Rants

Sugar, Sugar How’d You Get So Fly?

What’s the newest food trend we see painted down our timelines and thrust into our arteries?

Sugar.

Sweet, ooey-gooey, processed sugar built in creative ways to be served on a silver platter and ingested ad infinitum by our sugar-whipped taste buds.

You know what I’m talking about, how every new restaurant or food stand seems to be selling a slab of ice cream sandwiched between two 2 pound warm cookie dough balls dipped in chocolate and covered in cotton candy. (The sad thing is I’m trying to be dramatic and I’m not that far off from what is genuinely available).

Now I am an OG sugar junkie through and through. I have put 17 sugars in a large coffee, eaten candy for breakfast in the summer, and as a child mixed sugar into my water when there was no juice in the house for the rush (you think I’m kidding. I’m not). However, in my old age I’ve come to realize the beauty I find in sugar, beyond the inherent energy rush. Sugar is complex; sweetness need not meet your tastebuds the same way twice, and there is a delicate balance to sweet and savory, bitter and sour. My issue with this trend is that it eradicates all of this. These treats are cloyingly sweet with no complexities to their flavor. They are literally sugars, layered over themselves, in an endless loop.

For instance, that Starbucks Unicorn Frappucino (though claiming to be Blue Raspberry flavored aka sour sugar) contained 59g of sugar, primarily from the mixing of different flavored syrups (flavored syrups are already sugared x2 because syrup is sugar and water and the flavorings often contain sweetened add-ins. Read: blue raspberry is not a naturally occurring flavor so in order to achieve it sugar and blue #4 are mixed with sour flavors and raspberries and then thrown in the syrup). So not only is it already a quasi-milkshake, it is then injected with syrups and dusted with “fairy powder” (finishing sugar). While I would like to say this was a one-off leap into the sugar void, it seems as though Starbucks set the industry standard for Unicorn themed items and bakeries across the US. Freakshakes, unicorn burritos, and ice cream sandwiches now abound with different forms of sugar all layered together with very few complexities in flavor. Forget dipping your ice cream cone in chocolate, now you can dip it in marshmallow fluff, roll it in cotton candy, and drizzle it with colored caramel. The reaches of this new sugar trend are long enough to even grab the home chef. I know you’ve seen those videos encouraging you to take a Reese’s cup, sandwich it in an oreo, wrap that whole thing in cookie dough, take multiples of that concoction and layer them on a baking pan, fill the baking pan with brownie batter, bake it, then torch marshmallows on top. My heart literally aches at the thought.

There are wonderful new pop-ups creating new flavor profiles in sugar while not being consumed by it. So hope remains alive. I will simply suggest that you, like them, diversify your sugars.

Be good, and eat complexly.

Rants

Gucci Mane’s Imparted Wisdom

Now I could not have written a french fry recipe and not given a rant on sauces.

But as Gucci Mane said, “if you ain’t got no sauce then you lost, but you can also get lost in the sauce” follow along with Gucci and I here kids.

What I take Gucci to be saying here, at least in relation to french fry sauces is this: do not eat a dry french fry but also do not submit yourself to poor french fries in the pursuance of “sauce”.

Now I believe the breakdown of sauce kingdoms when it comes to fries are ketchup, mayo, and mustard. I am a lady-in-waiting in the houses of all three but not everyone believes in a sharing of sauces. So I’ll break down my thoughts on the sauce and how not to get lost.  

Ketchup. I think people either love or hate ketchup and members on both sides can be quite extreme. In my humble opinion, ketchup is only good on french fries. It is not made to be on anything else but when it comes to fried potatoes it is a match made in heaven. I think it’s the vinegar in ketchup that is reminiscent of the salt or straight up vinegar we all drench our fries in, coupled with its slight sweetness that makes it a perfect match. But ketchup is an American notion and it is not wildly popular in Europe, specifically Belgium (the originator of fries themselves).

This brings us to mayo, but if we’re gonna discuss mayo in Europe we have to call it aioli. Aioli is the original sauce pairing for french fries, the granddaddy sauce if you will, a true OG. Though I think Americans are often put off by the idea of dipping their fries in mayo (probably because Hellmann’s has nothing on homemade aioli). But this pairing is AMAZING. Creamy, sweet, tart, rich just amazing. However, if you are not into the idea of basically dipping your french fry in flavorful fat, I wouldn’t go this route. But keep in mind ketchup is to Americans as aioli is to Europeans.

Mustard. I honestly think I’m the only person who likes this because I’m mustard obsessed but you guys try this. If you regret it I’m sorry but if you like it you’re welcome.

No matter the sauce you choose just keep one thing in mind: do not subject yourself to crappy french fries in order to eat some sauce. Never get lost.

 

Now eat happily and dip good.

Rants

Food Deserts

Food literacy. Perhaps one of the goals of this blog and what I want to get a PhD in (is this possible? I need to know).

Food literacy shows itself in a number of ways from what you eat to how you eat to what you know about what you eat. Approaching the subject of food literacy is tricky as it is vast and most assuredly cannot be done in one rant so I’m going to approach a facet of it: food deserts through the scope of nutritionism.

