Food Politics

Food is a hot topic in everyday society. The question of how to feed millions on an old system has given the rise to modified foods. I had the privilege of meeting an author, Bart, who is writing on the history of coca-cola. He grew up in the heart of the coca-cola industry in Atlanta. It was found that when coca-cola came to the states it was a mixture of wine and cocaine, taken from a frenchmen.

Of course with everything good, something bad happens and for this coke recipe in the United States, prohibition came. Meaning that the wine had to be removed from the recipe. This was a hard time for this industry since one of their two ingredients was alcohol. The wine was then replaced with water (club soda), but the product was not selling. A new recipe was to be formed.

Cocaine in some form has never left the drink. Till this day the coca leaf is used, at one point it was taken out of the recipe, but it again did not sell.

It is still, that the coca-cola factory makes the syrup and sends it to other bottling factories. All of these changes have occurred to “trick” people. Trick is a loaded word but just as other industries coke appeals to the people. The good and the bad are all present but the good is emphasized. For coke the emphasis is on taste, while the pH is stronger then the pH of ones stomach. Food is something that fuels everyone’s life… So how far is too far?

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Gourmet Ghetto

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Meeting the tour at a Peet’s coffee may seem as a convenience, but not in the Gourmet Ghetto housed in North Berkeley. This is where the tour started and was the first Peet’s coffee, which happened to be the first “gourmet” coffee in the area built to attract the local scholars, from UC Berkeley. It was shown that this coffee, that was not Folgers or Maxwell, allowed for a place of study with a personal feel between the customers and the employees. They are able to not only be knowledgeable of their coffee and accommodate their customers, but also use their knowledge in tea even as people lined up for the street block to be served. We had the luxury of sampling their Major Dickanson Blend Coffee which happened to taste very bitter, but had a warm sense that enveloped my mouth. My favorite was the tea we sampled, the name of which escapes me, but was a strong warm yellow color that was hot enough to burn a bit as it was swallowed. It tasted of the grasses that are smelled on a warm summer day.

After attending Peet’s, the next stop was a cupcake shop, Love at First Bite. These had some of the moistest cupcakes I have had. I had the great privilege of of having their mini strawberry cupcake, which was unique, as well as a red velvet cupcake from my lovely class to celebrate my birthday. Not only was the cupcakes able to crumble and dissolve in my mouth but the flavors I had received were not overwhelming and were perfectly sweet.

One of the places that will never escape my mind and taste was the Cheeseboard. They have one pizza a day that allowed for the flavors placed onto it to be separate identities that danced well together. The chefs use what is local and seasonal to help the flavors be enhanced. The pizza of the day when we went was cremini mushrooms, mozzarella cheese, basil, parmesan, pine nuts, garlic, and olive oil. There is no tomato sauce just the essence of the flavors infused into the warm cheesy pizza.

There are so many restaurants that were visited I wish I could return to and will in the future. These restaurants (minus Peet’s) all use local and every place visited is conscious about what they are giving their consumer.

 

Parents interview

I was able to interview both my Mom and Dad to see how their views differed. It came out to roughly the same conclusion…I was never a fan of seafood and I loved pasta.

Interview questions

1. What did I hate eating when I was younger? How did you deal with that?

2.  What did I love eating?

3.  Did you cook different things before you were married than after?

4. How has your relationship with food changed over the years?

5. How did you start cooking?what made you want to start?

6. What is your favorite meal to make?

7. What were my table manners like as a kid?

8. How was your parents? cooking?

9. What did your parents cook?

10. What are your favorite food memories of me growing up?

11. Why did you cook more than (other parent/person)?

12. Do you regret cooking or feeding me anything?

13. Is there a special food that reminds you of me?

14. Did you cook for me or for yourself? (Like ?Luxury,? where the mom

cooks for her kids and doesn’t cook her favorite meals anymore)

