Results for “food”
1835 found

Markets in everything, food fight edition

Juniors Rachel Whitcomb, Elizabeth Soergel and Taylor Procida are among those who protested an offer last month by the principal of Wilde Lake High School to pay students to identify participants in a cafeteria food fight.

…an intense debate erupted within the Columbia
school community over whether administrators should reward students for
informing on misbehaving peers. Last month, the student newspaper, the
Wilde Lake Paw Print, published three columns by students critical of
the principal’s offer.

"I find the administration’s recent use of monetary incentives
considerably more frightening than a food fight," wrote editor
Katherine Driessen, a senior.

Have you wondered how corporate scandals can go on for so long?:

Philip Soergel, a parent who complained to Howard schools
administrators about the principal’s offer, said: "We were aghast. I
had never heard of this. Kids are getting these kinds of lessons in how
to tattle on one another."

Here is the story.  It seems no one has turned in the perpetrators, I guess the price isn’t very high.

The Food of the Gods

"Yes, but think of the dead!"

Another voice took up the strain.  "The dead," it said.  "Think of the unborn…"


"Whatever it dislocates," said Redwood, "My little boy must have the food."

Those are both from H.G. Wells’s excellent and far ahead of its time, The Food of the Gods and How it Came to Earth.  The novella concerns a new tool of genetic engineering that makes people thirty-five feet tall, and of course occasions social conflict.  Well’s short fiction is in general much underrated.

Why is American food getting spicier?

Here is one hypothesis:

…some food scientists and market researchers think there is a more surprising reason for the broad nationwide shift toward bolder flavors: The baby boomers, that huge, youth-chasing, all-important demographic, are getting old. As they age, they are losing their ability to taste – and turning to spicier, higher-flavor foods to overcome their dulled senses.  Chiefly because of degenerating olfactory nerves, most aging people experience a diminished sense of taste, whether they realize it or not. But unlike previous generations, the nation’s 80 million boomers have broad appetites, a full set of teeth, and the spending power to shape the entire food market.

I’d be surprised if that explained more than five percent of what is going on.  Younger people are also preferring spicier food.  Western Europe has an older population, but I don’t see them (UK aside) falling for spicy food at a comparable rate as are Americans.  Nor does Naples, Florida have much spicy food outside of its Haitian community.  Instead America has more immigrants, and more restaurants run by immigrants.  Spicy foods are addictive.  Most importantly, spicy ethnic food is often better than what we had before, which indeed was usually horrible.  Sometimes the best explanation is the simplest one.

I might add that what is eaten is hardly very spicy at all, at least not to my palate.

Thanks to Michael Makowsky, a loyal MR reader, for the pointer.

How much better is local food for the environment?

Local food can consume more energy, especially when it is shipped — even short distances — by truck.  Here is from The Boston Globe:

…a gathering body of evidence suggests that local food can sometimes
consume more energy — and produce more greenhouse gases — than food
imported from great distances. Moving food by train or ship is quite
efficient, pound for pound, and transportation can often be a
relatively small part of the total energy "footprint" of food compared
with growing, packaging, or, for that matter, cooking it. A head of
lettuce grown in Vermont may have less of an energy impact than one
shipped up from Chile. But grow that Vermont lettuce late in the season
in a heated greenhouse and its energy impact leapfrogs the imported
option. So while local food may have its benefits, helping with climate
change is not always one of them.

And more:

Judged by unit of weight, ship and rail transport in particular are
highly energy efficient. Financial considerations force shippers to
pack as much as they can into their cargo containers, whether they’re
being carried by ship, rail, or truck, and to ensure that they rarely
make a return trip empty. And because of their size, container ships
and trains enjoy impressive economies of scale. The marginal extra
energy it takes to transport a single bunch of bananas packed in with
60,000 tons of other cargo on a container ship is more than an order of
magnitude less than that required to move them with a couple hundred
pounds of cargo in a car or small truck.

Yes even grapes from Chile end up on a truck but perhaps on a more efficient truck.  Why is there no talk of how they are transported from the Chilean vine to the Chilean port?  Here is a previous post on this topic.

Why don’t we have real Chinese food in the United States?

We don’t — just believe me — outside of a few places such as Monterey Park or Flushing, Queens.

Dan Drezner poses the query, and considers immigration restrictions as a factor, though without endorsing that hypothesis.  Immigration can’t be the key reason, since I can learn to cook the stuff (really), there is plenty of excellent Chinese food in Tanzania (really), and most French food in America is cooked by Mexicans (that you already knew), albeit with instructions.  The main problems are simple:

1. Cantonese food requires super fresh ingredients, lots of vegetables, and amazing seafood.  That’s three strikes right there, especially below the gourmet price level.

2. Sichuan and Hunan foods are oily, often very spicy, and most of all use lots of animal fat.  Nor do they hesitate to serve up chicken kidneys, pig’s maw, and the like.  This is essential for these cuisines to taste good but it all goes against the American grain.  To cite one example, Mexican food cooked with fresh lard tastes much better than with vegetable oil, yet most Mexican families, within a generation and a half, make the switch to vegetable oil (que triste!).

3. Even today most Chinese cities are huge gardens with massive swathes of small-plot farmland, right within the city.  Shanghai too.  The short food supply chain makes many things tastier, as they are sold fresh in daily markets.  The cuisine is designed around that system, whereas mass-produced American cuisine meshes with long-distance trucking.  This clash of culinary civilizations penalizes true Chinese styles, though I’ll still predict that real Sichuan will be the next big food trend here in the U.S.  In my household, it already is.

