Currently showing posts tagged nomz

  • In Defense of Food

    I just finished watching Michael Pollan's 2015 made-for-tv movie, In Defense of Food. While generally agreeing with both his message ("Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.") and the facts presented on the evolution of how we eat, the show left a bad taste in my mouth. I've either become too educated about food, or else Pollan has found a way to gracefully sell out. Maybe both.

    There is a gaping - perhaps even cavernous - hole where he fails to acknowledge the existence of agribusiness. Two statements in particular caught my attention:

    "There are people who demonize meat, but there’s no reason to do that. Meat is healthy food. Humans have eaten meat for a very long time with great pleasure. I think our problem is we eat too much of it. So, and that’s why I say mostly plants."

    Pollan is blatantly ignoring the current state of meat production in America, perhaps enveloped in a naive fantasy where we're all outside gutting deer and slitting home-grown chickens' throats. To his credit, there is a brief mention at the beginning of the show about how cows are no longer fed a natural diet of grass. This means cow meat is significantly less nutritious for humans than it used to be. He also shows dedicated urging against the purchase of "edible food-like products" that are designed to be as cheap as possible and last for as long as possible. Unfortunately, ripping on Yoplait while simultaneously encouraging the consumption of factory-farmed meat is, at best, self-justification for his own one-way ticket to that sweet, sweet animal flesh.

    "There’re many aspects of our lives where we feel like we have very little power. But when it comes to food, we do have power.

    The rise of farmers’ markets, the rise of organic agriculture, the rise of the food movement, none of this was the result of government action. All of this was the result of consumers voting with their forks, signaling to farmers and the food industry they wanted something different. And this has created a multi-billion dollar alternative food economy."

    Organic agriculture? Zero government influence? Sure, those ethereal concepts are lovely, but words like "organic" hold about the same amount of depth as a pack of chocolate chip cookies claiming to be "fat free." The multi-billion-dollar value of that alternative food economy has wholly corrupted our very idea of alternative food. Hey Pollan, you can't encourage people to buy products without labels and simultaneously tout now-meaningless brand keywords like "organic."

    Finally, I realized the whole fricking movie is comprised of old white men who are experts on low-income neighborhoods, the nutrition genetics of Africans, and breastfeeding. No joke - he apparently could not find a single woman to speak about the science of lactation. Besides being just plain lame, I find it disturbingly hypocritical that he can make a profit off of a projected "alternative" lifestyle while simultaneously failing to uplift the very same minority communities he's presenting.

    Anyway. The overall message is important, but I say, let's make it better.

  • Tropical Kitschen: Preserving Herbs

    One of the hardest things about tropical climates is getting your veggies to last. The heat and humidity causes them to wilt, sog, mold, and otherwise just crap out. Not to mention, many of them already have a short shelf life due to long shipping routes.

    So what am I supposed to do with all of this extra basil? I just decimated my garden in preparation for the summer crop and there's no way I can eat all of it. (I thought about drying it out, but I doubt 96% humidity allows leaves to die with such dignity.)

    Solution: freeze it! Olive oil doesn't break down, the herbs don't go to waste, and you have some ready-made cooking starters to pop in the pan. I've dedicated one ice cube tray to these little nuggets to avoid residual oil making its way into drinks.

    1. Wash the herbs.

    2. Chop the herbs.

    3. Mix them into olive oil.

    4. Pour into an ice cube tray.

    5. Set overnight.

    Voila! Delicious and tactile.

  • Tropical Kitschen: Surinam Cherries

    Surinam Cherries are starting to fruit everywhere right now. Literally everywhere. The plant is native to Surinam, but its hardiness and adaptability have allowed the shrub to proliferate across the tropics. In Brazil it's called a "Brazilian Cherry," in Florida it's called a "Florida Cherry," and in Bermuda it's called - you guessed it - a "Bermuda Cherry."

