A couple years ago my mom started to get some ridiculous organic hippie gardening magazine as some sort of promo (they sent 5 issues each swamped with subscription offers). The very first issue featured an article about Carolina Gold Rice. According to that article some couple that had retired in their mid 30's from high powered jobs in a wealthy city. To buy a multi-million dollar "farm" in the Carolinas were solely responsible for bringing this stuff back. Their "farm stand" was open infrequently. And you had to be accepted to a wait-list or some trash to get the rice, at crazy prices. It was either $26 or $76/lb (can't remember, hoping the former). With strict limits on amount. I remember googling the subject because it seems so ridiculous. Only to find most of this same info, and that Anson Mills was working on a less absurd supply line. It didn't seem like they were selling it at the time, but its good to see they've gotten there. Just the whole idea of that article. That heirloom varieties others were working on for decades were being "saved" by wealthy backyard gardeners selling minuscule quantities to their wealthy neighbors at inflated prices chaffed pretty bad.
That magazine was the worst. One of the articles was about how the only acceptable way to manage pests was to pick them off. One at a time. With Tweezers. And carefully euthanize them in a jar. Multiple times a day. Every day. WITH TWEEZERS.
@scalfin I've had that impression for a while. There seem to be a lot more pates, terrines, cooked sausages, and potted/confited products in France than dry cured. Italy seems to have the inverse situation.
Perhaps Kenji knows more detail. But from what I understand they can be bad. Depending on what and how much glue is involved.
@drewrichards Assuming you're in the US, you're looking for Accent. That's the brand in most American supermarkets, and I've yet to see one that doesn't carry it. Should be by the spices, often on the same shelf as the meat tenderizer. Which has lead to some arguments with my mom over whether its MSG or meat tenderizer. But just look at the label.
It's not breakfast but it's very easy to make rissotto from steal cut oats. And like most savory porridges it's pretty damn tasty.
@Carter B & Edflanders
You hear similar concerns about cooking crepes in cast iron. But I was raised doing that, at least weekly. They work fine for both. The added heat retention makes temperature adjustments slower, but also makes it easier to stay in the sweet spot. Less chance of over or under heating your pan. The bigger concern is that cast iron is real heavy compared to non-stick or carbon steel. A lot people find it uncomfortable to lift, flip, tilt, and swirl a bit CI skillet. My Grandmother and sister use two hands, I have little trouble doing with one but I wouldn't call it comfortable when doing large batches. I'm using pretty old cast iron most of the time though. The slightly rougher surface of the new stuff isn't much trouble for crepes, I don't know how it would effect French omelets. The difference between well seasoned new and vintage cast iron is noticeable but not particularly extreme. But it takes while to build enough of a season to start evening out the rougher surface with the new stuff.
If I were buying a pan specifically for omelets, and didn't want non-stick, I'd probably go for carbon steel though. It seems like there's considerably more lifting and movement of the pan here. Cast iron, even a smaller sloped sided skillet will get tiring quick. Although the batches of crepes I make are significantly larger (dozens) than anyone's really going to make of omelets at home. So maybe its a wash.
@monopod furikake is awesome on pizza. As is Mexican "fruit seasoning", which is a mix of salt, chili and dried lime juice intended to be sprinkled on fresh fruit.
Like I said most of the carts, and the sauce most people are looking to replicate is mayo thinned with vinegar. I've questioned more than a few of the cooks in these carts. I use about 2:1 mayo to red wine or cider vinegar. Really just enough to leave it runny. Then you season to taste and add the herb of your choice. Dill and oregano seem common, usually dried.
What I don't know is what that's a cheaper sub for. Some of the carts make a yogurt based sauce that I see cited as more authentic. As do some of the more formal kebab places around. When asked they just call it white sauce or tzatziki, and it ain't tzatziki.
So that's the green sauce. Now tell us about the white sauce red sauce from the halal truck magic.
Mostly kidding. I know the most loved versions of the two are cholula and a mix of mayo with vinegar and herbs. But I have no clue what those are subsitutes for.
