Map blogger. Science fiction and fantasy critic and writer. Snake whisperer.

Category: Food

The King of Cheese

In Smithsonian magazine, Joshua Levine looks at the history and somewhat uncertain future of Roquefort cheese. “The king of cheese is in trouble. Over the past dozen years, sales of Roquefort cheese have fallen 15 percent, to 16,000 tons in 2020. The people who love it are growing ever grayer, and French parents are no longer bringing up their young to appreciate a taste that any normal child instinctively finds yucky (god knows, mine does). It takes training and persistence to overcome a natural human instinct to avoid food that, let’s face it, is spoiled, albeit in a tightly controlled and highly refined manner.” I have tried Roquefort a grand total of once: my sinuses have never since been so clear. It’s an experience, to be sure.

What Happened to All the Bucatini?

Bucatini is a thick, spaghetti-like long pasta with a hole down the middle, and for some reason it’s been impossible to find in the United States this past year. Rachel Handler investigates for New York magazine’s Grub Street blog, and finds herself going down an increasingly bizarre rabbit hole as she tries to answer the question: what happened to all the bucatini? Was production cut back in favour of other, easier-to-produce pastas because of increased pandemic demand? Were people using them as straws? And what exactly was the issue between the FDA and pasta maker De Cecco? An astonishing read.

The Rise and Fall of Pandemic Baking

There was a point during the lockdown where it seemed like sourdough culture was propagating faster than SARS-CoV-2, and you couldn’t find yeast or flour on the shelves for love nor money. (We had to go through a restaurant.) That seems to have abated now. The Cut explores the rise—and fall—of pandemic baking. “The height of sourdough mania crested before Memorial Day, when one national emergency—the COVID-19 pandemic—was met by another, the police brutality and systemic racism brought to the fore by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The privileged lifestyle cosiness of home baking then seemed a pale crutch. The Instagrammed loaves disappeared. The mood is more urgent now; those stuck at home have forcefully, passionately wrenched themselves unstuck. Sourdough can’t save a nation, and it can’t distract it indefinitely, either.”

Cronk Is the Drink

Paul Fairie recently stumbled across bizarre advertisements for a drink called Cronk in an 1883 issue of the Calgary Herald. (“Cronk. Buy Cronk. Cronk is the drink.”) The rabbit hole that opened up in the wake of that discovery is summarized in his 16-minute video above, which tries to reconstruct the history of Cronk: what was it, what were its ingredients, who invented it, and how did those weirdo ads end up in the Calgary Herald? (More from CBC News.)

The New Trophies of Domesticity

KitchenAid stand mixers and Le Creuset dutch ovens have become “small markers of stability and sophistication, coveted by young people for whom traditional indicators of both often remain out of reach,” The Atlantic’s Amanda Mull writes, and boy (glances at kitchen) do I feel seen. People delaying marriage and homeownership are upgrading their cheap starter equipment themselves instead of getting them as wedding gifts. As status markers go, though, they’re durable and practical: they may be expensive, but they last.

When Average Equals Amazing

ChefSteps created a chocolate chip cookie recipe by using the average amounts used in 10 cookie recipes: the average of the amount of baking soda, flour, salt, et cetera, used in these recipes. The result was the best chocolate chip cookie they’d ever tasted. “There is no reason why this should have worked. But this cookie checks all the cookie qualifier boxes in a big way. It’s the perfect blend of chewy, crispy, buttery, chocolatey goodness—it is far more than average.” That’s it: we’re so baking this.

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