Wednesday, May 15, 2013
I want to sing
a song worthy of
the avocado, renegade
fruit, strict individualist, pear
gone crazy. Praise to its skin
like an armadillo’s, the refusal
to adulate beauty. Schmoo-shaped
and always face forward, it is what it
is. Kudos to its courage, its inherent love
of democracy. Hosannas for its motley coat,
neither black, brown, nor green, but purple-hued,
like a bruise. Unlike the obstreperous coconut, the
avocado yields to the knife, surrenders its hide of leather,
blade sliding under the skin and stripping the fruit. Praise
to its nakedness posed before me, homely, yellow-green,
and slippery, bottom-heavy like a woman in a Renoir, her
flesh soft velvet. I cup the fruit in my palm, slice and hold,
slice and hold, down to the stone at the core, firm fist at the
center. Pale peridot crescents slip out, like slivers of moon.
Exquisite moment of ripeness! a dash of salt, the first bite
squishes between tongue and palate, eases down my
throat, oozes vitamins and oil. Could anything be more
delicious, more digestible? Plaudits to its versatility,
yummy in Cobb salad, saucy in guacamole, boldly
stuffed with crabmeat. My avocado dangles from
a tree, lifts its puckered face to the sun, pulls
all that light inside. Praise it for being small,
misshapen, and durable. Praise it for
the largeness of its heart.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Food Art: Tiramisù, food photography by Alessandro Boscolo Agostini
Bio of Alessandro Boscolo Agostini
My first love for photography started with a little theft: as a little boy I stole my father’s Vöiglander and I started taking pictures on my own, just using my instinct. At that time my father’s camera seemed to me the best camera possible in the whole world, until I reached junior high school and I gave it up for a Bencini all my own. But my little theft came all back to me; my girlfriend to whom I had lent my camera never gave it back to me: that can be considered petty robbery, no?
Growing up, I robbed again: in high school I stole time I might have devoted to photography and dedicated myself to my other passion, music. I studied drums and played jazz music. But it was just an infatuation, because I went back to my first love and never left it again. And as a pledge of love, I gave up my history studies in college, giving a great distress to many people, but not to myself.
Today, I rob with no qualms, and I confess it with no shame. My spoils are my sensations, emotions, lines, colours, compositions: I catch everything that stops in front of my camera, I catch it with a click to close it in a graphic cage. It doesn’t matter if its a catalogue or a magazine. What I’m really interested in is the look, my look of the world. In the millions of images that every day cross into my life, that go around it, that chase me in silence. For this reason I have photographed any kind of subject and still do it every day without specializing myself in anything in particular. From a luxury Hotel suite, to the sexy transparencies of a Murano glass. From an art exhibitions to a ballet. From a golf course, to actors on a stage. The list can go on and on, while this piece of paper must finish here. I hope that I haven’t been once more a thief: that I haven’t taken up to much of your time. If this has happened please don’t report me to the police, because I will give myself immediately up: I’m Alessandro Boscolo Agostini!
Il mio amore per la fotografia ha inizio con un furto: da piccolo rubai la Vöiglander di mio padre e cominciai a scattare così, d’istinto. All’epoca quella mi sembrava la macchina fotografica più bella del mondo, almeno fino a quando, in prima media, non la tradii per una Bencini tutta mia. Ma il contrappasso per il piccolo delinquente che ero arrivò molto presto, perché una fidanzatina a cui la prestai, non me la restituì mai: di fatto, anche quello fu un piccolo furto! Crescendo, ho rubato ancora: ai tempi del Liceo ho sottratto tempo alla passione per la fotografia dedicandomi per alcuni anni al jazz e allo studio della batteria, altro mio grande amore. Ma è stata solo una gran bella bionda di passaggio, perché alla fine sono tornato dalla mia “vecchia” per non lasciarla più. Anzi, come pegno d’amore, per lei ho mandato a quel paese gli studi storici con sommo dolore di parecchie persone, ma non certo il mio. Oggi, lo confesso, rubo senza più sensi di colpa. Il mio bottino sono sensazioni, emozioni, linee, colori, composizioni: ciò che si ferma davanti al mio obiettivo lo faccio mio, lo catturo con un click, magari per rinchiuderlo in una gabbia grafica. Non importa se è la gabbia di un catalogo oppure quella di una rivista. A me interessa lo sguardo, il mio sguardo sul mondo. Sui miliardi di immagini che ogni giorno attraversano la mia vita, le scorrono intorno, mi seguono in silenzio. Per questo ho fotografato di tutto e continuo a farlo, senza scegliere di dedicarmi a un settore soltanto. Perché tutto può essere immagine, una buona immagine. Da una suite di un hotel di lusso, alle trasparenze seducenti di un vetro di Murano. Da una mostra d’arte a uno spettacolo di danza. Da un campo da golf, agli attori su un set di un film. L’elenco potrebbe continuare, mentre questo scritto si chiude qui. Spero di non aver compiuto l’ultimo furto di questa storia, ossia di avervi rubato troppo tempo. Se fosse così, non denunciatemi, perché mi costituisco subito: sono Alessandro Boscolo Agostini!
When Ethics and Business Meet
When you choose a coffee shop, do you think about ethics? How far are you willing to go to remain ethical and natural? Should it be natural pure cane sugar, recyclable cups and napkins, and ethical coffee beans, or can you throw in a little artificial sugar and refined sugar so that everybody is happy? What are your thoughts?
A New Series on The Rambling Epicure: Food Art: Breaking Bread
Click here to read more about Thomas Needham’s contemporary paintings and biography, for sale on his website.
Monday, May 13, 2013
Are you a femivore? This word was recently added to the Urban Dictionary.
