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Everything posted by Pontormo

  1. Why wouldn't you be able to get buttermilk in France? I KNOW France has the same types of leavenings we do.....they just call it by a different name.... ←
  2. I have great recipes for cornbread that are non-cakey and use a minimal amount of all-purpose flour, i.e. 1 1/2 c. cornmeal to only 1/2 cup flour. My dilemma is two-fold, however. 1) Any strong opinions about spelt or other possible substitutes for that flour? 2) Second, the recipient of the recipe lives in France and I assume, does not have access to buttermilk or the same levening ingredients that we use. Yogurt is a traditional sub for buttermilk, I know. However, are there other factors that I might need to consider before sending her American cornmeal and such a recipe? I will look into USPS policies & Customs before attempting to mail packaged grains since they be forbidden. However, if they're free to go overseas, I might send Masaca, a tortilla press and recipe instead.
  3. Didn't you catch that one shot of the dark-haired babe in the kitchen (& plunging neckline but of course) where she complained that Jack stole all her dish washers during a cellphone call? What I want to know is where are all the Latino...or Latina actors?!!!!! You'd THINK there would be some color on faces of the ensemble cast that wasn't produced by a tan...
  4. Thank you for the Rossetti!!!! On a similar note, if from a much different poet, an excerpt from Galway Kinnell's "The Avenue Bearing the Initial of Christ into the New World" (1960), the title poem of a volume reissued by Houghton Mifflin Company in 2002:
  5. Combat? Please enlighten me.
  6. A wonderful, wonderful poem by Billy Collins is found in his book The Art of Drowning (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsurgh Press, 1995). The following excerpt (113 words plus title) should make you hunger for more. See the link below for the full text, one that reminds you of the poem's copyrighted status. OSSO BUCO I love the sound of the bone against the plate and the fortress-like look of it lying before me in a moat of risotto, the meat soft as the leg of an angel who has lived a purely airborne existence. And best of all, the secret marrow, the invaded privacy of the animal prized out with a knife and swallowed down with cold, exhilarating wine. I am swaying now in the hour after dinner, a citizen tilted back on his chair, a creature with a full stomach-- something you don't hear much about in poetry, that sanctuary of hunger and deprivation.... The link to entire text: Search Inside feature at Amazon.com, turning page once to "Osso Buco." N.B.: a purchase from Amazon.com made directly from this site benefits egullet.
  7. Have a great time! When you narrow down your choices, check out copies of Let's Go (for Europe and for France) that date to the past few years. If your hotel is recommended by the Harvard student publication, try to choose something else. A couple of years ago, I stayed a week in a very nice, modestly priced small hotel in a very quiet neighborhood two or three blocks away from the main boulevard and thus, where there was little traffic. Unfortunately, it had just been included in Let's Go and the proprietor was as unhappy as I was. I had requested a quiet room and was placed on the top floor shared with only three other rooms. Unfortunately, two college students who had never been to Europe before were in the room next to mine. They came back to their room at one, two or three in the morning in high heels, drunk, vocal and once, with lost keys. Christmas time, of course, is different from summer break and I hasten to add, there are many wonderful college students who go to Paris for reasons the city appeals to you. Yet, I have been surprised by the number of my own students who travel in Europe during their winter breaks. (I agree with the other egullet readers who encourage you to rent an apartment from a reliable online resource.)
  8. And it's only fair since Ted Hughes is here: LESBOS (excerpt) ---Sylvia Plath, from Ariel Viciousness in the kitchen! The potatoes hiss. It is all Hollywood, windowless, The fluorescent light wincing on and off like a terrible migraine...
  9. One of my favorites is from Act 2 in "Cyrano de Bergerac," set in the pastry shop of Ragueneau who declaims a recipe for almonds tarts in verse while the cooks surrounding him take advantage of his inspired distraction to stuff their faces. The best modern translation by Richard Wilbur is not online, but: http://teachers.sduhsd.k12.ca.us/jmabry/act_ii.htm
  10. I'll investigate cheese keepers, thanks!
  11. I have lived in this area only for the past seven years, but from what I understand Eastern Market is no longer of the quality that it used to be, although there are still some good vendors. The FreshFarm Market was founded only nine years ago. As result, one of the greatest things about life in Washington, D.C. is its farmer's market, or markets, I should say since farmers have begun setting up stalls in various locations throughout the city four days a week. In part, the success of the farmer's markets makes the revitalization of the Eastern Market problematical, although I really do not know enough to offer more than this speculation. Nonetheless, my exhaustive lament concerned Whole Foods alone, not the bounty of foods available in the area. Yesterday, I bought the epazote no longer carried at WF at a small independent store in Adams Morgan. Other chain supermarkets and natural foods stores stock the dried legumes that WF discontinued and grains (cornmeal, quiona...) no longer available in bulk. It seems that the store that amazed me in Boulder eight years ago was not superior to the one I currently frequent solely because it was out West and close to California. Here in the east, as WF expanded and bought out its competion (e.g. Bread and Circuses in MA), its quality has slipped, its prices have soared and its mission seems compromised.
