I ventured from lower Manhattan to Prospect Park this past Saturday with all intentions of enjoying myself at The Great GoogaMooga, an unfortunately titled food and music festival featuring some of New York’s biggest, baddest-ass culinary luminaries: Blue Ribbon, Spotted Pig, Char No. 4, Co., Colicchio & Sons, Luke’s Lobster, The Meat Hook, Roberta’s—over seventy A-list vendors ready to serve a discriminating crowd. This was the festival’s inaugural year, its first crack at becoming a welcome-to-summer institution, a chance to satiate palates both rugged and refined, and a venue for all to experience Brooklyn at its most food-obsessed. But like a maple-cotton-candy-on-a-pretzel ($5), it turned out to be initially enticing—but [...]
As anyone educated by "The Flintstones" knows, one of prehistoric man’s favorite meals was barbecued mastodon ribs. Paleolithic cave paintings seem to support the claim (though whether the ribs were prepared with a dry rub or marinade is still a hot topic in archaeological journals). In fact, evidence suggests that early hunters found their way to the new world in the first place by chasing mammoth herds as they fanned across continents. So how did the cow, an ugly-looking milk monster from Vermont, become the utilitarian protein of the masses while the elephant, the mammoth’s lumbering grand-nephew, is only ever eaten in animal cracker form? The long answer [...]
Recently, I visited H-Mart, a Korean grocery store chain headquartered in New Jersey (that ‘H’ stands for “Han Ah Reum,” which means “arm full of groceries”). I went in for laver seaweed, fermented rice booze and doenjang paste. I left with nearly fifteen dollars’ worth of snack crackers, sweets and chips—eight shinily packaged, savory examples of Korea's contributions to the international junkfood industry. I’m not normally a chip eater. I didn’t grow up on Cheetos or Fritos, and I never cared much about Doritos one way or the other. But I do love a taste test, and all eight of these products were new to me. Findings: some of these [...]
I’ve seen them for years. On the way from my old home in West Philadelphia to the airport or the stadiums. Changing subway lines underneath City Hall. In front of the Lowe’s on the way to a past job. I’m talking about the well-dressed representatives of the Nation of Islam, who hawk neatly packaged bean pies (along with copies of the nation’s newspaper The Final Call) to commuters passing through these high-traffic locations. But only recently did it occur to me that I should be sampling their offerings as part of my halting, unsystematic inquiry into foodstuffs inexpensively proffered by various religious organizations.
What’s the oldest recipe you know? Is it your grandmother's top-secret ingredients list for johnnycakes? Perhaps you collect cookbooks and can point to a delightful "fricassée of sheep trotters" in your prized 18th-century housewife manual. You might even know about the marvelous medieval cookery website and are tempted by its zervelats(sausages stuffed with bacon and cheese) or chardewardon (pear custard). Because of the written word, a preservative even more potent than pickle brine, we know what Julius Caesar ate for dinner 2000 years ago1 and a formula for cake bread that appears in the Bible2. But not all cultures have had writing, which [...]
There is a website, called The 1940s Experiment, whose proprietor, Carolyn Ekins, who was born and raised in the UK but now lives in Canada, is attempting to lose a hundred pounds by following a wartime rations diet, specifically made up of the foods eaten by the British public during World War II. For every pound she loses, Carolyn will recreate one authentic wartime recipe and post about it. She has already posted recipes for Mock Goose (made with lentils), Potato and Carrot Pancakes ("delicious") and an Eggless Fruit Cake (“looks curiously like meat loaf”), among many others. Carolyn has attempted—and succeeded at—this type of diet [...]