Monday, September 7, 2009

f is for food

We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink

Epicurus (341–270 B.C.) philosopher

epicurus sure nailed it, do you think it's a coincidence that f is for food, friends and family? I think not!

I don't know if I would qualify as a foodie, but I sure do love food and am always interested in trying new foods. whenever I travel - near or far - I enjoy checking out places that sell food. open air markets are the best but I also really love what are considered 'ethnic supermarkets.' when I go down to metro dc to visit my parents, I try to make it over to el grande international supermarket it's like taking a trip around the world. last month f, e, and I went down to visit my folks and we took a family outing to el grande, you can join us our world tour with this flickr slide show !

in a couple days one of my favorite food and friend events will be taking place. in september my book group holds a potluck dinner as a prelude to our annual book selection meeting. at this meeting we chose our reading list for the next eleven months. most years we have a theme which guides our choice of books, last year our theme was FOOD. it was an absolutely fantastic year of reading. we had an eclectic list - there was something to satisfy everyone's taste - fiction, non-fiction, memoir, history:
  • Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses by Isabel Allende
  • Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlien
  • Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India by Madhur Jaffrey
  • Soul of a Chef: The Journey Towards Perfection by Michael Ruhlman
  • The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean
  • A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage
  • Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran
  • Babette’s Feast by Isak Dinesen
  • In Defense of Food by Michael Pollen
  • The Passionate Epicure: La Vie et la Passion de Dodin-Bouffant, Gourmet by Marchel Rouff
  • Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver
we spiced up the year with a few fun activities. the month we discussed ruhlman's soul of a chef we met at lolita, the restaurant featured in part 2 of the book, and feasted on an incredibly scrumptious dinner; and, the month we read babette's feast we supplemented the discussion with watching the 1987 film based on the book.

both michael pollen's in defense of food and kingsolver's animal, vegetable, miracle were filled with analysis and insights to improve one's life and change the way we look at food. from pollen's book I jotted down this list of sage advice:
  1. eat food. not too much. mostly plants
  2. don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as a food
  3. don't eat anything incapable of rotting
  4. avoid food products containing ingredients that are a)unfamiliar b) unpronounceable c) more than 5 in number or that include d) high fructose corn syrup
  5. avoid food products that make health claims
  6. shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle
  7. get out of the supermarket whenever possible

this year the book group is going with 'no theme' -- but, I can't completely abandon this past year's theme. I recently finished an absolutely delicious book, barbara o'neal's the lost recipe for happiness, I may have to bring it along as one of the two books I will be presenting for consideration, it's not often that I read a novel that can make me salivate with descriptions of food but this book definitely did (and the story is quite tasty too!). the other book I plan to offer up is elizabeth stout's olive kitteridge. olive is one of those books that has stayed with me months after reading it, it richly deserved winning this year's pulitzer for fiction.

no song today, instead the trailer from a MUST SEE documentary, food inc. I went to see the film this summer with a few friends. I found it a remarkable film and definitely has changed the way I look at food; I don't think I will ever be able to eat a burger from a fast food restaurant after seeing where these places get their meat! (let me add it is rare that I frequent fast food establishments, but maybe once a year I'd get a craving for a whopper with cheese - but I don't think that will be happening any more!)

photos: el grande international supermarket produce section, woman making kimchee in el grande - springfield va august 2009; the bookwomen at last year's september meeting, cleveland.


mum said...

Sounds like your book club has a lot of fun.

That trailer was all I needed to say: I'll stick with my local market. Over here, some people still consider food grown outside the surrounding hills as untrustworthy ...

bon appétit for the Labor Day cookout.

Chris Wolf said...

eek! On so many levels, there is fear here. Breathe deeply and listen carefully to both sides, everyone.

California Girl said...

my Green Team went to see "Food Inc" last week but I was unable to go with them. They all recommend it and I've heard pro and con about it but I'm sure I'll like it as I appreciate movies that make us think.

Bee said...

Mmmm . . . books and food. My two favorites.

I'm really envious of your book group. It sounds like so much fun! I've read some of those books, and crave all of the ones that I haven't read. You remind me that I have Olive K. buried in my bedside table book stack.

e said...

Hi Mouse!

Do you or your book club have access to Netflix? I viewed a documentary called "King Corn," which is worth checking out if you've the time...

Basically, two recent college grads team up to follow the path of corn from its growing in the midwest to its processing and where it goes after that...Eye opening...We've way too much non-nutrient, over processed food now, and the bits of history about how this came to be are interesting as well. Happy Labour Day!

Baino said...

Now was that a CAN of cream I saw on your table? I love markets. I work above one at the moment, it's cheap and because of the large Asian community where I work there are veggies I've never seen and cuts of meat I just don't recognise and wouldn't know what to do with! Good luck with the pot luck. Sounds like fun!

Alan Burnett said...

What a wonderfully filling post. But, for me, F also stands for fat and I have sworn off food until the end of the year (well, OK sworn off too much food)

Reya Mellicker said...

American bounty is truly amazing, isn't it? I always think of that picture of Kruschev, visiting an American supermarket, crying as he saw the produce section.

Things are turning, though. People are waking up about the food industry, slowly perhaps, but surely. Here on Capitol Hill many more people are growing food in their gardens,a nd the new trend is to keep chickens! There's an affinity group called "Hens on the Hill." Very cute!!

mouse (aka kimy) said...

mum ! markets are the best. we had a very tasty labor day weekend - thanks!

chris - I'm not fond of sowing seeds of fear, but ones of awareness. as with all issues it is good to be a critical thinker - which I'm sure you agree with....

ca - 'green team' sounds like a dream team!

bee - I hope you unearth olive - if you enjoy it half as much as I you will still love it. I'd be lost without my bookgroup - I'm very blessed to have found such a great group of fellow booklovers!

e - thanks for the head's up, I have read quite a bit on 'king corn' but haven't seen the documentary....will keep an eye out for it, know quite a few folks who are netflix subscribers. however, the cleveland public library may have a copy I'll have to check it out (I don't belong to netflix myself)

baino - ah it is a can of whipped cream - am sure it breaks several of pollen's suggestions/rules! I recall someone brought fresh berries last year for dessert and of course whipped cream does make everything more festive!

alan - one must eat! good to follow pollen's advice about 'not too much' - all things in moderation, but moderation, eh!?

reya - the city of cleveland has opened the door for having chickens, but most of the surrounding towns still prohibit chickens. we can use a lot more hens on the hill and a lot less old cocks!

Dumdad said...

This blogpost is really food for thought...

Anonymous said...

"Stranger in a Strange Land", yes! A favourite Heinlein book :)

kimy, great post for "f" and way cool pick on your TT link!