by Barry Estabrook
Jim Crow is Alive and Well in California
SB 1121 was hardly a radical-sounding piece of legislation. Among other things, it would have given California’s 700,000 farm workers the right to take one day off out of every seven. Hourly paid agricultural employees would have received overtime pay after eight hours per day or 40 hours per week.
But when the bill landed on Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk, he vetoed it, saying that the new provisions would put farmers out of business.
At a midtown restaurant last week, I ordered corn soup.
It was pretty good, except for the pieces of plastic in it. These had the texture of drinking straws, or perhaps shattered plastic fork, or even squid quills – thin, not too sharp, not especially dangerous. They wouldn’t have broken a tooth, but they wouldn’t have been pleasant to swallow; they certainly were not pleasant to find in my mouth. There were two of them. In about four, maybe five ounces of soup. Which means there were probably quite a few of them in the pot.
I handed them to the server: “You might want to show these to the chef,” I said. “They were in the soup.” She barely flinched, then proceeded to ignore us for the rest of the meal. (Quite literally: A runner brought our second courses, and she only asked if we wanted coffee after I’d asked for the check.)
This week on the Today Show I didn’t cook anything (none of the dishes involved any heat, which makes them perfect for Summer). Here’s one of the all-time great salads to get you through the dog days. Serve it with some crusty bread and you’ve got a light meal. Adapted from How to Cook Everything.
Fennel and Orange Salad
Makes: 4 servings
Time: 15 minutes
Among the most underrated vegetables, fennel has celery-like crunch and a widely appealing anise flavor. Combined with orange, it really shines.
1 pound fennel (1 large or two small bulbs)
3 small sweet oranges or tangerines
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, basil, or chervil leaves
1. Trim and core the fennel and cut it into small cubes, 1/4inch or so, or into thin slices (or shave it super thinly on a mandoline).
2. Squeeze the juice from one of the oranges, pour it over the fennel, add salt and lime juice, and let it sit (for up to several hours) while you prepare the other oranges.
3. Peel the remaining oranges and slice into wheels; then slice in half again, removing any pits and tough, fibrous material. Add the oranges and cilantro to the fennel, toss, taste and adjust the seasoning, and serve.
Behind the scenes: cookware, cameras, and hard-working assistants everywhere you look.
Profiteroles and raw butternut squash salad. (At the Minimalist we don’t always eat dessert last).
Here’s what happens when you joke about cooking with plutonium. . .death by pound cake!
Slicing biscotti (and pretending that I just chipped a tooth). How’s my acting? (probably not as good as the biscotti).