GMOs Vs. The American People

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Chef Jose Andres recently issued the above statement about GMOs.  Andres is a world-renowned scion of food, and he has his finger on the pulse of what has become a very dark conspiracy.  His is a telling, starkly honest commentary on the state of our food and the detrimental additives currently being fed to us through such companies as Monsanto and others.

What is important is this is being allowed in the full view and knowledge of our U.S. Government.   Shocker, right?

This isn’t going to be an educational exercise on GMOs.  You either know what they are or you don’t.  If you don’t – know right now that they’re categorically destructive to the human body – your body.   And Donald Trump’s body, too.  Go ahead and Google ‘GMOs’ and get ready for the shock without the awe.

We have a global food catastrophe in the making right now.  That’s right.  Global.  Catastrophe.  Statements by nutrition experts at the highest levels maintain our foods simply aren’t very nutritious anymore, and not nearly as healthy as they were even 10 years ago.  In truth, you’re sort of being starved to death.   And poisoned.  I’m not even talking about products like aspartame (another consumable “Frankenstein” created by none other than Monsanto).   That’s a different batch of bad soup.

A major tool in addressing an issue of public health and safety in the past used to be shining a bright light on it – forcing parties be held accountable by the likes of the FDA, the USDA and every other governmental office that oversees the business of food.   Unfortunately, as I have proven through my battles with Kraft Foods, we’re not going to get any help from our government.  But then we’re talking about little old me here.  I don’t have the social media muscle to spread the word on a viral level.  Yet.

On the Oscar Mayer incident, the FDA fully admitted to me they are understaffed (I have alllll the emails).   So they’re useless in any fight against Monsanto or the others.  Same with our elected Congresspeople:  Monsanto’s got a veritable Fort Knox of lobbying dollars and they’re jamming them into the right pockets without need for a reach-around.  Don’t be alarmed:  Integrity and silence and blind apathy have been bought and traded for millennia.   So much for the “power of the people”.

So how do we get someone to change their ways?   First, shine a brighter spotlight on it than I’ve been able to do.  Get it out in the open, and by serious, credible people who know what they’re talking about – like Chef Andres and a score more.  Get some uber-visible personalities to put their considerable weight behind the problem.  Through sheer public recognition, bad perception and then disapproval, these guilty companies will have no other choice but to change their business practices.  Hey, CEOs are greedy, but they’re not stupid.  They want to hang onto their G5 jets and luxury third homes and their smoking hot mistresses.  And if that means sucking it up and doing more forthright business, they just might have the wherewithal to straighten up, especially if their wives might get a fat, anonymous envelope with pictures.  Okay, the envelope metaphor is probably a stretch, but you savor my flavor.

So.  When it comes to calling out the companies driving the GMO bus, who do we get to step up?   My first suggestion is Andrew Zimmern.  He’s not only a TV personality and a brand giant – this man knows food and the business of food because he’s one exceptionally smart and versatile man.  He’s as comfortable sucking ants in Borneo as he is birthing empires in a boardroom.  He’s in touch with every issue I’m writing about here.  He’s well-thought and well-spoken and perfect for leading the charge.

Next?  Anthony Bourdain, and simply because the man isn’t afraid of anyone or anything.  And he hates bullies.   He’s got integrity by the fistful and a bullshit detector like no one else I know.  He’ll exhaust his research and then he’ll tear ass on whomever needs it at the moment.   And he’s CNN’s boy, don’t forget.  Bourdain would be well-served by enlisting any of his food pal magnates like Eric Ripert, Thomas Keller, Andre Soltner, and the aforementioned Andres.  These men are the faces of gargantuan success in the food industry.   I might even offer the likes of Mario Batali, because he has the same fearless, don’t-give-a-rip approach and he comes from a truly international food pedigree.  GMOs don’t stop at our borders, after all, and Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant lives and works in Jolly Old England.

Getting these people to take up the flag and fight on our behalf is what it will take to change Monsanto and every other group currently compromising our food supply.  You and I as average citizen eaters don’t stand a chance.  Only through food industry experts’ unveiling this scourge of despicable (and illegal?) practices (and the subsequent public outcry) will we ever build a possible defense against the destruction-by-monolith of the very food keeping us alive.

I’m going to go out on a limb.  If The Donald gets elected, watch out.  He may very well be the only person we’d need in this war.  I think he’d personally like to build a big fire and put Mssr. Grant’s feet to it, then burn down every plant making this GMO crap and piss on the ashes.  You don’t mess with all the nummy goodies in The Donald’s favorite Waldorf Salad.  We shall see.

