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Recipe inspiration, tips, and kitchen hacks from the Chowhound editors.

How to Drink with a Fake Mustache

How to Drink with a Fake Mustache

Dressing up for Halloween? You're going to need this advice. READ MORE

The True Cost of Food

On the Eat Local Challenge blog, Sara brings our attention to a short movie highlighting the true cost of factory-farmed, commercially raised, and non-local food. The price is staggering.

Put out by the Sierra Club as part of their Sustainable Consumption campaign, the video (made by the same company that did the Meatrix) touches on a number of important and topical issues—monocropping, feedlot-raised beef, loss of topsoil, chemical usage, agricultural runoff, and decreasing crop yields. When all these factors are valued and given a price, the true cost of a commercial tomato is far beyond anyone’s budget.

The campaign, which seeks to “encourage people to think about the environmental impacts of their consumption choices,” also offers a discussion guide, as well as information and action suggestions for those wishing to evaluate their impact as consumers. From background information on the importance of eating locally and organically, to projects that can be done as a group or with children, and even cooking suggestions, there are resources for learning more and steps for putting these ideas into action. And the FAQ section clears up niggling questions (so you know about GMOs, but what about COOL?).

The Sierra Club hopes that this campaign will “promote more informed choices about how the way we eat affects our planet and our quality of life.”

With elections around the corner, here’s a campaign to get behind.

Fancy Brewski

Fancy Brewski

Bartenders mix creative cocktails with beer. READ MORE

Men, Women, and Food

The Observer Food Monthly has published a “Girl’s Guide to Eating and Drinking,” and it’s bound to offend … girls.

Well, at least those who like lamb shanks (“too knuckley!”) and cassoulet (“has ‘man’ written all over it”).

The cheeky article by Mimi Spencer makes a series of sweeping generalizations about “dining requirements” for women, ranging from cute rhymes about offal (“if women are about, snout is out”) to excursions into gastro-anthropology:

Broadly speaking, while meat is unreconstructedly blokeish, fish is rather more feminine—possibly because there is less gore involved in its preparation. We’re fonder of the garden too, and find ordering salads a liberation not a duty. This harks back to our earliest days when men hunted and women gathered. Deep down, we still quite like a nice bowl of seeds and some wild cherries.

Since I’m just a “blokeish” eater of “man dishes,” what do female CHOW readers have to say about this gastronomical version of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus?

But How Does It Taste with Tang?

The space race is on! Again! Rather than worrying about who will be the first in space, it’s now all about who will be the first to replace freeze-dried ice cream with celebrity-cheffed food.

Earlier this week, a CNN article announced that meals prepared by Alain Ducasse’s fair French hands were recently warped off to the International Space Station. Lucky German astronaut Thomas Reiter will get to sup on a menu that includes caponata, roasted quails in a Madiran wine sauce, and celery root purée with nutmeg.

However, the French are not the first to blast food into haute-r space (CNN’s pun, not mine!). Superchefblog reported back in August that, although the European Space Agency (ESA) announced two years ago that Alain Ducasse would be cooking for the stars, our very own NASA “has been secretly conducting its own race against the clock to get an American chef in space.” That worthy American chef? Emeril Lagasse.

It all comes down to simple semantics. Just as United Press International states that Emeril was the first great space roaster to have his food shot into space, Superchefblog insists Ducasse was the first to develop food for space:

While Emeril’s food may be on its way via shuttle to become the first food served in outer space, Emeril is not, as UPI claims, the first star chef to develop food for space: Ducasse is. Besides, Emeril is sending along a mere five recipes: The bigger story is that Ducasse has been developing an entire food system that focuses on ingredients actually raised on space stations and even rockets.

I think Ducasse should take comfort in the fact that in space, no one can hear you BAM!

Will Dagoba Get Hershified?

First Green & Black’s got gobbled by Cadbury in May 2005, and then Scharffen Berger and Joseph Schmidt were folded into the goopy batter of Hershey’s chocolate brands a few months later. Just last week, one of the few indie holdouts in the national artisan chocolate market, the eco-conscious brand Dagoba, sold to Hershey—and the move has caused a stir in the candy-blogging world.

