The Grant Park Farmers Market finishes up for the year this Sunday, Dec. 22. It will resume in April. I hit the market, almost directly across from my home, last week and ran into Chris Flores (above) of Ratio Bakeshop. I interviewed him last summer when he first went into business.
I got a praline as big as the palm of my hand, a croissant filled with goat cheese, and an over-sized regular croissant. The two croissants - buttery, crispy, and chewy - were state-of-the-art. The praline, lumpy with pecan halves, was an exercise in total excess. I can't get it out of my mind.
I also bought my usual container of green sauce from Zocalo and some radishes, collards, and apples from other vendors. I pan-fried a pork tenderloin, deglazed the pan with the green sauce and scattered radish slices atop the sliced meat. I used more of the radishes in a dish of tofu with kimchi amd a few collards.
What will the new minor be called and what will the course work look like?
It will be called "Interdisciplinary Minor in Food Studies." It will have a required intro: (1) my Food & Culture course; (2) five electives from a growing list of either new food courses or extant courses across campus with food modules; and (3) a final research, internship, or social service "capstone." We will present the minor to Spelman's curriculum committee after which it will be official; but some students are already taking food courses in anticipation.
And why do this? What's the motivation?
A confluence of things: First, across academia there is a push for "interdisciplinarity," approaching the status of mandate. Second is Spelman's focus on recreating some topic-based, interdisciplinary seminar courses that center on black women's lives. Third, there's food's growing popularity in academia.
Nothing seems to get people as upset as mentioning "kids" and "restaurant" in the same sentence. If a child bawls at a table or attacks adult knees with a crayon, it's quickly said to be indicative of the breakdown in American parenting. Somebody needs to smack the bejesus out of the brats and their parents too.
Check out this video, if you wanna see food fights bordering on riots at Chuck E. Cheese's everywhere.
As the two, obviously annoyed by the incursion, walked from a Mexican restaurant in Malibu, the reporter asked Ali how she feels about Paula Deen, given recent accusations of racism. Ali was on "Paula's Best Dishes" a couple of months before Deen's empire crashed.
Ali replied that she still likes Paula's cooking and said she didn't know much about Deen herself.
So, TMZ turns this into a defense of Paula. The story's headline is "Laila Ali: I'm Still In Paula Deen's Corner." That absurd headline has been spread all over the Internet, as if liking Deen's cooking is a defense of her racism. TMZ also wrote this bit of idiocy:
The action is controversial because Stoli, while made from Russian ingredients, is distilled in Latvia. Its headquarters are in Belgium. Further, the brand's CEO claims Stoli has been a "fervent" advocate of gay rights. Activists are also calling for corporate sponsors to withdraw their support of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Russia ...
Meanwhile back in gay Atlanta, there's been a lot of bitching about Roxx Tavern's failure to pass a health-department inspection. Then, the restaurant barely passed a subsequent inspection a week later. ProjectQ Atlanta reports:
Problems with cooling methods and temperatures, plumbing, lighting and a handwashing station were among the factors that led to a failing grade of 66 during a July 9 inspection. A follow-up visit seven days later found some of the same violations, prompting a score of 72. A score below 70 is considered failing.
But the gay-friendly restaurant's owner, Dean Chronopoulos, told Project Q Atlanta on Friday that the violations are being addressed and a yet-to-be scheduled re-inspection will prove it.
"We take full responsibility for it and we've taken corrective actions to fix all of that plus more, actually," Chronopoulos said. "We are shortly going to ask for a re-inspection. We are not going to keep those scores."
Y'all calm down. This is not unusual at some of the city's most notable restaurants.
I spotted this sign over the water fountain in Dahlberg Hall on the Georgia State campus. (I was there Saturday night to see six one-act plays directed by my friend, Frank Miller.) I asked three or four students if they'd ever tried to pour coffee grounds or some other food down the fountain. All said "of course not." Likely story.
We're in the middle of Ramadan, the holy month that Muslims observe with daily fasting during daylight hours. It's not surprising that one effect of the fasting is absolute obsession with food.
After sunset (and before dawn), Muslims "break fast" and, typically, indulge in favorite foods, prepared at home or in restaurants. So, while hunger defines the day, the cooking is constant. The month, in fact, ends with communal feasts.
Arsalan Iftikhar, founder of TheMuslimGuy.com, described the worldwide shared pain of fasting Tuesday on NPR. He said that Muslims are posting thousands of pictures of break-fast meals, "food porn," on social media sites like Pinterest.
Check out #breakingfast on Twitter, too. You can also see pictures and exchange recipes on a Facebook site, "Ramadan Recipes," which has over 99,000 "likes." The vast majority of posts describe the evening meal (iftar), which traditionally begins with three dates.
One of the things I enjoy about frequently doing my writing at Grant Park Coffeehouse is the interaction with kids who are visiting the zoo across the street. It makes me feel like Art Linkletter on "Kids Say the Darndest Things." (The radio/TV show was the inspiration for Bill Cosby's '80s show).
Recently, at the request of an out-of-town reader of my psychology stuff, I met with a 7-year-old trans kid at the coffee shop. I'll call him Alex. Few things can be as challenging to a parent as accepting that their kid identifies mostly with the opposite sex. Even if the parents become totally accepting, they understandably worry about what's going to happen when the kid begins interacting with others his age at school.
Alex had just been to the zoo - after having his hair colored. Like many kids I've met there, his favorite animal was the rhinoceros. (They always mention the horn and I often cruelly ask them if they like unicorns.) I asked Alex what he has most enjoyed during his visit to Atlanta and he said without a moment's hesitation that it was the World of Coca-Cola museum. He said he enjoyed tasting the huge variety of international flavors, some of which he said he spit out.
We attended a "Piggy Bank" fundraising dinner for the Southern Foodways Alliance last Sunday. The six-course meal, paired with wines, was hosted by Taqueria del Sol, whose chef, Eddie Hernandez, was joined by two from Nashville: Roderick Bailey, chef/owner of the Silly Goose, and Josh Habiger, renowned mixologist and co-chef of the Catbird Seat.
In the last few years, I've griped a lot about the blind elitism that pervades much of the sustainable food movement. Yeah, it's compellingly idealistic. Hell, yeah, that organic, local peach is pure oral hedonism and oh-so-healthy.
But here's the thing. Poverty and "food insecurity" have reached all-time highs in the Richest Country in the World. Georgia ranks up there among the top seven with 17.4 percent of our households short of food as of 2011. The number of hungry children is just mind-blowing. Our mortality rate has also skyrocketed.
So, despite Michele Obama's teaming up with Alice Waters to promote grow-your-own veggies in the hood, I think it's safe to say most poor people don't give a fuck if their peach comes from Guatemala or the county next door - much less the red beans and rice they eat daily. Oh wait. Michelle may already know this in her heart of hearts.
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