Quotulatiousness

January 13, 2018

Fast Food – Would You Like Capitalism With That? I THE COLD WAR

Filed under: Business, Economics, History — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

IT’S HISTORY
Published on 8 Jul 2015

A city that is not plastered with branches of US Fast Food chains is a rare sight nowadays. That wasn’t always the case. Fast Food, as we know it today, is a child of the economic boom after World War 2. Taking your new car for a ride to the Drive-In restaurant and getting a fresh burger; that’s the American Dream right there. Ultimately the concept of identical taste and identical manufacturing steps is one thing: pure capitalism. Food chains keep wages and costs as low as possible and that is why Fast Food is not nearly as glamorous today as it once was. So put down that Hamburger and find out all about the history of Fast Food with Guy on IT’S HISTORY.

Big Mac Index: http://bit.ly/TheBIGMACIndex

December 31, 2017

Who Invented Hawaiian Pizza?

Filed under: Cancon, Europe, History — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Today I Found Out
Published on 4 Dec 2017

In this video:

On June 8, 2017, Greek-born, Canadian-bred pizza maker Sam Panopoulos died. His career slinging pies was rather unremarkable save for one notable thing – he was the inventor of the popular, yet infamous pineapple-topped “Hawaiian Pizza,” named as such because of the brand of canned fruit he used. Loved by some and hated by others, the sweet and salty pizza is so controversial that it once triggered an argument between friendly nations. While such arguments rage on both sides of it being a delicacy or an abomination, the fact is that the Hawaiian pizza is actually not Hawaiian – it’s Canadian. Here now is the story of pizza and the man who decided to add pineapples to it.

Want the text version?: http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.p…

December 26, 2017

QotD: Most consumers say they want local-grown food, but won’t pay the costs to get it

Filed under: Business, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Food grown locally, on small-lot farms without modern chemical assistance, is really expensive. The complex modern food-supply chain that ensures restaurants and food processors can get the same consistent mix of staple ingredients year-round also relentlessly beats down the price of food, sourcing wherever supply is cheapest, redistributing temporary local abundance to a steady global diet of everyday low prices. This is also not such a terrible way to eat; it is the foundation of much of our modern prosperity. But it is not local, artisanal, organic. It is global, industrial, indifferent. It has to be, both because organic inputs are much more expensive, and because trying to separate and track all the food so that restaurateurs can be sure of provenance and process would mean abandoning many of the efficiencies that make the stuff so cheap.

And Americans expect cheap. Cheap, after all, is what makes it possible for us to spend so much money at restaurants; if we had to pay all the workers $20 an hour and ensure that all our meat and produce had been farmed in the latest and most approved 19th-century methods, few of us could afford to have weekly dining out in our budget. Restaurants might be more authentic, delicious, moral places. They would also be much emptier ones.

Reading the Tampa Bay Times article, you get the sense that many of these restaurateurs tried to provide an authentic farm-to-table experience and found that customers were not willing to pay what it would cost — in money or variety — to have one. People are probably willing to pay some premium for that kind of food, but the premium is probably closer to 10 to 15 percent than it is to the sky-high sums that it would actually cost to rely on those sorts of farms, those sorts of methods. So the restaurateurs inevitably sold them what they were happily willing to pay for: food from an industrial supply chain, with a side of moral satisfaction.

It’s hard to be too angry at consumers. To be sure, they probably should have known that you couldn’t really buy organic, locally sourced food year-round at just a smidge more than you’d pay for a regular meal. After all, the average American spent half their income on food in 1900, while the modern American now spends a paltry 12 percent, even including a lavish helping of restaurant meals. That should give us some sign that local, artisanal food is not going to be cheap. But most Americans are not economic historians.

But it’s not even that easy to be mad at the restaurants. They’re in a viciously competitive business where most places don’t survive. In a competitive equilibrium where so many people want to be told they’re eating farm-fresh food — and so few people seem willing to pay for it — many of them probably feel that their choice is “lie or die.”

Megan McArdle, “Dining Out on Empty Virtue”, Bloomberg View, 2016-04-15.

