Stop Making Us Guinea Pigs

The issues surrounding G.M.O.s — genetically modified organisms — have never been simple. They became more complicated last week when the International Agency for Research on Cancer declared that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the widely used herbicide Roundup, probably causes cancer in humans. Two insecticides, malathion and diazinon, were also classified as “probable” carcinogens by the agency, a respected arm of the World Health Organization.

Posted in Food Politics

HTCE Fast: Shrimp and Tomato Paella

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Paella need not be a huge ordeal; if it were called baked rice and shrimp in a skillet, you’d think it was a piece of cake—which it is.

3 1/2 cups shrimp or vegetable stock or water, plus more if needed
Pinch of saffron
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion
Salt and pepper
1 pound peeled shrimp
3 large ripe tomatoes (1 1/2 pounds)
2 cups short- or medium-grain white rice, preferably paella or Arborio rice
Several sprigs fresh parsley for garnish

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Posted in Mark Bittman Books, Recipes, Seafood, Spanish

Why Not Utopia?

Why Not Utopia

Some quake in terror as we approach the Terminator scenario, in which clever machines take over the world. After all, it isn’t sci-fi when Stephen Hawking says things like, “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”

But before the robots replace us, we face the challenge of decreasing real wages resulting, among other factors, from automation and outsourcing, which will itself be automated before long. Inequality (you don’t need more statistics on this, do you?) is the biggest social challenge facing us. (Let’s call climate change, which has the potential to be apocalyptic rather than just awful, a scientific challenge.) And since wealthy people don’t spend nearly as high a percentage of their incomes as poor people do, much wealth is sitting around not doing its job.

Read the rest of this column here. Illustration by Kristen Hammerstad.

Posted in Food Politics

For Perfect Pasta, Add Water and a Vigorous Stir

Flavio Pasta

On a clear fall day in Rome, I was sitting outside at Flavio al Velavevodetto, a restaurant in Testaccio, in a neighborhood that was once the city’s slaughterhouse district and is now inhabited by both older working-class people and gentrifying youngsters. Flavio de Maio, an elegant, middle-aged businessman turned chef, sat across the table from me; a translator sat between us. I had come at the recommendation of a friend, the Rome-based journalist and historian Katie Parla, who told me that if I was looking for the epitome of Roman pasta, this was the place.

I had a question for Flavio: Why did he think that the simplest pastas of all — pasta alla Gricia, pasta cacio e pepe and pasta aglio, olio e peperoncino — were the darlings of Rome, appearing on nearly every menu?

Read the rest of this column and get the recipes here. Photo by Grant Cornett.

Posted in Italian, Recipes

Spring’s Opening Act

Grilled Lettuce and Peas

Back in the ’80s, I resented the existence of Meyer lemons and anyone who championed them. Those groovy Bay Area people would write recipes calling for Meyer lemons, as if anyone could find them, and insist that a regular lemon just wouldn’t do.

Now I have a Meyer lemon tree growing outside my kitchen door. My friends come and take 10 at a time, and there are still 100 lemons left.

And actually, they are amazing, with an oily orange fragrance. But this isn’t a story about lemons. Rather, it’s about me, and Berkeley, where people leave boxes of Meyer lemons on the sidewalk because they have too many.

Read the rest of this column and get the recipes here. Photo by Melina Hammer.

Posted in American, Recipes

Feeding Kids Well

How the School Nutrition Association became an ally of what you might call the “let them eat cake” forces is a long story. What matters is that if, like the association, you’re taking a stand against the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act — from a food perspective, among the two or three most progressive pieces of legislation of the Obama administration — you are simply on the wrong side. You’ve pitted yourself not only against better nutrition for current school kids but, even more important, against better nutrition for future students and adults. The School Nutrition Association’s position may not be the equivalent of the American Diabetes Association insisting that, say, we serve Coke at all meals, but it’s in that ballpark.

Posted in Food Politics

HTCE Fast: Stir-Fried Beef with Skillet Kimchi

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An easy stir-fry takes on bright, lively flavor thanks to spicy kimchi seasonings.

4 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more as needed
1 1/2 pounds beef sirloin, flank, or rib-eye steak
Salt and pepper
1 medium Napa cabbage
1 inch fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon gochujang (Korean red pepper paste) or Sriracha (optional)

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Posted in Mark Bittman Books, Recipes