Thursday, May 12, 2005

We Want Candy

Candy adds a welcome measure of fun and pleasure to many of these traditions and celebrations, notes Larry Graham, president of the National Confectioners Association. ”For thousands of years, sweet foods have been treasured as a gift or treat shared on special occasions,” he explains. “Candy comes in so many flavors, shapes, colors and sizes it’s easy to find many choices to fit any type of celebration.” Consumers agree that candy is a welcome part of holiday traditions. Candy has higher household penetration than other food products. Nearly 99 percent of households purchase candy during the year. Candy is a food of celebration. For the past three years, seasonal confectionery has accounted for about 30 percent of annual candy sales. Expect candy manufacturers to introduce an even wider variety of seasonal candies this year. This website of the National Confectioners Association has a little of everything: chocolate trivia, recipes, holiday ideas, a history and timeline of candy, some survey data, and lots of information for the sweet-toothed.

Candy USA

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Culinary History Research Guide

The field of food and cookery has always held a strong interest for The New York Public Library. The retrospective collection on gastronomy and the history of foods is unusually extensive, and the cookbook collection alone numbers well over 16,000 volumes. From the beginning, the Library has sought out culinary materials from all regions of the country, and from all parts of the world, in all the languages in which it collects. The general collections are complemented by the Helen Hay Whitney collection of mostly English-language cookbooks and manuscripts, from the 15th to the 19th century, in the Rare Books Division and the Manuscripts and Archives Division; and the Buttolph collection of over 20,000 historical menus, from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century, in the General Research Division. The retrospective collection on gastronomy and the history of foods is unusually extensive, and the cookbook collection alone numbers well over 16,000 volumes.

New York Public Library

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Writing About Food

The Guild of Food Writers is the professional association of food writers and broadcasters in the UK. Established in 1984, the Guild now has over 350 authors, columnists, freelance journalists and broadcasters amongst its members. In addition to a detailed Annual Directory of Members the Guild publishs a monthly newsletter. An independent body that aims to contribute to the growth of public interest in, and knowledge of, food and to campaign for improvements in the quality of food produced and consumed in the UK. Therefore the Guild's Food Policy currently extends to such issues as: pressing for the introduction of practical food skills into the national curriculum and of healthy meals into schools; calling for a halt to the commercial sale and development of GM products until they are proved to be safe both for our health and the environment; campaigning for more government assistance for organic farming and supporting those working in organic food production; working for food labelling that protects the consumer's right to choose; campaigning for a reduction in food miles; and working towards the elimination of food poverty. Each month one of the members shares a recipe or thoughts on food.

Guild of Food Writers

Friday, May 06, 2005

International Culinary Professionals

The International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) is a not-for-profit professional association which provides continuing education and development for its members who are engaged in the areas of culinary education, communication, or in the preparation of food and drink. The Worldwide membership of nearly 4,000 encompasses over 35 countries and is literally a "Who's Who" of the world of food. This diversity not only offers unique insight into the world's cuisines, but provides excellent networking opportunities. IACP's vision is to be a worldwide forum for the lively development and exchange of information, knowledge, and inspiration within the professional food community.

In 1978, a small band of culinary educators founded the Association of Cooking Schools (ACS) to promote the interests of cooking schools and cooking teachers. The organization was incorporated in 1979 and the membership quickly expanded to include teachers and schools from other countries. In 1981, the name was changed to the International Association of Cooking Schools (IACS). Culinary opportunities began to expand, and membership eligibility was broadened to include food writers, cookbook authors, food stylists, and chefs. Because the organization's focus broadened so rapidly, in 1987 the name was changed to the International Association of Cooking Professionals. When the Food Marketing Communicators organization merged into IACP in 1990, the name was further refined to the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Since 1990, the association has experienced unprecedented growth. Membership has risen from 1,100 to over 4,000 and conference attendance has quadrupled. Conferences in recent years have taken place in New Orleans, Philadelphia, Chicago, Portland, and Providence. The association is stronger and more closely united than ever before. With implementation of a new strategic plan as its roadmap for the future, IACP is poised to become the pre-eminent professional culinary group in the world.