December 8, 2017

QotD: Why mid-20th century Americans ate what they did – 7

Filed under: Economics, Health, History, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Entertaining was mandatory [in the 1950s]. Because people didn’t go to restaurants so much, they spent time having people over, or eating at someone else’s house. If someone had you over, you had to have them over. This meant people had to have “company dinners” they could make, or at least a stock of canapés they could throw together for a cocktail party, even if they weren’t very good at it. Cue the weird focus on prettying everything up, more than occasionally to the detriment of the food itself: if you can’t make it good, you can at least make it pretty, to show people you made an effort.

Megan McArdle, “Friday Food Post: The Economics Behind Grandma’s Tuna Casseroles”, Bloomberg View, 2015-10-30.

December 7, 2017

QotD: Why mid-20th century Americans ate what they did – 6

Filed under: Economics, Health, History, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Look at the sources of our immigrants. Immigration is still the major way that countries get new foods (if you don’t believe me, go out for Mexican food in any European country and report back). With the notable exception of the Italians, in the 19th century, most immigrants were from places with short growing seasons and bland cuisines, heavy on the cream and carbohydrates. After we restricted immigration in the 1920s, that’s what we were left with until immigrants started coming again in the 1960s. Of course, Louisiana had good French food, California and Texas had a Mexican influence, but by and large what we ate in 1960 was about what you’d expect from a German/English/Irish/Eastern European culinary heritage, adapted for modern convenience foods. And people liked it for the same reason I like jello salad: It’s what they were used to.

Megan McArdle, “Friday Food Post: The Economics Behind Grandma’s Tuna Casseroles”, Bloomberg View, 2015-10-30.

December 6, 2017

QotD: Why mid-20th century Americans ate what they did – 5

Filed under: Economics, Health, History, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

There were a lot of bad cooks around. These days, people who don’t like to cook, or aren’t good at it, mostly don’t. They can serve a rich variety of prepared foods, and enjoy takeout and restaurants. Why would you labor over something you hate, when someone else will sell you something better for only slightly more than it would cost you to make something bad?

In 1950, the answer was “because we’re not made of money.” A restaurant meal was a special treat, not a nightly event, and prepared foods were not so widely available, in part because women tended not to work, but also because food processing technology was so advanced. So women had to cook whether they liked it or not. Many of them didn’t like it, so they looked for ways to reduce the labor involved. And it’s far from obvious that what they did with those shortcuts was worse than what they would have done without them. Think of the kind of casserole a bad cook might have made without canned soup and frozen vegetables. She’d probably have boiled the vegetables, because that’s the easiest way to prepare them, and boiled them to death, because she wasn’t too fussy about timing. (Out of season, those vegetables would have been limited to a few hearty root vegetables.) If there was a sauce, it probably would have been horrible. Let’s not even start on what she might have done with the meat. Canned soup and frozen vegetables start sounding pretty good.

That was the baseline most people were working off. They were not comparing what they ate to what they might have gotten at a good restaurant; they were comparing it to what they would have gotten without the shortcuts, because, to reiterate, most of them rarely ate at a good restaurant.

Modern food writing has an enormous selection bias. The median cookbook reader is a much better cook, and much more interested in food, than the median audience of recipes from decades past. The bad cooks, the indifferent cooks, the folks with the cast iron palates and Teflon stomachs, are all off doing something else. And since good cooks tend to raise good cooks, the median food writer waxing lyrical about Grandma’s homemade beef stew doesn’t realize just how many bad cooks were around. Or that recipes needed to be written for them, because however limited their talents or interest, they still had to put a meal on the table every night. A lot of terribly mediocre recipes are floating around from the era, and that’s exactly what most of the terribly mediocre cooks were looking for.

Megan McArdle, “Friday Food Post: The Economics Behind Grandma’s Tuna Casseroles”, Bloomberg View, 2015-10-30.

December 5, 2017

QotD: Why mid-20th century Americans ate what they did – 4

Filed under: Economics, Health, History, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

The foods of today’s lower middle class are the foods of yesterday’s tycoons. Before the 1890s, gelatin was a food that only rich people could regularly have. It had to be laboriously made from irish moss, or calf’s foot jelly (a disgusting process), or primitive gelatin products that were hard to use. The invention of modern powdered gelatin made these things not merely easy, but also cheap. Around 1900, people were suddenly given the tools to make luxury foods. As with modern Americans sticking a flat panel television in every room, they went a bit wild. As they did again when refrigerators made frozen delights possible. As they did with jarred mayonnaise, canned pineapple, and every other luxury item that moved down-market.

