Uncategorized – The Inquisitive Eater http://inquisitiveeater.com New School Food Mon, 21 Aug 2017 21:00:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 Holistic Efforts are Making a Dent in Childhood Obesity http://inquisitiveeater.com/2017/07/21/holistic-efforts-are-making-a-dent-in-childhood-obesity/ Fri, 21 Jul 2017 18:30:19 +0000 http://inquisitiveeater.com/?p=15812

Via Civil Eats


On reducing childhood obesity…

When it comes to childhood obesity, it might just take a village. Or that’s the implication of a two-year, community-wide intervention in two low-income Massachusetts towns, Fitchburg and New Bedford, which took place between 2012 and 2014.

The effort focused on messages about: reducing screen time and soda consumption, replacing nutrient-poor foods with fruits and vegetables, increasing physical activity, and increasing sleep duration and quality at four levels (clinician, parent-family, organizational, and environmental) among low-income kids ages 2–12. And it resulted in small, but significant, reductions in obesity rates and increases in some healthy behaviors among some groups: In one of the communities, the prevalence of obesity dropped 2 to 3 percent among seventh-graders participating in the study, compared to control groups.

Read on at Civil Eats.

Urban Gleaning Grows Up http://inquisitiveeater.com/2017/07/17/urban-gleaning-grows-up/ Mon, 17 Jul 2017 18:30:29 +0000 http://inquisitiveeater.com/?p=15759

Via Civil Eats


Home-grown food could be nutritious for the whole community…

America’s 42 million home and community gardeners grow an estimated 11 billion pounds more food than they can use. Meanwhile, 87 percent of Americans are not eating enough fruits and vegetables.

The good news is the movement of people who harvest that excess home-grown food, known as urban gleaning, has matured over the past decade or so from a weekend hobby for locavores to a growing sector of the food economy. In recent years, dozens of private and public groups around the U.S. have gotten organized around getting this extra food onto people’s tables.

Read on at Civil Eats

‘Sitia-Style Snails,’ by Joan Haladay http://inquisitiveeater.com/2017/07/08/sitia-style-snails-by-joan-haladay/ Sat, 08 Jul 2017 15:00:22 +0000 http://inquisitiveeater.com/?p=15715 Water is the most elemental ingredient of a Greek meal.  It is life and survival reduced to the contents of a glass.  As Henry Miller wrote in The Colossus of  Maroussi,  “…everywhere I saw the glass of water.  It became obsessional.  I began to think of water as a new thing, a new vital element of life.  Earth, air, fire, water.  Right now water became the cardinal element.”  So it was during my Greek stay too.  Yet, as much as some travelers to Sitia, wanted to follow Miller’s path, to contemplate and speak poetically about the elements and their sacred qualities, such aspirations were being altered by fate.

A few were immediately conscripted, and most transportation stopped.  Instead of just water, visitors were forced to be preoccupied with vehicle fuel.  We were grounded in Sitia and on Crete, while preparations were being made for war.  While there was still a functioning taxi or two in town, gasoline was being rationed, and the taxis could only be used for emergencies.

Amidst this state of siege in picture paradise, Jo, a Greek student, who I’d met during the Piraeus-to-Crete ferry ride, stopped by the villa. She invited me and Chris, an Australian, to go to pick grapes at her aunt’s vineyard.  We met at five in the afternoon in the plaza.   Jo’s aunt had succeeded- under false pretenses- in convincing one of the cab drivers to take us to the vineyard.  It was only up the road, another kilometer or two past Madame Victoria’s, but Aunt was not the type of lady to walk.  Predilections aside, she was also wearing-high-heeled shoes that weren’t suitable for walking very far in comfort.

When we reached the vineyard- rather than finding a sickbed or another woeful destination- the driver realized that he’d been duped.   It caused a row with Aunt of considerable length and drama.  While I couldn’t follow the verbal argument in Greek, their hand waving and wringing provided the gist of it in gestures.  He was worried about both fuel and fines.  Without reaching a resolution with Aunt, the driver finally abandoned us to the land and drove off.   In spite of Aunt’s pleading, he would not return to take us back to town.

