“While I was writing The Lost Family, I cooked a lot—to meditate on the day’s writing as well as to kitchen-test all the recipes I then featured on the book’s menu. Some of my favorite lines for the book would bubble up that way, as if from a Magic 8-Ball, and one of them was ‘vegetables have no language.’ I revised this slightly for the novel, but it means that food is universal. The produce and spices will vary from country to country and cuisine to cuisine, but if you love food, you have a vast family out there. We can all communicate about how our beloved dishes are different—and how they are the same.” – Jenna Blum, The Lost Family
Crystal King, whose book about Vatican chef Bartolomeo Scappi, The Chef’s Secret, came out this year, quotes eleven authors on including food in their writing.
“Writing, in a way, is an extension of my cooking, and vice versa. Cooking taught me how to create, that I needed to create.” – Phillip Kazan
Photo by Jonathan Borba from Pexels
Dear Quote Investigator: Coffee enthusiasts enjoy sharing an anecdote about Voltaire who savored the aromatic beverage throughout his life. The famous philosopher’s physician warned him that coffee was a slow poison. He replied, “Yes, it is a remarkably slow poison. I have been drinking it every day for more than seventy-five years”.
But did this exchange occur between Voltaire and his doctor or was it someone else and someone else’s doctor? What are the facts interfering with this story? The Quote Investigator spells it out.
When you think of American wealth, what evidence comes to mind? If it’s not on your list already, jot this one down: the abundance of ice cream.
In Ice Creams, Sorbets and Gelati: The Definitive Guide, authors Robin and Carolyn Weir explore the history of ice cream and how it was a dessert of luxury 200 years ago. In Colonial America, a pint of ice cream could have cost a week’s wages.
In 1921, The Soda Fountain, a monthly trade magazine to the soda industry, published an article touting “Ice Cream as Americanization Aid,” declaring that serving ice cream to [immigrants] on Ellis Island would help them acquire “a taste for the characteristic American dish even before they set foot in the streets of New York.” This would not only help new immigrants assimilate to the American “standard of living,” but it would also inculcate American values: “Who could imagine a man who is genuinely fond of ice cream becoming a Bolshevik?
I can’t say what results any field tests of this idea might have been produced, but it came at a time when America was starting to crank ice cream as if it would churn up a great, big, beautiful tomorrow.
During Prohibition [1920-1933], ice cream parlors filled some of the void left by closed bars, and brewers, including Yuengling and Anheuser-Busch, re-opened their operations as ice cream factories. The Association of Ice Cream Manufacturers could not have been happier — members reportedly sang a chorus at their conventions that went, “[Father] brings a brick of ice cream home instead of beer!”
(via Prufrock News)
Food & Wine magazine offers this list of the best places to buy coffee in every state, plus one runner-up. Is your favorite place on the list? I have consumed several wonderful cups from Mad Priest in Chattanooga, so I’m happy to see they made runner-up in Tennessee. Naturally our readers in Delaware will expect to see Brandywine Coffee Roasters and their Brew HaHa! stores in top place for their state (our cultural influence knows no bounds).
And the best place for coffee in Minnesota is Culver’s. j/k
British food historian Pen Vogler has brewed up a book of sixty recipes that appear in Dickens’ stories or figured into his life. She suggests Dickens put coffee into the hands of wicked people and tea in cups of the right, moral, and good.
Take Mrs. Jellyby in Bleak House.
“She neglects her feminine role as mother and wife, whilst she writes coffee-fueled letters long into the night, to promote her coffee-growing charity,” says Vogler. “It is funny, but, as with all Dickens’ bad mothers, it has a chilling ring of his own unhappy experience. He could never forgive his mother for wanting him to continue to work at the blacking factory, rather than go to school, even after his father was released from debtors’ prison.”
By contrast, Joe Gargery in Great Expectations is “as truly humble and good as Uriah Heep is not” and “a natural tea-drinker.” (via Prufrock News)
This recipe for Greenlandic coffee claims to be “the whole of Greenland in one mug.” See the recipe presented in video from CNN.
