Potato-blog

Beware the cancer lurking within these harmless-looking spuds/iPhoto by Donna The New York Times recently called my attention to the USDA approval of a new genetically modified potato intended to reduce cancer by eliminating acrylamide. What is acrylamide? Here’s a link with lots of other links. It causes cancer in rats and therefore, maybe, in humans? We don’t know for certain. In one of these links a scientist guessed that 3,000 people a year get cancer from acrylamide, though on what he based his guess is, well, anybody’s guess. Here’s a headline I’d like to see in The Onion: Scientist Working to Extinguish Sun in Bold Effort to Eradicate Some Skin Cancers. And here’s my rant line: We fuck with our food at our own peril. The Times dutifully quoted people on both sides of the issue. Doug Read On »

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grinding meat

It’s summertime, for crying out loud! Nothing beats the smell of the smoke when hot fat hits hot coals. Grilling alone is a primal pleasure. Grilling among friends is a social pleasure. The flavor of a grilled burger is different from that of one fried in a cast iron pan–it takes on many complexities of the smoke, and if you’ve built a really hot fire, flames will lick the burger, adding even more complex Maillard flavors from all these differing heat levels. Grilled burgers have incomparable flavor for these reasons.   Why am I going on about the greatness, the inimitable deliciousness of the all-American summertime staple? Because my pal Michael Symon urged people, in the NYTimes of all places, to avoid using a grill because, “A grill is too difficult.”   Let me repeat Read On »

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Michael's-whole-grain-bread

I was thrilled by Kim Severson’s piece on the gluten-free trend because it points a light, yet again, on … but god, aren’t there enough klieg lights on American’s stupidity, gullibility, and laziness already? And yet even Severson herself quotes a chef, thereby giving the piece its own kind of reporter’s credibility, saying that the gluten-free fad is here to stay. This, despite noting that only 1% of the population is actually badly affected by gluten, and that there is scant evidence that there’s anything wrong with this wonderful protein combination. A grocer I know said he didn’t know if it was a good or a bad thing, the gluten-free fad, but he was loving the hell out of it. If Americans’ lack of self-awareness, or even awareness generally, weren’t already on painful display almost everywhere, Read On »

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Veg-Stand-@1020

I want to call attention today to Dan Barber’s New York Times opinion piece from a week and a half ago, “What Farm-to-Table Got Wrong,” and his new book The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food. Both address the “odd duality” of our country’s embrace of sustainable agriculture, local food, organic food, farmers’ markets, and the farm-to-table movement with the fact that Big Food is getting bigger. Corn and soy account for 50% of the farmed land in this country (mainly a variety of corn that’s not edible until processed, I’m guessing). The current agricultural situation seems untenable in the long haul. In the short term, it’s created a population so sick we currently rack up a billion dollars a day in health care costs. On the other hand, do I really Read On »

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A. Gelburg

Photograph by Marion Ettlinger/Corbis Outline                 “Ambition and a little luck are good things for a writer to have going for him. Too much ambition and bad luck, or no luck at all, can be killing.” The above quotation comes from a great essay on writing by Raymond Carver. I think of it now because I have been lucky, and when one of the sources of the great good fortunes of your life dies, you should take note, and give thanks. I was lucky enough to be friends with the Sulzberger family (owners of the New York Times) when I was in college, and through them met Arthur Gelb, then deputy managing editor of the paper. I wasn’t even a college junior yet and I’d never published a word, Read On »

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