by Eva Holland | 09.24.10 | 3:43 PM ET
Them’s fighting words. The chef in question, David Thompson, is responsible for London’s Michelin-starred Thai restaurant, Nahm, and now he’s “striving for authenticity” at a Nahm branch in Bangkok, too. The Thai reaction has been predictably indignant. The New York Times explains:
Cooking is profoundly wound up with Thailand’s identity. Many recipes were tested and refined in royal palaces. And Thais often spend a good share of their day talking about this or that dish they tried; a common greeting is, “Have you eaten yet?”
Mr. Thompson’s quest for authenticity is perceived by some Thais as a provocation, a pair of blue eyes striding a little too proudly into the temple of Thai cuisine. Foreigners cannot possibly master the art of cooking Thai food, many Thais say, because they did not grow up wandering through vast, wet markets filled with the cornucopia of Thai produce, or pulling at the apron strings of grandmothers and maids who imparted the complex and subtle balance of ingredients required for the perfect curry or chili paste. Foreigners, Thais believe, cannot stomach the spices that fire the best Thai dishes.
by Michael Yessis | 09.22.10 | 11:52 AM ET
France’s addiction to bottled sparkling water is up there with its penchant for bike racing, foie gras and Johnny Hallyday. Now, authorities in Paris are attempting to fight back against the national dependence by unveiling a public water fountain that gushes with chilled bubbles.
La Pétillante - literally, she who sparkles - is the first fountain in France to inject carbon dioxide into tap water before cooling it and serving it up to passers-by. Inaugurated today in the Jardin de Reuilly in south-east Paris, it is expected to prove a user-friendly means of weaning the French off the bottle.
France pinched the idea from Italy, which already has 215 sparkling water fountains.
by Eva Holland | 09.15.10 | 2:05 PM ET
In response to some legal pushback against the popular trucks—driven in part by restaurateurs worried about lost business—the L.A. Times’ food writer explains their appeal. Here’s Gold:
The draw could be the communal experience, or it could be the feeling that you belong to a fraternity of the plugged-in. It could be that moment that defines street food of all types—your food is cooked, served and consumed in what seems like a single fluid motion; desire and fulfillment becoming one. Or it could be the impulse of citizenship: This sidewalk looks a lot like Los Angeles.
(Via The Atlantic)
by Jim Benning | 09.02.10 | 3:42 PM ET
Just one example of many:
by Jim Benning | 08.31.10 | 11:49 AM ET
What was it? A battle? A shot over the bow? Maybe, looking back, it was just a misfire. But it got L.A. Mexican foodies pretty excited for a few days.
At a talk in Orange County last week, Pulitzer Prize-winning restaurant critic Jonathan Gold—a hero of ours who has made a career of championing great hole-in-the-wall ethnic restaurants in SoCal—took a shot at PBS TV host and restaurateur Rick Bayless. The chef, whose Frontera Grill in Chicago gets rave reviews, just designed the menu for a new upscale Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles, Red O—his first project in the region.
Now, L.A. loves its homegrown Mexican food. It’s a source of pride. So the arrival of Bayless earlier this year was bound to raise eyebrows.
The Los Angeles Times gave Red O a favorable review. Then Gold took the mic at a gathering of journalists last week.
Gold said Bayless was a “good” chef who knew his way around Mexican recipes, but he sneered at Bayless’ nerve in coming to Los Angeles and opening a restaurant—Red O—that presumed to introduce Angelinos to “authentic” Mexican cuisine. In particular, Gold zeroed in on Bayless’ inclusion of chilpachole—a glorious seafood soup from Veracruz—as some rarity, when Gold said the soup was easily available in the Southland, along with dozens of other Mexican regional specialties.
Word reached Bayless, and he tweeted:
@thejgold Thought a Pulitzer meant you checked facts. Sneering at me for something I never said is either mean or sloppy. I’m offended
He also posted this comment on the OC Weekly’s article:
I know it’s all the rage for journalists to go into unsupported hyperbole, but I never said I was going to introduce Southern California to “authentic” Mexican cuisine. I said I was going to bring the flavors of Frontera Grill to Los Angeles.
As of today, however, both sides are tweeting that the spat is behind them.
