Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Intermission Fun Time



On the count of 3, say CHEESE!

My travels last year took me to Bra (No, this does not refer to drunken college experimentations, but the city located in Piedmont, Italy) for the annual CHEESE Festival held in September. The sleepy and fog-laden countryside town is converted into Mecca as herds of cheese nerds and enthusiasts converge on the city. Taste workshops abounded, but the one that I found most striking was Cheese & Beer from the USA. Who would've thought that I would have to go all the way to Italy to fall in love with America all over again?

Traditionally, America's cheese culture among the common folk consists of the following phrase: American cheese, please Those that do consume Cheddar cheese or the more exotic Swiss don't venture far from the perimeters of Wisconsin. Surely enough, good cheese is being produced in the United States and in places no one would expect. Also, micro-brewery brews are making their debut all across the country. Walk into any wine store now, and you are bound to find a selection of fresh beer that actually resembles something of dignity and not of well, plainly said- urine.

**Side note: Stop eating American cheese, it's not produced from natural products. You might as well eat the plasticity it so neatly comes wrapped in.

 Here is your CHEAT SHEET:

1. Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery, Vermont
    Pair with Anchor Brewing Company, Liberty Ale

2. Andante Dairy, California
   Soft-Ripened Goat's Milk Triple-Creme
    Pair with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

3. Cypress Grove, California
    Humboldt Fog
    Pair with Duchessa ::: Birra del Borgo, Borgorose, Lazio, Italy
**Please note that this beer may be more difficult to procure as it is produced in a micro-brewery in Italy**.
Characteristics: golden color; fruity and floral flavors

4. Cowgirl Creamery, California
    Red Hawk
    Pair with ERIKA ::: Le Baladin Brewery in Piozo, Piedmont, Italy
**Please note that this beer may be more difficult to procure as it is produced in a micro-brewery in Italy.**
Characteristics: light texture and body; honey and apple flavors

5. Uplands Cheese Company, Wisconsin
    Pleasant Ridge Reserve
    Pair with Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn Local #1

6. Rogue Creamery, Oregon
    Rogue River Blue
    Pair with Flying Dog Brewery, Gonzo Imperial Porter

**Thank you Alicia Wolf (Houston, Texas) for the information.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

In search of "The American Dream"

Does "The American Dream" exist or is it simply that? A dream? A false hope doomed from the beginning?

Immokalee, My Home is a short and powerful film (27:45) that depicts the struggles certain immigrants face in search of the so-called "American Dream". You always hear about the great successes, but what happens to those who get lost along the way?

Immokalee, My Home
by Kevin T. Allen + Jennifer L. Heuson

To learn more about the dire situation in Immokalee and what you can do to help, please visit the following websites: Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Student/Farmworker Alliance, Alliance for Fair Food, and Interfaith Action of Southwest Florida.

Fashionistas of the world unite!

We interrrupt regular RAMBLING content to bring you some ALTERNATIVE FASHION NEWS!

Fashion is a serious part of life. Every girl (and some boys, too) is a fashion whore, whether they want to admit it or not. Well, unless you grew up on a commune.

Let's go shopping:

Seasick Mama
Beads for Love :)  - a DEDICATED posting. Vivi Cardenas' products can also be found at cocoa couture Boutique in Miami, Florida
cocoa couture
pookie & sebastian
Bona Drag
finding cupcakes
SHE Boutique

**Note to those living on a nekked compound = try accessorizing.

GMOs for Dummies

It is plainly obvious that the United States’ food system is flawed, but nothing makes it as blatant as the most recent cover of “FLORIDA Magazine of the Gator Nation”, Out of Date. Verbatim from Wikipedia: “The Pure Food and Drug Act of June 30, 1906 is a United States federal law that provided federal inspection of meat products and forbade the manufacture, sale, or transportation of ADULTERATED FOOD PRODUCTS and poisonous patent medicines.” How is it that we are still abiding by a law that was created in 1906? We are about to enter the 3rd Green Revolution (The latter is not a positive term. In the 1970’s, this movement created Agent Orange), but we haven’t updated an act that was created over a century ago? Oh, no wait- The introduction of the HACCP Policy (Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Point for Pathogen Reduction) was put into effect in the 1960’s. So, it has been modified a bit. That’s outrageous! Again, didn’t our government get the memo that it’s 2010?

Technology in the food and agricultural industry has advanced tremendously, but for the benefit of who and at what cost? Luckily (at least for Floridians), researchers at the University of Florida in coordination with Florida A&M University are hard at work to advance and update agricultural technology for the benefit and safety of consumers. Their research focus is not on SUPER crops. They are working with a food item’s natural genetics to enhance its positive properties and dispel its negative qualities through the restructuring of bacteria and pathogens. The downside- it will be many years before the finalized research will reach consumers. On the bright side, sarcastically speaking, we still have HACCP (Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Point for Pathogen Reduction).