My focus quickly shifted to the lovely spot.  I soon forgot both the driver and the war preparations.  There were sand- and rock-covered tracks leading back to the grapevines, which sat on a slope amidst almonds and pomegranates.  By then, the afternoon was heading toward the blue hour:  The sea in the distance was a particularly deep blue color set off and intensified by a frame of almost equally blue mountains.  The ripe grapes were violet blue, and I imagined that I was tasting the color as I swallowed my first bite of their succulent sweetness.   Once again, a sensual border had become fluid.  I wished that I could paint the grapes.  It seemed like a way to capture their essence, yet I knew too that no still life could fully contain the spirit of such grapes.  They too responded to light as heat and were living and flourishing and changing even as we stooped to pick them.

Chris and I were mostly useless as workers.  We probably ate more than half of what we picked.  We couldn’t resist, for we were unaccustomed to warm grapes, fresh from the vine, a taste that seemed like an edible spirit of place.  Jo and Aunt excused us nonetheless.  They seemed less interested in the quantity of grapes that they took home, and more concerned with preventing waste.  Aunt knew- in spite of her town clothes and physical languidness- that the grapes would begin to ferment if they baked on the vines for another day or two.  She had to seize their moment, whether there was a war going on or not.

After we’d picked the grapes, we also collected snails.  They seemed to be everywhere.  We picked them off the base of trees, off the grapevines, and off other unidentified, fragile plants that seemed too slender to bear the snails that they were supporting.   Jo said that the snails would be good to eat and told Chris and me to keep them.  She instructed us on how to prepare them in the tiny communal villa kitchen that neither of us had ever used.  Jo became insistent that Chris and I should eat a simple repast in Sitia that we would prepare with our own hands.

We walked home at sunset.  Along the way, we collected a few sprigs of flowers that Jo said opened only at the sunset hour.   I wanted to press at least one in my journal as a souvenir of the excursion.  It felt as if the blue hour, the dark, juicy grapes, the unexpected snail gathering, and the place-induced sense of well-being had made us open up like sunset flowers too.  I wanted to carry away a memento of the occasion and hoped the flower would embody its essence:  In the future, when I looked at the flower, it would be a trigger for remembrance in the way that a wine can be the pressed essence of sun, soil, and grape history.

En route, we stopped at the trough of a neighbor for a drink of water.  The pause was another watery step in a Sitia day that seemed to be fueled by careful relationships with water.  Aunt grumbled some of the way, since her shoes pinched and her soles hurt from the high heels.  She may never have walked that far before in her life.   However, even she grew quiet as time passed.  Maybe Aunt could see the magic of the evening through our thrilled traveler senses.   Sometimes the traveler without even realizing it also bears gifts.  When we reached the villa entrance, we all embraced as much to heal any outstanding disgruntlements as to say farewell.  Then, Chris and I departed with our bags of snails.

We deposited them in the communal kitchen and found some battered and blackened pots and mismatched dishes of irregular sizes.  Neither of us had prepared or even eaten snails before.  Our efforts became quite a fumble of Jo’s meticulous instructions.  We let the water boil over and extinguish the light on the stove.  Then, we let the boiling stop once the snails were in the pot.  When we realized what had happened, we had to bring the water to a boil for a second time.  Our final recipe was an improvisation and mélange of Jo’s original instructions, our bungling efforts to execute them, the German guests’ kibitzing, and Madame Victoria’s gift.

“First, clean the snails by scraping them with a knife,” Jo had advised.  “Then put them into cool water.  Discard the ones that float, since they are probably dead.  Transfer the remaining snails to a pot of boiling water.  Cook them for about five minutes.  Drain them and shell them.”   We added- “assembly-line style”- to her instructions for shelling.  This involved use of a board, a stone, and a strong male German arm for cracking. Finally, there were two sets of hands for picking the snails out of their shells.  “Serve them with a sprinkle of lemon juice, salt, and pepper,” Jo had concluded.