@Rick_Bayless and I have kissed and made up, I think. Further thoughts will have to wait for the full review.
Yes, i think we have :) RT @thejgold @Rick_Bayless & I have kissed & made up, I think. Further thoughts will have to wait 4 the full review.
Whew. Now we can all go back to eating our enchiladas in peace.
by Eva Holland | 08.05.10 | 11:34 AM ET
Food writer Sarah Elton went looking for local seafood and fresh seasonal produce in the Spanish city—and, as she writes in The Atlantic, she came up blank:
I traveled to Spain with my parents when I was 12 years old, and I had vivid memories of some of our meals. I ate green beans with olive oil for the first time on that trip, and I still remember the flavor of the warm oil with the just-picked beans. These days when I travel, I am interested in getting to know places through what I eat, which means choosing foods that capture the terroir and offer a taste of place.
But on this holiday, when I searched for local food, I found long-distance industrial instead. From the hole-in-the-wall joints to swish tapas bars near the Passeig de Gracia, imports ruled.
by Eva Holland | 08.05.10 | 10:40 AM ET
Foodie traveler Daniel Noll dishes on the overseas meals he wouldn’t like to repeat. Fair warning: The accompanying photos are harrowing. I’m not sure which is scarier, the Laotian blood bouillon or Argentina’s “anti-pizza.”
by Eva Holland | 08.04.10 | 3:46 PM ET
Intelligent Travel’s Aimee Brown, currently traveling on the Gulf Coast, has an open letter to the Louisiana stand-by. Here’s a sample:
I find you rich with a depth that speaks to an unknown source. You haunt me. I taste in you hope and fear. There is darkness in your roux, and your scent suggests all that Louisiana is. Lust, love, dark alleys, open arms, bayous that hold within them hidden threats of danger and beauty.
Made of simple ingredients—shrimp, crab, crawfish, and spices—you are more than the sum of your parts. You are formed by the hands of people who belong to this place. Because of that so do you.
by Michael Yessis | 07.30.10 | 3:59 PM ET
Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee, a native of Seoul, raised in Southern California by parents who ran a bodega that catered to a Mexican clientele, said the Mexican-Korean culinary connection was born of proximity.
“The idea of Korean tacos isn’t new,” said Ms. Lee, who wrote a guidebook to South Korea and recently finished writing a Mexican cookbook. “Koreans run stores. They hire Mexican workers. They eat together.”
“Before, when Koreans ran out of rice and grabbed a tortilla to go with our kalbi, we called it lunch,” she added. “Now we call it a Korean taco.”
The dish may have honest folk roots, but many Korean taco makers across the country recognize Roy Choi, a Kogi founder, as the pioneering force.
Here’s the accompanying slideshow to make you jones for tacos.
by Eva Holland | 07.22.10 | 12:51 PM ET
The legendary dog vendor opened its first-ever airport location today in the Tom Bradley International Terminal. Hungry travelers, rejoice!
by Eva Holland | 07.15.10 | 12:52 PM ET
The Atlantic’s Andrew Beahrs examines Mark Twain’s food fantasies, and the ways in which his tastes were shaped by his travels. Here’s his take on a list of must-haves Twain composed during a long European tour:
Twain didn’t just want mussels; he wanted steamed mussels, from San Francisco. He wanted terrapin from Philadelphia, stewed with sherry and cream (the recipe’s main rival, from Baltimore, omitted the cream—Twain loved cream). He wanted partridge from Missouri, shad from the Connecticut River, and perch and canvasback ducks from Baltimore. The list went on ... In a very real sense, his menu was a memoir of fondly remembered travels, from the prairies to the mountains and from the New Orleans docks to the backstreets of San Francisco.
by Eva Holland | 07.09.10 | 1:24 PM ET
Over at Gadling, blogger Jeremy Kressmann has a cool find: A new Pittsburgh take-out restaurant that serves up food from those countries that America most often finds itself at odds with on the international scene. First up at Conflict Kitchen? Iranian kubideh. The restaurant’s theme will rotate every few months.
