Two pieces of seemingly unrelated news last week show just how deficient our values are when it comes to the treatment of the lowest paid workers in our economy, the largest portion of whom are employed in the food chain.
If Walmart’s new rules are enforced, they’d be stricter and more humane than any set by federal agencies. But the standards are voluntary, vague and without a deadline; and the company has a history of not following through on its promises.
“What’s this?” I asked on my first visit to Seki, an unassuming izakaya — a Japanese bar with food — in a quiet corner of Washington. The menu was typically simple, listing sashimi, fried octopus, grilled eel, tempura, pickles, skewered chicken hearts and monkfish livers. And something I’d never seen before: ara yaki.
“Oh,” said Cizuka Seki, who runs the restaurant with her father, Hiroshi, a short, stout, gruff but pleasant man who trained in washoku, traditional Japanese cuisine, in Tokyo. “We roast fish scraps, the leftovers from butchering the best fish.”
“And you serve it with . . . ?”
Read the rest of this column and get the recipe here.
We’re talking about grilling this month on #BittmanTopics, and Mexican-style grilled corn makes an easy, vegetarian snack or side dish. Lots of ways to sauce it, too—I’ve included six here. What are you grilling? Let me know in the comments.
Photo by Fred Conrad
Everyone has an opinion about the best way to grill corn. Some swear you have to soak the ears in the husk before grilling. Some say you should peel back the husk, remove the silk, then butter and season the corn and wrap it back up to grill.
Personally, I love the charred, popcorn-like flavor that corn gets when it’s exposed directly to the flame, so I grill my corn out of the husk and until it’s browned — really browned — in a few places; as it happens, this usually leaves other parts bright yellow. Not only is this super-easy but it results in the kind of flavor I associate with the crunchy street corn of Mexico. Read the rest of this article and get the recipe here.
6 Sauces for Grilled Corn
Mayonnaise with lime juice, chili powder, salt, and pepper
Olive oil, chopped basil, and Parmesan
Crumbled feta, plain yogurt, lemon juice, oregano and cumin
Yes, we have seen some encouraging developments: a promised reduction in the use of antibiotics by Tyson Foods and McDonald’s, a marginal wage increase by McDonald’s for a small portion of its worst-paid workers, a reduction of the use of artificial colors by Nestlé, Kraft and others; the elimination of aspartame in some diet drinks by Pepsi (to be replaced by different artificial sweeteners, of course); a more sweeping (and credible) announcement on additives by Panera; and Chipotle’s claim to have all-but-eliminated foods produced using genetic engineering.
Wage increases and reduced antibiotics are welcome developments; the rest of this barely registers in its significance. Replacing aspartame with sucralose or high fructose corn syrup with sugar is rearranging the deck chairs. (The Panera move seems exceptional, but Panera is a new-wave company and has shown some principles from the start. They’re not reacting to pressure from the food movement but from their enlightened chief executive, Ron Shaich.)
My latest book, A Bone to Pick, goes on sale today. I’m particularly excited to share this book with you because it brings us one step closer to addressing the shortcomings in our flawed food system.
Until pretty recently, most of us didn’t know what a “food system” was, let alone that ours wasn’t working. But as issues of how our food is produced and consumed—and the impact of both on our health and environment—creep further into mainstream culture, media, and politics, more of us are realizing what’s at stake and speaking up about it.
So read the book, then share it with someone. Keep the conversation going on social media with #ABoneToPick, and see how it ties in for you with this month’s #BittmanTopics. There’s a whole lot to say.
Whether you’re cooking it, eating it, growing it, or reading about it, food brings people together. Welcome to #BittmanTopics: a place where we can all share ideas about a different food-related topic each month. In case you missed the first installment, here’show it works, and here’swhat we talked about in April.
Photo by Francesco Tonelli for the New York Times
For many of us, May is a transitional month: it starts as spring and ends around Memorial Day, often with heat and humidity. Grills are coming out of hibernation; I’d like to hear what you’re doing about that.
There is nothing more iconic than the burger, and there’s no denying that the grilled burger is pretty tasty. But there are lots of ways to venture beyond the basic, whether you’re doing it for taste or because the true cost of a cheeseburger is so high. You don’t even need meat: I’ve been doing the less-meatarian thing for a while now (and even wrote a book on it), and most of these 101 fast recipes for grilling are vegetarian. Have a look.
Photo by Sam Kaplan for the New York Times
Meanwhile, what’s your favorite—or most unexpected—thing to throw on the grill? How do you cook vegetables outside? Do you cut back on meat when you’re grilling, or go (forgive me) whole hog? Whether you’re a grillmaster or a first-timer, join us this month on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or in the comments below with #BittmanTopics. And keep an eye out for details about a tweetchat, which I’ll be hosting later this month thanks to Natalie Shrock’s suggestion on Facebook.