Posts Tagged ‘food’

One mulberry, and they’re carried home (Wash Post)

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010


[Editor’s note: Food geography mixed with migration and sense of place = psychogeography!]

Republished from The Washington Post.

In Washington, mulberry trees offer many immigrants a taste of home
By Tara Bahrampour

The rush-hour rainstorm didn’t faze Sara Shokravi as she parked in Rosslyn, ducked into a Starbucks restroom to change out of her work clothes and marched down to a narrow offramp that feeds motorists onto the Key Bridge. Ignoring the cars that splashed water onto the grass, Shokravi, a 27-year-old consultant, pulled out a plastic bag, stopped at a tree laden with red and black berries, and started picking.

It would not have been a strange sight in her native Iran, where at this time of year entire families can be seen at laying out bedsheets and shaking trees to collect the berries, which they eat fresh, dried or blended into juice. Here, she acknowledged, her foraging prompts “funny looks. This is D.C. — people aren’t going to go out of their way to get something if it’s not in a store.”

They don’t know what they’re missing, say mulberry fans, most of whom are immigrants. Just the sight of fruit-laden trees can conjure up sweet memories for people who grew up in the Middle East, Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Far East.

Continue reading at The Washington Post . . .

With Flights Grounded, Kenya’s Produce Wilts (NY Times)

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010


[Editor’s note: Travelers might be inconvenienced by the recent volcanic ash plume shutting down air traffic over Europe but lack of transport also affects our global just-in-time food supply chain, as this article from the New York Times highlights. Photo by Jehad Nga. Thanks K!]

Republished from the New York Times.
By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN. Published: April 19, 2010

NAIROBI, Kenya — When Kenneth Maundu, general manager for Sunripe produce exporters, first heard about a volcano erupting in Iceland, he was excited. “I thought, ‘Oh, wow, a volcano,’ ” he said.

And then reality hit him in the face like a hurled tomato.

Because Kenya’s gourmet vegetable and cut-flower industry exports mainly to Europe, and because the cloud of volcanic ash has grounded flights to much of northern Europe since Thursday, its horticultural business has been waylaid as never before.

On Monday, Mr. Maundu stared at the towering wreckage: eight-feet-tall heaps of perfectly good carrots, onions, baby sweet corn and deliciously green sugar snap peas being dumped into the back of a pickup truck.

“Cow food,” he said, shaking his head. “That’s about all we can do with it now.”

If farmers in Africa’s Great Rift Valley ever doubted that they were intricately tied into the global economy, they know now that they are. Because of a volcanic eruption more than 5,000 miles away, Kenyan horticulture, which as the top foreign exchange earner is a critical piece of the national economy, is losing $3 million a day and shedding jobs.

Continue reading at the New York Times . . .

What’s Cooking on Thanksgiving (NY Times)

Friday, December 11th, 2009

[Editor’s note: This series of small choropleth interactive maps from Matthew Ericson and Amanda Cox back on Thanksgiving day show regional patterns of what Americas are eating where. One holiday down, another to go. Thanks Kristin and Martin!]

Republished from the New York Times.

As cooks turn to the Web for Thanksgiving recipes, the terms they enter into search engines can provide clues to what dishes are being cooked around the nation. On Wednesday on, “sweet potato casserole” was by far the most common search term nationwide. It was tops in 36 of the 50 states and easily outpaced the No. 2 entry, “pumpkin pie.” |Related Article »


Marinated in the Morning, Grilled at Night: The Charms of Peru’s Fusion Cuisine (Wash Post)

Friday, May 1st, 2009

perufood1 perufood2

[Editor’s note: Food is one of the perfect intersections of physical and cultural geography. This article from The Washington Post last month highlights how Peru’s location and cultural heritage intertwine to bring us a special cuisine enjoyable when traveling afar or at your local cheap eat.]

Republished from The Washington Post.

By Jane Black Wednesday, April 1, 2009; Page F01.

LIMA, Peru — It’s usually the sneakers that give Americans away when they travel abroad. But here, it’s what you eat — and when you eat it. Only tourists would think of ordering ceviche after 2 p.m. If the fish, which is “cooked” in a marinade of lime juice, onion and chili peppers, has been out of the water for more than 12 hours, most Peruvians turn up their noses. It simply isn’t fresh enough.

It’s easy for Peruvians to be particular about their seafood. Fed by the icy, nutrient-rich Humboldt Current, the waters off the Peruvian coast are the most bountiful fishing grounds in the world. Which is why, seven days a week, starting at 4 a.m., fishermen at the Villa Maria market in Lima hawk Dover sole for ceviche, plus red snapper, tuna, scallops, squid and octopus just hours out of the sea.