Origin of the Term “Femivore”
Educated career women, or “femivores”, all over the U.S. are choosing to give up their careers and go back to the farm (sometimes an urban farm) and back to the kitchen — often the same women who refused to take anything even vaguely similar to a Home Economics class, much less a class in agriculture. DIY, raising chickens and gardening are back, and there is an abundance resources available on the Internet for those who are new at it offering detailed how-to’s and recipes for all of it, with popular DIY sites such as Punk Domestics, Natural News, and Mother Earth News. Femivores often reach out from their newly chosen isolation through blogs and social networks, and share their discoveries, successes and failures with other femivores, such as writer Esmaa Self on Middleground Farm or “backyard eggs”.
These femivores are defining a new period in the evolution of feminism, in which women have assimilated the rights they gained during the Feminist Revolution of the seventies to the point that they can choose to remain in their new roles of “power” or create a new and adapted version of their mothers’ and grandmothers’ homemaking.
This became the subject of a heated debate a few weeks ago when Michael Pollan’s book Cooking came out. On Salon, Emily Matchar questioned whether Pollan was a “sexist pig” in saying “we need to get back in the kitchen,” since “American women cook 78 percent of dinners, make 93 percent of the food purchases, and spend three times as many hours in the kitchen as men.”
The Rambling Epicure loves Food Art of all kinds and the Frieze Art Fair on Randall’s Island, Manhattan, and two artists at the Soho Restaurant FOOD have recreated the menus. When artists become foodies…
Read more about it in The New York Times Diner’s Journal, “Celebration of Food and Art,” an article by Elaine Louie.
I recently discovered Mónica Pinto’s beautiful food photography when searching for World Food Blogs for my Food News Daily column. Of Portuguese origin, her recipes are often traditional Portuguese, but her photography is firmly rooted in the spirit of cutting-edge food photography. Mónica runs the blog Pratos y Travessas, writtten in both Portuguese and English.
Saturday, May 11, 2013
Friday, May 10, 2013
by Jenn Oliver
Soy sauce has been around as a staple condiment in Asian cuisine for thousands of years, used for flavoring all manner of dishes and foods. It’s prized for the “umami” character it gives to the overall taste of a dish, and can have a wide range of subtle notes beyond the obvious saltiness.
The popularity of Asian cuisines and ingredients has resulted in soy sauce showing up in all manner of foods in Western cuisine as well — meat glazes, sauces, processed foods, dressings, making its presence more ubiquitous than one might have thought, especially when it comes to processed foods. But did you know that soy sauce, unless otherwise labeled, is not necessarily gluten free? Go ahead, check the label of the bottles next time you are in the store. The second ingredient on the bottle is usually wheat. Chances are that only those who are familiar with soy sauces or must be cognizant of gluten might be privy to this fact.
Why does soy sauce contain wheat? Traditionally, soy sauce is the liquid product resulting after fermenting soy beans, a grain, salt, and specific yeast molds together for several months. Most often, that grain is wheat or barley. Some varieties of soy sauce contain less wheat than others, and some are even wheat free.
For example, Japanese tamari is often wheat free (I stress, not always). Still, most of the soy sauces available on store shelves contain wheat. While there is some debate as to exactly how much gluten from wheat survives the fermentation and processing, the Celiac Disease Foundation does list soy sauce as a food that may contain gluten and needs to be verified. The Mayo Clinic also states that soy sauce should be avoided unless otherwise labeled. There is also considerable anecdotal evidence of experiences of people being “glutened” by soy sauce (my husband included). Therefore, for those who must eat gluten free, soy sauce immediately becomes a food that requires attention and is a complicated topic.
Thankfully, in part due to the rising popularity of the gluten free diet, some gluten-free soy sauces exist and allow a gluten-sensitive person to bypass the issue entirely by choosing a true GF option. Kikkoman makes a gluten-free soy sauce, and San-J sells a very popular wheat-free tamari. Liquid aminos such as that made by Bragg, can also serve as a GF substitute for soy sauce. While it is incredibly helpful to those who must avoid gluten that such GF options are available, by and large most soy sauces still have some level of wheat in the ingredients, and their actual gluten content is quite suspect.
Another consequence of the increased visibility of the gluten-free condition is that “gluten free” has become a household term, and thus in recent years education about the gluten free diet has spread far and wide. This does not however mean that one should not be cautious. Even today, misinformed ideas about the presence of gluten in foods are abound, and thus a certain diligence is required for those that must be gluten free. One must always check all the labels of all foods listed in a recipe, maybe even calling a manufacturer or visiting a website online in order to be sure of the status of gluten presence (or absence). One must also read ingredients carefully and know which ingredients are “suspect”. It is not uncommon today to find “gluten free” labeled recipes that list soy sauce in the ingredients list, with no mention at all as to the major prevalence of wheat in the most commonly available soy sauces. Such a lack of clarification does a disservice to everyone, since well-intentioned friends and family members, or those new to the GF diet who are inexperienced in searching for “hidden gluten” in products, could potentially cause their loved ones to get sick. To play it safe, one should treat soy sauce as an off-limits food for GF folks, and instead use and/or provide soy sauces (or soy sauce alternatives) that are specifically labeled as gluten free.
Jenn Oliver writes our column Culinary Chemistry. She has a Ph.D. in science, where she explains the scientific aspects of what really goes on when you cook (the next Harold McGee?). She’s been running a gluten-free blog, Jenn Cuisine, since 2008 and her kitchen is more like a laboratory than a kitchen. She’s focuses her chemical calculations and experiments on figuring out how to make traditionally glutinous food gluten-free.