There were variations to her last instruction to consider.  Even she had offered the alternative to eat the snails au natural, but added, “Then drink ouzo with them.”  The Germans insisted upon contributing thick slices of bread for mopping up the lemon juice, after they had also provided the lemons.  We found the salt and pepper stashed among the kitchen utensils.  There was also some discussion about using olive oil and vinegar to flavor the snails.

Madame Victoria had come out of her own kitchen, when she heard the unusual frenzy that was emerging from the guest kitchen.  She watched our efforts and negotiations attentively and silently, but offered no new advice about how to salvage and serve the snails.  Finally, she headed off to her own larger and better stocked kitchen.  She wasn’t gone for long.  Madame Victoria reemerged a minute later.  In her hands, she carried a platter of earthy, garlicky olive oil-dressed potato cubes, slender green beans, and peppery tomatoes that were nearly dissolving into a rough sauce.

Her garnish for the snails, which was really a dish in its own right, was the most delicious of the choices.  How could it have been otherwise, since so many of the ingredients in the dish came from her garden?  In their vegetable flesh, they contained the miracle of the water, the balance between heat and light, and the tender and devoted care of Madame Victoria.  Through her vegetable dish, she extended the same nurture to us. Chris and I bloomed for the second time, becoming evening flowers under Madame Victoria’s tending.  If there were any still-closed shells left among the other guests, they opened as we ate.  There were no longer strangers among us as we were all susceptible to friendly warmth.  We had responded to Madame Victoria’s hospitality and generosity.  They seemed to never stop growing inside her.  Amidst a war, through her guidance and the thin line between Greek public and private space, we’d established our own peaceable queendom at the villa.

Joan Haladay lives in Northern Manhattan. She has prepared indexes for many books. Luso-Brazilian interests are her avocation. She likes to write fiction and non-fiction about place, travel, food, and literature. Her work has been published in Travelers’ Tales Provence, Travelers’ Tales The World Is a Kitchen, The Brasilians, Under the Sun, Small Press, Independent Publisher, and the New York Times “Metropolitan Diary.”

Why This Bug in Your Food Shouldn’t Turn Your Stomach http://inquisitiveeater.com/2017/01/30/why-this-bug-in-your-food-shouldnt-turn-your-stomach/ Mon, 30 Jan 2017 21:41:26 +0000 http://inquisitiveeater.com/?p=14994 15_Carmine_01-1500_03_V8_FNL_NEW.adapt.885.1

Via Dwight Eschliman


No need to be concerned about the insects in your strawberry smoothie…

Of all the substances on Earth, very few can make rich, soulful red. It’s the red of lipstick and cheek blush, berry-flavored yogurt, juices, imitation crab, and, until the ingredient was dropped in 2012, Starbucks’ strawberry smoothies. The compound that makes this red helps explain why the chain’s customers recoiled: It’s pulverized insects…

Is there any risk to eating crunched-up-insect extract? The Food and Drug Administration says no—as do people in Ghana, Papua New Guinea, and Bali, who make termites, beetle larvae, or dragonflies an occasional part of their diet.




TIE Poet of the Month: ‘Names for Figs in Northern Morocco’, Dave Snyder http://inquisitiveeater.com/2016/10/03/tie-poet-of-the-month-names-for-figs-in-northern-morocco-dave-snyder/ Mon, 03 Oct 2016 18:00:32 +0000 http://inquisitiveeater.com/?p=14375 mad,
the foreigner,

like an almond,
with a neck,
with a beard,


somebody equivocal,
thin measure of gold,

old gold coin,
that grows spontaneously.