Of course, they still didn’t have a trained hired cook at home, so the versions that made their way into average homes were not as good as the versions that had been served at J.P. Morgan’s table in 1890. But it was still exciting to be able to have a tomato aspic for lunch, in the same way modern foodies would be excited if they found a way to pull together Nobu’s menu in a few minutes, for a few cents a serving.

Over time, the ubiquity of these foods made them déclassé. Just as rich people stopped installing wall-to-wall carpeting when it became a standard option in tract homes, they stopped eating so many jello molds and mayonnaise salads when they became the mainstay of every church potluck and school cafeteria. That’s why eating those items now has a strong class connotation.

Megan McArdle, “Friday Food Post: The Economics Behind Grandma’s Tuna Casseroles”, Bloomberg View, 2015-10-30.

December 4, 2017

QotD: Why mid-20th century Americans ate what they did – 3

Filed under: Economics, Health, History, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

People were poorer. Household incomes grew enormously, and as they did, food budgets shrank relative to the rest of our consumption. People in the 1960s also liked steak and chicken breasts better than frankfurters and canned meats. But most of them couldn’t afford to indulge their desires so often.

The same people who chuckle at the things done with cocktail franks and canned tuna will happily eat something like the tripe dishes common in many ethnic cuisines. Yet tripe has absolutely nothing to recommend it as a food product, except that it is practically free; almost anything you cooked with tripe would be just as good, if not better, without the tripe in it. If you understand why folks ate Trippa alla Romana, you should not be confused about the tuna casserole or the creamed chipped beef on toast.

Megan McArdle, “Friday Food Post: The Economics Behind Grandma’s Tuna Casseroles”, Bloomberg View, 2015-10-30.

December 3, 2017

QotD: Why mid-20th century Americans ate what they did – 2

Filed under: Economics, Health, History, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

A lot of the ingredients we take for granted were expensive and hard to get. Off-season, fresh produce was elusive: The much-maligned iceberg lettuce was easy to ship, and kept for a long time, making it one of the few things you could reliably get year round. Spices were more expensive, especially relative to household incomes. You have a refrigerator full of good-looking fresh ingredients, and a cabinet overflowing with spices, not because you’re a better person with a more refined palate; you have those things because you live in 2015, when they are cheaply and ubiquitously available. Your average housewife in 1950 did not have the food budget to have 40 spices in her cabinets, or fresh green beans in the crisper drawer all winter.

Megan McArdle, “Friday Food Post: The Economics Behind Grandma’s Tuna Casseroles”, Bloomberg View, 2015-10-30.

December 2, 2017

QotD: Why mid-20th century Americans ate what they did – 1

Filed under: Economics, Health, History, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Most people are not that adventurous; they like what’s familiar. American adults ate what they did in the 1950s because of what their parents had served them in the 1920s: bland, and heavy on preserved foods like canned pineapple and mayonnaise.

Megan McArdle, “Friday Food Post: The Economics Behind Grandma’s Tuna Casseroles”, Bloomberg View, 2015-10-30.

November 17, 2017

Is There Any Cheese in Cheez Whiz? (And the Story of Kraft)

Filed under: Business, Cancon, History, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Today I Found Out
Published on 5 Nov 2017

In this video:

As America gets ready for their upcoming Super Bowl parties (or Royal Rumble party, if that’s your thing), Cheez Whiz – the yellowish-orange, gooey, bland tasting “cheese” product – will surely make an appearance at some of them. But what is Cheez Whiz? Why did get it invented? And is there really cheese in Cheez Whiz?

Want the text version?: http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2015/01/cheese-cheez-whiz/

November 16, 2017

15 British Sweets Everyone Should Try – Anglophenia Ep 22

Filed under: Britain — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Anglophenia
Published on 7 Jan 2015

From Cadbury Flake to jelly babies, Siobhan Thompson shows us the British candies we should all try at least once.

November 12, 2017

The great “bitter versus sweet” war

Filed under: Health, Randomness, Science, USA — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Megan McArdle is trapped behind enemy lines in the latest outbreak of the great taste war:

At this point I should put my cards on the table: Geographically and demographically, I belong in bitter country. But I am an exile-in-residence, because bitter foods make me wince.