Nutritionism is an ideology that I have been introduced to through Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food, it reduces foods to their nutritional values and markets food based on them. Think of how every cereal now says something along the lines of “100g of whole grain in each serving” and also think that no one cared about whole grain 20 years ago and now its all the rage. Nutritionism has been ruling over the American food psyche since the 18th century with passing trends like carbs, proteins, and trans fats all thrown into the mix. Nutritionism is a dualistic system that requires certain nutrients to be praised and certain nutrients to be damned. The best metaphor is Greek deities: gods of heaven and the underworld, both necessary but no one is supposed to like the gods of the underworld. So, American nutritionism as it stands forces trends of praise and hate. Doesn’t it seem as though every other year there’s a new nutrient we shouldn’t eat? Saturated fats, sodium, trans fats, you name it. This is where food deserts come in. Because in participating in this dualist system, the “market” as we like to call it has created a place for all of those bad nutrients to be relegated: food deserts.

The USDA defines food deserts as, “parts of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods, usually found in impoverished areas”. To further drive the point home, not only are these areas devoid of fresh food, they are pumped full of bodegas or corner stores that sell foods with “bad nutrients”. Now there is quite a bit of argumentation on what bad nutrients do to our health and whether or not there are things we absolutely have to avoid. In its reductive nature, nutritionism steals many of the choices we ought to have as consumers. For instance: food stamp programs may provide a household with the “necessary” nutrients for survival, but are they actually giving individuals any options to eat food? You can provide your child with formula and they will be perfectly healthy, but will formula ever compare to mother’s milk? The same can be said of bodegas in food desserts. You can buy a protein bar, a slice of cheese, or fruit snacks made with real juice, but will they ever compare to the real thing though they may be nutritionally the same? Will margarine ever compare to butter (hint: no). And yet, food deserts exist across the United States that force consumers to choose nutritionism over food, or simply eating over real food.

It is easier and cheaper to feed a family processed foods that have been processed to contain “nutrients” than to feed them vegetables with the same expectations. Nutritionism is quite pervasive throughout the entire food system in this way, ask yourself the last time you ate a vegetable just cause and not because “it has something good for you in it” (and no not a potato because I consume my weight in French fries all of the time).

As I wrote about in my debut revelation, cooking for yourself is one of the best ways to have a healthier diet and lifestyle simply because you are forced to interact with your food in a more personal way. When I buy swiss chard instead of kale it’s for flavor not because of higher iron content. Cooking for yourself is a way to push back against nutritionism and its grip on the food system. However, cooking for oneself is not an option for many people who have no access to fresh food. We must ask ourselves why would a food system meant to create the “healthiest” people relegate what it sees as unhealthy to entire populations? We must also ask how inundated we have become with this ideology that we don’t blink twice at eating foods processed to contain nutrients we would find in our normal diet with no issue. I’ve been watching American Gods incessantly and it seems as though the old Gods of flavor are coming to a head with the new Gods of nutrition, and it remains to be seen who will come up on top in this battle. I am completely guilty of all of the above so don’t think that I am being stuck up. I just want us all to be more ~woke~ and eat at my farm and restaurant(s) when I open them. That being said, I’m gonna go eat a salad packed full of elusive nutrients.

Ask me questions piggies! And for more information on food deserts (and ways to fight them!) look below!

 

Now eat happily and be good.

Food Is Power’s Page on Food Deserts

Australia’s First Rescued Food Supermarket

 

 

 

 

Rants

Unchecked and Absolute Hatred

Do you all recall that classic scene from 10 Things I Hate About You when Julia Stiles’ character proceeds to tell Heath Ledger (and her entire class) that though she claims she hates him she is actually genuinely in love with him? That scene only begins to encompass my feelings on celery. I am an avid hater of that horrible green stalk from the depths of Hell. It’s flavor – trash, it’s texture – trash, even it’s coloring – trash. In fact, I would be completely alright with celery being wiped from the face of the earth and every history book, but especially every recipe.

Another excerpt comes to mind from The Mighty B! (an excellent show that I would highly recommend but this is a food blog not a tv review),  in which Bessie, the main character, rids the entire west coast of Zucchini (undeserving of this treatment as it is delicious and texturally pleasing, but that is a thought for another time). I was always jealous of Bessie’s cartoon abilities from that episode because if I could rid the East Coast, and preferably the world, of celery I would do it. In. A. Heartbeat. There is no vegetable I have encountered that I dislike as greatly as celery, and I would genuinely love to hate a food more than celery, but we can’t always get what we want right?

My hatred of celery is not completely unfounded though. First and foremost, I genuinely find its flavor disgusting. Just like some people believe cilantro tastes like laundry soap (looking at you Ina Garten) I find the taste of celery to most closely resemble Irish Springs and black licorice.  Texturally it is horrid, a terrible mixture of floss and crisp apple flesh with none of the payoff of either. Nutritionally, it takes more energy to digest celery than it provides you with and it therefore, for me, is absolutely pointless (I realize this is a plus for dieters but to me it just means surviving on celery would slowly strip you of all of your energy, it is a parasite).

Alas, as much as I love to hate celery it is the cornerstone, the Holy Ghost of the Holy Trifecta, the Michelle of Destiny’s Child (always hated on but incredibly necessary). This is because Mireproix, the French name for the flavor base that is one of the most well-known and widely used bases for savory dishes the world over, is made of onions, carrots, and celery; not only allowing but forcing celery onto the mainstage and making it a worthwhile crop.I can sum up my feelings on celery as follows: celery is what happens when a boy band (or band of any sort) breaks up and the solo artist falls flat. You will always hate it for destroying the band and not maintaining a worthwhile solo career, but when that old band music comes on you can’t help but sing along.

 

I still hate celery though.