Tag Archives: food

Food Friday- Video: The Secret To Everything Tasting Better

Food and culture are often discussed topics on The R, so we wanted to share  this video from NPR about food, tradition, and secrecy.  In this segment of their Micropolis series, reporter Arun Venugopal discusses why he’s never eaten with his hands in public, despite always doing so at home.  If the amount of Indian restaurants around the city are anything to judge by, Indian food has been embraced (or co-opted) by New Yorkers. So why haven’t all aspects been accepted as readily?

 

 

The Perennial Plate Visits India And Sri Lanka On Its World Tour

by Guest Contributor Pavani Yalamanchili; originally published at The Aerogram

Chef Daniel Klein and co-producer/filmmaker Mirra Fine are the creators of The Perennial Plate, a weekly online documentary series that tells the stories of food and the people who make it, with a focus on socially responsible and adventurous eating. The first season took place in Minnesota, and the second took them across America. For its third season, the series is going global and traveling to China, Japan, India, Sri Lanka, Spain, Morocco, Italy, Turkey, Argentina, Mexico, South Africa and Ethiopia.

In recent months, the series has been posting episodes from the South Asian leg of their world tour, including a fast-paced and musical montage video “Day in India.” It compiles footage from their Indian stay during which they filmed several episodes, including “Dabbawalla” and another featuring an interview with environmental activist Dr. Vandana Shiva. The film-making pair, who recently announced their engagement, also spent time in Sri Lanka where they visited an organic tea farm, a coconut plantation and met a fishing family.

The vegetarian co-producer of Perennial Plate, Mirra Fine, took time from her packed itinerary to entertain a few questions by email from The Aerogram.

What’s involved in making a popular montage video like “A Day in India”? 

For a montage video such as that one, we spent three weeks in the country and filmed everything we saw, ate, and experienced. We came home with at least 15 hours of footage and had to try to figure out a way to condense it into three minutes. We figured that creating “one day” from all the footage would be a great way to do so. Sometimes videos with “themes” have a better chance of going viral. Pretty much, we had to comb through all of the film and take just the beautiful shots, and then find an amazing song (or songs), and then sit for 3-4 hours putting the images to music.

How long were you in Sri Lanka?

We were in Sri Lanka for two weeks (we went there straight from India). We filmed three stories there: “Tea Farmers”“Coconut: Nose-to-Tail” (about a family on a coconut plantation), and “Do Not Blame The Sea” — which came out on Monday and is about a stilt fishing family who lost six members in the tsunami but still fish every day. It’s quite beautiful.

The “Tea for Two” episode offers an intimate look at a Sri Lankan couple who farm organic fair trade tea, and you mention that you didn’t expect to be so taken with their relationship. What kind of video were you expecting to end up with? 

When filming a new story, we never really go into it with a clear vision of what the story will be. We just have a vague idea. Especially when filming overseas, we have limited access to information due to lack of a common language, internet access etc. All we knew about Piyasena and Ariwatha (the two farmers) is that they were part of the Sri Lanka Small Organic Farmers Association meaning they were organic and fair trade.

We went to the farm hoping to see a day in their lives… hear about what it’s like to be an organic tea farmer in Sri Lanka, and hear about their lives. When we got there, we saw that there was something else even more powerful going on — and that was the relationship between the two of them. So we decided to focus on that. I’ve got a TON of footage on the editing room floor with information about tea farming, etc. But this story just touched us. So we went with that. I think we spent four hours with them.

The Perennial Plate has a video on How to Make Chopped Roti and Dal. Did you learn to make any other foods in Sri Lanka? Which foods were your favorites to eat there? 

We actually didn’t learn how to make chopped Roti in Sri Lanka. Instead, we just ate it a lot and then came home and Daniel tried to make it. (He’s really good at that sort of thing). We did visit a family who showed us how to make string hoppers, which are delicious. Have you tried them? String hoppers are amazing with curry.