Normally, I close my submissions with “Now, go eat something”.  Scratch that for today.  Go get yourself a cocktail.  It’s Friday somewhere.    -Jack

 

 

 

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On Food Writing

 

The three icons you see here represent but a small sampling of the food writers I admire without reservation.  Anyone who has ever written about food has been assisted, certainly, by Julia Child.  She possessed an encyclopedic knowledge on food few have ever matched, yet did so without a whiff of pretension.   I continue to adore this woman, mostly because she was fun.  She could laugh and laugh at herself, which is a quality we all should share.  The woman is utterly free and unencumbered by hubris.  In the 1950’s, she took a monumental, daunting subject like French Cuisine and pared it down, like a tough woody turnip, until almost anyone can now face a chicken or a duck with nothing more than great anticipation for how delicious that blessed little thing is going to taste.  And without any trace of fear.

MFK Fisher, aka Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher, started writing about food in the 1930’s, well before any television wonk ever conceived the Food Network.  If you’ve never read any of her books, start out with The Art of Eating, and go from there.   You’ll be taken on a journey, not simply through a theoretical and resplendent table of food, but led by a woman fully in control of her words and instrument.  She is my first and best example of how to give in and let go and simply enjoy what you eat.   The words themselves flow like a finely constructed béarnaise, and you feel full and content when you finish reading her…yet wanting for more.  So much for guilt-free literary gluttony.

Anthony Bourdain spent 20 some-odd years as a chef in New York City.  In 1999, he unveiled the Dead Sea Scrolls version of what the culinary life is like from the kitchen’s perspective.  And wickedly so.  Kitchen Confidential is the literary equivalent to wolfing your tiramisu before the entrée…and washing it down with a healthy shot of Laphroaig…while you watch porn.  Bourdain is a reader’s writer because of his ability to take a subject and weave it into something fascinating and utterly shocking and yet somehow innocently truthful.   That he really is a classically trained chef never strays far from his words or his reverential treatment of the subject of food, which he regards like a first-year chef might while standing before Jacques Pepin.  You trust him.  And let’s not miss the fact that Anthony Bourdain is bloody, fricking coooooool.

These three, of course, are not the only ones issuing forth on the universe of food.   Fisher and Child must be in the conversation if only from their sheer impact and influence.  Bourdain is the best recent example, because he combines a true practical expertise, combined with the gift of putting it on paper in a way that stays with you, sometimes like the lusty belch you issue hours after a memorable meal.   I’m not a fan of any chef who simply decides to write a cookbook or any book  in order to sustain their “brand”.   That kind of vanity is disgusting.   Neither Bourdain, nor the two women here, are or were, that kind of writer.

Although he’s not considered anything remotely influential in the world of food, I will offer advice from one of the great literary masters to any writers-in-training, food or otherwise.  Ernest Hemingway gave the single best definition when asked ‘what is good writing?’ that ever was uttered:   He said, “I write about the weather and the place and the people.  I know all the big words, but are they the right ones?   To me, the best writing is having written something where it feels as real as if I were there in the first place”.

Enjoy some tiramisu with your coffee.   -Jack

 

 

 

Best Potato Salad Ever!

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From last week’s lament regarding the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s incomplete recipe of Charlie’s Café Exceptionale’s world-renowned potato salad…we have a major breakthrough!   You’ve GOT to try this!

First, I dispensed with the notion that I would get anything from food critic Rick Nelson or anyone affiliated with the ‘Strib’, and even if I did get a snippet of information, I knew I wouldn’t receive the fine print on this holy grail-esque recipe.  So I forged ahead…and what I found was a potato salad rebirth.

The changes were few and simple but critical.  Boil the potatoes until they are super-soft, in well-seasoned water.   I used ‘B’ small red potatoes, whole and boiled them for 24-25 minutes.   You can use the potato of your choice, but the point is, you must “boil the snot out of them” and then get them into a quick ice bath.  Dice them fairly fine – in 1/2″ cubes.  Mine didn’t completely collapse when I folded them in with the other ingredients, but it was close, and if I had gotten vigorous, it would have been potato salad puree (which is gross).    I eschewed less of the red bell pepper in favor of some very finely minced celery (about 2-3 T. worth) and some capers (about 1 T.) and added an extra hard-boiled egg.  Trust me on the capers, btw.   That, and the HM mayonnaise recipe I shared last week make this leagues above what it originally was.

One kernel of info I gleaned from the recipe had nothing to do with an ingredient listing, but an interview Barbara Flanagan gave to former WCCO anchor legend Don Shelby during the TPT television program, “Lost Twin Cities”,  wherein she gushes forth about Charlie’s and the wonderful décor and the fantastic menu and “that incredible potato salad!”.   She purred about the potato salad, “it was very, very creamy”, and that was my clue.   I translated that the potatoes were much softer, AND that a little extra dollop or two of mayonnaise was added.   My instincts were right and the two married into that lovely creaminess.  Feels so good on the tongue too!

