Archive for December, 2008

a British Christmas tradition just hangs on

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

French onion sellers, who traditionally arrive in London to sell their Roscoff onions for Christmas, are a dying breed. Apparently their are only 15 left, down from 1500 in the 1930s.

Saturday, December 20th, 2008

We are very sorry to note the passing of Jim Cook, who has been such an important part of Maine’s world of food for so long, and a tireless toiler for a better food future. Thanks Jim!

Here’s an article about Jim and his activities from the mofga website.

local isn’t always better, and other news…

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

Local isn’t always better… at least in terms of tv commercials. We’ll be working on a Rabelais ad to compete with these soon.

A new men’s cologne, not likely to attract the bikini girls of Bangor.

G. Franco Romagnoli passes.

a Secretary of Food

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

“A Department of Agriculture made sense 100 years ago when 35 percent of Americans engaged in farming. But today, fewer than 2 percent are farmers. In contrast, 100 percent of Americans eat.” Nicholas Kristoff in today’s NYTimes

some news

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

A woman chef in France wins three stars from Michelin for the first time in 50 years. Oyster rustlers in Britanny are on the poach in the run up to holiday dining. The aromas of New York City can be therapeutic.  In time for you to order from Netflix: a round up of top booze movies. And a new blog about tippling from the NYTimes. 

What it is it with the New York Times cookbook reviews?

Sunday, December 7th, 2008

Must begin post with admission that I love the NYT, I have a long history of Sundays sharing the paper with my Father.

But what is the deal with their cookbook reviews?
Todays piece begins “I am so over being lectured by food writers to honor the seasons and stock up on sea salt and otherwise comport myself virtuously….”
Is that the way you begin a round up of holiday cook books? Do they need to give this duty to another writer? This is the not the first time that I have read a cranky diatribe about food books. Granted this a subject matter near and dear to my heart and so I may be taking this a bit personally. And yes, there is a glut of writing in book form on the subject out there, some of which is painfully and embarrassingly bad. I blame the commercialism of the publishing world for giving a contract to any food celebrity idiot. But in this day there are many good ones, and it is a subject that is relevant and satisfying to our daily lives, so I cannot for the life of me figure out why the New York Times is taking this stance. Is this not the moment to get people back into their kitchens, cooking their own food, concerning themselves with the quality and the provenance of their ingredients? And are food books not an entry point for so many people who were never taught to cook and don’t know the difference between industrial and local (sorry to say it) sustainable food?
Earlier this Fall the NYT did a round-up of the crop of new high cuisine books that had a similarly snarky tone. In a society that values flat screen tvs and cell phone connectivity as much as ours, I see nothing wrong with the allure of a high end cuisine book. At least the end result of this mania is something to eat, something that will truly feed your soul, not suck it out or give you brain cancer.
Is this a case of cooking still being considered too low culture, not intellectual enough for the New York Times to give it it’s credence? Do they not realize that the growth in the world of food culture extends much deeper than the Food Network’s inanity? That there is a community of considered, thoughtful and intellectual folks who think that using (and specifying) free-range eggs in a recipe is not just about being cool, but that those self same eggs taste different and therefore will make the recipe taste different?
I tend to respect the opinions represented in the Times. I love traditional print media, used to be in the field, my heart bleeds a little every time I read about layoffs and cutbacks and closings. But I cannot fathom the tone of the recent coverage of food books in the New York Times.
Maybe they are just trying to keep up with Frank Bruni?

another obit

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

I’d thought it was long gone, but Zima hung in there longer than expected. It passed, almost unnoticed on October 10th.

a real bibliophile

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

I don’t often write here about book collecting, but here is notice of the passing of a real bibliophile. The catalogue of the auction of Helmut Friedlaender’s collection was a wonder to me when it was published in 2001, and a few months later I met the man, briefly. Earlier this year, the world of books lost Pierre Beres, dealer and collector. There are few giants like these left, and it seems unlikely that the world we live in could ever produce such again.