Maybe it’s because I have now been at this lark for almost seven years, but everything I see as I wander the interwebs seems to relate to something I’ve done here. As I was finishing the second cup of coffee culture a couple of weeks ago, The Guardian published From khat to coffee: revitalising an age-old Yemeni crop. It is a fine story, of heroism in the face of hardship and all that. Read it, though, and you would have no idea that the revival of Yemeni coffee was a standard trope even before the current war.
I’m half expecting to hear that expect Unilever plans to use the cash from selling fuddy-duddy PG Tips and Brooke Bond tea brands to invest in Yemeni coffee.
Don’t get me wrong. I think these all these stories are worthwhile, and I’d love to see peace in Yemen and Mocha out in the world. But would it hurt to offer a bit of more recent history than the ancient port of Mocha, lending its name, etc etc?
In the previous issue, I gushed a bit over a story about online food fraud and how “offline kitchens” were passing themselves off as hot restaurants and stealing their trade. Now it seems that more than your money is at stake. A San Francisco website had this to say about a converted warehouse filled with shabby kitchens catering, if that’s the word, to the online trade:
There is zero concept of “quality control” in this mass-distribution scheme, and everyone involved appears to have no food service background of any type. The lobby does not look like it would pass an SF Department of Health inspection. The delivery drivers do not grab orders directly, instead the food is placed in numbered locker units that are clearly not equipped with heating and cooling units to maintain proper temperatures. And app-based food delivery drivers are not required by their companies to have the California Food Handlers Ceritification to show even a minimal competence at cleanliness and safe food handling.
The kitchens in question are being operated under the watchful eye of Travis Kalanick, ex of Uber and now of CloudKitchens. I first came across that in a piece about Cooking as a Service that I shared in ETN 112. There, the talk was of healthiness and how online kitchens had little incentive to cook heathier food unless they can “fully monetize” that choice. I said:
Bottom line; if you don’t want to hand responsibility for the healthiness of your diet to someone else, the best thing to do is to keep cooking.
If this new report from the front-lines of the online life are to be believed, and I see no reason why they shouldn’t be, that applies to basic food safety too.
How do you like your whiskey? Sweet and fruity, or cardboardy and bready and leathery?
Yup, me too.
So it was fun to read all about how some folks down in Texas are selecting maize varieties that might make tastier whiskey. I’m all for it, but I just want to toot my own horn briefly and refer you back to Small-scale spirits, an episode from 2016 in which Jim Walters of Whiskey Acres told me all about his efforts to make a better-tasting whiskey with his own seed.
I’ve got this far, so I may as well continue to self-promote like crazy. You may remember Suzanne Dunaway telling me about how she started and then sold a fabulous artisan bakery in Los Angeles. Suzanne was one of the first authors to write about no-knead bread, so it was something of a pleasure to discover that she is also something of a no-gardening gardener. Her story of broad beans and radishes made me smile and sent me outside in search of neglected dill weed and sweetpeas.
How does your garden grow?
All the best,