I mean that literally. Really bitter things — a Negroni, say — produce in me a physical aversion that is close to pain. Black coffee I find merely extraordinarily unpleasant, and hoppy beer is just barely endurable. If I really had to endure it. Say, if consuming a bottle of IPA were the only way to save a busload of orphans who had been kidnapped by a beer snob.

Given where I live here in Washington, DC, and my known interest in food, the presumption of the bitter evangelists is that I must simply need re-education. I have been subjected to many hours of lectures on how I just need to clear my palate from all the sweet garbage I’m used to, so that I can appreciate the subtle joys of bitterness. I have refrained from suggesting that they hold still while I teach them to enjoy the subtle joys of being repeatedly kicked in the shins.

For over years of learning about food — and living with a bitter-loving craft cocktail enthusiast — I’ve come to realize that my aversion to bitter foods is almost certainly genetic. The Romans who coined the adage “de gustibus non est disputandum” were righter than they knew; science now tells us that there is indeed no sense arguing over taste, because you’re not going to change someone’s genome. Many seemingly mystifying divides over foods like cilantro come from the fact that some people have taste receptors that others don’t. If you have no receptors for the “soapy” compound in cilantro, this herb adds a marvelously tangy note to a dish. If you have those receptors, anything cooked with it tastes like Irish Spring en cocotte.

In my case, I probably have more bitter receptors than most people, so that a drink my husband finds intriguingly astringent would hit me like a punch to the tongue. I can no more get over my instinct to spit out bitter foods than he could get over his instinct to take his hand off a hot stove.

November 5, 2017

Binging with Babish: Turkish Delight from Chronicles of Narnia

Filed under: Randomness — Tags: — Nicholas @ 02:00

Binging with Babish
Published on 24 Oct 2017

The Chronicles of Narnia is a series of books known for their talking fauna, religious overtones, and sickly sweets offered up by the White Witch, Jadis. Turkish Delight may be a delight for some accustomed palates, but can be fancifully altered with a number of different flavor concentrates. Whip up a batch to coerce and manipulate the black sheep of your choosing today.

October 29, 2017

The Poutine crisis – “Toronto is living a cheese curd lie”

Filed under: Cancon, Randomness — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Toronto loves to adopt anything trendy and try to claim it as its own. Poutine, an imported delicacy from Quebec, early on was lovingly described as “the culinary equivalent of having unprotected sex with a stripper in the parking lot of a truck stop in eastern Quebec”, yet has been culturally appropriated as part of Toronto’s myriad of “local” dishes. Yet, according to this explosive investigatory report by Jake Edmiston, the so-called poutine that Toronto loves is … falsely labelled, inadequate, lacking a key component:

Some time ago, I realized that in Toronto, the cheese curds do not squeak. And cheese curds that do not squeak are a dangerous thing. They can trick you into thinking that cheese curds are just chopped-up cheese. The whole idea, to those unlucky enough to have never had a good one, must seem absurd: Eating cheese by itself, piece by piece in the same compulsive way that someone eats more chips than they need.

Think of the nightmare lived by a man scouring a city for chips that crunch but finding each bag stale. I am him.

As food-obsessed as it is, Toronto is living a cheese curd lie. It’s not always a popular assessment, though. One local cheesemonger took it rather badly.

“Who said that?” Afrim Pristine, the maître fromager at Cheese Boutique, demanded over the phone earlier this month.

“I say that,” I replied.

“You say that?” he said, confused. “Have you been to the Cheese Boutique?”

“I haven’t had your cheese curds yet.”

“So why would you say that?”

“I haven’t said it in print yet. I’m just saying that.”

“Okay. Um, I think you’re very, very wrong,” he said. “I think you’re incredibly wrong. To say that you can’t find good cheese curds in Toronto, I think, is crazy, actually.”

[…]

Curds are the butterflies of the cheese world — beautiful, transcendent, but only for an instant. They offer the rare example of cheese reaching its full expression as a snack unto itself, so airy and texturally complex that it is liberated from the usual dependence on crackers or bread or wine. Curds have been spared all the pressing and squeezing that occurs in the late stages of the cheddar-making process. They’re pulled right from the vat before any of that happens, still full of air and whey. That’s what makes them so much different than the cubes of mild cheddar beside the slices of salami on your cheese tray. Not for long. As that moisture seeps out over time, they inch closer to their cubed cousins, closer to ordinary. The squeak is, really, the only thing separating the two.

H/T to James Bow for the link.

Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress