🔖 Urban Appetites: Food and Culture in Nineteenth-Century New York by Cindy R. Lobel (University of Chicago Press, 2014)

Bookmarked Urban Appetites: Food and Culture in Nineteenth-Century New York by Cindy R. Lobel (University of Chicago Press)
Glossy magazines write about them, celebrities give their names to them, and you’d better believe there’s an app (or ten) committed to finding you the right one. They are New York City restaurants and food shops. And their journey to international notoriety is a captivating one. The now-booming food capital was once a small seaport city, home to a mere six municipal food markets that were stocked by farmers, fishermen, and hunters who lived in the area. By 1890, however, the city’s population had grown to more than one million, and residents could dine in thousands of restaurants with a greater abundance and variety of options than any other place in the United States. Historians, sociologists, and foodies alike will devour the story of the origins of New York City’s food industry in Urban Appetites. Cindy R. Lobel focuses on the rise of New York as both a metropolis and a food capital, opening a new window onto the intersection of the cultural, social, political, and economic transformations of the nineteenth century. She offers wonderfully detailed accounts of public markets and private food shops; basement restaurants and immigrant diners serving favorites from the old country; cake and coffee shops; and high-end, French-inspired eating houses made for being seen in society as much as for dining. But as the food and the population became increasingly cosmopolitan, corruption, contamination, and undeniably inequitable conditions escalated. Urban Appetites serves up a complete picture of the evolution of the city, its politics, and its foodways.

Came across this excellent sounding history of food in New York via the author’s obituary in the New York Times.

📺 “Cooks Country” Spaghetti House Classics | PBS

Watched "Cooks Country" Spaghetti House Classics from cookscountry.com
Test cook Christie Morrison makes host Julia Collin Davison the perfect Hearty Beef Lasagna. Then, tasting expert Jack Bishop challenges host Bridget Lancaster to a tasting of block mozzarella. And finally, test cook Lan Lam makes Bridget a new weeknight favorite—Chicken Scarpariello.

👓 A few words about Cindy Lobel | Recode

Read A few words about Cindy Lobel by Kara Swisher (Recode)
She was part of the Recode family, and her tragic death last week leaves a hole in our lives.

A more personal obituary than the one in the NYT.

👓 Cindy R. Lobel, Who Studied New York’s History Through Food, Dies at 48 | New York Times

Read Cindy R. Lobel, Who Traced New York History Through Food, Dies at 48 by Katherine Rosman (nytimes.com)
Professor Lobel was among the first historians to explore the economic and social elements of city life in the 19th century through the lens of eating.

I’m glad the NYT caught this and gave her an obituary. I suspect it’s in part because she’s more local to NYC in addition to her husband and his outlet’s influence as well as their recent push to cover the work of women better–a year ago, even more sadly, there likely would have been no mention of her passing.

I’ll have to bookmark her book to check out. With any luck, friends and colleagues will finish the book she’s currently working on.

History cannot tell us the origin of wheat

Quoted Les Merveilles de l'Instinct Chez les Insectes: Morceaux Choisis (The Wonders of Instinct in Insects: Selected Pieces) by Jean-Henri FabreJean-Henri Fabre (Librairie Ch. Delagrave (1913), page 242)
History celebrates the battlefields whereon we meet our death, but scorns to speak of the ploughed fields whereby we thrive; it knows the names of king's bastards, but cannot tell us the origin of wheat. That is the way of human folly.

An aphorism which should be more broadly known, particularly as fearmongers begin to attack the public going into election cycles. I thought I’d make an ironic motivational poster out of it.

Hat tip: Jeremy Cherfas’s excellent Eat This Podcast

Photo credit: poppy in wheat field flickr photo by Grey World shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

🎧 “Risen” | Our Daily Bread | Eat This Podcast

Listened to Risen | Our Daily Bread 15 by Jeremy CherfasJeremy Cherfas from Eat This Podcast

August 15th is Ferragosto, a big-time holiday in Italy that harks back to the Emperor Augustus and represents a well-earned rest after the harvest. It is also the Feast Day of the Assumption, the day on which, Catholics believe, the Virgin Mary was taken, body and soul, into heaven.

Is there a connection between them? And what does it have do with wheat?

Apologies to listeners in the southern hemisphere; this may not reflect your experience.

I love the thesis given here and it most certainly fits.

It hasn’t gotten past me how much brilliance and thought went into the wonderful dense rich crumb that is the title of this episode. The audio is excellent as always, but I also notice there’s some fantastically overlaid background music that some may miss because it’s so subtly done. This is my favorite episode of the series so far.

The more I think about these episodes, which I like to listen to when I can devote my full attention rather than as background noise while I’m commuting or doing something else, I think they could be easily strung together to make a fantastic documentary.

🎧 “The inside story” | Our Daily Bread | Eat This Podcast

Listened to The inside story | Our Daily Bread 12 by Jeremy CherfasJeremy Cherfas from Eat This Podcast

That kernel of wheat isn’t actually a seed or a berry, at least not to a botanist. I have no intention of getting into the whole pointless is it a fruit or a vegetable debate, so lets just agree that no matter what you call it, the wheat thing is made up of three major parts: bran, endosperm and germ. In this episode, a little about each of those parts and what they do for wheat.

👓 When basil has gone to seed: contemplative pesto | Mark A. Matienzo

Read When basil has gone to seed: contemplative pesto by Mark A. MatienzoMark A. Matienzo (Mark A. Matienzo)
We are growing three kinds of basil in our garden: “regular” basil, purple basil, and Magic Mountain basil. The regular basil and Magic Mountain basil have been thriving quite a bit; the purple basil, less so, as it is growing at the base of the regular basil plant. But the other two, my goodness. The regular old basil was going to seed, though, much to the chagrin of my partner. I’d promised for weeks on end to do something with all that basil, as the stems grew woodier, and as the flowers turned from brilliant white to the brown of kraft paper. Meanwhile, the Magic Mountain basil also grew tall and bushy, went to flower, but only because that’s what it’s supposed to do. I’ve been reading Edward Espe Brown’s No Recipe: Cooking as Spiritual Practice, slowly, after picking it up on a personal retreat a few weeks ago. I have found it to help ground me in the practice of cooking, something I love to do when I have time (as I do right now, in the midst of time off from work), but loathe when I’m too busy. Standing outside, next to our raised bed, with garden shears in hand, I finally felt myself reconnect back to these lush and marvelous green and purple wonders growing in our raised beds. I felt the sunlight envelop me, and I saw how absolutely blissful the pollinators were amidst our basil plants: not just bees, but spiders, ants, and other bugs, too. And with all that basil, there’s but one thing to do: make lots and lots of pesto. One of the things I’ve learned over time is that there’s no wrong way to make a pesto. Yes, there are wrong ways to make pistou, or pesto alla genovese, but that’s beside the point. With a good blender or food processor, you can do just about anything. With a mortar and pestle, it’s harder but you can appreciate the effort. But you don’t need a recipe to make pesto. Sure, there are proportions you have to get “right,” but that’s all a matter of preference, too. So here’s a recipe, lovingly imprecise, in the spirit of Ed Brown, based on how I make it. It might or might not work. It’s up to you to figure it out. pesto about four parts green stuff (herbs, greens, arugula, carrot tops, what have you) one part fat (oil, lard, butter i guess) one to one and a half parts umami/textural stuff (shredded hard cheese, nuts, breadcrumbs, maybe some dried mushrooms if you wanna get wild) some alliums (garlic if you’re a traditionalist, could get wild with some scapes or shallots) Chop how you’d like, as much as you’d like. Mix it together in some kind of bowl or vessel. Add salt, pepper, or anything else you like. Taste it; if you don’t like it, add what feels like it might be missing. If you make a lot, stick some in the freezer as a nice surprise. If you want to make a spread out of it, add some yogurt, or sour cream, or coconut milk.

👓 Cornell researcher who studied what we eat and why will step down after six studies are retracted | Los Angeles Times

Read Cornell researcher who studied what we eat and why will step down after six studies are retracted (Los Angeles Times)
Cornell University says Brian Wansink will step down at the end of the academic year after a review of his work turned up many problems.

👓 Aviation Cocktail Recipe | Kitchen Swagger

Bookmarked Aviation Cocktail Recipe (Kitchen Swagger)
The Aviation cocktail is a Prohibition-era cocktail, consisting of gin, maraschino liqueur (cherry), crème de violette, and fresh lemon juice.

I can’t remember where I heard about this in the last week (perhaps a reference on a television show?), but it sounded interesting. Sadly, it’s got one exotic and infrequently used ingredient, so I’m debating about making some…

👓 Watch How Steel Ribbons Are Shaped into Cookie Cutters | Colossal

Read Watch How Steel Ribbons Are Shaped into Cookie Cutters (Colossal)
CookieCutter.com makes and sells exactly what you think they do. The Missouri-based company uses a combination of hydraulic and hand-operated machines to shape steel ribbons into classic shapes like gingerbread men, along with more complicated designs like deer and even the Statue of Liberty.

📺 “Kids Baking Championship” You’re in the Ballpark | Food Network

Watched "Kids Baking Championship" You're in the Ballpark from Food Network
With Duff Goldman, Valerie Bertinelli, Matthew Azuma, Darci Lynne Farmer.

Hmmm… I can only think that the producers had all the kids watch some episodes of America’s Got Talent so they would even know who the guest was.

While the kids look a bit talented and sophisticated as cooks, I’m painfully disappointed that only one tried (and failed miserably) to pop their own popcorn. Not a single one used the two hours to make their own caramel sauce and instead they all used the same canned dulce de leche. Even worse, one of the kids that actually incorporated popcorn into their dish natively didn’t win the challenge. Where is the humanity?

👓 It’s time to reconsider low-dairy diets, new study suggests | NBC

Read It's time to reconsider low-dairy diets, new study suggests (NBC News)
Cheese and yogurt were found to protect against death from any cause, and also against death from cerebrovascular causes, like stroke.

🎧 Nikolay Ivanovich Vavilov | Eat This Podcast

Listened to Nikolay Ivanovich Vavilov | Our Daily Bread 08 by Jeremy Cherfas from Eat This Podcast

This short episode fails to do justice to the man who, more than anyone, first grasped the importance of knowing where and how wheat arose. It does, however, explain why Vavilov wanted to collect the building material of future food security, for wheat and many other crops. In more than 60 countries, Vavilov and his colleagues gathered diversity from farmers’ fields; they died protecting their collections.

Thanks to Luigi Guarino for the photograph of Vavilov’s desk with his route across Ethiopia, and much else besides.

One day I’d like to get a solid biography of Vavilov’s to read, but until then, this short, but excellent story will have to suffice.