  12. Experts tell us never, ever put the season's most beautiful fruit in the refrigerator. HOWEVER, what do you do when you live in a tall building with lots of other city-dwellers, including neighbors who take out their garbage once a week, pets, insects and rodents? Rats are more of a problem in D.C. than roaches, but the latter do exist and the fruit flies that come in with the bananas stay. Lately, I have been enclosing paper bags and little green baskets of my tomatoes in plastic bags that I keep open during the day, but tied shut when I turn off the lights at night. I found that storing the ones I could fit into a lidded ceramic dish were sometimes vulnerable. I am not sure that leaving tomatoes in sealed plastic containers is that much better than refrigeration...except that the negative effect of cold temperatures is not an issue.
  13. Within a period of three years, I moved from St. Louis to Boulder to Washington, D.C. In the late 90's St. Louis got its first "up-scale" supermarket, Wild Oats, which originated in Boulder, Colorado. We were thrilled! St. Louis is one of the few large cities I've known where farmer's markets were popular among all ethnic groups and classes, so the best conventional produce was actually cheaper there on the street next to the barbeque shack than it was in supermarkets. Okra was plentiful and to die for, but in a very traditional Southern/Midwestern city, despite Volpe and its Italian-American community, it took Wild Oats to bring us bunches of arugula, organic kale, rows of nut oils and the like. One of the things I looked forward to in my move to Boulder was living close to the flagship store. In the middle of my year in Boulder, Whole Foods came to town and set up shop only ten minutes by mountain bike from my home. Competing in the most ruthless, smiling way in the birthplace of its rival, the company moved next door to Border's, not far from a nationally known, beloved hardware store where everyone went on weekends. The space was HUUGE, surrounded by mountains rising above the asphalt. Intense light that close to the sun linked natural splendor outdoors to the Natural Goodness within: mountains of golden beets and fields of green. Prices were slashed to accommodate the diets of all the serious runners who lived in town, so salmon was cheaper than it was in Seattle. Emigrants from California bought organic milk for their children, so Horizon products were cheaper there than they were at Wild Oats. The company clinched the deal by approaching the one really good, small bakery in town and convincing it to produce breads exclusively for Whole Foods. Lines for bread fresh out of the oven grew. I felt guilty for deserting Wild Oats, but.... Then I moved here. Everything Steve Klc writes about Fresh Fields and its transformation into Whole Foods deserves a vigorous nod and a sad yes. Recently things in the D.C. stores have gotten much, much worse. In part to vent, but also to invite explanations or feedback from others, I am breaking down problem areas into categories. The rubrics do not represent all the problems, just ones that I feel like mentioning now. While D.C. dwellers have a few other options including Balducci's (which I refuse to visit for reasons New Yorkers know best), I have to say that I still do the majority of my food shopping at Whole Foods from late October through May. PRICE Source of everyone's gripe. Folk in the U.S. still pay a lot less than Europeans do for food, so this is something I feel ambivalent about. We should pay farmers well and make sure small manufacturing companies survive. I am all for the profits long-time WF employees share. HOWEVER, come on!!! Chicken of the Sea now distributes the kind of Italian oil-packed tuna I am used to buying. 6 oz. cans cost $1.50 in independent grocery stores in Maine yet $2.99!!!! at Whole Foods. I don't understand why baking powder has to cost 20-40% more there than elsewhere. DIVERSITY & QUALITY OF PRODUCTS This may be the area that makes me crankiest and most militant. Before the age of Trajan when imperial cults and their monuments relegated merchants to a separate, peripheral building, the the central artery of forum was the place to go for anything and everything grown and produced throughout the Roman world (as long as it could survive the journey). The aisles of Whole Foods provided the closest contemporary parallel here in Washington, D.C., at least until Fresh Fields became Whole Foods. Over the course of seven years, the store brand 365 has taken up more and more space on the shelves, always in the most prominent position. Fewer alternative brands are available, especially in the case of imported goods. As much as Italy is popular with Whole Foods, the company has even compromised the quality of its Italian products. I am thinking specifically of canned organic tomatoes. I used to follow the advice of Michele Urvater who noticed you get more for your money in the smaller sized cans. This was true of the one manufacturer Whole Foods favored; the plum tomatoes were packed in like tennis balls. Now Whole Foods owns the company. Thick tomato puree replaces the thin juice that originally filled the can. It also contributes a lot of the weight. Instead of eight tomatoes, you get three and a half. I also find a certain