Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Only Guinness is Good for You

Have you ever heard the urban myth that holds that a diet of Guinness, milk, and orange juice would sustain a man for a week? It's been the subject of many a late-night pub debate. We figure that since water will sustain you for a week, so will these other liquids - but that doesn't mean you should try it. Alas, a Dubliner who goes by Burty did. Of course it doesn't take a nutritional genius to work out that such a diet isn't entirely as good for you as the old "Guinness is good for you" slogan would imply. That quantity of alcohol is never going to be good for you. But the real question was whether Burty could survive the week and win the bet he made with his friend. In blog format, he recounted day by day the hunger, the changes to his toilet habits, and the support he got from the strangest places. Burty's still with us, having gained minor celebrity and plenty of fascinated onlookers.

The Guinness Diet

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

A Revolution in Eating

A Revolution in Eating Sugar, pork, beer, corn, cider, scrapple, and hoppin' John all became staples in the diet of colonial America. The ways Americans cultivated and prepared food and the values they attributed to it played an important role in shaping the identity of the newborn nation. In A Revolution in Eating, James E. McWilliams presents a colorful and spirited tour of culinary attitudes, tastes, and techniques throughout colonial America. Confronted by strange new animals, plants, and landscapes, settlers in the colonies and West Indies found new ways to produce food. Integrating their British and European tastes with the demands and bounty of the rugged American environment, early Americans developed a range of regional cuisines. From the kitchen tables of typical Puritan families to Iroquois longhouses in the backcountry and slave kitchens on southern plantations, McWilliams portrays the grand variety and inventiveness that characterized colonial cuisine. As colonial America grew, so did its palate, as interactions among European settlers, Native Americans, and African slaves created new dishes and attitudes about food. McWilliams considers how Indian corn, once thought by the colonists as “fit for swine,” became a fixture in the colonial diet. He also examines the ways in which African slaves influenced West Indian and American southern cuisine.

While a mania for all things British was a unifying feature of eighteenth-century cuisine, the colonies discovered a national beverage in domestically brewed beer, which came to symbolize solidarity and loyalty to the patriotic cause in the Revolutionary era. The beer and alcohol industry also instigated unprecedented trade among the colonies and further integrated colonial habits and tastes. Victory in the American Revolution initiated a “culinary declaration of independence,” prompting the antimonarchical habits of simplicity, frugality, and frontier ruggedness to define American cuisine. McWilliams demonstrates that this was a shift not so much in new ingredients or cooking methods, as in the way Americans imbued food and cuisine with values that continue to shape American attitudes to this day.

A Revolution in Eating: How the Quest for Food Shaped America
James E. McWilliams Columbia University Press, 400 pages
ISBN: 0-231-12992-0

Columbia University Press

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Understanding Food and Culture

Everyone Eats: Understanding Food and Culture There's a strong relationship between biological need and culture: a relationship emphasized by E.N. Anderson, professor of anthropology at University of California Riverside, in his survey Everyone Eats: Understanding Food And Culture. Discussions range from the aesthetics of eating and different sensory perceptions between cultures to the needs for foods as displayed in differing literature of cultures, and surveys of how food fads change over time. Plenty of cultural insights and background history lend to a survey particularly recommended for college-level students of anthropology and social science. Rarely do we ask why or investigate why we eat what we eat. Why do we love spices, sweets, coffee? How did rice become such a staple food throughout so much of eastern Asia? Everyone Eats examines the social and cultural reasons for our food choices and provides an explanation of the nutritional reasons for why humans eat, resulting in a unique cultural and biological approach to the topic. E. N. Anderson explains the economics of food in the globalization era, food's relationship to religion, medicine, and ethnicity as well as offers suggestions on how to end hunger, starvation, and malnutrition. Everyone Eats feeds our need to understand human ecology by explaining the ways that cultures and political systems structure the edible environment.

"Anderson's view of the relationship between the biological and the cultural is nicely provocative, and his rich personal fieldwork experiences greatly enliven the pages of Everyone Eats." - Sidney W. Mintz, author of Tasting Food, Tasting Freedom: Excursions into Eating, Culture, and the Past

"Everyone Eats is anthropology at its best, an exceptional blend of biological and cultural explanation that reveals our relationship with food and eating. Anderson's personal ethnographic experience as a nutritional anthropologist among cultures from around the world will leave the reader with a sense of wonderment about the fundamental human act of eating. Throughout the book Anderson develops a deep social conscience about the problems of over - and under-nutrition - that face the world today." - Barrett P. Brenton, Associate Editor of The Encyclopedia of Food and Culture

Everyone Eats: Understanding Food and Culture
E.N. Anderson, New York University Press, 304 pages, ISBN 0-8147049-6-4

New York University Press

Sunday, July 03, 2005

The Whole Carrot World

Healthy, orange, and chock-full of Vitamin A, the carrot is truly an exceptional vegetable. In fact, it turns out that this wonderful veggie is so special that it has its very own online museum! Take a virtual tour of The World Carrot Museum, courtesy of Mr. Carrot himself. Learn about the nutritional and medicinal benefits of the carrot, see some authentic "Carrot Art", and read about the rich history of this venerable vegetable.

The World Carrot Museum