True story, from the wedding of two friends, circa 1977: The bride’s father, a louche sophisticate, and perhaps needless to say an alcoholic, asked of the groom’s grandmother, a Russian immigrant of peasant stock, “Isn’t eating an artichoke just like sex?” There was, as you can imagine, no reply.
The artichoke has always inspired such lyrical flights. Is it not the most versatile of vegetables as well as the most miraculous? Is it not incredible that this thistle keeps its treasure so well hidden and protected that people can spend their lives blissfully eating only the outer leaves, never getting past the choke to the heart?
Rhetorical questions, I recognize. But once you know how to handle an artichoke, it will pretty much do your bidding, providing you with salads, sautés and remarkable centerpieces that are unique in just about every respect.
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The seven most famous words in the movement for good food are: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” They were written, of course, by Michael Pollan, in “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto,” the follow-up to “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.”
Now Pollan might add three more words to the slogan: “And cook them.” Because the man who so cogently analyzed production and nutrition in his best-known books has tackled what he calls “the middle link in the food chain: cooking.”
But Pollan isn’t about to become a cookbook writer, at least not yet. In “Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation,” out Tuesday, he offers four detailed recipes, used as examples to explore how food is transformed: for Bolognese, pork shoulder, sauerkraut and bread, each an illustration, he says, of the fundamental principles of cooking.
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by Andrea Grossman for The Huffington Post
Okay, I’m shallow. Nothing excites me more than when someone tosses a new idea for chicken at me that sounds easy, healthy and quick. New ideas for vegetables make we weep — in a good way. Cooking is about much more than throwing stuff in the oven and waiting for dinner to emerge. It’s about lifestyle. Culture. Fun. Creativity. Time.
Mark Bittman makes everything seem not only acccessbile, but easy. He uses ingredients that we actually have, or that are at least available within a few miles of most urban or suburban cooks. Nothing obscure, nothing fussy that you need to order online because it’s simply unavailable in a major metropolis. Bittman understands that many home cooks are distracted, can barely tell the difference between a tablespoon and a teaspoon (if they have the measuring spoons at all), and crave simplicity. At the same time, he knows that we want something new, a twist on what is familiar, but with a flash of Different.
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Last year, it seemed, every book about food that crossed my desk — other than those about cooking, of course — seemed to have one of two titles: “How I Moved to Brooklyn and Became a Roof-Gardening Butcher” or “The Gluten-Free Diet Saved My Life, and It Can Save Yours.”
This year is different; the books are variations on the title “How Big Food Is Trying to Kill You.” We have “Salt Sugar Fat,” my Times colleague Michael Moss’s epic description of the manipulation of processed food to make it even more palatable and addictive tomorrow than it was yesterday, and how the industry is well aware of how destructive of public health this manipulation truly is. We have the excellent “Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America” by Wenonah Hauter, the executive director of Food and Water Watch, which details the takeover of our food system by that same crew of corporate cynics.
And we have the cleverly titled “Pandora’s Lunchbox,” by Melanie Warner, a freelance (and former Times) reporter, which is so much fun that you might forget how depressing it all is. This is in part thanks to Warner’s measured, almost dry but deceptively alluring reportorial style, but it’s also because the extent to which food is manipulated – and therefore, consumers as well — is downright absurd . There are more Holy Cow! moments here than even someone who thinks he or she knows what’s going on in food production could predict.
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My new book, VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health for Good, goes on sale April 30th. To celebrate its release, I’m giving away 10 cast-iron skillets graciously donated by Lodge.
Preorder your copy of VB6 (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indie Bound), then email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me why you’re interested in trying it out. I’ll read through them and pick my 10 favorites.
Only emails received by Monday, April 29th, will be eligible to win.
Read on at any of the following:
Illinois BCBS: http://bit.ly/11CWT4r
New Mexico BCBS: http://bit.ly/WQYKP1
Oklahoma BCBS: http://bit.ly/X4arDe
Texas BCBS: http://bit.ly/10cJvil
I’ve spent the better part of my adult life thinking about food, but it wasn’t until six years ago when my doctor suggested I become a vegan — or face dire health consequences — that I began to seriously confront my diet.
Yes, I liked vegetables and grains, but as a food writer it was unrealistic to give up meat and dairy for good. VB6 was my compromise. I’d become a part-time vegan. From the time I woke up until 6 p.m. I’d eat a strict vegan diet: no animal products, no processed foods —not even white bread. For dinner I’d eat whatever I wanted.
A month later I’d lost 15 lbs. My cholesterol and blood sugar levels were down. My sleep apnea was gone. I felt good. So I kept it up. Then I wrote a book about it.
VB6 outlines the philosophy and principles of this diet, and digs deep into the science behind why it works. Eating this way will not only improve your own health, but the health of the planet as well, and VB6 includes more than 60 recipes to get you started on the right track. I hope you’ll give it a try. And if it works for you like it did for me, let me know. Tell your friends about it. Feel great and help others do the same.
You can pre-order VB6 at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Indie Bound.
AMSTERDAM — It may be that Slow Food’s original focus on taste and the quality of food — on gastronomy — simply seemed too narrow, and therefore elitist. But at least since its “Puebla Declaration” in 2007, Slow Food has become a force to be reckoned with, probably the only international organization that integrates concerns about the environment, tradition, labor, health, animal welfare … along with real cooking, taste and pleasure.
Slow Food was founded by Carlo Petrini, who remains its president. He was a food writer when he launched a protest in 1986 against the opening of an enormous McDonald’s branch (more than 400 seats) in Rome’s Piazza di Spagna (better known to Anglophones as the Spanish Steps) — the first McDonald’s in Italy. More than 20 years before the coining of the term “locavore” and “the Omnivore’s Dilemma,” Petrini saw the battle as being against the industrialization of food, and now, a generation later, he was clearly prescient.
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