Tag Archives: food

USDA.gov, the ag geek’s friend

Rail against bureaucracy all you want, but you can’t deny it: .gov’s got it going on. I just spent the better part of an afternoon skimming PDFs and spreadsheets, any one of which could anchor an article or conversation.

Scanning these documents is like walking into a happy hour of food wonks (they do exist). Some of them geek out on international import statistics, while others tell you passionately about an organic wheat farmer in Montana. I have to admit that I underestimated the 150-year-old institution. Continue reading

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Image for the Day: Swiss balloons in a small world


More than a year has passed since I last handed over a slim blue book and held my breath.

Will it somehow have expired?

Will he question me about a stamp from China, Israel, East Africa?

So far, no rejections based on my passport, nor cargo I plan to haul across international borders. I hope my record holds for my next trip in August.

As I rev up to dust off those pages, I present a view from last May’s trip to Geneva. I had spent a week in boisterous company, feasting on fondue and rosti, throwing back at least one beer for each article I copy edited. This balloon art hovered over the ground floor of a Swiss mall that I visited on my last night in the country. I ate mediocre Mexican food by myself and drank sangria from a glass rimmed with pink sugar.

I didn’t realize until today how much this scene looks like a model.

Photo by Rhea

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Image for the Day: TGI Fish Soup


It’s Friday, and 16 ounces of Mr. John’s Fish (Tea) Soup costs just $5.50. Shabbat shalom, with a touch of spice.

Photo taken by Rhea outside of the Spicy Delight restaurant in Takoma, D.C.

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Image for the Day: Pickle wine stopper

Pickle wine stopper

Best. Kitchen gadget. Ever. Rivaled only by the box it came in, which asks, “In a pickle about how to preserve your pinot? Well, get this gherkin workin’ and all of your problems are solved!”

It turns out pickles are quite the it thing right now. What’s the dill?

Pickle wine stopper by Fred, available at Trohv. Photo by Rhea.

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Cracking into the truth

walnuts in a boxSometimes you need to cover the truth to best expose it.  This is what I decided as I sat in the parking lot behind my apartment building, a hammer in my hand and a crackling paper bag sitting on the cold pavement. The truth, in this case, was black walnuts. Notoriously tough to crack, this bitter, perfumed species native to 15 states does not succumb to nutcrackers. They do, however, help me think about how I conceptualize good writing and what a metaphor fanatic I am.

A little background: I ordered a case of these things for a locally-sourced meal not realizing it would take a research mission just to taste them. The most common advice I found for the home cook is to use a vise. Yes, a vise. Because of course you have one in the drawer right by the lemon zester.

I didn’t have the equipment for that, so I developed a technique involving soaking the nuts, placing them in a paper bag, and then whacking the heck out of them. Stay with me here. The writing/metaphor part is coming.

This nut-busting technique was not easy. I couldn’t see what I was doing and had to feel blindly for where to bring down the hammer, then painstakingly loosen each bit of nutmeat with a fork. But I had to admit this was the best way to go. Continue reading

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Grist publishes best food books of 2010

To usher in 2010, Grist has published a look at the best food books of this closing year. Or at least what people were reading this year. This list brings together my two great loves: literature and food.

The recommendations come from the greatest sustainable food minds of our time–including my pal and one-time article source Daniel Bowman Simon (of The People’s Garden in NYC).

What are you reading about food?

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