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The Best Craftsmen in France

14 Mar

You know that moment in a documentary when you’re so invested that suddenly you are devastated that Philippe’s sugar sculpture shattered. Kings of Pastry takes you there. While I don’t necessarily recommend viewing this documentary during a Lenten swearing-off of desserts, as it could cause extreme pangs of regret for that foolish promise, I do recommend it in general.

Now, this Spring I have to visit the Chicago French Market to try some macaroons and cream puffs.

Food and Class in Newsweek

24 Nov

These are a few of my favorite things: good food, Francophilia and social justice. This evening I happened to pick up the latest issue of Newsweek magazine with this great cover story: “The Dinner Divide. How Our Foodie Obsession is Driving Americans Apart” The topic: the growing divide between the rich and the poor in the United States and how access to quality, nutritious food is becoming the newest status symbol. Food with simple carbohydrates like white sugars are often cheaper than more nutritious food like fresh produce.

The article doens’t comdemn the foodie as much as the title would suggest. (Good news for those among us who, like me, dream of someday putting a chicken coop, organic vegetable garden and mini orchard in their backyard) In fact, it champions the locavore movement. It simply points out the phenomenon-referencing of course the Messiah of local food Michael Pollan.

The article references French sociologist Claude Fischler, who comments on the differences between French and American food habits. She says,

“When asked “What is eating well?” Americans generally answer in the language of daily allowances: they talk about calories and carbs, fats, and sugars. They don’t see eating as a social activity, and they don’t see food—as it has been seen for millennia—as a shared resource, like a loaf of bread passed around the table. When asked “What is eating well?” the French inevitably answer in terms of “conviviality”: togetherness, intimacy, and good tastes unfolding in a predictable way”

I love this. Even more interesting,

“Even more idiosyncratic than our obsession with nutrition, says Fischler, is that Americans see food choice as a matter of personal freedom, an inalienable right. Americans want to eat what they want: morels or Big Macs. They want to eat where they want, in the car or alfresco. And they want to eat when they want. With the exception of Thanksgiving, when most of us dine off the same turkey menu, we are food libertarians. In surveys, Fischler has found no single time of day (or night) when Americans predictably sit together and eat. By contrast, 54 percent of the French dine at 12:30 each day. Only 9.5 percent of the French are obese,”

There is some nutritional-anthropology for you (what a lovely combination of ingredients that is!)

Okay, so examining French eating habits may not seem like the most practical way to address the issues of poverty and nutrition in the United States (I haven’t even started on food deserts!) It does provide some perspective on the issue though. For a broader look at the issue, take a look at the rest of the article. This issue fascinates me. I’ve been meaning to read Michael Pollan’s, The Omnivore’s Dilemma. I may just have to do that sooner rather than later.

If I’d have known you were coming I’d have baked a cake!

26 Sep

I have not been sure about adding recipes and food exploits to this blog- and I have gone back and forth. On one hand, the blog should have some semblance of topic or focus, but on the other hand, how am I really theming my blog anyway? I suppose if I had to nail it down it would be…the art of living? As horribly Martha-Stewart-esque as that little tagline is, I like it. This blog is about the things that make my life more beautiful and the things that I find thought-provoking.

So, thank you for coming.

I baked a cake.

My new favorite website is http://www.epicurious.com it is run by Bon Apetit magazine’s publishers and it has a broad range of recipes from all sorts of magazines etc. I had been using sites like AllRecipes to find recipes-on-demand I didn’t have in any of my cookbooks. However, AllRecipes seems to be the Wikipedia of cooking sites. It’s great as far as range of content- but it’s a reader-edited site- which is sometimes awesome, but sometimes a risk.

Epicurious has the best of both worlds. It’s recipes are more…’official’, meaning they have been published by an actual cooking publication. It has a wide range of interesting recipes, easily identifiable vegetarian options, and wine suggestions. I searched ‘stuffed peppers’ and came up with a variety of recipes that I could easily sift through to find the one I liked best. The recipes often include a picture, and always say what magazine they are from. A cool feature is the reviews section- where other cooks give their advice  and tips for customizing the recipe. And here is the best part- sign up for a free account on Epicurious and you can save recipes to a virtual recipe box for easy access AND even compile a shopping list based on your recipes! I love it!

So, I may have just infomercialled my secret weapon- but it’s so good, I couldn’t resist sharing. And, without further to do, my Blueberry-Raspberry Cake

Recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Blueberry-Raspberry-Cake-1621

I served it with Dark Chocolate Hagen-Daz ice cream, but I would suggest going more of a straight-up vanilla route- it’s better with the cinnamon topping.

Coming Attractions- Farmer’s Markets!

8 Sep

As self-aggrandizing as a preview of a future post might seem, I just had to give a ‘sneak peek’ of an idea for a future post. I could have kicked myself this evening when I didn’t bring my camera to the Andersonville farmer’s market. No worries though, in the near future I plan to remember my camera when I journey out to an area market.

In the meantime, check out hastily photographed purchases! Organic gala apples, a $.50 banana pepper and $.50 eggplant. And, my favorite, a pint of unpasteurized, grass-raised, skim milk. More to come soon!

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