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)
The Eater Upsell podcast talked to Alton Brown this month about his books, his road show, his Food Network shows, and his food philosophy. There are many highlights, but one that stands out to me is his big shout-out to Memphis, Tennessee.
Outside of Memphis proper is this doughnut place called Gibson’s, which makes not just the best doughnut in the United States but, as far as I’m concerned, if all the other doughnuts went away and I still had Gibson’s, I’d be okay. They’ve also got the best chicken, and maybe the best hamburger in the United States.
He also gives credit to Starbucks for being the “game changer” in American food culture. Now, many of us are willing to spend $4 on coffee and look forward to fancy third-wave brews.
What’s funny, though, is I think that we’re more sophisticated as eaters than cooks. You know, I know people that can detect the difference between whether we’ve made the bouillabaisse with, you know, Turkish saffron or Iranian saffron, but couldn’t cook the seafood in the bouillabaisse if you held a gun to their head, you know, so — we’ve become far more sophisticated as consumers. Whether we have as cooks or not, I don’t know.
“There is good quality [coffee] in the South. There are no regional brands that identify with all the cities that are seeing so much revitalization right now,” Emma Chevalier, Revelator Coffee’s Creative Director, tells Eater.com. So Revelator’s owners Chevalier, Elizabeth Pogue, and Josh Owen, have opened stores in Birmingham, New Orleans, Atlanta, Chattanooga, and Nashville and are working on more. Their Chattanooga store is discussed in the current issue of Barista Magazine, which describes the store are a contrasting offering to the “homey familiarity” of other Southern coffee options.
The intersection of writers with Prohibition was at its most intense in New York City — the mecca for all talented young men and women in the 1920s. Seven thousand arrests for alcohol possession in New York City between 1921 and 1923 (when enforcement was more or less openly abandoned) resulted in only seventeen convictions.
For some writers, Manhattan, with its habitual speakeasies and after-hours clubs as well as its famous flouting of the law even in restaurants, became synonymous with drinking too much. Eugene O’Neill and F. Scott Fitzgerald were two writers who were only able to stop drinking, or at least moderate their drinking, after they left what one minister called “Satan’s Seat.”
Apparently Prohibition was too much a temptation for many writers, some of whom became well known. Of course, Chekhov said, “A man who doesn’t drink is not, in my opinion, fully a man,” so maybe O’Neill, Fitzgerald, and others were his disciples in this way.
Peet’s Coffee & Tea recently bought out Stumptown Coffee Roasters and became a majority shareholder in Intelligentsia a few weeks after that. Does that mean delicious third-wave coffee companies are selling out?
“Many in the core community of specialty coffee cite Peet’s as something of a Moses figure, guiding coffee appreciation out of the Egypt that is burnt-rubber tasting commodity-grade coffee,” Jimmy Sherfey explains on Eater.com. Peet’s was a pioneer in developing a market for rich, flavorful coffee. The company has even trained many of its now competitors
Ángel González puts an ugly spin on the recent decisions. “Peet’s move is similar to that of the titan Saturn in Roman mythology, who devoured his own children so they would not overthrow him. In Peet’s case, it’s the grandchildren who are trouble.”
But company execs tell Sherfey they are “looking to fill the fast-growing demand for their coffee, which both Stumptown and Intelligentsia cite as reasons for the mergers. ‘Frankly, we were just running out of space,’ says [Matt] Lounsbury. [Doug] Zell cites “restrictions on resources’ at Intelligentsia leading up to the acquisition. ‘We could only grow at a certain rate given our internal economics.'”
Now, the new, large roasting family hopes they can create opportunities for producers to deliver great coffee at great prices that will sustain and renew their farming communities.
Porn can’t be sold ethically. “The truth is that when a feminist performs the role of sex object in order to transgress and/or reclaim heteronormative constructs of femininity, her audience is excluded from the alleged meaning of her work. Men don’t go to peep shows so that they can self-critically reflect on women’s sexuality and the politics of desire. To ignore this is not an act of radical female autonomy, it’s an act of dangerous and narcissistic irresponsibility.”
When Folgers declined to sponsor Albuquerque’s 2015 Balloon Fiesta, a family-owned roaster stepped up. Albuquerque’s own Piñon Coffee brought an estimated 200,000 cups of coffee to the hot-air balloon event that started last weekend and continues through the week. It is the fiesta’s first local company to be coffee sponsor.