Chris Scott says, “The drink is usually served after dinner along with a local legend or a tale about the Inuit people’s closest thing to a deity — the Mother of the Sea.”
Today is national coffee day. I don’t know why this very special day is always overrun in the stores by Halloween or Fall decorations. Where are the family values?
Mercedes-Benz is testing a drone-delivery system in Zurich, Switzerland, to speed up coffee delivery. Their current plan combines drones and vans to get the coffee into your hands, which in a world without flying cars is about what we should expect. When I first saw this news, I hoped they would be testing a system of delivering coffee to your moving car during your morning commute. But maybe self-driving cars would be a prerequisite to avoid collisions.
In honor of the day, let me recommend some coffee roasters you may not have heard about. These guys have skills and unique personalities behind their companies and coffee.
- Lagares Coffee Roasters, the proud sponsors of the Happy Rant Podcast. Hector Lagares is one of those marvelous men in a small community who works an uplifting magic that can smooth away your worries. He offers a few blends and a few single origin coffees, so check him out.
- Mad Priest Coffee uses their business to employ refugees resettled in the Chattanooga area. As the name suggests, they’re a little crazy. Here’s how they describe their Dark Night of the Soul blend. “It’s been a dark night. A very long dark night (St. John of the Cross thought so). But never fear, this dark roast blend will help awaken you to the dawn of a glorious new day. Flavor Notes: Sunshine, Sigh of Relief, Puppy Kisses.”
- Goodman Coffee, also Chattanooga-based, is definitely a good-to-the-last-drop roaster. Ian Goodman raised the bar for delicious coffee in our city back in 1995 with the establishment of Greyfriar’s on Broad Street. This is my favorite brand.
You can order from any of these companies at the websites I’ve linked, but deliveries will not come by drone this year. If you’re ordering from Minnesota or Iowa, you’ll have to use your typical pony express.
Demonstrating that the gods of irony will not take time off, Death Wish Coffee‘s cans of nitrogen-infused cold brew coffee are being recalled for possible botox contamination. Yes, apparently our federal watchdogs are okay with allowing it to be injected in your face but not growing in your coffee. The toxic effects of Botulinum include but are not limited to death.
But then, you’re drinking Death Wish Coffee, so…
Actually, the lede is far stronger than the reality. The coffee is being recalled because a tester raised a flag on the possibility of botulinum growing. He did not find it there and no one has become sick… yet.
Of course, this could end up being a publicity boon for the company.
In completely unrelated news, Atlanta’s newspaper asks if it’s possible to overdose on caffeine. They say it would be very hard to die by drinking too much coffee, adding that people can safely consume ten cans of cola per day. Really? If it’s not caffeine that makes ten cans unhealthy for you, maybe it’s the sugar.
This is big news in the business world of coffee. Nestlé, the makers of Nescafé and Taster’s Choice instant coffees, has put millions of dollars into buying a majority share of third wave coffee leader Blue Bottle. For many coffee lovers, Blue Bottle offers the kind of flavor they wish they could get everywhere. Now it will be owned by the people whose coffee they left to the seventies.
Naturally, Nestlé won’t nix this new coffee kid; it just wants the money.
And speaking of instant coffee, I just heard of a new company with what is rumored to be wonderful, flavorful, and instant coffee: Sudden Coffee. If you’d like to up your coffee convenience game with something tasty, this is for you.
I can’t entirely vouch for this list from Roasty Coffee, but I do compost, add grounds to select houseplants, and may have done one other thing I’m presently forgetting. Most of this list looks solid enough to try, unless you know recycled coffee will not be as good as fresh for your beverage, icing, whatever (I don’t want to think about the last one on the list–what in the world?).
Many voices will tell you coffee is great for your health, your social life, and your faith, but nutritionists have a reputation of wanting to take all of that joy away from you.
“I don’t typically like to demonize one food and deem it horrible, because you can have a good relationship with [coffee],” Sarah Greenfield, an L.A.-based trainer and nutritionist, told Observer.com. “But if you’re using a stimulant to get energy and wake yourself up, you have to look back on your lifestyle and habits.”
