Ernesto’s Choripán Stand

Pedro Molina’s white teeth reflect the Argentinian sun making a steady gaze into his eyes almost unbearable. For some reason, his smile reveals only his lower teeth, gleaming and even. Sitting in Buenos Aires under one of the umbrellas that shade the tables surrounding his stand, Pedro speaks with a low, soft voice as he describes his life as a vendor of choripán, a combination of chorizo and pane (bread), the two main ingredients of the classic Argentinian sandwich. Pedro flashes his bright smile Read more [...]

Can Food Be Too Local?

Can Food Be Too Local? While shooting your own dinner is the sine qua non of localness, you should be allowed to draw the line. At Kelmscott Farm, I raised farm animals that met their death for the sake of high-end restaurants. This past weekend, I was shooting birds for sport, and yes, for food. But pulling the trigger put my meal just too close for comfort. I joined a group of women who, judging from their gun bags and hunting attire, were experienced hunters. I, on the other hand, arrived Read more [...]

A Knish Disruption

OK, it's just a knish, but a recent factory fire in New York put the kibosh on knishes. While the loss of knish production, 15 million a year from this one factory, is a raw deal for a food producer, the interruption in the knish supply chain illustrates how events such as a factory fire impact our food system. The factory owners say that they will be making their famous square Coney Island knishes again by Thanksgiving. They will now be in the thick of adaptations that will stress every aspect Read more [...]

Relationships

Trust matters. As we study what makes our food system work, we find that enduring human relationships are the sinews that flex when the system is disrupted. Social media may be our new tool for building relationships, but speed may not replace our old, slow method of building trust. Transactions based on trust make the food world go 'round. Food producers, processors, and distributors depend upon relationships built over time that result in trusted transactions and confidence in credit, quality, Read more [...]

The Big Stink for Farmers

The Radio Lab recently featured a podcast called "Poop Train." Guaranteed to grab your attention, the title referred to a system used by cities to eliminate human waste water. Surprisingly, we learn from the podcast that it wasn't until the 1980s that New York City stopped dumping treated human waste into the ocean. Gradually, the treatment facilities improved and the resulting sludge was transported to farmers around the U.S. to dress their fields. Because the costs were so high to transport the Read more [...]

Make Way for Food Markets?

At a recent gathering in downtown Austin, the breakfast fare said it all. Organic yogurt, locally produced honey, fresh breakfast tacos broke from the usual offerings of croissants and Danish pastries. This crowd was invested in their food, mostly emotionally, some economically, as farmers, chefs, city planners, food activists, non-profits, and individuals gathered to learn about the possibility of a public food market in Austin. Austin has farmers markets but no public market, yet. And even the Read more [...]

Marching On Empty Stomachs

While the world watches Syria cross red lines, Syrians contend with breadlines. Hardly a grenade passes through rebel or military hands without making an impact upon the country’s food supply. Collateral damage inflicted on crops and animals rarely reaches consumers of news about the Syrian crisis. Throughout history, governments have recognized the link between war, food, and national security. The Romans noticed the connection when they sought food sources throughout their empire; the French Read more [...]

The Art of Food

The Blanton Museum in Austin, Texas, is now showing Sam Taylor-Wood’s 2001“Still Life,” a three-minute video of fruit on a plate, rotting. The time-lapse images are transfixing, engaging your senses as you watch fruit decompose, moment by moment. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJQYSPFo7hk) Food and art have enjoyed each other’s company for centuries. Rudolf Arcimboldo’s 16th century painting, “A Feast for the Eyes,” is an classic art/food mashup. (http://media.smithsonianmag.com/images/Arcimboldo-Rudolf-II-631.jpg.) Food Read more [...]

Eating Some Words

In today’s noisy, scrappy conversation about food, a pitch-perfect note once in a while bubbles to the top. Bee Wilson, a food historian and author, recently brought us one of those sparkling notes in her review of William Sitwell’s new book, A History of Food in 100 Recipes. Wilson writes reviews in The New Yorker and sometimes her own books, such as Consider The Fork, published by Basic Books in 2012. While offering her thoughts on Sitwell’s attempt to extract historical narratives from Read more [...]

Up and Down an Alp

Yes, just spent a week logging miles upward and downward. After a week in Paris, I joined my family for a week-long adventure in Bohemia, in Grainau, where the alps gather around the border between Germany and Austria. Three of us competed in the Zugspitz Ultratrail Race set in the shadow of the tallest alp in Germany. I ran 25 miles and my two children each ran 42. But the kicker was the 9,000 feet up and 9,000 down for the kids and 6,000 feet up/down for my distance. In the rain, and fog, and over Read more [...]