Okay, so back to this business about ADULTERATED FOOD PRODUCTS. If you visit the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) lovingly confusing website, you’ll see that the adulterants list includes such things as: chemical contaminants, metals, natural toxins, and pesticides. Most of the food that we ingest has pesticides. Wait, isn’t our government supposed to be protecting us? There are endless graphs, statistics, and research findings that declare that there is a tolerable amount of pesticides that can be ingested by a human being (Really, did you know this? What are the long term effects of these “tolerable amounts”?). These tests are done in accordance with the Environmental Protection Agency (This is the organizations that looks the other way while Wal-Mart stores dump endless amounts of garbage into otherwise clean water supplies) and the Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Out of Date is currently not available online, but you can visit
The Florida Education Initiative as it offers an UNBIASED scientific perspective on agricultural biotechnology and genetically modified foods. The alliance between UF and Florida A&M that I previously mentioned is called the Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension (IFAS Extension) and their website offers consumers relevant information on Food Safety. Both websites also offer access to PBS’ Harvest of Fear; it is definitely worth a visit, (If you don't visit any other website, visit this one.) even if it is just to reconfirm your beliefs on the evils of genetically modified foods.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Dedicated Posting

The Untold Stories are always the best ones. Read a fellow gastronome's amusing anecdote about life and rice.

In the mood for more musings? Check out The New Gastronomes, a student blog from the University of Gastronomic Sciences.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Gnidear Sekam Ouy Retrams

I commend those who have continued to read this little blog of ruminations, even after taking an unannounced one month hiatus during the month of January, (yes, this is the self-deprecating artist fighting to break free) and will therefore provide you with a fruitful reward. Below is a list of books that I feel are the most relevant for the leisurely/hobbyist study of GASTRONOMY. Each book touches on a specific topic related to gastronomy and most all subjects are briefed. It is an extensive list, but not horribly exhaustive. The list could ultimately go on for days and become a blog on to itself, but I’m no book reviewer. I just write books, that’s all.
  • An Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan
  • In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, Michael Pollan
  • Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan
  • Food Rules An Eater’s Manual, Michael Pollan
  • Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser
  • Food Wars: The Global Battle for Mouths, Minds, and Markets, Tim Lang and Michael Heasman
  • Stuffed and Starved, Raj Patel
  • Food Rebellions, Raj Patel and Eric Holt-Gimenez
  • The End of Food, Paul Roberts
  • The Physiology of Taste, Herve This
  • Slow Food Nation: Why Our Food Should Be Good, Clean, and Fair, Carlo Petrini
  • Slow Food Revolution: A New Culture for Dining and Living, Carlo Petrini
  • Slow Food: The Case for Taste, Carlo Petrini, William McCuaig, and Alice Waters
  • My Life in France, Julia Child
  • Healthy Eats Here!, Holly Hickman
  • Food Policy: Integrating health, environment and society, Tim Lang, David Barling, and Martin Caraher
  • Edgy Veggie: Better Eating, Blissful Living and the Broccoli State of Being, Ellen Kanner
  • Slow Food Nation’s Come to the Table: The Slow Food Way of Living, Katrina Heron and Alice Waters
  • The Pleasures of Slow Food: Celebrating Authentic Traditions, Flavors, and Recipes, Corby Kummer, Susie Cushner, Carlo Petrini, and Eric Schlosser
  • The Slow Food Story: Politics and Pleasure, Geoff Andrews
  • The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution, Alice Waters
  • The New Organic Grower: A Master’s Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener, Molly Cook Field, Sheri Amsel, Eliot Coleman
  • Foodies: Democracy and Distinction in the Gourmet Food Landscape, Shyon Baumann and Josee Johnston
  • Gastropolis: Food and New York City, Jonathan Deutsch
  • Building a Meal: From Molecular Gastronomy to Culinary Constructivism (Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History), Herve This
  • The Cultural Politics of Food and Eating, James L. Watson and Melissa L. Caldwell
  • Larousse Gastronomique, Joel Robuchon, Charlotte Snyder Turgeon, Prosper Montagne
  • The New Peasantries: Struggles for Autonomy and Sustainability in an Era of Empire and Globalization, Jan Douwe Van Der Ploeg
  • The Gastronomical Me, M.F.K. Fisher
  • The Romance of Food, Barbara Cartland
  • Modern Gastronomy: A to Z, Ferran Adria
  • The Elements of Cooking: Translating the Chef’s Craft For Every Kitchen, Michael Ruhlman
  • The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute of America, Michael Ruhlman
  • The Soul of a Chef: The Pursuit of Perfection, Michael Ruhlman
  • The Reach of a Chef: Professional Cooking in the Age of Celebrity, Michael Ruhlman
  • Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise, Ruth Reichl
  • Comfort Me with Apples: More Adventures at the Table, Ruth Reichl
  • Tender at the Bone: Growing up at the Table, Ruth Reichl
  • Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, Anthony Bourdain
  • A Cook's Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisine, Anthony Bourdain
  • Each chef now has their own form of the COOKBOOK. Cookbooks cover only but one aspect of the gastronomical field.
  • The following chefs have created books that portray food as something more than plain subsistence (a topic of study within the field of gastronomy): Grant Achatz (Alinea), Thomas Keller (Ad Hoc at Home) and Ferran Adria (A Day at El Bulli).
There's your reading list, my dears. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

Personal recommendations are welcome.

Happy Reading and Happy Eating!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." -Virginia Woolf

"There is no love sincerer than the love of food." -George Bernard Shaw

"Food is our common ground, a universal experience." -James Beard

"You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces-just good food from fresh ingredients." -Julia Child

"Cuisine is only about making foods taste the way they are supposed to taste." -Charlie Trotter

older Italian Men...Who Can't Resist?

The following men are from different regions of Italy. They do not know each other. They are different, they are the same. The same country unites them. The same country separates them. This is the men of Italy, the soul of Italy, in vignettes.

Photo source: Ingrid Paronich (New York City, New York)