Long story short:   once these tweaks were done, I had simply the best potato salad I’ve ever eaten.  That is speaking volumes, my friends.   I eat a lot, I cook a lot and I pay acute attention to the things I taste and savor.   This potato salad is no small feat; even if I’m off slightly on this timeless concoction of Charlie’s Café Exceptionale, I know I’ve hit the right notes and captured the spirit of the dish.  It is the effect I was looking for.   Charlie and Mrs. Saunders would have no reluctance serving this to their discerning clientele. If Charlie’s potato salad is better than mine, someone will have to prove it to me.

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There we are.  Friends, make this for yourself.  Honestly, add your distinct personality to this salad.  Charlie’s was a fine restaurant, I’m told, but we’re not talking state secrets here.  Take the basic tools of this salad recipe and make it your own.  I implore you to add the new HM mayonnaise recipe I shared last week.  You owe it to yourself and the other mouths you fill to make this fabulous potato salad at least once.  You’ll not be sorry.

What a great day!   Now….go eat something!     -Jack

photos by 1) chefstore.com and 2) me….

Now THAT’s Mayonnaise!

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THIS is what real, homemade mayonnaise is supposed to look like.  From yesterday’s blog, I lamented the fact that the recipe from Charlie’s Café Exceptionale, and its legendary potato salad, was…flawed.  Particularly the recipe and ratios for their mayonnaise ended you up with a watery, overly acidic mess that essentially ruined the potato salad, so I said I would re-tweak the mayo and see how it worked.

In my kitchen last night, I hit the magic ratio.  If you use TWO tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, per Charlie’s (legendary) recipe, you get runny lemon vinaigrette.   It’s simply unable to collect and embrace the remaining ingredients.  However….if you use ONE tablespoon lemon juice only, you get this lovely, pillowy, dreamy-beyond-creamy heavenliness of mayonnaise that sparkles with lemony essence.  Not too strong, just the right balance, and oh so rich tasting!  It’s thicker than anything you’ll ever find in a jar at the supermarket.  And just look at the height of the mayonnaise from the picture I took in my kitchen!

So, there.  We’ve solved the mayonnaise dilemma.   I’m trying to lure the Star Tribune’s Food Critic, Rick Nelson, away from his daily duties and read my discovery, and I’d love to have a chat over coffee and Danish with the aforementioned Madame Barbara Flanagan, who was the resurrectress of the original Charlie’s recipe as published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune from back in 1989.

For now, enjoy the view on what real mayonnaise looks like!   Use the recipe from my earlier blog, and adjust down 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, putting it in right at the start and keeping the rest of the recipe unaltered, and you’re golden.   Maybe add a pinch more salt – it worked for me.  Next step is trying to figure out these so-called “stages of preparation” for the rest of Charlie’s potato salad recipe.  But how?   Ah the beat goes on….

Now, go eat something!    -Jack

mayo

photo by me

Review / Analysis: Charlie’s Cafe Exceptionale Potato Salad Recipe

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You can read Rick Nelson’s 2011 story on Charlie’s and a regeneration of the famous potato salad recipe at the Minneapolis Star Tribune website.  Before you read it, take my word and understand that the recipe cannot possibly be the genuine article.

Here’s why:  specifics.  In no particular order, how about telling us what kind of dry mustard?   McCormick’s is noticeably different from, say, Colman’s Dry Mustard.   How cooked do you want the potatoes, firm or starting to break down and get a little mushy?   When they say it is prepared in stages, there is nothing…no information whatsoever giving us a timeline in the assemblage of ingredients.  Do you make the mayo a day or three ahead of time?  Do you mix all the ingredients and let it “haunt” overnight in the refrigerator?  Kinda crucial information to leave out, don’t you think?

One other thing:   the mayonnaise.   It calls for 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, one you mix first with all the other ingredients and then you add the last tablespoon toward the end of mixing.  Hogwash.  That second splash of lemon juice completely breaks this mayo down and essentially liquefies what should be a creamy, custardy consistency  into something more akin to a vinaigrette.  Sloppy.  It doesn’t bind the rest of the potato salad ingredients at all, and it’s waaaaaay too acidic.   I want some tanginess in my potato salad, but I don’t need my cheek walls to cave in from a pucker-plosion.    Get my drift?

