March 31, 2011
After I spoke at Stanford yesterday, some people asked if I would post a bibliography of the books I mentioned during the speech. And no wonder; as I began to compile this list, I realized that I referenced a great many books – and that many of them are fairly obscure.
The opening quote is not at all obscure. "It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others." It is from the introduction to the Art of Eating, by M.F.K. Fisher. The book is a compilation of 5 books, and while you've got it, I recommend that you read all of The Gastronomical Me.
The next quote isn't obscure either; it comes from Winnie the Pooh. I probably don't need to tell you that it was written by A. A. Milne.
But the next quote, about the rigid rules of the Victorian dinner table, may be less familiar. It is from one of my favorite food historians, Colin Spencer, who wrote, British Food: An Extraordinary Thousand Years of History.
Among the many other texts I referred to:
Jacques Pepin, The Apprentice
Eight Discourses on the Art of Living from the Studio Where Elegance is Valued, was published around 1590 by Gao Lian.
De Re Coquinaria, is a compilation of Roman recipes that is often attributed to Marcus Gavius Apicius, who lived around the first century.
Livy (Titus Livius), a Roman historian born in 59 B.C), Ab Urbe Condita Libri, "Chapters from the Foundation of the City,"
Athenaeus wrote The Deipnosophists, (Scholars at the Dinner Table) in the third century AD.
Allen Ginsberg, "A Supermarket in California," from Howl
William Carlos Williams, "This is Just to Say"
Meadows of Gold by Al-Masudi, who was considered the Herodotus of the Arab world, (871-957 AD)
The Cuisiner Francois, 1651
The Accomplisht Cook by Robert Mays, 1588
Il Triciante (The Carver), 1581
Marie-Antoine Careme was known as the "King of Chefs and the Chef of Kings" He lived from 1784-1833.
A.J. Liebling, Between Meals
Joseph Mitchell, "All You Can Hold for Five Bucks" from Up in the Old Hotel
Gabrielle Hamilton, Blood, Bones and Butter
Peg Bracken, The I Hate to Cook Book
March 22, 2011
Jon Rowley sent me to a post about Olympia Oysters (my favorites) on a blog called Salty Seattle. Linda Miller Nicholson served the oysters with this rather amazing sounding air. I haven't tried it yet, but I'm heading out, soon, to buy some powdered soy lecithin. If you do try it, please tell me how you like it.
Here's the link to the original:
Salty Seattle's Simple Sriracha Bubbles
Yield: enough to adorn 12 dozen oysters on the half shell
*In the interest of full disclosure, this recipe will perfume your kitchen and your nostrils with a spicy Sriracha aura. You may sneeze. Most people love it.
1/4 c sriracha or other hot sauce of your choice
3/4 c purified water
1 teaspoon powdered soy lecithin (available at nutrition stores)
1. In a small saucepan, heat the sriracha and the water over medium heat until fully incorporated and lightly simmering. Your kitchen will smell fiery and your nasal passages will love you.
2. Remove from heat and pour into a small, shallow bowl that allows an immersion (hand) blender to plunge into the liquid just barely above blade height. Add the soy lecithin.
3. Agitate with an immersion blender just at water height in order to introduce the maximum amount of air into the liquid. The more air you introduce, the fluffier your bubbles. The soy lecithin acts as a stabilizer, and once your bubbles form, they will hold for a good 20 minutes. Spoon bubbles off into a shallow serving dish and place near the ice-filled platter that holds your oysters.
March 17, 2011
Yes, we're still in Tokyo.
I understand that many countries have advised their citizens to evacuate Tokyo, or even Japan. It seems a little too overreacting
to me, though. The nuclear threat is real, however, the readings
are really really low.
We're doing everything we can to stop the plant from exploding,
and I'm sure we'll succeed. Those men working at the site are real
heroes indeed. But we must not forget that they were made to do
this kamikaze operation by the government (and by us who elected
Everything looks dangerous. But I wouldn't say it's getting worse
because it's more like a seesaw struggle. One good thing is that
they have a prospect to give electric supply to the stricken plant,
which will enable the cooling system to work in a day or two.
