Archive for April, 2008

The end of the British Breakfast?

Monday, April 21st, 2008

The Times of London covers some of the controversy surrounding a revision of breakfast offerings at the UK’s highway eateries. The revision is organized by Heston Blumenthal, legendary British molecular gastronomist, which would be like handing Wylie Dufresne the job of remaking the menu at Dennys. Apparently, The Times doesn’t seem too sad to see the giant breakfast go.

“The fried English breakfast was conceived during the Industrial Revolution (probably) as a form of fast fuel for a working class that actually worked. They ate 3,000 calories in the morning, then they burnt 3,000 calories by lunchtime. Or died when the mine collapsed.”

the small independent bookstore

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

When we opened there were many motivations for the birth of this business. The food scene here in Portland, Maine was certainly a large inspiration. But Don also wanted to prove a point about brick and mortar book stores, which have seen a steady decline since the birth of Amazon and the mega stores like Barnes & Noble and Borders. We chose to specialize in food and wine in order to create a niche that would (partially) insulate us from the mercurial nature of the book buying public. And so far it is working, we are proud to report. Getting national coverage (in the April Saveur) within a year of opening our doors is a real accomplishment. However we are painfully aware of the balancing act that is being in a small business for yourself. We are members of our Buy Local organization, we also receive all sorts of bookseller mail. Recently I read something in the San Francisco Chronicle that I feel compelled to share. I know that everyone is hurting with the sub prime mortgage debacle, the price of oil, and the War and the election press down on us every day. But as a culture we need to support innovation and business on the small grass roots scale or we are doomed. I believe that book stores are like the canary in the coal mine, if they go there is not much hope for us all.
John King says it better than I do here from an article about book stores in San Francisco published in the paper on Tuesday, April 15th.
He says:
“…But a good bookstore is like a good city block: varied and rich, with layers that bear evidence of imagination and pride. There’s a tactile connection to the ephemeral world of ideas. This is merchandise, but it’s not something to be worn for a season or hung up on a wall; it’s something to be discussed and shared, maybe even something that will shape your thoughts and actions. There’s more going on than the creation of a scene. It’s the slow formation of identities, of thoughts and passions and who knows what else.
In the grand scheme of things, bookstores’ long retreat isn’t a crisis on par with climate change or the war in Iraq. Some stores will survive at least for another generation, Cody’s among them, I hope.
But the landscape has changed irrevocably. Ultimately, we’re all the losers – in ways we don’t even yet know.”

Mark Winne coming to Rabelais

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

We are pleased to be expanding our purview to include the issue of hunger in our abundant society. Monday, April 14th at 5:30 Mark Winne, author of Closing the Food Gap, Resetting the Table in the Land of Plenty will be here to speak and sign copies of his book.

Closing The Food Gap tells the story of how we get our food: from poor people at food pantries, bodegas and convenience stores to the more comfortable classes who increasingly seek out organic and local products. Winne was the executive director of the Hartford food system in Hartford, Connecticut for 25 years and now writes, speaks and consults on community food system topics. He also serves on the New Mexico Food and Agriculture Policy Council and the Southwest Grass-fed Livestock Alliance. Winne resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and is a graduate of Bates College.

Marion Nestle, author of Food Politics and What to Eat, and professor of food studies and public health at New York University says “Reading this book should make everyone want to advocate for food systems that will feed the hungry, support local farmers and promote community democracy…”

Dr. Jane Goodall says,” ‘Closing The Food Gap’ reveals the chasm between the two food systems of America- the one for the poor and the one for everyone else. Speaking from his decades of political activism , Mark Winne offers compelling solutions for making local, organic and highly nutritious food available to everyone.”

Rabelais is pleased to offer the forum for a conversation about food, poverty and feeding our community, we hope you will all come out and join us in this conversation.