The International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) Foundation is the philanthropic partner of the 4,000-member International Association of Culinary Professionals. The Foundation solicits, manages and distributes funds for educational and charitable programs related to the culinary industry in these areas: scholarships for students and career professionals; library research and travel grants for food writers; cookbook preservation; and hunger alleviation.

International Association of Culinary Professionals
IACP Foundation

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Understanding the Food Puzzle

Name One-third of the world's human population is genetically sensitive to certain foods now considered to be adaptations our ancestors evolved in response to dietary choices and diseases. Gary Paul Nabhan's Why Some Like It Hot: Food, Genes, and Cultural Diversity is a masterpiece of investigation: natural history/food researcher Gary Paul Nabhan takes a close look at culinary inclinations underlying world cultures, traveling the world to pinpoint these cultural and medical trends. A fascinating survey evolves which will thoughtfully interest any truly dedicated nutritionist, professional chef, or family kitchen cook.

Do your ears burn whenever you eat hot chile peppers? Does your face immediately flush when you drink alcohol? Does your stomach groan if you are exposed to raw milk or green fava beans? If so, you are probably among the one-third of the world's human population that is sensitive to certain foods due to your genes' interactions with them. Formerly misunderstood as "genetic disorders," many of these sensitivities are now considered to be adaptations that our ancestors evolved in response to the dietary choices and diseases they faced over millennia in particular landscapes. They are liabilities only when we are "out of place," on globalized diets depleted of certain chemicals that triggered adaptive responses in our ancestors.

In Why Some Like It Hot, an award-winning natural historian takes us on a culinary odyssey to solve the puzzles posed by "the ghosts of evolution" hidden within every culture and its traditional cuisine. As we travel with Nabhan from Java and Bali to Crete and Sardinia, to Hawaii and Mexico, we learn how various ethnic cuisines formerly protected their traditional consumers from both infectious and nutrition-related diseases. We also bear witness to the tragic consequences of the loss of traditional foods, from adult-onset diabetes running rampant among 100 million indigenous peoples to the historic rise in heart disease among individuals of northern European descent. Nabhan offers us a view of genes, diets, ethnicity, and place that will forever change the way we understand human health and cultural diversity. This book marks the dawning of evolutionary gastronomy in a way that may save and enrich millions of lives. The author has been at the forefront of ethnobiology and nutritional ecology for three decades.

"Gary Nabhan is one of the most important food writers we have in this country. In this eloquent and fascinating book, he shows us how our food and culture are so deeply rooted in our land and agriculture." -Alice Waters, owner of Chez Panisse

Hardcover, 232 Pages, Island Press/Shearwater, 2004 ISBN 1-55963-466-9

Why Some Like It Hot

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Food from the Hot Zones

Summers long days and sweltering nights may be just the right time to think about the various delights afforded by creating spicy meals for friends and family. One place to turn to is the Spicy Cooking website, which prominently features a variety of helpful spicy recipes drawn from the various corners of the world, including recipes from Thailand, Mexico, and India. The site also features some nice articles on the benefits of spicy cooking, including a nice piece on capsaicin. In brief, capsaicin is a colorless compound (found in a number of hot peppers) that serves as the source of the heat in hot peppers. Some of the recipes to be found on the site include those for tasty lamb curry, shrimp del diablo, and Rosaís frijoles refritos.

