Results for “food”
1835 found

Food in Portugal notes

Many of you recommended the pasteis in Belem, so when we were picked up at the airport we were immediately whisked there: "We know already that you wish to go" was the explanation.   

The white asparagus is in season and they stack ham on top of many things, including trout.  No other cuisine can make the blend of rabbit and clam seem so natural.  A good rule of thumb here is to order game, beans, and any combination of ingredients which sounds like a mistake.  The biggest mistake here is to try to replicate the kind of seafood meal you might enjoy in the U.S.

If you prefer Michelin "two-fork restaurants" to their starred alternatives, Portugal is the eating country for you.  I haven't seen a single Chinese restaurant.  It is Lusaphone eating: for your foreign options, you can find Brazilian, Mozambiquean (good chicken), Cape Verdean, and excellent Goan.  French and Italian are rare.

If I had a thousand dissertations to research, one of them would be: "The historical interconnections between the Portuguese dessert and the Calcutta sweets shop."

The fact that I found this post interesting to write makes me fear that Western Europe is not yet an optimum currency area.

What is the best food produced en masse?

Ben, a loyal MR reader, asks:

What is the preferable type of food to eat when it is produced en masse? I.e., for what type of food does the quality not diminish significantly when it's produced for a buffet? How much worse is Panda Express from "real" Chinese food vs. Fast Food Mexican from "real" Mexican?

Indian food, produced en masse, sits relatively well, especially the non-meat dishes and the ground meats.  It can sit and stew for a long time.  Chinese food, which usually should be cooked at high heat and served immediately, wares about the worst.  Barbecue can do fine, if it is cooked properly to begin with (not usually the case, however).  At Chipotle the carnitas are pretty good and they are cooked sous vide at a distance and then reheated in the restaurant.  But the top prize goes to Korean vegetable dishes, many of which are fermented and pickled in the first place.  Natasha and I catered our wedding party with Korean vegetables (and a bit more, including some cold meats) with no loss of culinary value.

How much do biofuels drive up food prices?

Biofuels have forced global food prices up by 75% – far more than
previously estimated – according to a confidential World Bank report
obtained by the Guardian.

The damning unpublished assessment is
based on the most detailed analysis of the crisis so far, carried out
by an internationally-respected economist at global financial body.

The
figure emphatically contradicts the US government’s claims that
plant-derived fuels contribute less than 3% to food-price rises. It
will add to pressure on governments in Washington and across Europe,
which have turned to plant-derived fuels to reduce emissions of
greenhouse gases and reduce their dependence on imported oil.

Here is the story, the report is not yet available, at least not to me.  Seventy-five percent seems like a high estimate to me, especially since many foods are more expensive but they are not all used for biofuels.  Still, the government’s estimate of three percent is surely way too low.  Biofuels are maybe a good test case for various estimates of government quality: will the bad biofuels still be subsidized five years from now?

The eleven best foods you aren’t eating

This has already achieved widespread circulation through the NYT, but if you don’t already know, its presented expected value is high.  A good way to eat pumpkin seeds is to fry them with chopped tomatillos and chopped white onions and a few chiles, then Cuisinart the whole thing into a sauce and use it with the meat or vegetable of your choice.  Tuna works well too, noting that a rural Mexican might add pumpkin or squash.  You can serve it with either rice or tortillas.

Food Fight

In a story rich with irony the Senate, led by Democrat Dianne Feinstein, has voted to privatize its restaurants and food services.  The House privatized twenty years ago.  The result?  Sort of like East and West Berlin.

In a masterful bit of understatement, Feinstein blamed [millions of dollars in losses] on "noticeably
subpar" food and service. Foot traffic bears that out. Come lunchtime,
many Senate staffers trudge across the Capitol and down into the
basement cafeteria on the House side. On Wednesdays, the lines can be
30 or 40 people long.

House staffers almost never cross the Capitol to eat in the Senate cafeterias.

Naturally some of Feinstein’s colleagues were not pleased. 

In a closed-door meeting with Democrats in November, she was
practically heckled by her peers for suggesting it, senators and aides
said.

"I know what happens with privatization. Workers lose jobs, and the
next generation of workers make less in wages. These are some of the
lowest-paid workers in our country, and I want to help them," Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), a staunch labor union ally, said recently.

The reporter adds without comment, "The wages of the approximately 100 Senate food service workers average $37,000 annually."  Who says we can’t get a better press corps?

Feinstein had an ace in her sleeve, however, and when push came to shove she unleashed her threat.  Feinstein warned "that if they did not agree to turn over the operation to a private
contractor, prices would be increased 25 percent across the board."  Well that was it – the Senate voted to privatize.

The carbon footprint of food

Ezra reports:

…two Carnegie Mellon researchers recently broke down
the carbon footprint of foods, and their findings were a bit
surprising. 83 percent of emissions came from the growth and production
of the food itself. Only 11 percent came from transportation, and even
then, only 4 percent came from the transportation between grower and
seller (which is the part that eating local helps cut).

In other words, when it comes to food the greenest things you can do, if that is your standard, is to eat less meat and have fewer kids.

Norman Borlaug on the Food Crisis

Here is Norman Borlaug, father of the green revolution, from about a decade ago but highly relevant today:

Yields can still be increased by 50-100% in much of the Indian sub-Continent,
Latin America, the former USSR and Eastern Europe, and by 100-200% in much of
sub-Saharan Africa, providing political stability is maintained, bureaucracies
that destroys entrepreneurial initiative are reigned in, and their researchers
and extension workers devote more energy to putting science and technology to
work at the farm level….