    The taste and color changes drastically during maturation. As the saying goes: the darker the cherry, the sweeter the fruit. You essentially want it to be so ripe that a light touch causes it to fall into your hand... anything less and the meat will taste resinous. (I happen to find the tropical-acid taste unusual and attractive, so I've started eating the cherries straight off the bush.) Another way to reduce the aroma is to cut a slit, pop out the seed, and let it chill in the fridge for 2-3 hours.

    More recipe ideas:

    • Cut fresh into a salad
    • Macerate with sugar as a dessert topping
    • Surinam Cherry Ginger Jam
    • Distill into a liquor
    • Ferment into a wine
    • Surinam Cherry Chutney
    • Blend, strain, and add club soda and citrus juices for a punch
    • Pulp and fold into baked goods

  • Cooked

    This documentary just impacted my whole mindset about food.

    I consider myself relatively educated about what I eat, where it came from, and how it got onto my plate. I love a good Kraft mac n' cheese (mmm, chemical powder), but both my upbringing and choice of friends have exposed me to the benefits of consistently using natural, whole-nutrition products. I will never stop eating meat, nor gluten. I've seen microbial proof that bacteria is a good thing. I love alcohol for many more reasons than "it gets me drunk." In short, documentaries like this one are preaching to the choir, babe. So what happened?

    There were no horrific scenes of mass-market, eyeless chicken stalls or, alternatively, whimsical sunsets behind free range cows who listen to Bach during their daily two-hour petting session. All Michael Pollan did was present basic information about the history and evolution of the human relationship with food. It just happens to be in a manner so simple, so informative, and so pretty that it fermented a sentimentality I didn't know I had.

    I'm now interested in trying to make my own bread. I absorbed a base knowledge for how cheeses develop into specific styles. And the chocolate - jesus christ, the chocolate. I never realized how far removed we are from this standard American food product until I watched a cacao harvest. Do you know how that bean grows!? I bet $100 you don't.

    I think the point here is that Cooked wasn't a mind explosion. It didn't have to be. It explained a few things I had already heard of and articulated why food is important to humans, both as individuals and as a society. What blew my mind is that nobody's ever said it like this before.

    Anyway. Nice job Michael Pollan. Highly recommended.

  • Slangday: Greeze

    I haven't been to a lot of islands, but Bermudian slang seems to be endemic. The English is almost unrecognizable to an outsider - mainly because so many different cultures coexisted and subsequently hybridized. I hereby dub Sunday blog posts as "Slangday," where I'll teach you whatever cool word I learned that week.

    Greeze · noun \gr─ôz\

    A meal, especially one that's large or fulfilling.

    Example: "Let's head to de wharf for sum greeze, I'm starving!"

    My all-time favorite Bermuda greeze is the raisin bread fish sandwich from Art Mel's Spicy Dicy. I swear, you haven't lived until you've eaten one of these monsters.

    Photo Cred: Rosemary Jones

  • Kona Post 1: Poke, Poke, Mocha

    No trip to Hawaii is complete without lots of poke and spam. Eric and I quite literally went straight from airport to marina for fresh ahi poke and fish tacos. Tuna was the catch of the day at every restaurant on the island this week, and boy, do I love me some raw tuna.

    From top to bottom: fresh poke from Bite Me! Bar and Grill, fried poke balls with spicy mayo and pickled cucumbers, and teriyaki poke with furikake rice, kim chee cucumbers, and crazy delicious mac salad (not pictured) from Umeke's.

    I found it strange that spam treats were harder to find on Kona (as opposed to the other islands). Our boat driver responded to my grievances by bringing a huge paper bag of homemade musubis one morning. AHHHHH! <3

    I also discovered Lillikoi Hi-Chews (seriously, best flavor) and Royal Mills iced Island Mochas. The canned coffees contain four different milk products plus sugar - which is my favorite way to drink caffeine. Thank god these aren't in the states, or I might get fat and hyped.

    We also visited the original Kona brewhouse, which, albeit being poorly set up as a restaraunt, had surprisingly good pub food and duh-licious beers. The Hula Hefe sealed a perfect end to every exhausting boat day. God. I. Love. Hawaii.