@ As far as I'm aware the usage of Conch in common US English (outside scientific literature that is) is pretty well tied to the application of the term to the large sea-snails in The West Indies, Caribbean and other tropical bits (including parts of Florida) just to the south of us. Most of our country is land locked, and has limited access to and awareness of seafood varieties. So Whelk isn't a well known term for a lot of people. Conch on the other hand is well known and considered expensive and desirable thanks to long standing tourist connections with those parts of the world/country. So I think its as simple as it sells better, and is more expensive in this country as Conch. And Conch has better value as an export product.
From what I can tell Italian Americans (particularly on the coast) us scungilli pretty much exclusively. Even when they have knowledge of that's its Whelk, or that its a distinct product from conch.
Per Wikipedia its supposedly got a Sanskrit root (shankha), with transfer through Portuguese (Concha) or Greek (konkhe). Greek to Italian, Portuguese to English. The Italian conchiglia being a longer version of the roots. Frankly the English term "conch" is from what I understand recentish, and even more recently applied as a name for certain types of snails as opposed to just a word for shell (as it apparently is in other languages). Which is why I think its got less utility than something like Whelk or sea-snail in figuring out how Americans got such a jacked up Italian rooted word for the stuff.
OH and I ran across this recently:
Perhaps some of the people involved could explain the linguistic quirks that got us scungilli.
As far as I understand it the "conk" in most frutti di mare is typically species that more accurately called whelks. And to borrow your phrasing its a bit of a bugaboo of mine. Near as I can gather this is roughly true of both Italian American and actual Italian food. Though I have no clue which species specifically are available in Italy, or what the Italian word for the creatures is. But every time I've seen an imported product its been some species of whelk, or featured photos of whelks in its packaging. And whats sold in the US from US fisheries is typically channeled or knobbed whelk fished in the North East. Imported product is typically Asian or Northern European whelk species (when I can tell what they are at all).
To some extent the two terms (whelk and conch) are used a bit interchangeably for large sea snails. In frozen and canned products it is typically labeled as conch even when its whelk, and occasionally as fresh product in fish markets. Its also the more commonly used trade name for US product when it heads abroad. But the two terms aren't synonymous. Conch is usually used for very large predatory sea snails from the tropics, and its a bit looser than whelks in their relation to one and other. There's a loose group of genera that are loosely "true conks", but not all of the conchs seem all that related to each other. Whelk is typically used for smaller (but still large) and often predatory sea snails from more northern or temperate/subtropical waters. They're a lot smaller than what's typically called a conch. And the family of true whelks is a lot larger and more clearly related, so the term is a lot firmer in its meaning. And the clear differences between the two catagories are pretty well made clear if you look at some of the typical examples of each.
Whelk (ignore the file name please!):
Big similarities, but bigger differences. In particular that species of conch is at least 3x the size of that species of whelk.
Domestically caught live whelk is pretty easy to come by in the US. I think every single Chinatown fish market I've been to in 3 cities consistently sells them. They aren't popular in the US though, so standard fish markets tend not to sell them. And a large portion of the domestic catch is meant for export to Asia. So the only place I commonly see them outside of Asian fish markets is as frozen product in Asian supermarkets and Italian specialty markets. The live ones seem easier to track, but they are a bitch to clean. Hell there's an awful lot of them crawling around near my house, they're easy to drag up with a clam rake and I have a whelk trap somewhere. Was thinking about obtaining a few the hard way at some point this summer.
Perhaps you'll have more luck figuring out the proper terminology if you look into whelks rather than conch, or figure out what the local species of snail eaten around the Mediterranean is called in English.
Its also possible to make Limoncello from these sad husks. Provided you have enough. You basically start with the same process, then add a fair amount of vodka (especially if its over proof) then let it sit for say a week. There are better, more controlled ways to make limoncello, but this would be the simplest and thriftiest. Likewise you can make any king of citrus into a similar drink via the same processes. Clementines and blood oranges seem like popular options.
Oh and the modern buttermilk isn't so horribly different from actual butter milk. Its cultured skim or low fat milk. Basically very thin yogurt. It exists because most of the actual buttermilk in the US (at least) is from sweet creme butter. The creme is not cultured or allowed to sour before the butter is made. So the butter milk is not acidic, and won't function in recipes that rely on buttermilk for sour flavor or leavening. But probably more importantly most of it (cultured or not) is sold off as animal feed. In Europe more of the butter at market is cultured, but I have no clue about the actual prevalence of real butter milk. In the past butter was more typically made from soured creme. And its use in soda bread would require that, otherwise no leavening.