I now say that the world has the technology – either available or
well-advanced in the research pipeline – to feed a population of 10 billion
people. The more pertinent question today is whether farmers and ranchers will
be permitted to use this new technology. Extremists in the environmental
movement from the rich nations seem to be doing everything they can to stop
scientific progress in its tracks. Small, but vociferous and highly effective
and well-funded, anti-science and technology groups are slowing the application
of new technology, whether it be developed from biotechnology or more
conventional methods of agricultural science. I am particularly alarmed by those
who seek to deny small-scale farmers of the Third World -and especially those in
sub-Saharan Africa – access to the improved seeds, fertilizers, and crop
protection chemicals that have allowed the affluent nations the luxury of
plentiful and inexpensive foodstuffs which, in turn, has accelerated their
economic development.

And here is an awesome graph showing how much land has been saved by improved agricultural productivity in the United States. 
Nblfig1

Does fast food really make us fat?

Matsa and Anderson next looked at data on individual eating habits from
a survey conducted between 1994 and 1996. When eating out, people
reported consuming about 35 percent more calories on average than when
they ate at home. But importantly, respondents reduced their caloric
intake at home on days they ate out (that’s not to say that people were
watching their weight, since respondents who reported consuming more at
home also tended to eat more when going out). Overall, eating out
increased daily caloric intake by only 24 calories.

The researchers also find that greater access to fast food restaurants, as created by new highway construction, doesn’t much matter for weight.  Here is more, including a link to the original paper.

The history of Chinese food in Japan

The popularization of other Chinese dishes in Japan dates further back than that of gyoza, however.  The influx of Westerners into Yokohama, Nagasaki and Kobe during the 1860s set the stage for the diffusion of Chinese cuisine in modern Japan.  Although the Chinese had no legal right to remain in Japan before the first Sino-Japanese treaty was concluded in 1871, they were brought in under the legal protection of Western powers.  Western merchants relied heavily on their Chinese staff — servants, clerks and middle-men — to run the households and enterprises that they relocated from the China coast.  During the 1870s and 80s independent Chinese merchants began to settle in Japan as well, so that the Chinese soon constituted the majority of the foreign population residing in the ports.

That is from Modern Japanese Cuisine: Food, Power and National Identity, by Katazyna J. Cwiertka.  One thing I learned from this book was how much Japanese wartime experience created the notion of a national cuisine in Japan.  Before the war, for instance, soy sauce and rice were not common foods in many parts of rural Japan.

Good sense on food prices

It seems to me odd to fault the World Bank for advice some 15 years ago
to eliminate import protection–so that domestic prices could come down
at the time–while at the same time complaining about high prices now,
even with the benefit of hindsight.  If developing countries had all
kept their import protection, the global supply of food would have been
lower today, not higher. (That is because import protection would have
led global production to be reallocated from efficient exporters to
inefficient importers.) If you are for self-sufficiency, you must be
willing to live with high prices.   

No, that’s not me, that’s from Dani Rodrik.

Claims about food prices

My story is about a world where…GDP growth yields fewer poor people who respond to higher wheat prices by purchasing less meat or wheat, i.e. we have less of a shock absorber. That generates a reduced elasticity of demand of wheat. So prices have to rise by more in order to clear a supply-demand imbalance than was required in the past when there were more poor people who would adjust.

Here is much more, interesting throughout.

A Public Choice theory of Chinese food

Seth Roberts, citing Jennifer 8 Lee, writes:

Why did Chinese immigrants to America start so many restaurants? Because Chinese cuisine is glorious, right? Well, no. Chinese immigrants started a lot of laundries, too, and there is nothing wonderful about Chinese ways of washing clothes. As Jennifer Lee explains in this excellent talk, the first Chinese immigrants were laborers. They were taking jobs away from American men, and this caused problems. Restaurants and laundries were much safer immigrant jobs because cooking and cleaning were women’s work.

By the way, here is some work on immigrant complementarity with native labor.  George Borjas rebuts.

Collier on the Food Crisis

Paul Collier’s The Bottom Billion was my pick for best economics book last year (not written by a dear friend), it was smart, hard-hitting and unconventional.  Collier hasn’t lost his touch as a great comment, more like an op-ed, on the food crisis over at Martin Wolf’s Economic Forum illustrates.

The remedy to high food prices is to increase food supply, something
that is entirely feasible. The most realistic way to raise global
supply is to replicate the Brazilian model of large, technologically
sophisticated agro-companies supplying for the world market…. There are still many areas of the world that
have good land which could be used far more productively if it was
properly managed by large companies…

Unfortunately, large-scale commercial agriculture is unromantic. We
laud the production style of the peasant: environmentally sustainable
and human in scale. In respect of manufacturing and services we grew
out of this fantasy years ago, but in agriculture it continues to
contaminate our policies. In Europe and Japan huge public resources
have been devoted to propping up small farms. The best that can be said
for these policies is that we can afford them. In Africa, which cannot
afford them, development agencies have oriented their entire efforts on
agricultural development to peasant style production. As a result,
Africa has less large-scale commercial agriculture than it had fifty
years ago. Unfortunately, peasant farming is generally not well-suited
to innovation and investment: the result has been that African
agriculture has fallen further and further behind the advancing
productivity frontier of the globalized commercial model.

Read the whole thing.  Many more oxen are gored.

Haiti food fact of the day

At the market in the La Saline slum, two cups of rice now sell for 60 cents, up 10 cents from December and 50 percent from a year ago. Beans, condensed milk and fruit have gone up at a similar rate, and even the price of the edible clay has risen over the past year by almost $1.50. Dirt to make 100 cookies now costs $5, the cookie makers say.

Here is more information.  Here is one review:

A reporter sampling a [mud] cookie found that it had a smooth consistency and
sucked all the moisture out of the mouth as soon as it touched the
tongue. For hours, an unpleasant taste of dirt lingered.

Thanks to William Griffiths for the pointer.