Spicy Cooking

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The Quintessential Orange

John McPhee, Oranges This book is essentially surprising. It is non-fiction and its subject is the botany, history, and industry of oranges. It was first conceived as a short magazine article about oranges and orange juice, but the author kept encountering so much irresistible information that he eventually found that he had in fact written a book. It contains sketches of orange growers, orange botanists, orange pickers, orange packers, early settlers on Florida's Indian River, the first orange barons, modern concentrate makers, and a fascinating profile of Ben Hill Griffin of Frostproof, Florida who may be the last of the individual orange barons. McPhee's astonishing book has an almost narrative progression, is immensely readable, and is frequently amusing. Louis XIV hung tapestries of oranges in the halls of Versailles, because oranges and orange trees were the symbols of his nature and his reign. This book, in a sense, is a tapestry of oranges, too--with elements in it that range from the great orangeries of European monarchs to a custom of people in the modern Caribbean who split oranges and clean floors with them, one half in each hand.

The critics love it: "It is a delicious book, in a word, and more absorbing than many a novel". - Roderick Cook, Harper's. "Fascinating. A sterling example of what a fresh point of view, a clear style, a sense of humor and diligent investigation can do to reveal the inherent interest in something as taken-for-granted as your morning orange juice." - Edmund Fuller, The Wall Street Journal

Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Paperback: 0-374-51297-3

John McPhee, Oranges

Monday, May 02, 2005

The New Food Pyramids

The USDA has issued a new food pyramid to explain nutrition to the American public. Alas, chocolate sundaes and steaks do not yet extend your life as in Woody Allen's classic "Sleeper". Remarkably, the new pyramid isn't a static geometric description of the foods you should eat, but a whole Web site that uses your age and exercise level to provide you with a more personal pyramid of nutritional needs. Perhaps the best element of the MyPyramid site's design is the emphasis on exercise, represented by the figure scaling the pyramid. What's missing is any sense of what qualifies as a serving or any mention that the best way to lose weight is to eat less. Still, this isn't your mother's nutritional info. Given that the USDA is a government agency affected by various interested parties, you might want to read the background on the changes at the Why Files, which is a detailed examination of what the USDA may effectively put into its nutritional advice. For example, one nutritionist has related that food lobbyists effectively ban any recommendation that people eat less meat.

The Why Files

Sunday, May 01, 2005

A Celebrity Chefs' Common Threads

Chef Art Smith, author and television personality, has brought back meaning and symbolism to the word “table” and has united families and friends through the sharing of a meal. Art has run his own restaurant and has cooked for families all over the globe, including politicians and celebrities. Art is a contributing editor to O, the Oprah Magazine and the Food section of Art's nonprofit organization Common Threads, based on his passionate belief that families (whether a family by blood or a family of friends) all share an innate desire to care for each other, regardless of culture, race or geographic location. Art’s mission is to foster a familial environment where children learn to value each other and discover universal understanding and mutual acceptance. Art serves on the board of directors of “Kids Café,” a nutrition program, for children in Minneapolis. The mission of Common Threads is to provide a sanctuary for children to find the common threads that embrace our diversity and differences. With food and other arts as our vehicle for change, our children will teach, learn, share, and embrace their own and each others common threads. For these threads will promote understanding of our shared interests and will enhance our appreciation for our cultural diversity. They believe that their program can benefit children socially and academically by improving test scores, reinforcing cultural diversity curriculum within schools, educating children on nutrition and sustainability, teaching positive life and professional skills, and emphasizing creative problem-solving techniques. The Common Threads curriculum approach utilizes the 5 E's instructional model based on the constructivist approach to learning, which says that learners build or construct new ideas on top of their old ideas. Each of the 5 E's describes a phase of learning, and each phase begins with the letter "E": Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate. The 5 E's allows students and teachers to experience common activities, to use and build on prior knowledge and experience, to construct meaning, and to continually assess their understanding of a concept. This program promotes student development, self knowledge, decision making, relevant education, and placement assistance. The ever-increasing needs of children and the expectations of today's society impose growing demands on the educational system and its resources. Educators are challenged to educate students with diverse backgrounds at an ever-higher level of literacy to meet the demands of an internationally competitive, technological marketplace. At the same time, societal and other factors cause some of our children to attend school ill-equipped emotionally, physically, and/or socially to learn. Our program will address these needs and enhance the educational experience.

Common Threads