Is it voyeuristic to want to learn about things you are unlikely ever to experience? Obviously I don’t think so, or I wouldn’t be doing what I do. Either that, or “voyeuristic” needs to be rescued from its shameful reputation. Three items speak to that, and one to non-local concerns.
Jonathan Katz’s website Flavors of Diaspora is an always interesting mish-mosh – and I mean that in the nicest possible way – of helpful recipes and thoughts on (Jewish) culture seasoned with the occasional longer piece. The latest of those is Not Just About Limits, subtitled A Misconception About Autism and Food. I found it fascinating, and not only because I did subscribe to some of the stereotypical prejudices about autistic people and food that he mentions. Jonathan has written before about disability and cooking more generally, but this specific look at the differences among people who are autistic and how they both proscribe and enhance activities related to food and cooking was an education. It is the first in a three-part series. Here’s the conclusion of Part I.
We all have our own, individual, complicated relationships with food. Autism plays a role. Constraining the conversation to limits means that we cannot appreciate the joys, fun, emotional wrangling, and practical considerations that autistic people have around food. Nor can everyone learn from autistic food experiences – which, in the final post of this series, I will discuss. In the next post, though, I will look at what different autistic people cook, and how they cook it.
I am looking forward to Parts II and III.
Ignorance is not bliss. It is deeply annoying and a huge time-waster.
I started reading How Garlic Noodles Became One of the Bay Area’s Most Iconic Foods merely to find out what garlic noodles were, and by the end of the first paragraph had been down no fewer than three separate rabbit holes. You, of course, are more disciplined than I am, so you will proceed to learn all about this dish, invented in San Francisco by a Vietnamese restaurateur and now adopted, it seems, by absolutely everyone.
The One True Recipe is, of course, a family secret, prepared only by members of the family in a secret kitchen within the kitchen; that has not stopped everyone from creating their own version of the dish. As the article says, there are recipes all over the internet, so I charged off down a few more rabbit holes to see what all the fuss was about. Let’s just say that there are many, many versions with a huge amount of variability in the total set of ingredients and especially in the amount of butter involved.
I’m not racing to try any of them, not least because I have absolutely no idea of what I am aiming for. Having made my fair share of late-night dishes of spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino, sometimes with an anchovy fillet squished up in the oil along with the garlic, I can quite see the attraction. What I want to know – if you have experienced these garlic noodles – is whether all the fuss really is called for.
From JStor Daily, a nice article about Perry, England’s Forgotten Favorite Drink. Like the one above on garlic noodles, this story too is well-researched and, in a sense, hyperlocal. The big difference, for me, is that perry – a sparkling, alcoholic drink made from pears – is something I used to drink with delight. The article explains how accurate botanical paintings and drawings of the old perry varieties were crucial in identifying the pears in abandoned orchards, and much of the content is drawn straight from Cherry Ripe’s super piece in Gastronomica in 2009. I think that is freely available to download. At least, it was to me; if you have difficulties, let me know.
Perry falls neatly into the genre of once popular, then forgotten, then rediscovered foods. It remains to be seen whether it will enter the fourth phase: too popular for its own good.
Maybe not, because perry trees, although long-lived, are slow to mature, meaning that production cannot be ramped up quickly. There’s still the chance that someone could produce larger quantities of an inferior perry, maybe tastier than the infamous Babycham, which would be easy, but not as good as existing perry. Traditional perry received a Protected Geographical Indication from the European Union in the late 1990s. That, as Cherry Ripe notes, “is meant to prevent industrial producers in other countries from stealing the market from small, honest producers who make their perry in a certain district as a continuing tradition”.
How much that is worth post-Brexit is anybody’s guess.
Too clever by half, I know, but I couldn’t resist. Not when faced with Are Vegan Meat Alternatives Really Saving Animals?. Of course not, would be my instant reply. Are they even supposed to?
Veg News – “the worlds #1 plant-based magazine,” presumably because parchment would be too difficult – takes a good look at the available numbers and explains that “we actually may know little about what’s really going on”. Along the way it comes up with a sentence that stopped me in my tracks:
Tyson does not want to cannibalize its own meat sales.
I suppose not. And, to be fair, the piece makes some interesting points that I had not considered, like the veto vote.
[T]he dreaded “veto vote” … occurs when a group of diners is deciding where to eat, and someone is vegetarian or vegan. If your restaurant cannot accommodate that eater, you lose the entire party.
All of which might explain why Burger King makes such a fuss about the Impossible Burger, so it can cater to the veg in the party.
I’m also 100% behind this concluding remark:
Simply swapping out animal meat with a plant-based burger in a Whopper is only addressing one symptom of a much larger problem, while ignoring the structural underlying causes.
Take care, and eat well.
p.s. Garlic noodles at Thanh Long by Yuichi Sakuraba on flickr.