30 June 2007

I Hate the Rich

I hate the rich. Mark Bittman, a food guy, writes:

"It seems it's necessary to visit Venice every few years"

I can't afford to go to Venice even once, let alone every few years. Thanks, Mark, for rubbing my nose in it.

"What I ate was super: black sea bass ravioli in mussel-clam broth, beautifully hand shaped and pinched on top, like dim sum; perfect black barley risotto with mushrooms, zucca (pumpkin) purée, and a couple of first-rate grilled scampi; grilled octopus on a bed of potatoes mashed with olive oil, along with cold, slow-cooked tomato — a surprising touch that worked — and a garnish of lardo (cured fat) tangled with a wafer of black bread; zucca saor (saor is the local marinade, usually of raisins, pine nuts, oil, vinegar and onion) with thin fried slices of artichoke and soft shell crab."

I know what zucca is, and I know what lardo is. I eat a lot of food that's "super," but I'll never get to Italy, my ancestral homeland.

Your obsession with black is freaking me out:
  • black sea bass ravioli
  • black barley risotto with mushrooms
  • a wafer of black bread
And how do you "tangle" bread with fat?

By the way, How to Cook Everything is my favorite cookbook.

29 June 2007

Puerto Rican Fruit Predudice

Does this guy hate Puerto Rican fruit?
  • Papaya: a dirty word in Cuba
  • Avocado: a chick fruit
  • Pineapple: like a retired uncle telling about the one that got away
  • Banana: Relegated to a lower class existence of crude, frat boy jokes and slapstick humor
These are all staple fruits in Puerto Rico (although I don't think any are native). We love the stuff.
  • Pineapple and Papaya: a little salt, and you're good to go. Best eaten immediately after picking.
  • Avocado: a great accompaniment to any meal. Slice and eat.
  • Banana: are you kidding?

Taking Food Saftey Too Seriously

The Department of Nutrition and Food Science College of Agriculture University of Kentucky seems to be a bit to cautious when it comes too food safety.

"The good news is this strain of E. coli is destroyed by heat.  Cooking ground beef products to 1600 F in the center will kill E. coli 0157:H7".

Just don't cook it in a glass baking dish: it will melt.

22 June 2007


Bacalaitos are salt cod fritters, a traditional Puerto Rican snack that we typically have as an entire meal. Bacalaitos are served at the beach, at ball games, and at festivals all over the island. Bacalaitos are crisp on the outside and dense and chewy in the inside. Many people use baking powder for a lighter fritter; we don't.

1/2 lb bacalao (dried salt cod) +
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup water
1 envelope Sazón *
vegetable oil for frying

  1. Soak the bacalao for 8 hours, or simmer in boiling water for 15 minute to remove some of the salt.
  2. Mix all ingredients to form a batter (about the consistency of pancake batter).
  3. Ladle the batter into a medium-hot frying pan with vegetable oil and cook until browned on both sides, turning once only.
+Bacalao is not the same as the Italian bacala, which is stiff as a board and requires a couple of days or more of soaking, with several changes of water. Bacalao is closer to ready-to-cook: it has been presoaked. Neither is it always cod. Cod supplies vary, so sometimes bacalao is pollack (a relative of cod).

*A 100% natural and organic product from Goya which contains mono sodium glutamate, salt, dehydrated garlic, cumin, yellow dye #5, tricalcium phosphate (an anti-caking agent), coriander, annatto (color), red dye #40.

21 June 2007

Distant Drums in the Distance

Mario Batali is not happy with some food bloggers.

Adam Roberts, aka "the Amateur Gourmet" rebuts this with supreme elegance, in his post "In Defense of Food Blogging":

"Because of our varying voices, our palpable passions, and—most important—our lack of editorial control, we are the distant drums in the distance growing closer and closer, our torches waving, our laptops poised for posting. Mario will disagree, but I think food blogs are the best thing to happen to food journalism in a long time."

Saint Christopher protect us! The drums are coming! They have torches, and they're waving them! The laptops are ready to post without human intervention! Soon, desktop computers will join them! And - most important - we have no editorial control!

Clearly, food blogs are "the best thing to happen to food journalism in a long time." If this doesn't convince Mario, well, I guess I don't know what will.

14 June 2007

Batali Talks About Blogs

Mario Batali writes a blog for

He makes a lot of good points, and though he's talking about food blogs, a lot of it applies to other blogs.

09 June 2007

Organic Beer

There is a growing market for organic beer these days. Is that a good thing?

Probably not. In order to be labeled "organic." a product must contain 95% organic ingredients.

As reported in the LA Times, Anheuser-Busch is now marketing Wild Hop lager, an "organic" beer that contains hops grown the conventional way: with chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

  • Update 25 July 2007: To their credit, Anheuser-Busch has apparently found a source, and now uses 100% organic hops in Wild Hop.

The USDA is in the process of evaluating 38 other non-organic ingredients that could go into organic foods. Only foods and beverages labeled "100% organic" are truly organic. So a sausage made with 100% organic meat but non-organic casing can be labeled "organic."

Kind of defeats the purpose, don't it?

02 June 2007

Papaya y Medalla

For you gringos, papaya rhymes with Medalla, a popular beer on the island. I don't usually drink beer when I'm eating papaya: the beer is there to show scale.

There are lots of varieties of papaya here, but these are probably descendant of the Mexican type. Our neighbor has a few papaya trees, and lets us take what we want. The big one in the picture is 17 inches long.

We're big fans of papaya, either as a snack, or made into a smoothie.

Here's a smoothie recipe:

2 cups chopped peeled papayas
1 cup mango
1 ripe banana
1/2 cup yogurt
1 tablespoon honey
juice of 1/2 lemon or lime

Mix in a blender until smooth.