Everyone’s take-home lesson from [the success of Grey Poupon] was that the way to get to make people happy is to give them something that is more expensive, something to aspire to. It’s to make them turn their back on what they think they like now, and reach out for something higher up the mustard hierarchy. […]
And Howard looked to that and said, that’s wrong! Mustard does not exist on a hierarchy. Mustard exists, just like tomato sauce, on a horizontal plane. There is no good mustard, or bad mustard. There is no perfect mustard, or imperfect mustard. There are only different kinds of mustards that suit different kinds of people. He fundamentally democratized the way we think about taste. And for that, as well, we owe Howard Moskowitz a huge vote of thanks.” —
Malcolm Gladwell’s brilliant TED Talk on psychophysicist Howard Moskowitz and how he reinvented spaghetti sauce — and in a bigger sense, spawned the huge variety in soda, pasta sauce, peanut butter…you name it, that we see today.
(Also, Maille whole-grain dijon mustard is clearly the superior mustard in its category.)
As advised by The MSF Manual (An Ode to The KLF), the final section of the Mission Street Food book:
First, you must be unemployed in a long-term way. If you have a job or even job prospects, you will choose them over the toil of the kitchen.
So if you’re just “doing this on the side”, disappear the thing that it’s a side of. Which perhaps explains why even my favorite food carts are never “side projects”. Imagine asking the stinky tofu lady near my grandma’s place in Hong Kong if she does this on the side.
“You mean on the side of the street? You’re not an undercover cop, are you?”
Second, you must be broke, because if you have any kind of real savings, you’ll probably prefer to coast on the assumption that something more promising will come your way. Being poor also instills a disdainful freedom from the concerns of your eventual clientele, providing the kind of clarity necessary to make decisions under the pressure of real constraints.
There’s a saying that goes, “When you’re broke, shit runs clear.” Okay, I made that up. But my broke state has made it clear that 1) I may never be able to afford anything that screams at me in Williams Sonoma, and 2) in spite of that, my $5 whisk has the word “BEST” carved into its wooden handle because it really is, and is all I need.
Also, having beefy forearms = legit.
If you happen to be enrolled at culinary school, stop attending. Better yet, get ready to categorically write off everything you learned there. Your knowledge of food safety and your hours of training to work under a negligible amount of pressure constitute a serious obstacle to your more realistici and caffeinated peers.
That’s the second time I’ve been reminded that the Cordon Bleu kids (or grown adults, rather) I see in Potrero Hill are basically paying someone for the privilege of smoking on the street in their chef gear.
Your school will be the Internet. Remember, the Internet is the world’s official record of existence, and taking the antiquated “F*ck bloggers/Yelp” stance only gets you the title of private chef. We repeat, stroke the Internet like your new lover and learn what makes it happy, because there’s no denying the fact that you’re in bed together.
I should point out that this manual was written with tongue firmly in cheek, but the difference between producing something that you love vs producing something that they love is probably the smartest piece of advice I’ve heard about being a successful anything.
Image by Lily Mihalik from The Ration
Even though the American Medical Association nor the American Psychological Association recognize food addiction as a legitimate condition, it’s a good way to describe the drug-like relationship that some people have with their food — which is to constantly and compulsively consume it in alarming quantities while the bar of food satisfaction continues to rise.
Certain foods trigger this sort of behaviour, and it’s not surprising (and unfortunate) that it’s the foods that aren’t good for you:
“Animal studies indicate that most, if not all, drugs of abuse increase levels of dopamine in part of the brain — the reward system, the nucleus accumbens,” Frascella said. “We know that food increases dopamine, too.”
When people eat highly palatable—sweet, salty and fat—foods, taste buds in the tongue respond by sending signals to the brain reward circuitry. Studies show that these foods blunt the dopamine receptors in parts of the brain. This means that some people may need to eat more to reach the same level of pleasure, Frascella said.
What makes it difficult is that you can’t “cold turkey” on food, because you need food to survive. Perhaps this recovered food addict said it best:
One of things that alcoholics will say is that we’ve put the tiger in the cage with the alcohol. But in [Overeaters Anonymous], we say we have to take the tiger out of the cage three times a day and take it for a walk.
The complete article on food addiction, from the brilliant UC Berkeley online food journal The Ration, is here.
Paul Roberts, The End of Food.