Source: Hmimsa, Y, Y. Aumeeruddy-Thomas, M. Ater. Vernacular Taxonomy, Classification and Varietal Diversity of fig (Ficus carica L.) Among Jbala cultivators in Northern Morocco Human Ecology (2012) 40:301–313.

img_5170 Dave Snyder is a writer and farmer whose poems, essays and criticism have appeared in Best American Poetry, Gastronomica, Colorado Review, The Iowa Review and elsewhere. He runs a biointensive vegetable farm for Pisticci Restaurant in New York City. Previously, he managed a workplace training farm in Chicago and has worked as an English teacher, radio producer and cartographer.

featured image via Green Prophet.

A Space-Age Food Product Cultivated by the Incas http://inquisitiveeater.com/2016/08/11/a-space-age-food-product-cultivated-by-the-incas/ Thu, 11 Aug 2016 18:59:46 +0000 http://inquisitiveeater.com/?p=14129 Via Wikipedia

Via Wikipedia

…Remarkably, centuries before NASA’s quest for ways to feed astronauts in space, the Incas had already found the answer.

Their empire ran up and down the spine of the Andes, with a network of roads, terraced farms and breathtaking mountaintop outposts stretching the same distance as Stockholm to Cairo. They needed nourishing foods that traveled well and could be stored in bulk for a long time.

Enter chuño, one of the Incas’ discoveries that persists to this day.

Read on at The New York Times.

Celery: Why? http://inquisitiveeater.com/2016/06/16/celery-why/ Thu, 16 Jun 2016 18:46:53 +0000 http://inquisitiveeater.com/?p=13935 This made us laugh a little. But finally, some answers.

Via The Salt.

Via The Salt.

Celery, the mild-mannered straight man of the vegetable world, packs a puny six calories per stalk and — in my opinion — about as much flavor as a desk lamp. Yet despite its limitations, the fibrous plant has featured in Mediterranean and East Asian civilizations for thousands of years.

The paradox puzzled me enough that I called a bunch of specialists at the intersection of botany and anthropology to pick their brains. They shared their best guesses about how celery sneaked into our diets.

Read on at The Salt.


This Taiwanese Company Makes Clothes Out of Coffee Grounds http://inquisitiveeater.com/2016/06/13/this-taiwanese-company-makes-clothes-out-of-coffee-grounds/ Mon, 13 Jun 2016 20:43:09 +0000 http://inquisitiveeater.com/?p=13903 Via Munchies.

Via Munchies.

This sounds promising.

Consider your morning cup of joe. To produce it, only 0.2 percent of the coffee bean was used. The remaining 99.8 percent became coffee grounds and was most likely thrown away, never to be seen again.

For the last decade, Taiwanese company Singtex has made a fortune from those grounds, creating fabric out of coffee waste.

Read on at Munchies.




The Full-Fat Paradox: Dairy Fat Linked To Lower Diabetes Risk http://inquisitiveeater.com/2016/04/21/the-full-fat-paradox-dairy-fat-linked-to-lower-diabetes-risk/ Thu, 21 Apr 2016 21:30:52 +0000 http://inquisitiveeater.com/?p=13602 via The Salt

via The Salt

If you melt at the creaminess of full-fat yogurt, read on.

A new study finds the dairy fats found in milk, yogurt and cheese may help protect against Type 2 diabetes…


We think that’s enough to keep you reading. From The Salt.

Rwanda Tries To Persuade Its Citizens To Drink The Coffee They Grow http://inquisitiveeater.com/2016/03/08/rwanda-tries-to-persuade-its-citizens-to-drink-the-coffee-they-grow/ Tue, 08 Mar 2016 20:00:45 +0000 http://inquisitiveeater.com/?p=13375
foodnews 03.08.2016


Rwanda… wants to increase the domestic market – mostly by tapping into the expendable cash of Rwanda’s growing middle class.

Gerardine Mukeshimana, minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources, says the future of coffee is both domestic and international, largely due to the instability of prices in international markets.

“You don’t want to be in a situation that if they go down, your whole economy is disturbed. You have to have a plan B. That’s why we promote local coffee consumption,” she says.

Read on at The Salt.