15. What foods did you stop cooking once you started a family?

16. How did you think you’d feed me when I was little, and did that change?

17. How would you rate yourself as a cook?

18. Did you have any kitchen disasters?

19. What do you hope I’ll cook when I have my own family?

20. Do you wish you made more of something that you don’t cook very often?

21. If you could have any meal (the ultimate meal) what would it be?

22. Do you enjoy cooking, or do you do it because you have to?

Mom Answers

1. You hated seafood.  I just never cooked it

2. Your favorite meal was pasta.

3. I changed my cooking slightly because of some allergies your dad had like walnuts and kiwi

4. I am more willing to try different foods now

5. I started baking when I was around 7 and cooking meals when I lived in an apartment in college.

6. My favorite meal to make is soup.

7. Your manners were excellent.

8. My parents cooking was quite simple, meat, vegetable and salad.

10. You never like to mix your food.  You never like breakfast and would not eat a typical lunch.  I had to make pasta.

14. I cooked for both of us.  I would incorporate foods we all liked.

Seafood

16. I never wanted to feed you any processed food.  I wanted to make all your food and I think I followed through with that in most cases.

20. I would cook more seafood and hope that you would begin to like it.

21. I like to cook.  I wish I had someone to clean up after for me. Ha!

22. You cook very healthily and I hope you continue.

Dad Answers

  1. Fish. You’d try it, but knew something was up even when I told you the ahe was “special chicken”.
  2. You loved everything (but fish), but pasta was your favorite (our spaghetti)
  3. I still have my favorites that are all made to taste.
  4. I am pretty picky…I only want to eat or drink calories that are high quality and taste good.
  5. In second grade my mom started teaching school, so I had to cook for my brothers and me. I hated T.V. dinners, so I began to cook food.
  6. Probably spaghetti, because the sauce is full of tastes I love- beef, onion, garlic, wine, tomato sauce and spices.
  7. You (and your sister) had great manners as a kid. We took you out to nice restaurants and you learned how to behave well.
  8. My mom was a great cook
  9. My mom cooked using a wide variety of her favorite recipes that included all types of foods, so we learned to eat everything.
  10. You would stand next to me in the kitchen and help-just like you do now. You loved to eat good food and you enjoy it so much- just like you do now.
  11. I enjoyed cooking and I love mixing flavors that compliment each other.
  12. I regret not actively introducing you to seafood. They represent wonderful meals in one of the freshest markets in the world.
  13. My spaghetti sauce reminds me of you. When I cook over an outside grill, you are standing next to me.
  14. I always cooked my favorite meals for you and me. We like the same things-
  15. When you were really young, foods had to be smoother and blander. It didn’t take long before you ere much more interested in what was on my plate.
  16. I think I’m a reasonably good cook, because I think my food tastes good. I believe that cooking simple is cooking good.

Chopped- Parmesan Goldfish, Heavy Whipping Cream, and Sriracha Sauce

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“Now open your baskets… and there is…parmesan goldfish, heavy whipping cream and sriracha.”  Although for the TV version of chopped there is a time limit to the preparation of each course, in my version there wasn’t a time limit and I only had one course to make. Well knowing that the only one to know if the dish turns out tasty or not was myself, it was still nerve racking. After receiving the ingredients on Monday from my lovely classmates, I immediately thought of the dish I was to make, excluding the sriracha since I had never heard of it before.

I went to the grocery store and after circling the isles I found the sriracha sauce and knew that I would need to take it home and try a bit to see what it tasted like. Once home I took a small bit on a spoon and tasted it… there was no taste but just spice from the pasty red sauce. I knew I would need to cut the spice with vinegar. I decided to create a sauce for a pounded, parmesan goldfish crusted fried chicken.

All the ingredients prepared

After pounding the chicken I whisked egg and the heavy whipping cream together to allow for the crushed goldfish mixed with some seasonings and parmesan cheese to enhance the cheese flavor allowing it to be more fresh then artificial. I then began heating a pan of oil to fry the chicken after dipping it into the egg and cream mixture and crusting it with the goldfish coating. To check if the oil was hot enough I sprinkled a couple drops of water over the oil to see if it crackled and popped. While the pan was heating with the vegetable oil I began to create the sriracha sauce. I mixed white vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, lime, and the spicy sriracha sauce.
Along with the main ingredients, composing the protein of the dish I ended up baking some butternut squash with olive oil, salt, pepper, and sage. I also made a salad with some avocado tomato and oil and vinegar dressing. I plated the dish and served it with a slice of lime by the brown crusted chicken.