Sri Lankan food is really incredible. Rice and curry is the main staple, but the street food was also wonderful. Daniel loved the fried fish in chickpea flour (I didn’t try it as I’m a vegetarian). We both loved this chickpea dish that we happened upon when we saw a man in Galle selling it from a cart on the street. It is warm chickpeas with fresh chili, coconut, and spices. It was presented to us on a piece of folded up newspaper. It was amazing.

Is there any particular South Asian ingredient that you enjoy using when preparing food?

Daniel is a chef who trained for some time in India, so he loves all the spices that go into Sri Lankan and India cuisine. And he does say that the most prized ingredient that is the most difficult to find in the US is the fresh curry leaves.

No Myths Here: Food Stamps, Food Deserts, and Food Scarcity

By Erika Nicole Kendall, cross-posted from A Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss

When I was about 5 or so, I used to go to my grandmother’s house during the day while my Mother went to work. I remember catching the bus and sleeping across my Mom’s lap until we got there, and then her hugging me and heading off to do whatever it was she did all day. (I was five. Clearly, I had no idea.)

Grandma was cool, but there was always a bajillion people at her house. She lived in the projects*, and spent a big portion of her day being “Mama”to everyone even though she was well into her 50s.

I remember, as a kid, how the big thing was for us to run across the street to the convenient store and get a Big Red pop and a bag of chips. All for $0.50. I mean, it was how we spent every afternoon. Because Grandma’s house was full of people, it was never hard for me to get a hold of two quarters – ahhh, two shiny, glorious quarters – so that I could be like the rest of the kids and sit in the middle of the grass and eat my funyuns or my munchos and my Big Red pop.

(I’m from the Midwest. We say pop, thank you very much.)

It wasn’t that I was Grandma’s favorite, but…. well, I was Grandma’s favorite. She invested a lot of time and effort into me. She taught me to read – she’d hand me the newspaper and make me read every page out loud – and she taught me how to be a little lady. She taught me how to love, as a young girl, because outside of that typical adoration that a young girl has for her mother, you learn that that thing that binds you to Grandma emotionally and you understand it even more so once she’s gone. That made her valuable.

However, I must admit. If there’s one thing I don’t remember, it’s going to a grocery store with Grandma. We just.. we never went together. At least, we didn’t go to a grocery store as I know a grocery store to be today. The only store I ever saw her go to was the convenient store across the street.

And now that I think about it, there’s a lot of things I don’t remember about that time with Grandma.

Continue reading

Sustainable Food and Privilege: Why is Green Always White (and Male and Upper-Class)

by Guest Contributor Janani Balasubramanian

When asked to name the heroes of food reform and sustainable agriculture, who comes to mind? Michael Pollan, Joel Salatin, Eric Schlosser, Peter Singer, Alice Waters maybe? Notice any patterns? The food reform movement is predicated on rather shaky foundations with regards to how it deals with race and other issues of identity, with its focus on a largely white and privileged American dream.

Still, what could be better than a return to family farms and home-cooking, which many of these gurus champion? The images are powerfully nostalgic and idyllic: cows grazing on sweet alfalfa, kids’ mouths stained red with fresh heirloom tomato juice, and mom in the kitchen rolling out dough for homegrown-apple pie. But this is not an equal-access trip down memory lane. While we would like to think the American dream of social communion around food is a universal one, this assumption glosses over the very real differentials in gender, class, race, ethnicity, and nationality that were enabled and exacerbated by specific communities (white plantation owners, for example) through the use of food. Continue reading

Quoted: Michelle on The Idea of Food Education

It seems like some people are constantly wringing their hands about how poor people eat (to wit: badly.) And the most popularly proposed solution is to teach them (“them”) more about nutrition! Or educate them in general.

Because obviously they just don’t know what they’re doing. And that’s why they eat so badly, and hence, why their health tends to be poorer!

And eureka! — you have a tidy solution that not only absolves financial and economic guilt, but, as a bonus, allows richer, more-edumacated people to assume the role of benevolent experts.

Here comes the part where I bust up that nice, warm bubble bath.