Having used real butter milk I can tell you the major difference is that the modern cultured stuff is a lot thicker. Its also frequently slightly more acidic, and contains a bit less fat. But frankly I've never found that they preform much different.
Both the soured milk and butter milk in question would basically be cultured. The cream or milk allowed to "sour" natural bacteria fermenting it to create lactic acid and a sour flavor. Rather than truely spoiled milk. Pasteurized milk is going to go right past that to full on spoilage rather than taking a stop in tasty fermented town. Largely because all of the bacteria has been killed in it, so there aren't any good bacteria to get a toe hold before spoilage sets in.
If you want to mimic that soured milk or butter milk you can culture cream or whole milk with the proper bacteria and allow it to ferment on the counter over night. Its in fact a much more reliable and safe way of getting the same results than setting out raw milk and hoping. Just add a spoon of something with live cultures to your dairy. Common choices are purchased buttermilk, yogurt, and creme fraiche. But anything with live bacteria in it will work. I believe you're looking for Lactobacillus cultures. Make butter from the cultured cream and you get genuine buttermilk as a leftover.
@Kieran Coughlan Now that you mention it, I vaguely remember some one mentioning that the white bread my grandfather was envious of might have been french bread. Though my grandfather himself never mentioned it.
The "its better for you element" might genuinely be one of the reasons why brown bread persisted, white the white is kind of not a thing.
Re the pricing. Were you able to establish if that's the commodity pricing, perhaps for export? A big part of what I'm having trouble reconciling is how this all fits in with the way the Irish economy worked during the same time, and the periods immediately proceeding. Irish wheat was significantly cheaper than other British sources for a very good reason. For the bulk of the period of English control everything functioned under the share cropping system. Catholics were legally barred from owning land/property until the late 18th century, and as a result most of the farm and grazing land was owned by landlords. In particular by landed gentry, often from outside of Ireland. The vast bulk of what a particular tenant grew was owed to the landlord as rent. You didn't raise what you wished, sell it, then pay rent from you income until fairly late in history. What was grown was dictated by the landlord and owned by him. Starting in the 18th century the trend was for raising grain (rather than beef the other major commodity raised in Ireland) and this grain was intended for the export market not the Irish domestic market (though I'm aware that some stayed put where and when it was economically viable). What a given tenant had control and ownership of (whether to eat or sell) was raised on small personal plots that were very restricted in size. Even those who did own land (especially after emancipation allowed the majority catholic citizenship the right to do so) often worked very small plots as well. Due to laws and inheritance traditions that saw land holdings split between all sons at the death of their parents. Most of the food eaten by the "peasant" class was subsistence farmed on these small plots, rather than purchase. And little of what was grown on these plots was sold for income, except on a local level. The potato was preferred for these plots (it wasn't grown as a commodity) because you could grow more calories on less land. Leaving some small space for growing vegetables, wheat, or raising animals. Meat was typically from pigs. One or a handful per household for the year. Chickens for eggs. If you were well off enough you had a cow to provide dairy. Any excess production (often in grain, eggs, or dairy) could be sold for a small profit. Allowing for the purchase, usually locally due to lack of access to commodity markets, of whatever else might be needed or whichever of these you did not yourself produce. Not all of the Irish were part of this system. You of course had merchants, factory workers, and craftsmen. They would engage in the more typical markets, and would increase as a portion of the economy as the 19th century progressed.
So my issue isn't that white flour was preferred, or even that most of the population would buy white flour when they bought flour, or that white flour was cheap relative to other grains or food sources. Its that as far as I know, most of the citizens of Ireland in the 19th century were not buying their wheat flour (until the end). Their flour was from small stands of wheat grown in their personal plots for personal use. It would be ground locally and used by the person producing it. Much of the rural population might be buying any wheat from this local market. Outside of a commodity system it makes little sense for that flour to be sifted, separated and rendered in to grades or even divided into brown and white.