Eating ceviche, the South American country’s best-known dish, is a must in Lima. But there’s so much more: tiraditos, a Peruvian take on sashimi; Chinese stir-fries spiked with Peruvian chili peppers; and sushi rolls filled with scallop and Parmesan cheese, a favorite combination in Lima.

“Right now, people want to discover new flavors,” says Peru’s most famous chef, Gaston Acurio, who owns 29 restaurants around the world. If the Japanese could persuade the world to embrace raw fish and seaweed, he reasons, “why can’t we dream of doing the same with Peruvian food?”

Peru’s campaign is well underway. In 2006, Acurio, 41, reportedly wowed the crowd at the prestigious Madrid Fusion culinary conference, which anointed Lima “the gastronomic capital of Latin America.” More recently, chefs such as Todd English and food magazines have declared it the next big thing, praising the diverse ingredients and creative combinations of flavors. (Indeed, Peruvian cuisine might finally be the thing to redeem “fusion,” which has been a dirty word in culinary circles ever since the 1990s brought us sesame-crusted everything.)

Hundreds of years of immigration have created a natural fusion of Spanish, Italian, Chinese and Japanese influences. A wave of Chinese arrived in the 1850s to help build the railroads, bringing with them ingredients such as soy sauce and wok-cooking techniques. The Japanese came in the early 20th century to work on sugar and cotton plantations, and, according to the indispensable food guide “Eat Smart in Peru” (Ginkgo Press, 2006), they were instrumental in transforming ceviche from home cooking to restaurant fare. Asian influences are especially pronounced in Lima.

On the southern coast, where the Spanish brought African slaves, popular dishes include carapulcra, a stew of pork, dried potatoes and peanuts. In the Andes, the pre-colonial cuisine showcases such meats as alpaca and guinea pig, as well as potatoes, which originated in the area more than 7,000 years ago.

At the heart of all Peruvian cooking are its chili peppers, or ajis (ah-HEES). There are dozens, if not hundreds, of ajis from the western slopes of the Andes and the jungle. The three most popular are aji amarillo, a delicate but piquant pepper that is a must in ceviche; aji panca, an earthy dried chili; and aji rocoto, a fiery chili that is commonly stuffed with meat and cheese for a dish called rocoto relleno, or added to spice up soups and sauces.

Continue readin at The Washington Post . . .

Interactive San Francisco Airport Map (Kelso)

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009


[Editor’s note: I happened on this interactive map from the San Francisco airport when I flew thru SFO this past weekend as I bid adieu to my California vacation. There is an airport overview and maps of each terminal. Gates, stores, food options, restrooms, and other features are located. Each feature is interactive with a tooltip and small description, including open hours for businesses, and full description in the bottom left corner. Category searches are available in the top left corner and the map will highlight with the appropriate location(s).]

Interact with the original at FlySFO . . .


Detail of map above shows result of a food and beverage category querry for the restraunt name.

Tasty: Community Supported Fishery (Wash Post)

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

[Editor’s note: I’ve enjoyed a CSA share (community supported agriculture) the last year and a half here in DC. Its like shopping at a farmers market but directly with a single farmer and he delivers either to your house or a neighborhood drop box. The produce is always fresh and there are even variants that deliver dairy and meat. You pay the farmer up front and get a guaranteed supply of great food at a competitive price. The farmer doesn’t have to worry about finding buyers or dealing as much with banks (since the middle man is cut out and he doesn’t have to take out as many loans to cover the first part of the season), and gets to concentrate on their crops. And it’s totally eco-grovey where you buy local and have a smaller carbon footprint. Now this idea is coming to a fish counter near you.]

Republished from The Washington Post. Related recipees.

Here’s the Catch
The best idea to help small fisheries might come from your local vegetable farm.

By Nancy Harmon Jenkins. Special to The Washington Post. Wednesday, January 14, 2009; F01

PORT CLYDE, Maine — The idea of a community-supported fishery seems so obvious, you have to wonder why it took so long. The equivalent approach to farming, after all, is nothing new and has seen explosive growth in recent years, as farmers appreciate an upfront infusion of cash when they need it most, from consumers who get a guaranteed stream of produce throughout the season.

Maybe it took this long for fishermen to try the same thing for one simple reason: They may be geniuses at harvesting from the sea, but they haven’t until recently given much thought to marketing what they catch.

To survive, though, they must sell at a decent price, and that’s where the community-supported fishery (CSF) idea comes in. Similar efforts are happening in other coastal areas around the country, but the purest expression of the concept may be taking shape in this sweet little port on the southwestern shore of Maine’s Penobscot Bay, where the fishermen have organized Port Clyde Fresh Catch, a novel way to buy fish and to market the catch of the Midcoast Fishermen’s Association’s 24 fishing members.