amount of provincialism at play when it comes to produce. D.C. has lots of Asian and Middle-Eastern emporia in Maryland and Virginia. However, I still would appreciate something as unexotic, humble and delicious as a fresh water chestnut instead of the glossy, bright Buddha's fingers that come from Frieda's and are just for show. Finally, I wonder just how food-savvy WF employees are, i.e., the ones who select what they sell. The man in charge of cheese at my store is awe-inspiring in the breadth of his knowledge. I trust his advice always. However, WF hires a lot of people who have little personal interest in cooking or eating and seems to value the chance to impose its own vision upon them. TARGETING BUSY PROFESSIONAL SNACKERS VS. COOKS There are other ways to frame this issue, but in the store I frequent most, the bulk section has changed dramatically. Several weeks ago I ran out of dried chickpeas and was amazed to find that they're no longer carried!!! You can just buy the cooked stuff in cans....or in vegan salads over in the prepared food section....or the store's humus. The number of grains and dried legumes has decreased. Fine-grained cracked wheat for baking bread? That disappeared years ago. I wrote a comment card decrying the situation, noting that shoppers really don't need a bin of strawberry yogurt coated pretzels next to a bin of peanut-butter coated pretzels and vanilla-yogurt coated ones. The friendly reply from Whole Foods promised to think about this, but regretted the current lack of space. I guess they didn't understand why I mentioned how many bins were taken up by flavored pretzels. As long as a more profitable item looks like Health Food.... The relationship between the counterculture, nutrition-conscious origins of the corporation and its current state is provocative too. BUYING LOCAL Whole Foods seems to be responding to criticism. The regional office is meeting with representatives of the farmer's market very soon. Signs are posted in unbleached, recycled-paper brown to proclaim the source of cremini mushrooms from a nearby farm. Yet it is sad to see red bell peppers from Holland at $5.99 a pound in late summer, rock hard peaches from California in July.... Basta. This is long, I am tired and still haven't finished the farro salad I made well over an hour ago. (The farro's from Dean & DeLuca, $4.50 a pound. WF never heard of farro.)
  14. You know, when I was responding to your first message here, email arrived from the school which supplied two attachments detailing the nature of the curriculum and names of participating faculty. As a new program, the Masters in Food Culture unfortunately does not offer its students choices in classes. As I suspected, the location of the Universita, i.e., near Parma influences much. Not scuzzy, certainly. Who amongst Italiophilic egullets doesn't think Parmigiano-Reggiano is one of the supreme arguments against the virtues of an ascetic life? Also, corporate sponsorship has an influence. Again, not a bad thing for students wishing to work for De Cecco or as a wine importer. What I would like to see in terms of produce, organic farming, etc. does seem to be lacking...though there are classes that might certainly address those matters. And for the skeptical cooks and chefs who are right to take issue with the utter lack of actual cooking on the academic menu, it looks as if the program also had second thoughts there. What I received was tentative...but Cooking Technique is on the academic menu and (here, probably one of the less certain factors) Alice Waters is listed as possible instructor. There are a number of food writers and journalists listed too and a section on food photography. In sum, I am finding more promise. [Quibble: In the interest of championing GOOD food writing, I WISH USIG would change the name of the degree: Masters in Food Culture: Communicating Quality Products! The use of the noun "quality" as an adjective is up there with "impact" instead of "affect" as a verb, and the phrase "to grow the economy!"] Once I learn whether or not the info may be shared, I'd be happy to post what the school sent me should it be of interest to anyone else who is reading this topic. Even if I do not choose to continue in the application process, I'd be more than happy to help the school develop a more prominent profile. P.S. Off-topic, I know, but would you be willing to address your adventures in "chocolating" during your family's recent trip to Paris? I just discovered the postings this morning.
  15. Do? See if my most recent query, forwarded to next year's director, receives a reply. (Deadline of September 23 approaches.) However, consult my original posting (earlier this summer) on the topic that Revallo [sp?] initiated. Practical and financial concerns abound. I can contact Slow Food members here in the United States, too, especially since at least one, I know, was involved in planning stages for the USIG. Meanwhile, I need to talk to more people here in U.S. about credentials and means they've taken to move into the professional/advocacy roles that interest me. I have always loved marketing, cooking and eating in Italy. That experience may still prove useful and with ingenuity and luck, I suppose, it is something that will remain a perk in my professional life.