We were overwhelmed by so many devastating news. Death tolls are
rising. Store shelves are empty. Gasoline is running out. People are
left in the cold.
But we're making an all-out efforts for relief.
Today, a major bank's system went down because of too many orders to
handle. We thought that it was because of power shortage on top of
mass hysteria over fear. But it turned out that the bank couldn't
handle all the donations made through their ATMs.
Michale Sandel wrote to a newspaper yesterday, saying that he hasn't
read or heard any price hikes in the stricken areas, which he found
amazing. There is a gas station owner who keeps some gasoline left
in the tank. He said he is saving it for emergency vehicles that will
come as soon as the roads are mended.
The list goes on and on.
So, I'm not worried about it too much. It's true that our lives have
been inconvenienced a little, but that won't last too long.
It's so ironical that this catastrophe brought us united.
I think we can rebuild the country like our ancestors did.
So, please do not worry too much!
March 13, 2011
When the first huge, terrifying quake hit on Friday afternoon, March 11, I was in Tokyo preparing for a class the following day. Having lived through several large quakes before (including one in which I was trapped in an elevator for hours before being rescued), I knew what to do. Trembling (me, and the earth together), I went into automatic mode, shutting off anything that could cause a fire, propping open the front door and one other escape route in the kitchen (door frames can shift causing them to jam shut), donned my emergency kit-knapsack (containing flashlight, extra batteries, water, essential medications, money, identification papers, gloves, face mask, first aid supplies, extra sweater with hood). The initial quake lasted for several minutes — it seemed as though it would never stop.
Still trembling (me, and the earth together), I turned on the emergency news channel and learned the center of seismic activity (the largest on record in Japan, currently revised at 9.0) was Miyagi Prefecture, on the Pacific coast, north of Tokyo. Gigantic tsunami (tidal waves) were predicted, and came… and keep coming. As do tremors of varying degrees (as I type this, my desk sways slightly in a minor aftershock).
Transportation and communication services have been widely disrupted — frustrating and frightening. To conserve energy, limited and rotating shut-downs are being scheduled throughout the Kanto Plains area. At this time I have access to the Internet and grab the opportunity to make two requests:
To those of you who live in Japan
To those who want to offer help to disaster relief efforts in Japan:
JAPAN update & request:
To those of you who live in Japan, especially in areas likely to be directly affected by heavy seismic activity in the next few months, PLEASE take this moment to check on your own preparedness to manage during emergencies. I highly recommend you look at 72 hours (based in San Francisco), a wonderfully thorough site that provides good basic information.
JAPAN update & request:
To those who want to offer help to disaster relief efforts in Japan, please contribute to your favorite charity or organization collecting for this occasion. If you have no established route, please consider one of the following:
Japanese Red Cross
Doctors without Borders
International Medical Corps
March 11, 2011
This from someone in response to my tweet this morning:
What planet are you on? The one WITHOUT thousands dying from an earthquake? SO FINE?!?!?!
I hadn’t yet read the news when I tweeted this morning – I get up early to write before making breakfast and reading the papers - but it made me stop and think about whether I would have written something different if I’d known about the horror in Japan.
Perhaps. But it occurs to me that this is the same planet in which an indifferent world is watching a dictator murder his people, the same planet whose richest country allows one in eight people go to bed hungry every night, the same planet on which women are being genitally mutilated, the same planet on which…..
There is no time, ever, in which a terrible disaster is not taking place somewhere on the planet. And thanks to modern technology, we know all about it almost immediately. As I see it, we have a moral responsibility to respond to those disasters in the best ways that we can. Write letters, send money, do whatever possible to alleviate pain, end suffering and make the world a more just place.
But in the face of ongoing disaster, it is also our moral responsibility to appreciate what we have. That is why cooking good food for the people that I love is so important to me; in a world filled with no, it is a big yes.
So eat a good breakfast. Be grateful for what you’ve got. Enjoy the sunshine while you've got it. Then go out and save the world.