In summer they fish for cod, haddock, hake and the like (conventionally called groundfish) out in the Gulf of Maine, but at this midwinter point, the Port Clyders work closer to shore, harvesting shrimp. And not just any shrimp, but boatloads of small, sweet, pink Maine shrimp, a little-known seafood that is as much a gustatory joy of this state’s winters as lobster is in summer.

As delicious a product as it is, in the past the fishermen have been paid as little as 25 cents a pound for it, a price that doesn’t even begin to cover the cost of a fishing trip. Clearly, something had to happen, or there would be no more fishermen in Port Clyde.

Incredible as it seems, this community of just over 1,000 is the second-largest fishing port in Maine and the seventh-largest north of New Jersey. That’s an indication of the extent to which East Coast fisheries have failed in recent decades, their decline caused by the collapse of stocks in the North Atlantic and, fishermen say, by stringent environmental regulations aimed at rebuilding them. Many fishing grounds have been put completely off limits, and fishing gear, catch allotments and days at sea are severely limited and monitored. And still, regulators say, fishing stocks are in peril.

Fishermen, and their many defenders, say the rules are overly restrictive, ultimately futile and perhaps even part of the problem. The regulation, they say, has had an unintended consequence: driving out community-based fishermen, who are more attuned to the resources and the need to protect them, in favor of less-sensitive commercial trawlers. According to Philip Conkling, director of the Island Institute, a nonprofit organization in nearby Rockland that works to sustain communities around the Gulf of Maine, the system “rewards the biggest, least-conservation-oriented vessels that can roam throughout the gulf and to the outer banks, at the expense of community-based vessels that lack political representation at the decision-making level” of fisheries management.

Whether fishing for shrimp or groundfish, Port Clyde fishermen are committed, in the words of their association’s mission statement, to enhancing “ecological and financial sustainability of the fishery while minimizing habitat impacts with alternative fishing practices.” They use environmentally friendly gear developed in collaboration with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland.

“It’s what’s called a raised foot rope trawl,” explained Glen Libby, chairman of the fishermen’s association. The technology, he said, “keeps the ground line or foot rope off the bottom. The sweep does touch bottom, but only every two or three feet of the length of the sweep due to the way it is designed.” Unlike conventional draggers that scrape the bottom barren, like clear-cutting a swath of forest, this technique is “very clean — as in low-bycatch, low-habitat-impact,” Libby says. “We also use a fish excluder device called a Nordmore grate that eliminates most of the bycatch of fish, lobsters, et cetera.”

Ultimately, the effort is about sustaining not just the fish but also a generations-old tradition that is rapidly disappearing along the Maine coast. And that effort is all about the ability to make a living. If he’s lucky, a Port Clyde fisherman who sells groundfish to a wholesale dealer might get 50 cents a pound for his fresh catch; selling through the CSF directly to consumers, whether individuals or restaurants, he’s paid about $3 a pound. That’s something a man can live on, raise a family on, use to pay off the mortgage on house or boat. (I say “man” because the Port Clyde fishermen are all guys, though ably assisted on shore by girlfriends, mothers, daughters and wives; Kim Libby, married to Glen’s brother Gary, is business manager of Port Clyde Fresh Catch.)

The idea behind the CSF goes back to the Libby brothers’ sense, in Glen’s words, that “30 years ago there was a lot more fish, and the gear was a lot less high-tech. So maybe we should take a step back and lighten things up.” They were convinced that the only way to save the fishery was to fish more sustainably, which meant harvesting fewer fish but better-quality ones that would command a higher price from savvy consumers.


Fed Up by Food Prices, Many Grow It Alone (WaPo)

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

Continuing the omnibus “Geography Matters” series:

Fed Up by Food Prices, Many Grow It Alone
Gardens Gaining Ground Nationwide

By Robin Shulman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 3, 2008; Page A01

NEW YORK — Just beneath an L train subway platform in Brooklyn, Tanika Gentry fingers the deep green leaves of a collard plant in the black soil of a community garden.

This is dinner.

Gentry, fed up with the spiking cost of food, recently decided to grow her own. Now she is reaping a harvest of collards, cabbages, tomatoes and pumpkins to feed her family.

“Once you have to choose between eating and fuel, there’s nothing greater than going back to the beginning and making your own,” said Gentry, 32, who home-schools her two daughters. “With the way things are going, it may be something a lot more people are realistically doing.”

From Atlanta to Minneapolis to Seattle, people are reacting to the stagnant economy and the high cost of produce by planting their own fruits and vegetables, say garden store owners, bulk seed sellers and industry analysts.

In the skyscrapered canyons of New York City, increasing numbers of people are growing their food on fire escapes, on rooftops, in back yards and in community gardens.