Much to my surprise the chicken was moist and tasty. I did not feel as if I were eating the ingredients I was told to incorporate, which I saw as a good thing. There was the spice of the sririacha sauce and the salt of the parmesan goldfish with the creaminess of the whipping cream. These flavors all had distinct elements that I wanted to enhance which seemed to work very well.

Japantown Food Tour

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Japantown was an experience that was never an experience I thought would be on my bucket list, but some of the experience was surprising to me.The experience was somewhat eye opening with some dishes served that were expected. Once my carpool arrived we arrived at Yakiniq Cafe to get a warm mocha drink in the brisk San Francisco weather (that burned off soon after arriving). When arriving into the cafe, it was brought to my attention that this would be one of our tour stops, meaning I had the privilege to try two drinks. The first being the generic peppermint mocha, served in a bowl and tasting of holidays in a cup, the second being the signature sweet potato latte. The sweet potato latte was just sweet potato puree, simple sugar, and milk, very simple and very homey. The owner, Kristin, was served this drink by her mother when she was a child growing up in Korea.

The most unique dish that was consumed was Okonomiyaki from Mifune Don. It was served in an iron skillet right out of the oven. The first words out of the tour guides mouth was “I promise it is not alive.” This dish came out with what looked like flakes of onion skin swaying in the wind as waves do on a beach. We found the flakes were bonita flakes that sway when introduced to heat. It had every possible grilled meat in it such as scallops all the way to pork accompanied with ginger and tasting as a frittata. It was certainly interesting, but was daunting to taste.

My favorite of the restaurants visited was a Southern Indian inspired restaurant on Fillmore street, the outlying radius of Japantown. We were able to escape from the hustle bustle of the city into a calming and secluded restaurant, DOSA. This was some of the best Indian food I have had and brought warmth and a hearty meal to my stomach. We sat down at a table set for around 15 people and Masala Dosa was placed in front of everyone with a coconut chutney, tomato chutney, and a sambar sauce. The Dosa is known as street food and is an Indian crepe deep fried and filled with potato and curry. The Dosa is dipped in the sambar sauce and then into the tomato chutney allowing the shell to absorb the flavors that are infused into the soup and chutney.

Japantown was certainly an experience I was happy to partake on and certainly have my restaurants I want to go back to in the future. I pushed myself past my comfort this trip to try more food that normally I would be intimidated to try. I surprised myself with some and others I was reminded of why I was not fond of the flavors.

Kitchen Disasters

Opening the drawer, pulling out and separating the green hot pot holders to remove the chicken from the oven, one is continuously noticed to have a hole straight through it. When looking through the hot pot into the abyss behind, it fades to brown and then gradually into the quilted green when moving outward.

It all started one Friday night when I began baking cookies for some friends after dinner. I decided to preheat the oven and prepare the cookie dough batter while my three friends were all on the couch talking and laughing. I had begun to mix the dry ingredients together, flour and baking soda. After mixing the dry ingredients, I began with the wet, beating together the eggs, butter (salted), vanilla extract, brown and white sugar. After the two types of ingredients were mixed separately the dry ingredients are added to the wet and mixed well, adding the chocolate chips slowly.

I put the first batch of cookie dough into the oven and set the timer for 8 minutes knowing that they would come out a little gooey and warm chocolate chips. After the buzzer rang I placed the cookies on a cooling rack and prepared the baking sheet with another batch of cookies. Once I placed the cookies into the oven, using the hot pot holder, the timer set again, I placed the hot pot holder on the stove, not realizing it was left on from dinner. This mistake was not realized for another 8 minutes when the buzzer went off for the second time. I walked over to the stove, noticing there was a smell of burning fabric. There were no singe marks or fire until water was added… just the awful smell of burning fabric. I quickly placed the hot pot holder into the sink, which the water caused the fabric to disintegrate where it was scorched.