Some prominent voices don’t seem to fear the buyout, viewing it as a partnership that will merely serve to increase the resources available to Dagoba without changing the product. As Nicole of Slashfood writes:

Some fans of Dagoba might be concerned that there will be a decrease in the overall quality of the product following the acquisition, or a turn away from the goals of the company in supporting the organic farming of cacao, but Hershey’s says that it will support the company in the pursuit of its goals. As with Scharffen Berger and Joseph Schmidt, which is also owned by Hershey’s, the larger company has no plans to rework the operations of Dagoba. From the perspective of the consumer, the most significant change will be an increase in the availability of organic chocolates, since Dagoba will now be able to take advantage of the Hershey’s distribution network.

Many readers remain unconvinced, however. Plenty of them simply break out the old corporations-are-evil chestnut, but a few—especially on David Lebovitz’s blog—have interesting thoughts about the buyout. As Kevin (who runs the food blog Seriously Good) writes,

[Dagoba’s owner Frederick] Schilling has obviously never been through a corporate acquisition before. Things will remain the same for at most 2 years—but probably not that long.

Seems like that was just about the amount of time it took for the Unilever company to gunk up Ben & Jerry’s ice cream with lots of artificial ingredients that I don’t remember being there before the socially conscious creamery was bought in 2000. One would imagine that six years later, with the organic- and natural-foods market in full swing, Hershey might think twice about pulling the same kind of ingredient switcheroo—but of course that all could change if the new parent company ever decides that consumers have stopped paying attention. I’m also interested to see whether Hershey will let Dagoba continue to make all its own sourcing decisions or whether it will procure some ingredients at the corporate level (thereby switching, say, the organic milk in Dagoba’s milk chocolate to a huge national brand with questionable practices).

In the meantime, I think I’ll use this as an excuse to stockpile chai and xocolatl bars.

Joya de Ceren

Joya de Ceren is a little Salvadoran market and restaurant, connected with the family that operates the excellent El Tazumal. They make their own Salvadoran chorizo, and the restaurant features dishes often seen at El Tazumal, such as sopa de chipilin. rworange likes this salty pork vegetable soup of carrots, chayote, pork, rice, and chipilin leaves–the latter a Central American plant that’s very good for you. The soup comes with two thick, hot Salvadoran pupusas, and some lime to squeeze over the salty broth.

And what pupusas they are–loroco pupusas with that mysterious loroco taste. The curtido (Salvadorean slaw, for topping your papusas) is excellent, and nicely spiced with oregano. Their great drinks include cinnamon-laced Mexican horchata and a fruit salad drink.

It’s a modest little place, but deeply worth checking out.

Joya De Ceren [East Bay]
12545 San Pablo Ave., Richmond 94805

El Tazumal [East Bay]
14621 San Pablo Ave., San Pablo 94806

Board Links
Richmond: The El Tazumal connection–Joya de Ceren – Sopa de chipilin & garrobo pupusas

Zaitooni: Fresh Lebanese Flavors in Red Bank, NJ

Just one report on Zaitooni, a new Lebanese deli in Red Bank, but it promises great things. taste test says hummus, tabbouleh, kibbeh, stewed beans, and meat, cheese or spinach pies are all fresh and delicious. For dessert, look for honey-soaked farina cake.

Zaitooni [Monmouth County]
11 Mechanic St., near Broad St., Red Bank, NJ

Board Links
Lebanese deli in Red Bank–Sushi bar in Atlantic Highlands

Really Good Hippie Food

Typical hippie cuisine is heavy on bulgur and low on flavor. The guiding principals seem to be ethical rather than aesthetic, and the result tends to be a sort of vegan, organic, fair-trade plate of barely-edible crap.

Not so with Feel Real Caf

At Falai, Eye-Opening Profiteroles for Profiterole Skeptics

Those unmoved by profiteroles–and it takes all kinds–find them too often messy and cloyingly sweet. If that’s you, try the ones at Falai. “What a revelation!” swoons hardcore. “Small, simple, beautiful balance and textures…just incredible.”

Falai [Lower East Side]
68 Clinton St., between Stanton and Rivington, Manhattan

Board Links
profiteroles at falai!