Now things changed rapidly in the 19th century. Establishment of land ownership rights for Catholics in the tail end of the 18th century, and further Catholic Emancipation measures by the 1830's had a big effect. As did, frankly, depopulation from emigration and death during the famine. So these systems started to erode big time (a process that had already started earlier). There were massive increases in standards of living. The rise of a small middle class, and moves to urban poor situations for many of those former "peasants". At the time of the famine the vast majority of Irish households were apparently still cooking on open peat hearths. By the end of the 19th iron peat fired stoves were the norm. At the start of the 19th century most Irish only had access to the wheat they grew themselves, by the end of the 19th they could apparently regular buy at least some. By the start of the 20th century rents were paid in cash, and the tenant was dictating what was grown and selling it to market themselves. Soda bread apparently cropped up as these processes were first starting to accelerate.
There's a lot of cases where cherished traditional food turn out to be far more modern and contingent on access to modern commodity food systems than we expect. I'm simply curious how tied into that soda bread was. Its entirely possible that soda bread was introduced as a use for newly available commodity flour, flour that would more often be white. Or if it arrived slightly earlier along the process, as simply a practical use for whatever wheat a person had access too (which would seem to be the conventional wisdom). If we're talking pre or during famine, and for use with any wheat. Well then most of that flour was likely to be brown based on my understanding of the history.
Based on the quote provided the source washes (or could) entirely well with what I know of the subject. By the turn of the 20th century industrialization, Catholic Emancipation and some other changes had drastically increased the variety of foods available across the board in even Ireland. So by 1890's white soda bread was possible to afford, however occasionally, by most Irish. Outside of the upper and middle classes though you're talking about something that might be a twice yearly expenditure for some or a regular Sunday tradition for others. So while it might be entirely accurate to say white soda bread was preferred (due to its expense and connotations of class) its not exactly accurate to call it common. And certainly not accurate to call it the authentic original style.
For what its worth I have seen white soda bread in Ireland. Just not the American style not-a-scone kind. It seems like more of a high end bakery item, or something made at certain types of restaurants than something people actually make at home. But my grandfather, who was born over there in 1921 tells stories about being envious of people who could afford to eat white bread every day. And his family were, by no means not poor, but better off than many. They owned land, had political and trade connections etc. It seems like the white type faded pretty rapidly after Independence. I would imagine because the brown version tastes a hell of a lot better, and once you lost the systems that made white flour and white bread more expensive it lost its class distinctions. And well... wouldn't you go for the better tasting version?
@bravetart. That's fairly interesting and I'll have to look at that, I've been trying to dig more into early sources on Irish food. As there seems to be a pretty big gap there in terms of popular media, at least here in the US.
I'd be cautious about taking that specific statement too far though (although I'm betting you have more and better I'd be interested in hearing about, and I haven't read the essay). I'm sure you aware there are established problems with writing on food accurately representing food ways across economic classes, and as far as I'm aware there were incredibly huge decides in Ireland between what poor tenant farmers (the bulk of the population) and what the urban poor, and small middle and upper classes ate. So even until pretty recently certain food items carried huge connotations of class. White breads and beef being key examples. Another one being rice, right up until the 80's I had relatives who considered eating rice to be a sign of serious poverty. Because it had been part of the food relief sent during famines, and remained a cheap poverty food for quite a while after. The century you're looking at contain the largest in a series of famines caused by the failure of the potato crop. But during that famine Ireland produced (and imported) more than enough food to avoid famine, those people starved or left because they couldn't afford or otherwise access that other food. As I understand it even before the 19th century it was common for these same poor tenant farmers to buy some of their food, though the vast bulk had to be raised on small personal plots that were not subject to rent. Dairy if you didn't have a cow, flour if you didn't have the space to grow yourself some wheat, small amounts of sugar and other luxuries. And after the 1850's that seems to become more common; with industrialization, urbanization and economic improvements alleviating a lot of the rigidity in all these systems.