We have bastardized food to the point where it no longer does what we consume it for (to nourish and sustain our health), in order to make it accessible to everyone.
It’s about time we took back the value meal. And not just on September 17th, but every single day.
Monsanto, in response to a lawsuit filed in New York by Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) on behalf of 60 family farmers, seed companies, and organic farming groups.
According to the Heritage Farm Companion (newsletter for the Seed Savers Exchange, which I am randomly a subscriber of):
The lawsuit challenged, among many things, Monsanto’s right to sue organic farmers and others from “patent infringement” if seed from Monsanto biotech corn, soybeans and other biotech crops inadvertently found its way onto their farms or into food products.
Monsanto reassured PUBPAT that it would not sue over “trace” amounts; however, when asked to formalize this assurance in writing, they refused — and the lawsuit was amended on June 1. Here it is, in it’s 76-page form.
While it’s true that farmers have the choice of what type of seed and agricultural tools and chemicals to use, it’s not just the wrath of Monsanto that organic farmers are afraid of:
Society stands on the precipice of forever being bound to transgenic agriculture and transgenic food. Coexistence between transgenic seed and organic seed is impossible because transgenic seed contaminates and eventually overcomes organic seed. History has already shown this, as soon after transgenic seed for canola was introduced, organic canola became virtually extinct as a result of transgenic seed contamination. Organic corn, soybean, cotton, sugar beet and alfalfa now face the same fate, as transgenic seed has been released for each of those crops, too. And transgenic seed is being developed for many other crops, thus putting the future of all food, and indeed all agriculture, at stake. (Taken from the introduction of lawsuit.)
Monsanto finds these allegations “false, leading and deceptive.” But how exactly do they “stand behind the American farmer” if it won’t stand by Americans farmers who choose not to use Monsanto seeds?
Do people still write letters? Because this is the closest thing to a love letter from a fungi. (See what I did there? Please say yes. High five.)
Mushrooms baked in parchment
Serves 2. Recipe adapted from Alice Waters.
- A handful of good, fresh mushrooms per person — double-fists of mushroom.
- 2 tablespoons of butter.
- 4 scallion “blades” (what do you call them, anyway?), green parts only.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat oven, with a baking sheet on the middle or uppermost rack, to 230ºC / 450ºF.
While you’re waiting for the oven to warm up, do all of your prep work:
If you’re using mushrooms that grow in bunches (such as beech or enoki), trim the ends and roughly separate. If using large mushrooms like King Trumpets, slice them lengthwise into strips. Chop the scallion into 1 inch segments.
Tear off two sheets of parchment — about letter size or A4 size is fine. Fold one sheet in half, and then open. Place half of the mushrooms and scallions in the top half, season with salt and pepper, and then dot with half of the butter. Fold the paper in half along the fold to close.
Fold each corner in 1/2” / 1 cm folds towards the center — and then fold in both left and right sides in the same way. Basically, you should end up with an envelope that’s sealed on all sides — it doesn’t matter how you fold it, as long as you end up with a sealed package.
Repeat with the second sheet and remaining mushrooms, scallions, and butter.
Place the packages on the baking sheet and bake for 5 to 6 minutes. Allow to cool slightly for about a minute before serving — the steam can be pretty hot. Tear open the envelopes, inhale, and dig in. Also, if in appropriate company — lick the paper.
A nod to the eggplant special from Eiji — roasted eggplant with miso walnut paste. Oh my vegan umami.
Roasted eggplant with miso + walnut paste
Serves 2, preferably with rice
- 1 Japanese eggplant. I’m sure other kinds of eggplant work, too. I have no idea. Japanese eggplant just sounds right for a Japanese dish.
- 1 generous tablespoon of miso
- half a cup of walnuts, either finely chopped or ground into a fine paste
- dash of sesame oil
Preheat the oven to 400ºF / 200ºC. Slice the eggplant into large pieces, about an inch thick. Heat a frying pan with a small amount of oil over medium heat, and fry each cut side for about a minute, or until seared. Arrange them on a baking sheet, cut side up.
In the meantime, heat the miso, walnut and sesame oil in the residual heat of the frying pan that you used for the eggplant. It should just be enough heat to bind it all together.
Spoon the paste on the eggplant — you might have more than you need, so save it for next time. Or if you’re feeling sassy, pile it all on.
Roast in the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until the tops are slightly crunchy. Allow to cool slightly and serve with rice.