  16. Ore: I have been enjoying your contributions to this region of egullet, thanks for writing! I hope you're enjoying your new job and the opportunities to use your knowledge of Italian regional cooking. I took the Motivation Test of twenty-four questions, many I found rather inappropriate and bizarre. I was just informed that I passed and am invited to finish the application process in which letters of recommendation are optional. None of my requests for more specific information about the syllabus, the goals of the program, internships, pre-professional training or participating faculty has received a genuine answer. So........
  17. Divina: I was wondering if you had an opinion since you've written about Slow Food events on your personal Web site and have a lot of friends and colleagues in the food world in Italy. I am am glad to see your name here! Hathor and I have been in communication outside of this forum, and as I explained to her, I find the IDEA of the Master's program very appealing. When I went to college, I would have loved to have had the option of studying the history, politics, economics, sociology & culture of food in addition to nutrition, chemistry and technique. Not everyone passionate about food or interested in food-related issues should train to be a chef, even though s/he ought to have fundamental skills and experience cooking. The analogy is not exact, but English professors earn Ph.D's by reading literature, theory, and secondary sources in relevant academic disciplines before they teach courses on Chaucer's World or Gender & the Victorian novel and write studies of their own. Should aspiring poets or novelists choose to get advanced degrees in academia, they earn M.F.A.'s in programs where they learn by refining their work under the tutelage of established authors and with the help and criticism of their peers, and in the best of circumstances, make connections with editors and literary agents who accept their manuscripts. It is still very difficult to gauge what the goals and curriculum of the Universita are. There is a long list of impressive, international affiliated faculty, but it is hard to identify who is core, residential faculty. The school's internationalism seems to be restricted to the field seminars that take students to various regions in France, Spain, etc once they learn more about regional specialties in Italy. Wine, cheese, meats...and maybe pasta seem to be emphasized. Produce? Farming? Hard to tell. How pragmatic and practical the advanced programs are is hard to figure out because this upcoming year will be its first. There is no clear sense that someone with a new Master's from that program will have the expertise, experience and connections to move immediately into a food-related profession where the principles of the Slow Food movement will inform his or her career. It would be terrific if the program suited such an aim. And if you're still reading, Divina, look under Resources in the C& Z forum. I posted a topic about the Master's in Food Culture program at the Universita di Scienze Gastronomiche there. Almost 100 people have read the topic; one person posted a reply. Just how successful has the school been in reaching potential students and their employers?
  18. This is a very LOOONG forum, but I am jumping in to respond to the member who asked if anyone has tried following the roast chicken recipe in the Zuni Cafe COOKBOOK. YES, I have, twice. The first time I made it, together with the bread salad, I could not believe how incredible it was. Really. The second time was equally successful, although there is nothing like the magic of trying something with an extraordinary reputation for the very first time and having it actually live up to that reputation. Do try it when you have the time and follow instructions religiously...that's the trick. Buying a small organic chicken is crucial (not Bell & Evans/Whole Foods, but a real organic chicken no more than 3 lbs. in weight). Brining for a long time also makes a difference. The book is worth the investment for this recipe alone, though I have to say the introduction moves me. The fastidious, detailed instructions in all parts of the book treat the reader as a serious student. Nothing's patronizing. You learn much about the perfectionism and discipline of professionals in the recipes that are accompanied by stage-photographs. I swear by the recipe for ricotta gnocchi, preferring to omit the lemon zest. I now use the book's chicken stock recipe instead of one I've used for years, though I do make a few changes (chicken legs and 1 pack of wings vs. a whole chicken with breast removed). The uses for day(s)-old bread--as one earlier posting suggests--are great and useful: adapting Italian traditions and teaching improvisation. It's always a pleasure to see creative notes in simple, nourishing dishes and new combinations of ingredients. Rodgers is a bit more fond of sage than I, but she explains the source of that love in her introduction. The one recipe I did not enjoy making is one for fritti misti simply because the result was too, too rich; I did try it though simply because I've had fried sage leaves as an accompaniment to a veal chop in Florence and loved them.
  19. I am seriously considering the one-year Master's in Food Culture that begins in November 2005. I am wondering if there are any participating members who have or ARE studying at the school for one of the degree programs. (Leggo italiano, dunque....) I would love to know more specific information about the program than the university's Web site provides, course of study, faculty, internships beyond its walls... Thanks!
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