“A lot of handcrafting goes into every part of our coffee from the coffee all the way up to the bags to the fill the bags to the roll down of bags,” Piñon Coffee President Allen Bassett told KRGE News 13.
Bassett has been working on several strategies for building his brand and competing with national companies. He has recommended local coffee shops collaborating in order to hold their own against national franchisees.
(Photo of The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2014 by Duncan Rawlinson)
Quarterly earnings for Keurig Green Mountain are “disastrously bad,” according to this week’s reports, and with consumer complaints about the price of a Keurig 2.0 and its rejection of off-brand coffee pods, analysts are wondering if the single-serve coffee craze is over.
If you haven’t heard, the latest Keurig coffee machine, released last summer, was designed with a scanner in order to detect whether you were using Keurig-brand coffee pods or off-brand pods. If you were trying to save money by using cheaper, off-brand pods, the machine would say, “Oops! This pod was made in North Korea and will probably kill you, or worse, insult your palate. Throw it out, fool! Use only Keurig Brand coffee pods with coffee as fresh as if Moses, standing on Mt. Sinai, ground it himself.” Not only did the new machine of coffee magic reject off-brand pods, it also rejected K-cups that didn’t have the special Incan runes on the label.
Coffee drinkers found this design feature unhelpful and began to complain. Some joined a resistant movement to take back their freedom of brewing.
But these may not be the only reasons for the company’s earnings report slump. In a partnership with Coca-Cola, Keurig will soon release a single serve soda-pop machine that will cost way more than even a single can from an amusement park vending machine (if that’s possible). I’ve heard New York City has already taken steps to ban it. In a world that is decreasingly buying cokes (that’s what we call them in the South), who will want a custom coke machine in their man cave when they can have a fridge-full of craft beer for less.
I found a new-to-me coffee retailer this morning while casually browsing for coffee-related sites and was surprised to notice a price category for $350.00 – $400.00. What do they offer in that price range? Ten pound bags of Jamaican Blue Mountain? No, this site, named Coffee for Less, offers one pound bags of whole Kopi Luwak beans for $350.00.
You may not think you’re the type to drop over three Franklins on a bag of coffee beans, but wait ’til you hear the reason for the price. Kopi Luwak beans are personally processed by luwaks, small mammals in Southeast Asia, who eat coffee berries off the plant and pass them neatly into a farmer’s poop-scooper, giving them a can-u-believe-it, yowza-yowza flavor!
I mean, who wouldn’t want to eat something preciously prepared by this cute, little guy? Don’t look at me like that. You know you would.
Naturally, knowing you like I do, you may have already gone out for another variety of poop coffee blend from Thailand called Black Ivory Coffee. These beans have been especially excreted by elephants, which produces a reportedly smoother flavor than the Luwak variety. There is a difference, and it may be in the animals’ diets. Luwaks are omnivores; elephants are herbivores. Theoretically, your Kopi Luwak could brush up against some squirrel carcass on its way to your Best Part of Waking Up, whereas your Black Ivory beans may be fondled by foliage. Plus, every cup of Black Ivory comes out looking like this:
That’s straight from the elephant’s mouth, as they say. Who wouldn’t pay $$$$ for that?
The Ovente Steam Espresso Maker may be a great gift for someone you love this summer, especially if they would enjoy getting their coffee from a Dalek. With a cup of joe from this baby, you’ll have the strength to fight back against the footless foes who point at you and say, “Procrastinate!”
Marijuana infused coffee pods are now for sale in select stores on the left coast. One store owner said, “I liken it to a Red Bull and vodka. I had more energy, but I still had the relaxation you get from cannabis.”
Energetic relaxation, folks, can be yours with one special cup of coffee.
I don’t know if any of these places ship their beans via civilian drone, but if you’re in Michigan, you may want to look one of these up. “For the last 5 days,” John Gonzolez writes, “I traveled to 22 shops that were nominated and voted on by the readers of MLive. Along the way we discovered some true hidden gems, and some coffee shops known for roasting incredible, award-winning coffee.”
KFC in the UK is running the final tests on their new Scoff-ee Cup, an edible cup to be offered with Seattle’s Best Coffee brand beverages. “The 100% edible cup is made from a special, wafer-like biscuit, then wrapped in sugar paper and lined with a layer of heat-resistant white chocolate.”
Naturally, this is a fabulous idea, but they want to make sure it works well in many circumstances before releasing it to the public. No one wants their little dessert cup to melt in their hand while chatting up a cute girl they just met. No plans for US release yet.