Awhile back, we talked to Rick Steves about travel—to Iran and other less-visited countries—as “a political act that broadens your perspective.” I guess we could call this eating as a political act?
by Eva Holland | 07.08.10 | 2:46 PM ET
The Globe and Mail’s Ian Brown is on a road-tripping mission to explore the foodie scene beyond Canada’s “big three”—Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. He’s been blogging the trip as he goes, and his latest post finds him at a restaurant called Moose’s in North Bay, Ontario, home to 102 flavors of chicken wings. Here’s Brown’s introduction to North Bay:
You pull into North Bay, which is full of interesting people but does not present well, if you know what I mean, you see the Bull and Quench pub, ‘Home of the 1 lb burger’ - think about that - and Indra’s Curry House, next to the Heart and Stroke Foundation office.
You think: Maybe this is my last day on earth. Maybe this is where my heart explodes.
by Eva Holland | 07.08.10 | 1:05 PM ET
Over at The Atlantic’s food channel, Andrew Coe looks into the origins of Chinese brown sauce and the undying American appetite for the stuff. Here’s Coe:
Color matters in Chinese food. You can tell the difference between, say, Sichuan and Cantonese restaurants by the palette of dishes at their tables. Sichuan dishes are often tinted by the red sheen of chili oil, while the many clear sauces of Cantonese cuisine allow the natural colors of meats and vegetables to stand out. But on the steam tables of the more than 40,000 Chinese-American restaurants that dot this land, the predominant color is brown, as in the ubiquitous beef with broccoli drenched in a brown sauce. According to the Chinese food maven Michael Gray, there’s an ancient epigram that describes what these steam tables offer: “100 dishes, all with the same taste.”
by Michael Yessis | 07.06.10 | 11:10 AM ET
I guess there’s a Golden Age for everything. Marketplace turns back the clock to the post-WWII glory years of “platters laden with hors d’oeuvres” and “heaps of brisket.”
by Michael Yessis | 06.25.10 | 9:53 AM ET
Bruno Maddox explores the allure of restaurant menus and talks to “lifelong menu obsessive and collector” Kimball Chen about their power. From Travel + Leisure:
[M]enus function, for him, almost as maps, repositories of unique data as to Where One Is Now. But just as clearly, what is really being informed and enriched is the larger journey of a man through life. “Food,” Chen reflects rather wistfully at one stage, “doesn’t last.”
by Layne Mosler | 06.21.10 | 10:39 AM ET
Hailing a cab in the Big Apple takes technique. Riding like a local requires panache. Cab driver Layne Mosler explains.
by LiAnne Yu | 06.08.10 | 11:14 AM ET
When LiAnne Yu visits other countries, she watches people from behind a one-way mirror. She now knows which cultures prefer jeans that accentuate curvy butts.
by Eva Holland | 06.02.10 | 5:45 PM ET
There’s enormous respect and a romanticized reverence for what’s considered the “right” way—meaning, the classic way—and I think most chefs feel powerfully that one should know that before moving on. Like, “I’ve researched this, this is the way they were making it in 1700, goddamn it, and that’s the way it should be made.” Or: “This is the way they make laksa in Kuching and Borneo; that stuff I just had on Ninth Avenue is definitely not the same; ergo it’s wrong.” But, you know, what does “real” or “authentic” mean? The history of food is the history of migrating ingredients and occupation and foreign influences and accommodation.
We spoke recently with Andrew Potter, the author of “The Authenticity Hoax,” about similar themes.
by Jim Benning | 06.01.10 | 2:10 PM ET
What’s “entrepreneurial foraging,” you ask?
That would be the businesses sprouting up around foraging for miner’s lettuce, mushrooms and other food growing wildly, even in urban environments. Think mushroom-hunting safaris.
Writes Greg Beato in Reason:
All across America, enterprising eco-aggregators are engaged in the somewhat paradoxical pursuit of commercialized foraging, leading mushroom-hunting safaris in forests and selling wild-harvested dandelion roots in bulk on the Internet. Iso Rabins, a 28-year-old resident of San Francisco, joined their ranks two years ago, when he started organizing “wild kitchens,” paid events where diners enjoy “rambling dinner[s] of wild foraged foods” in private locales around the Bay Area. A few months later, Rabins added home delivery of food boxes to his menu of services.
(Via the New York Times Ideas blog)