No, I assembled this legendary recipe per the information I had, and I got potato salad.  It was okay.  A flat grade of B-.    It was not particularly memorable, nor flavorful, nor textural.  I’m really surprised that Rick Nelson, a normally vigilant and resourceful man of food, and a guy whose words on dining to me are nearly unquestionable, had neither appeared to have tested the recipe himself, nor recanted or revised his story or checked with the Barbara Flanagans of the world to reclaim the veracity of the recipe.   It was Barbara after all, who reissued the recipe to the Star Tribune after Charlie’s owner, Louise Saunders, gave her blessing.   Saunders had earlier declared “incorrect”,  all previously published versions of the potato salad.   FYI, the pic below is the beloved Flanagan, circa sometime in the late 70’s.  She’s well into her 90’s now, but still full of enthusiasm I’m told.

I’m going back to the drawing board and first deconstructing the recipe, then reconstructing it.  They got their hooks in me, and I’m not quitting until I get the real Charlie’s Café Exceptionale Potato Salad recipe to share with you.

Until then, thanks as always for reading.   Now, go eat something!   -Jack

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….photos courtesy Star Tribune.com, artinfinityteam.com and the Minnesota Historical Society 

August is National Sandwich Month!

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….and (dammit!)…..it’s almost over!

The sandwich could very well be my favorite food category.   Now, I love the taste of steak.   I’m captivated by the richness and texture of crab legs or lobster.  Blueberry pie gives me chills.  Salads are so tasty and so good for you.

But nothing hits all the right notes quite like the versatile sandwich.   You start with bread, which simply reminds one of home.  Add a meat or a fish element – some kind of base ingredient.   Add a texture component, like shredded lettuces or crisp veggies or Durkee Fried Onions or potato chips.  Then add a last flavor booster or a signature sauce, and there you have it.  The perfect food.

I’ve gone wild and created some nicely imaginative sandwich recipes and I’ve also concocted some pretty trippy combinations that didn’t quite hit the mark.  How about Peanut Butter and Garlic Aioli and Pickle and Onion on a croissant?  #nuclearbreath.    Or naam loaded with albacore tuna, cucumber, feta, sprouts, peeled carrot, creamy dill yogurt and a big shot blast of balsamic vinegar?   This summer, I went full-bore avocado-crazy, putting it in everything I can think of (God, I love that little green orb so much!).

For those of you who add mayonnaise – just a few million of you out there – you should make your own at home.  I’ve got the perfect recipe from a legendary Minneapolis restaurant…Charlie’s Café Exceptionale.   The venerated restaurant closed in 1982 after nearly 50 years in operation, but a fair number of its dishes survive.  Believe it or not, this mayonnaise was a major component in Charlie’s incredible potato salad.  That’s right, I said potato salad and Charlie’s Potato Salad recipe is to die for.  But don’t kick the bucket yet.  Make this mayo for yourself.  I’ll share the rest of the potato salad recipe later.

Here’s the recipe – follow every ingredient exactly.

1 pasteurized egg (to pasteurize, put a large egg in 140 degree water for 3 minutes.  That’s all.  It takes a much higher temperature to cook the actual yolk)

1 tsp dry mustard (not wet – no French’s)

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1/8 tsp cayenee pepper

2 tbls lemon juice (NOTE!  Do NOT use two tablespoons.  Use ONE only.  This is an amendment to my subsequent posts.  Two tablespoons renders you with a runny mess, not thick and luxurious and spreadable.) 

1 cup vegetable oil (not olive oil, not canola oil….vegetable oil only)

Mix it in a blender.  Put in all the ingredients, except 1 of the tablespoons of lemon juice and the oil.   Blend on medium, then drizzle the vegetable oil slowwwwly until the mayo thickens, then add the last tablespoon of lemon juice.  This makes about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups of mayo and thanks to pasteurizing the egg, should keep in the fridge for a month or more.   Believe me, this stuff tastes sooooooo much better than Miracle Whip or Hellman’s and is super easy to make.

Now go make mayonnaise!     -Dirty Jack

I missed you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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I missed all of you.  Yes, YOU.

I don’t have a good reason for not blogging for the past three months, so I’m not going to make up a bad one.  The truth is, I’ve been working on a number of projects that kept me too busy, and the only time I thought about blogging was at night, when I would regret not having blogged.  And the clocks and calendar kept rolling and rolling.

Part of my occasionally suspect thought process is….I keep thinking I need to write something truly esoteric or highly literate about our world of food in order to entertain you.  The fact is, this isn’t the quest for the Pulitzer, and I need to simply be more consistent and share my broad thoughts and knowledge of the world of food.  If anything, my pure enthusiasm and joy of food comes through in my writing.   I’m a 50 year-old kid when it comes to getting my jollys over food.

And guess what?   That’s more than good enough.   I do want to offer my apologies to you, personally, for being so lax these past three months.  I promise I’ll try to do better.

Are we cool?

Good.  Now, go eat something!   -Jack / Dirty Jack

image courtesy of quickmeme.com