Clearly a killjoy.
Coffee does have healthy benefits, like most foods that are not Hot Pockets and Pop Tarts, but we should watch out for too much caffeine. Drinking coffee along with cokes and energy drinks because we’re cramming too many responsibilities into one day or week could lead to such negative consequences as death. So don’t do that, but if you like coffee, feel free to enjoy it in moderation and gratitude. And if you’re drinking at a run-down Waffle House or Denny’s, please Instagram the moment.
Pubs and snooker clubs are being pushed out of many British towns in favor of coffeeshops and various fast food joints, showing changing social patterns the country’s young people.
Professor Ken Roberts told the BBC “older people tend to spend their money on holidays, top restaurants or big events like theatre weekends to London, whereas younger people were more likely to go out in the evenings and also have cheap meals out.”
Some suggest pubs need to improve their daytime offerings in order to draw new customers. Perhaps they could offer a new coffee from Jack Daniel’s that’s been infused with whiskey. It’s non-alcoholic, but it doesn’t taste like it. I’m not going anywhere near a drink like that, but British university students may love it.
Can novels spread awareness of mental health issues? Author C.K. Meena said, “Fiction has no purpose, if you want to spread awareness, use non-fiction.” But author Amandeep Sandhu countered with the idea that nothing we write is truly non-fiction, because we focus on or exaggerate some facts and ignore others.
Eighty-one Anglo-Saxon coffins made from the hollowed-out oak oak trees have been discovered at a site called Great Ryburgh in Norfolk, England. “‘This find is a dramatic example of how new evidence is helping to refine our knowledge of this fascinating period when Christianity and the Church were still developing on the ground,’ said Tim Pestell, curator at Norwich Castle Museum in Norfolk, where the finds from the dig will be kept.” Here are some photos.
“Exactly a century after Saki’s death on 14th November 1916, it seems remarkable that his work has survived so well. In a line-up of the wits of 20th-century English literature, Saki is usually tucked somewhere between PG Wodehouse and Evelyn Waugh.” (via Prufrock News)
Appalachian culture is often misunderstood and misrepresented, a problem the people behind Foxfire magazine hope to correct. Mountain people are “very resourceful, self-reliant, hardworking, intelligent and with an amazing sense of humor.”
A new coffee vendor in Redlands, California, And Coffee, operates a “a remodeled utility truck” next to city hall and runs on donations.
“Once we have despaired of all sin and the gods at their genesis, we are free. Really, truly free. To eat fat juicy steaks, for instance.”
Jared C. Wilson describes what he calls “the chocolate-ness of chocolate and the coffee-ness of coffee” in light of the gospel.
Nicholas Hune-Brown describes how foodie trends don’t reflect most of what Americans actually eat.
The gap between the food we cook and the food we talk about has never been larger. Culturally, it’s the same gap that exists between The Americans—the brainy FX spy show that seems to have nearly as many internet recappers as viewers—and shows like the immensely popular and rarely discussed NCIS. Breathless blog posts about the latest food trends can feel like certain corners of music criticism, pre-poptimism, when writers would obsess over the latest postrock band that was using really interesting time signatures while ignoring the vast majority of music people listened to on the radio. The food at Allrecipes is the massively popular, not-worth-talking-about mainstream.
This is another example of how the culture of media people or the culture of the places where most news writers work chafes with middle and small town America. I don’t think it has to be an uncomfortable chaffing, but writers should be aware of it. Food writers may love to write about what’s new and different and extol new theories of nutrition and flavor, but eating has many ties to traditions, personal comforts, family, and even ceremony. We don’t cook for critics; we cook to bless the people at our table (sometimes that just ourselves). And around the holidays, our family traditions (or a specific rejection of them) are like a fuming stew pot, filling the air with expectations. If food writers don’t share our traditions and comforts, if they have deliberately rejected them for personal or professional reasons, then they’re going to push us away from their table to some degree. We may still appreciate what they have to say, but when it comes to actually eating, well, we may ignore them more often than not. (via ArtsJournal)