My point being I'm definitely sure that (especially by the 1890s) Irish peasants certainly would reject or disdain non-white loaves if given the option. But that does not mean that was the staple loaf, particularly in early periods. From what I've read there was already a healthy tradition of bread, white bread, and white soda bread in the upper economic classes. And throughout the 19th century, particularly after the famine more and more people were gaining access to that. So I'd be curious to see how much these sources are of their particular point in that evolution. And how well the represented the actual situation on the ground for Irish of particular economic classes.
Sometime last year I picked up the oldest cookbook ever written in Ireland. "A book of Cookery" by Hannah Alexander. Apparently written by a well off woman in Dublin in the 1680's. It doesn't look too materially different from similar English texts I've seen. But it has a charming section in the back about poultices and tinctures.
And on the 19th century flour. Yeah that's pretty much how Irish whole meal flour is packaged. It comes in several grades/coarseness levels. Dependent on how much bran has been sifted out. For brown bread you typically use extra coarse, there's a lot of chunky bran in there but the flour itself is fairly finely ground. Irish whole meal flour is pretty well different from the current American conception of the stuff.
Catholicizer you can bake it free form. I typically bake mine of a pizza stone or a sheet pan. Just grease the pan, it tends to stick. It'll spread a bit more. But bear in mind I haven't tested this recipe.
I get what your going for. But "real" Irish soda bread is a brown whole wheat loaf. Few people in Ireland in the past could afford the white flour. And today white loaves are almost unheard of. The dense, scone like white loaves you're complaining about are primarily an American invention, and outside of tourist shops I've never seen it in Ireland. Derived from Irish tradition of adding fruits, nuts, and sugar to a white loaf for holidays or special occasions. Like wise the butter, eggs, wheat germ, and other add ons in American recipes largely come from attempting to mimic Irish flour. Which is pretty low protein. Lower than American AP, but not quite as low as cake/pastry flour. And also in terms of whole wheat flour, ground a lot coarser. Small additions of caraway seed or oats are traditional in certain specific parts of Ireland. Traditionally the bread should have a craggy crust, and be a bit crumbly. But not gummy. It shouldn't be kneaded. And should be mixed minimally. Particularly if you're working with higher protein American flours.
I make my brown bread using Odlums Whole Meal, an Irish flour I can pick up on visits to Queens. The recipe(s) I use take a mix of white and wheat flour though. I grew up with some oats in brown bread, and some caraway in white. But white wasn't something my family made, that came from neighbors. I grew up with brown bread, as did my father, and his parents, and their parents.
Which isn't to say this doesn't look like a nice recipe. I will probably try it, and maybe even sub half the flour for some of that whole meal I mentioned.
Just don't claim authenticity unless you're willing to go all the way. Though you're closer to the mark than the vast majority of people writing this time of year.
You might as well have titled this article "Why is my steak $40" or "Why is that beer $5 when I can get 6 of them for 8 bucks at the store".
Really useful information a sadly large number of diners don't seem to understand (or are just unwilling to consider). You aren't just paying for that beer. You're paying for me to pour it for you. The busser or barback who's going to clean up after you. The lights that let you see. The insurance that keeps our doors open or staff from bleeding to death when bad things happen. The air conditioning that keeps you comfortable. The liquor and other licensing that makes it all legal. The beer I pour down the drain so you don't get the shits from stale beer sitting in dirty lines. The storage costs of holding on to enough beer to make sure I don't run out. The glass I pour it into. The napkin I put it on. The dishwasher who cleans the glass. And the electricity to keep the kegs cold. The TV you're watching and the music your listening too. And a thousand other things. And the equation is a hell of a lot more complicated when you're talking about food instead of alcohol. Booze is usually cheaper on overhead and can bear a higher markup.
I just went through and got a KCBS membership. There isn't much to it for the $35. A few discounts, particularly on classes and BBQ events managed by KCBS. But they do in fact give all members access to Restaurant Depot, and for cheaper than a Costco membership. You get access by printing out a coupon from their site that lists their RD member #, so your effectively shopping on KCBS's licensing. Present that coupon and a KCBS membership card at the door and RD is supposed to issue a day pass. And you can do this as frequently or infrequently as you want. I haven't tried it out yet, and I've heard some RD locations are just confused by the arrangement, but it should work out fine.