, you’d think would be okay. The European Union seems to be of a different opinion, though—that you can overdo it, even on a seemingly-innocuous cinnamon roll. 

The EU’s regulations on a common type of cinnamon called cassia limit how much bakers can use: 50 milligrams per kilogram of dough, if it’s a traditional or seasonal pastry, or 15 milligrams per kilogram if it’s just a regular old everyday pastry. The concern is that cassia contains high levels of coumarin, a natural substance that can cause liver damage, if you eat too much.

This particular kerfuffle comes because the Danish food authority recently classified kanelsnegler, or cinnamon rolls, as an everyday pastry, which gives bakers a lot less cinnamon to work with than if the rolls were considered “seasonal.”

Read more. [Image: .vlctor Casale./Flickr]

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