Living, eating and researching in Italy at the University of Gastronomic Sciences

  • Website
  • Location: Italy
  • Favorite foods: cheese grits, mangoes, granola and yogurt
  • Last bite on earth: Define "bite." Okay, it'd have to be chawan-mushi egg custard with roe and sea urchin at Raku (Vegas)

Latest Comments

Chiles Rellenos (Mexican-Style Cheese-Stuffed Chilies)

While this looks delicious, I don't understand why you'd go to the lengths of deep frying something and then dousing it in sauce. Why wouldn't you keep the fried pepper above the sauce, or better yet, do as the Japanese do with tempura, and serve it in a separate basket, to be added to sauce when the diner chooses?

How I Built a Barbecue Restaurant in Brooklyn: Mustering the Troops

If this whole restaurant thing doesn't work out, I'd pay good money to hear stand-up from Tyson, Whole Hog Comedian.

How I Built a Barbecue Restaurant in Brooklyn: My 18-Hour Work Day

Seriously, this is hands down the best column SE has ever run. We thank you for your 6:30 am sacrifices. Can I offer to run food to you that's not fried??

What's Your Favorite Deep Dish Pizza in Chicago?

Spent 3 years in Chicago and Pequod's wins hands down. Plus, their logo is a whale wearing a thong.

Ask The Food Lab Anything, Thanksgiving Edition 2013

I need to take my Chinese family (10-12 people) out to dinner on Thanksgiving. They're restauranteurs prone to saying "I can make that better myself" and "Aiyah, so expensive!" Chinese/Asian food would be preferable, especially if I can show them something new or different. Last year, we went to Fu Run and they loved the cumin lamb chop and candied taro. Where should we go this year?

Surprise! Burger King's New "Satisfries" Do Not Suck

Is it just me or does the name remind you of "saddest fries"?

Father's Day Giveaway: Win a Baking Steel!

A hopeless mishmash of good intentions gone horribly wrong: homemade pizza dough topped with ketchup and Kraft singles, served with rice. (Yes, this really happened.)

Lunch in the Loop: It's Okay to Rage-Eat at the Marquette Inn

That first paragraph transition made me LOL, I only wish all of my blind dates were so hilariously awkward.

Serious Reads: An Economist Gets Lunch, by Tyler Cowen

I'm about 2/3 of the way through the book, and though I agree that some criticisms are needed (some of Cowen's restaurant-choosing advice seems based on anecdotal observations rather than rigorous research or theory), I do think that he makes important arguments about food systems that we foodies with means take for granted. For instance, he critiques the holy tenet that local food is always best. While eating seasonal, local produce tastes great in many cases, distance is not the only factor in carbon footprint. Production methods matter even more. Farmers who use winter greenhouses or irrigate heavily are likely using more energy and resources than a farmer in a warmer, rainier climate who ships items using transportation with a low carbon footprint. Thus, it can be better to eat a banana shipped here via boat instead of a tomato grown in a greenhouse in upstate NY, then trucked for several hours to a farmers market.

Many reviewers who have said this book is against all that is good and Alice Waters cite his appreciation of agribusiness (for its economies of scale) and GMOs (for radically increasing crop yields). He does gloss over the myriad issues that have resulted from the domination of agribusiness in this country, but in the end, I find that many of Cowen's policy prescriptions (to encourage less meat consumption, to tax carbon) are actually in line with what Bittman or Pollan might recommend.

Overall, the book is a good (if disorganized) mix of restaurant advice, cultural history and economic theory. If you are a devout foodie who cares about conscientious consumption, read this book and be prepared to challenge your beliefs or stand your ground.


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