Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Of Local Interest

If you're in the Bucks County, PA area and have nothing to do on Wednesday, May 19th, there may still be some spaces available for this class:

Eat Global, Go Local Cooking
Bucks County is fertile ground for locally grown free-range and/or organic poultry and eggs; pasture-raised and hormone- and antibiotic-free beef, pork, and lamb; and artisanal cheeses, yogurt, and ice cream. Prepare a Bucks County farm-to-table dinner, including some unusual vegetables like fava beans and fennel. We’ll discuss where to purchase local foods and how to store them to retain nutrients and
flavor. Fee: $20 (Plus $20 fee to instructor for food) Course: RCULI 4067 Sec C80
Wed., May 19, 7-9 pm | Instructor: Diana Cercone, Food and Travel Writer

I'm not a locavore by any stretch of the imagination; however, it's hard to pin down everything available in this area as so many places aren't online and advertise simply by word-of-mouth. And I'd really like to know where the cheesemakers are! While I find it rather funny that fava beans and fennel are considered unusual(!), it sounds like a good way to find out who's who and what may be worth a drive.

Call 215-968-8409 and just follow the instructions to register. I think it will be forty bucks well spent.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


In today's New York Daily News, there is an article about a New York state assemblyman, Felix Ortiz, who wants to ban salt in all New York restaurants.

Yes, I said salt. You can read the article here: NY Salt Ban. In short:

"No owner or operator of a restaurant shall use salt in any form in the preparation of any food," the bill reads.

Ortiz reckons that his bill is designed to save lives; I reckon it's yet another way to take personal responsibility away from people. Thirty years ago, when my parents were stretching their food budget, they always included vegetables with meals, and fruit was readily available for snacking. This does not mean that Tastykakes, potato chips, and Hamburger Helper were not on standby, but they were the exceptions and not for daily consumption.

Fast forward to today, when there is a plethora of nutritional information available. There are healthy cooking shows, a huge selection of healthy cookbooks, and every news show has at least one doctor or R.D. with his/her own healthy eating segment. And yet we are a fat nation, struggling with diabetes, heart disease, and now, hypertension. And what do people do? Blame the environment around them:

"I live too close to McDonald's."

"I don't know/have time to cook healthy meals."

"I can't afford to eat fresh food."

I call bravo sierra on all of this. In today's information age, there is no excuse except laziness. It is all too easy to drop ten bucks on cheeseburgers and fries and then complain when jeans are too tight or the children are out of breath just getting out of bed in the morning. Every family knows that too much of anything is bad, whether it is fat, sugar, or, in this case, salt. But telling the government that it is okay for them to make these decisions, that it is okay for them to take away personal responsibility is wrong. I know that the grinder and fries I had last night would mean extra time on the weight bench today; however, it pleases me that I had the choice to make the call and tip the delivery man for bringing me a hot meal, and I enjoyed every bite. Too much salt? Maybe. But I didn't cook the meal; if I wanted something salt-free I could have easily poached a chicken breast and had a bowl of lettuce and flashed back to my days as a dietary aide in a nursing home, trying to convince people that a salt-free diet was "really tasty!" Ugh.

When I go out to eat, I want to savor every bite. I want a chef who knows my meal is properly seasoned before it is placed in front of me. If I feel it needs a bit of tweaking, I want the option to add a little salt or pepper of my own. If I choose to upend an entire shaker of salt on to my lovingly seared ahi tuna well, it's my meal, my health, and my dollar. The key word being "my." I chose the restaurant, the wine, the entree; I don't want the government looking over my shoulder and lecturing me about every bite.

Back off, Big Brother, please. You're violating my personal space.