It is a phenomenon that has always ebbed and flowed with the economy, said Bruce Butterfield, the market research director of the National Gardening Association, who has been tracking it for decades. The biggest recent peak in homegrown food came in 1975, during a national oil crisis, he said, when 49 percent of U.S. households were growing vegetables.

Continue reading at Washington Post . . .

wapo gardenPedaling the Local Food Movement
Three D.C. Women Take a Three-Month Bike Trip to Montreal to Document Community Agriculture Efforts

By Adrian Higgins
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 24, 2008; Page H01

Where do gardening, small-scale agriculture and the future of planet Earth converge? For three Washington women, it’s on a road less traveled, on byways unseen from the gotta-get-there, high-speed chaos of the interstate.

It has been a year since Lara Sheets, 26, Liz Tylander, 25, and Kat Shiffler, 24, climbed on their bicycles in Mount Pleasant and pedaled north, eventually to Montreal. Along the way they visited thriving inner-city gardens, innovative suburban farms and rooftop vegetable plots as they chronicled a grass-roots movement seeking to change the way we put food on our table.

The result is a low-budget documentary, “Garden Cycles Bike Tour,” which captures the spirit of their unusual 2,000-mile sojourn and the much larger movement that inspired it. The trip has also generated a Web site and blog,

In the course of their three-month odyssey, the women found a community garden in the gutted ghettos of Baltimore, were run off the road by a truck in New Jersey, abandoned efforts to cycle across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York and got hopelessly lost in New England towns. They slept in the gardens of strangers, discovered new ethnic food and recipes and cemented their desire to change the world by growing vegetables.

Continue reading at Washington Post . . .

Red-Hot Chilies, Hold the Yak (Washington Post)

Saturday, June 21st, 2008

(Editor’s note: sign me up for any “explore the world thru food” class! One of the geography profs at Humboldt State specialized in this type of sensory geography before he retired. I hear his classes were popular, no wonder why! I seem to be the only traveler who actually enjoyed Tibetan yak butter tea. I image Bhutan’s is similar.)

By Emily Wax. Published by The Washington Post on Saturday, 21 June 2008.

An Eye-Watering Taste Of Bhutan’s Unique Cuisine

At the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, attendees will have the chance to taste dishes from Bhutan, food renowned … for its utter strangeness.

VIDEO: A Taste of Bhutanese Cuisine

bhutan chileAh . . . steaming plates of chilies swimming in yak cheese. Tea churned with butter and salt. Gooey boiled ferns.

These are some highlights of the traditional diet of Bhutan — a tiny Himalayan nation nestled between the two culinary and geographic giants of China and India. It’s a gastronomy that is little known but often disparaged: Gourmet magazine editor Ruth Reichl has been quoted as calling Bhutan’s “the world’s worst cuisine.”

And you can try it for yourself next week, when Bhutan will be the featured nation at the 42nd annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival, beginning Wednesday on the Mall. Dorjee Tshering, director of Bhutan’s department of culture, can hardly wait for you to have the experience.

Continue reading on . . .

An Unlikely Way to Save a Species: Serve It for Dinner (NY Times)

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

(Kim Severson, 30 April 2008) A new book, “Renewing America’s Food Traditions” by Gary Paul Nabhan, profiles 93 foods once common in American kitchens but now in danger of disappearing. Some are livestock breeds or varieties of crop plants; others are wild species such as the Carolina flying squirrel. The book organizes the foods by gastronomic regions, which are shown on the map below. (Interactive version here.)

ny times dead food

SOME people would just as soon ignore the culinary potential of the Carolina flying squirrel or the Waldoboro green neck rutabaga. To them, the creamy Hutterite soup bean is too obscure and the Tennessee fainting goat, which keels over when startled, sounds more like a sideshow act than the centerpiece of a barbecue.

But not Gary Paul Nabhan. He has spent most of the past four years compiling a list of endangered plants and animals that were once fairly commonplace in American kitchens but are now threatened, endangered or essentially extinct in the marketplace. He has set out to save them, which often involves urging people to eat them.

Mr. Nabhan’s list, 1,080 items and growing, forms the basis of his new book, an engaging journey through the nooks and crannies of American culinary history titled “Renewing America’s Food Traditions: Saving and Savoring the Continent’s Most Endangered Foods” (Chelsea Green Publishing, $35).

Read the Related Article »

Buying Organic – Who’s Behind Your Food?

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

Eating organic might not be so alternative now the large food conglomerates have gotten into the game. See which of the country’s largest food producers are behind your favorite organic snacks in this graphic spread. By Phil Howard in this month’s GOOD magazine. View the entire graphic on their site.

buy organic companies