Since there is excellent and reasonably authentic Chinese food in densely populated Chinese-American communities, consumer demand (see #2) is probably the major factor.

For the comments I’ll stipulate no rehashing of the usual immigration debates; you all have enough chances to do that.

p.s. On MR it’s China Day!

Why no patent or copyright for new food recipes?

A loyal MR reader writes in:

Why do we have IPRs for literature, the arts and music but not for food dishes?  Of course, I’m not talking about a copyright on the Ham & Cheese sandwich, I’m talking about innovative new dishes…I’m not arguing that we SHOULD have IPRs for food, just wondering what the big difference is (if any) between the culinary arts and other arts…I realize it would be difficult to enforce such rights at mom & pop type places…but it would be possible to enforce those rights at big name places and large chains.

Food relies so much on execution, or at the national chain level on marketing, that the mere circulation of a recipe does not much diminish the competitive advantage of the creative chef.  Try buying a fancy cookbook by a celebrity chef and see how well the food turns out.  (In contrast, an MP3 file is a pretty good substitute for a CD.)  Most chefs view their cookbooks as augmenting the value of the "restaurant experience" they provide, not diminishing it.  Furthermore industry norms, and the work of food critics, will give innovating chefs the proper reputational credit.  It is not worth the litigation and vagueness of standards that recipe patents would involve.

Here is a recent article on recipe copyright

Here is an academic paper on how norm-based copyright governs the current use of recipes.  French chefs will ostracize "club members" who copy innovative recipes outright.  Now the fashion industry wants IP protection as well.

Why was British food so bad for so long?

English cuisine was historically bad in the cities because England urbanised fast and hard in advance of good transport and good food storage – hence corned beef, pickled everything, and mushy tinned peas. After that it’s a matter of lack-of-demand creating lack-of-supply – until recently. Multi-ethnic British cities are a fantastic place to find food these days (it ain’t the 50s any more, folks).

That is from reader comments on Brad DeLong’s blog, do have opinions on why British food was so bad?

Lexington, North Carolina food bleg

Like to shop? [In Lexington] you’ll find North Carolina’s largest True Value Hardware store, the largest dealer of Boyd Bear® Collectibles, and a dress and quilt fabric shop.

Here is the link.  But no, I want barbecue, and your recommendations are most welcome.  I am hoping that Kevin Grier, now visiting at Duke, will drive out to meet me for some pulled pork.

What is wrong with American food?

Kevin Drum asks:

What’s the scoop here? Why is it that even with lots of money and chefs who clearly know how to produce three-star food, American restaurants still can’t measure up to their French counterparts?

The context is the new Michelin guide, and whether four New York restaurants deserved three stars.  (BTW, even if you think they were deserving, as I do, count the relative number of stars in NYC vs. Paris; NYC does top San Sebastian, Spain, but not by so much).  His commentators make many good points, most of all about differences in ingredient supply networks. 

The better pure ingredients in Paris include amazing cheese shops, perfect bread, and fresher strawberries.  On the macro scale, this translates into superior haute cuisine.

America, in contrast, excels in multi-dimensionality.  Move away from refined Michelin-style cooking, and New York City is usually better than Paris.  We have better Indian food, Columbian food, Afghan food, Chinese food, sushi, burger joints, street pretzels, and so on.  Yet there is probably no single cuisine where NYC is #1 in the world, precisely because American ingredients are not up to scratch.

It is no accident that France specializes in uni-dimensional food competition, whereas the United States scatters its culinary energies in many directions.  By choosing food networks which emphasize speed, reliability, and cheapness over perfection, the U.S. makes possible many more ethnic cuisines, and it also guarantees a better shot at cheap prices.  In short, New York offers more choice. 

New food bleg

This coming weekend I will be in Memphis, Tennessee, looking for barbecue.  I know or know of the famous places, can you suggest a dump instead?  Don’t even bother if they have their own web site.  How about a place with an open barbecue pit?  I also will be driving down Rt.61 to Clarksdale, Mississippi, how about something there or along the way?  Comments are open.

Peruvian Food

You can eat pizza in Cusco but why would you?  Neverthless, many people must since the places are everywhere – lcd dining.  The local speciality is cuy (click on the link if you do not know what it is.  But do not tell my children what Daddy has been eating!)  Roasted cuy is an old tradition – recall the discussion of syncretism and subterfuge and check out this Cusconian painting of the last supper (scroll down to the third picture for a good view.)

You can get western cuy in town but I wanted the real thing so I asked the hotel guide where the locals go.  After some argument (si, si, yo no quiero cuy touristico, yo quiero muy bien cuy tipico) she relented and got me a taxi for the next day.

We traveled well out of Cusco, past the shanty towns and out into the countryside where cows roam next to the highway and the occasional llama can be seen on the mountains.  After about 40 minutes we arrived at a downtrodden pueblo.  I thought this was it but we then headed out on a dirt road finally pulling into an alley/driveway behind a house.  Just like in the movies a fat goose and a skinny dog (you work it out!) moved slowly out of the way as we pulled up to a terrace behind the house. The restaurant, if you can call it that, wasn’t much to look at but opposite were the mountains.

Two Andean mamas right out of the tourist book seated us and began to stoke a large earthenware stove with wood.  The cuy was roasted and served with excellent Andean potatoes as well as macaroni and cheese (!).   

The cuy: good.  The view: great.  The experience: priceless.