Small Streams


Chocolate Ecstasy Tour
November 10, 2013, 4:30 am
Filed under: art, awareness, food, observer, Tourism, walking | Tags: ,

Yesterday Liz, Piper, and I took a chocolate tour of London courtesy of the American School of London. The tour was an amazing brief for the senses. Our guide was well versed in chocolate knowledge. After convening for a cup of cocoa we visited four chocolate shops. Believe me, four is plenty. My senses were overstimulated by the end.

We visited Roald Dahl’s favorite chocolate shop, the oldest chocolate shop in London, a cool artisanal shop, and a shop known for its mixtures of chocolate with nuts and spices.

Two of the shops were in arcades. Which makes me think, “What’s the difference between a mall and an arcade?” To find out, I suggest going to Pittsburgh’s Fifth Avenue Place and imagine you’re standing in Jenkin’s Arcade. If you don’t cry then and there, your heart is made of stone.

All of the chocolate shops were in the Mayfair and Soho parts of London. I’ll attach some pictures. Not pictured is the fantastic moment when I first glimpsed the white terra cotta grand avenue of Regent Street through the highly articulated channel of Soho.

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A Spill
November 8, 2010, 7:05 pm
Filed under: awareness, food, observer | Tags: ,



The Beet Beat
July 11, 2010, 7:46 am
Filed under: food, gardening, health, Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

At the end of the summer, our farm subscription contains bunches of beets. We have occasionally consigned the beets to the compost. A shame, I know. We now have identified beet-eating friends. But I know there are ways to prepare them that even I may like. The New York Times must be trying to make me eat more beets.

For instance, in a story about Copenhagen a restaurant that serves beet-flavored ice cream is mentioned. I can’t find beet-flavored ice cream in the markets, nor would I be willing to try making it myself, but if someone made it for me . . .

Today’s paper also has a recipe for beet salad.

Very pretty. It would, however, only deal with about an eighth of a bunch of beets. So I’d still need learn how to make borscht or find out how to tie-dye. Ooh, that would be cool: a t-shirt with radiating circles around the phrase “Beet Power.”



Low-Hanging Fruit
June 13, 2010, 8:18 am
Filed under: awareness, community, ecology, food, gardening, networking, walking | Tags:

I haven’t written anything here in four months and have felt bad about not dedicating myself to long form writing, that is, anything longer than a sentence. Why feel bad, though? Why not just write?

One thing I’d like to write about is free food, not freegan food, like you find in a dumpster, but all the nuts and berries you can find all over.

Anyway, I’m going to start documenting this with a Twitter tag: #lhfpgh.

Gotta go. so much for long form.



Pollan on Rational Eating
August 2, 2009, 9:00 am
Filed under: food, health | Tags: , , ,

Michael Pollan’s latest in the NYT Mag covers the rise of cooking shows and decline of cooking. He makes the point that even as we watch more cooking shows, we cook less and eat more.

Those who are enabling this transition, the people of the prepared food industry, have no interest in a return to increased cooking time. In fact, they are only trying to channel military capabilities into a (relative) peace-time economy.

Those corporations have been trying to persuade Americans to let them do the cooking since long before large numbers of women entered the work force. After World War II, the food industry labored mightily to sell American women on all the processed-food wonders it had invented to feed the troops: canned meals, freeze-dried foods, dehydrated potatoes, powdered orange juice and coffee, instant everything. As Laura Shapiro recounts in “Something From the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America,” the food industry strived to “persuade millions of Americans to develop a lasting taste for meals that were a lot like field rations.” The same process of peacetime conversion that industrialized our farming, giving us synthetic fertilizers made from munitions and new pesticides developed from nerve gas, also industrialized our eating.

Pollan spends a good deal of time grousing about television’s portrayal of cooking, particularly The Food Network’s: lots of flash and virtuosity that keeps the viewer watching but uninspired to cook. This is for the most part true, though my kids tend to kitchen adventures after an episode or two of Alton Brown’s “Good Eats.”

It would be better if Pollan dove into a little field reportage, or if he wrote about his own eating and cooking habits. Rather than nagging about the flawed behavior of others, perhaps, like Barbara Kingsolver, Pollan is on the verge of writing about how a food revolution, a revolution where we spend longer growing, cooking, and eating will transform us.

Fun facts found along the way:

Snopes on the egg in the cake mix.



Food Miles Myths
November 15, 2008, 1:53 pm
Filed under: ecology, eutechnics, food, gardening, technology | Tags: , , ,

Via Andrew Sullivan:

An article in ReasonOnline by Ronald Bailey about food miles.

As one who rec’d a free “Eat fresh. Eat Western Pennsylvanian” t-shirt and wears it proudly, I look skeptically at Bailey’s attempt to debunk the beliefs of some foodies’ fondest myths that eating locally saves energy and is food for the planet.

Transporting food, Bailey reports, accounts for little of the energy use and for fewer greenhouse emissions. In some ways the article is an unblinkered look at food economics: Reality doesn’t favor us stocking the corner market with local goods; hothouse plants emit five times the amount of greenhouse gases than transported tropical plants do.

On the other hand, I have a feeling that a society conscious of the origins of its foods, that devoted more time and attention to the cultivation and preparation of its food, is a society that will be paid off.

Bailey says that such time is better spent in leisure or in doing something more productive (I’m guessing he means something more productive for the GDP.). But in the Amish/Wendell Berry sense, such work, agricultural work, is good for the soul, and for the community, and is an asset that trumps the others.

Sorry to be short on specifics. Perhaps I should just plant something.