The reality is that people who don’t have enough money (or the utilities and storage) to buy and prepare decent food in decent quantities, cannot (and should not) be arsed to worry about the finer nuances of nutrition.

Because getting enough to eat is always our first priority.

That’s why Ellyn Satter (yes, her again) created the Hierarchy of Food Needs. Which looks like this:

The idea is that, before we worry about nutrition (i.e., “instrumental food”) we’ve first got to HAVE food. Enough of it. Consistently. And it’s got to be acceptable to us (which, for some people, might mean not coming from the garbage, or meeting certain standards of preparation) and it’s got to taste reasonably good. A little variety is nice, too.

—Excerpted from “If only poor people understood nutrition!,” at The Fat Nutiritionist

“Food Politics” Has Lost an Advocate

by Guest Contributor T.F. Summers Sandoval, originally published at Latino Like Me

News came today that Condé Nast–publisher of The New Yorker, Vogue, and Wired among other notable magazine titles–is closing Gourmet magazine.  The powerhouse title has been published since 1940 and is a veritable icon in food magazine publishing.

The loss will affect more than just the legions of foodies who won’t be able to read about the latest in cuisine and cocktail.  Over the years, Gourmet had also established itself as a regular and oftentimes leading voice in the realm of food politics.  Take a look at just some of the stories they have run in the recent past.   From the failures of federal regulations, to outright labor abuses and the rise of de facto slavery, Gourmet’s “Politics of the Plate” section has given dynamic and in-depth coverage of issues rarely covered at all in the so-called “mainstream” media.  To these important issues of human rights, global environmental sustainability,  and health, they have lent their journalistic integrity and commitment to social justice, creating something that was consistently readable, important, and ethical in its role as advocate for something better.

I, for one, will miss it.

More Supermarkets, Please.

by Guest Contributor G.D., originally published at PostBourgie

Up until last fall, I lived in Bed-Stuy, and the only supermarket near me was so far away that I would just do my food-shopping on the way back from my gym — which happens to be in a completely different neighborhood.  The bodegas on either end of the block where I lived only sold white bread; fresh fruit and vegetables were completely out of the question. Fast food restaurants abounded. After 10 p.m., you had to stand outside the bodega and tell the store employee what you wanted through bullet-proof glass; they handed you your goods via a rotating carousel. If you were hungry at that hour — and I usually was, since I work evenings — there was no place to get food, except Papa John’s. (Ugh.)

Then my lease ran out and I stumbled into an apartment for slightly less than I was paying — in Park Slope, that notorious bastion of upper middle class liberalism and helicopter parenting. My mind was blown. It’s just two miles away, but the demographic chasms are ginormous. This is the whitest, most affluent place I’ve ever lived, and the nutritional options border on the cartoonish. There are supermarkets two blocks in every direction, a surfeit of top-shelf restaurantsthe famous Food Co-Op, and the 24-hour bodega on the corner sells fresh herbs and organic kale. As dope this is for me now, I had to move to a completely different neighborhood in order to have regular access to fat-free milk.

Continue reading

The Kimchi Taco Generation

by Guest Contributor Angry Asian Man, originally posted at Angry Asian Man

The New York Times ran a story last week on the now-famous Kogi truck, Los Angeles’ meal-on-wheels sensation: For a New Generation, Kimchi Goes With Tacos. The superdelicious mobile Korean fusion variation on the Mexican taco truck has been attracting Twitter-powered lines of eager eaters all around the city.

The article is interesting because it’s not just about Kogi, but the recent surge of second-generation Korean Angelenos who have played their own variations on traditional cuisines and taken it far beond the boundaries of Korean-dominated neighborhoods.

In addition to chef Roy Choi of Kogi, they talk to the people behind restaurants like Gyenari, gastropub Father’s Office (which offers what is possibly the best burger in Los Angeles), and popular ice creamery Scoops — all run by Korean Americans.

It’s a very interesting look at the changing culinary scene in L.A. What other city would dream up kimchi sesame quesadillas and bulgogi tacos? Now I’m hungry.

(Photo Credit (and additional review) over at My Modern Metropolis)