After the burning incident I realized that I needed to take the cookies out, which turned out perfectly, all keeping calm to not embarrass myself in the process. I do not think I have appreciated cookies as much as the time of this incident.

Tollhouse Cookie Recipe

Ingredients

  1. 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  3. 1 teaspoon salt
  4. 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  5. 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  6. 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  7. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  8. 2 large eggs

9 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) Nestle Tollhouse Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels

*No nuts because they take away from the sweet flavor of the cookies*

Directions

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chip morsels. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets (I usually use PAM baking spray).

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

*Do not put hot pots on the stove that is still on and hot!*

 

Mission Food Tour

Roxy's

Having not been exposed to many chef’s lives I have always thought that a goal of a chef would be to strive to be in charge of the fine dining kitchens. One aspect that I never realized until a food tour in the Mission District in San Francisco was how only a select population could eat at these restaurants which often excludes family and friends. Manny, currently the chef of Roxy’s, realized this and opened his own restaurant after being in the fine dining business for 13 years. He wanted to open a restaurant for hard working individuals to enjoy tasty food. This chef knows the meaning of hard work as his restaurant is a one-man show, showcasing the passion he has for his profession.

When the tour group walked into Roxy’s we were all greeted by Manny as he was opening for us before normal hours and preparing our food. The room was small and colorful with lime green painted walls. It was an open feel and warm like walking into grandma’s house. Manny was very personable and open about his cooking, using only fresh ingredients. He turned on what I later found out was boiling water for handmade gnocchi’s from yucca root. As he began to describe the food it made my mouth fill with saliva as the homemade bolognese sauce and the balsamic reduction were spoken of. He then garnished with a pinch of cheese and a dash of parsley served in what looked like a chinese soup spoon. As I took one of the gnocchi’s into my mouth it made my stomach warm and happy leading to a feeling of satisfaction and delight. The soft flavor of the gnocchi with the warm, meaty flavor of the bolognese and the sweet taste of the balsamic reduction all melted together in my mouth to leave me with a satisfying sense of joy.                      gnocchi!!!

If you want to visit Roxy’s Cafe you are able to stop by at 2847 Mission St (between 24th and 25th St) San Francisco, CA 94110. The phone number is (415) 615-0760.

memorable meal

When asked to write about my most memorable meal I initially had a hard time, thinking how so many memories involve meals. As I thought deeper I remember of a yearly tradition that is carried within my family, which is canning our own tomato sauce. My grandparents study the tomato prices until they are at their lowest price meaning the right season and ripeness. The family then chooses a Sunday to come together and the canning process begins early.  All the stoves are hot for can sterilization, tomato blanching and sauce simmering. After the tomatoes are blanched they are peeled then blended with some onion and garlic and placed in the pot for simmering. When it is simmering my Grandpa is in charge of adding some fennel, sugar, salt, and wine. The foam that is created is removed as the pot fills and simmers. When it has been cooking for some time the sauce begins to be added to the jars that have been sterilized. The rims are then cleaned and sealed. This process is repeated until all the tomatoes are gone (usually taking at least 5 hours for around 100 pounds) and the jars are put away and checked to make sure the caps have sealed.

spaghetti sauce jars

When we get to the last batch of sauce, it is used to make lunch for the family always spaghetti, this means another pot is placed on the stove to cook the pasta. As the water begins to heat olive oil is added to aide the bow tie pasta from sticking together. As a family member strains the pasta, I look in the fridge for the salad that my Grandma had made me the day before, mixing iceberg lettuce mix and tomatoes in a plastic red bowl. The salad dressing are all located in the door and Italian is always an option and is always what I have placed on my salad. The contrast of the warm bow tie spaghetti and the crisp salad have always complimented each other.

This tradition that my family has, always provides the most memorable meal. We have the hustle of the kitchen with all the family wearing Grandma and Grandpa’s old aprons. Even when eating the lunch when we are done everyone remains in these aprons until we are ready to leave because the energy previously expended did not leave enough until the spaghetti after was ingested.