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  • feedwordpress 08:01:07 on 2019/05/14 Permalink
    Tags: , , , Food, , , , , predatory pricing, ,   

    “The great packing machine ground on remorselessly, without thinking of green fields; and the men and women and children who were part of it never saw any green thing, not even a flower”*… 


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    beef

     

    Cheap beef and a thriving centralised meatpacking industry were the consequence of emerging technologies such as the railroad and refrigeration coupled with the business acumen of a set of honest and hard-working men like… Philip Danforth Armour. According to critics, however, a capitalist cabal was exploiting technological change and government corruption to bankrupt traditional butchers, sell diseased meat and impoverish the worker.

    Ultimately, both views were correct. The national market for fresh beef was the culmination of a technological revolution, but it was also the result of collusion and predatory pricing. The industrial slaughterhouse was a triumph of human ingenuity as well as a site of brutal labour exploitation. Industrial beef production, with all its troubling costs and undeniable benefits, reflected seemingly contradictory realities.

    Beef production would also help drive far-reaching changes in US agriculture. Fresh-fruit distribution began with the rise of the meatpackers’ refrigerator cars, which they rented to fruit and vegetable growers. Production of wheat, perhaps the US’s greatest food crop, bore the meatpackers’ mark. In order to manage animal feed costs, Armour & Co and Swift & Co invested heavily in wheat futures and controlled some of the country’s largest grain elevators. In the early 20th century, an Armour & Co promotional map announced that “the greatness of the United States is founded on agriculture”, and depicted the agricultural products of each US state, many of which moved through Armour facilities.

    Beef was a paradigmatic industry for the rise of modern industrial agriculture, or agribusiness. As much as a story of science or technology, modern agriculture is a compromise between the unpredictability of nature and the rationality of capital. This was a lurching, violent process that saw meatpackers displace the risks of blizzards, drought, disease and overproduction on to cattle ranchers. Today’s agricultural system works similarly. In poultry, processors like Perdue and Tyson use an elaborate system of contracts and required equipment and feed purchases to maximise their own profits while displacing risk on to contract farmers. This is true with crop production as well. As with 19th-century meatpacking, relatively small actors conduct the actual growing and production, while companies like Monsanto and Cargill control agricultural inputs and market access.

    The transformations that remade beef production between the end of the American civil war in 1865 and the passage of the Federal Meat Inspection Act in 1906 stretched from the Great Plains to the kitchen table. Before the civil war, cattle raising was largely regional, and in most cases, the people who managed cattle out west were the same people who owned them. Then, in the 1870s and 80s, improved transport, bloody victories over the Plains Indians, and the American west’s integration into global capital markets sparked a ranching boom. Meanwhile, Chicago meatpackers pioneered centralised food processing. Using an innovative system of refrigerator cars and distribution centres, they began to distribute fresh beef nationwide. Millions of cattle were soon passing through Chicago’s slaughterhouses each year. By 1890, the Big Four meatpacking companies – Armour & Co, Swift & Co, Morris & Co and the GH Hammond Co – directly or indirectly controlled the majority of the nation’s beef and pork…

    Exploitation and predatory pricing drove the transformation of the US meat industry – and created the model for modern agribusiness: “The price of plenty: how beef changed America.”

    * Upton Sinclair, The Jungle

    ###

    As we muse on meat, we might recall that it was on this date in 1637 (or nearabouts, as closely as scholars can say) that Cardinal Richelieu introduced the first table knives (knives with rounded edges)–reputedly to cure dinner guests of the unsavory habit of picking their teeth with the knife-points of the daggers that were, until then, used to cut meat at the table (though some suspect that Richelieu was acting in self-preservation).  Indeed, years later, in 1669, King Louis XIV followed suit, forbidding pointed knives at his table; indeed, he extended the prohibition, banning pointed knives in the street in an attempt to reduce violence.

     source

     

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:37 on 2019/04/08 Permalink
    Tags: Benjamin Eisenstadt, buffet, cafeteria, Food, , hospitality industry, packaging, restaurant, Sweet'N Low, sweetener,   

    “The other night I ate at a real nice family restaurant. Every table had an argument going.”*… 


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    buffet

     

    There were, at one point, 305 Ponderosas (and sister buffet Bonanzas) in the US, and today there are 75 locations total — including 19 in Puerto Rico and a handful scattered in Egypt, Qatar, Taiwan, and the UAE. The Ponderosa parent company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2008, the same year as the company that owns Old Country Buffet (and four other buffet chains).

    That company, Ovation Brands. filed for bankruptcy twice more by 2016, at which point USA Today noted that it had “the dubious and relatively rare distinction” of entering what finance guys like to “jokingly refer to as Chapter 33 — that is, Chapter 11 bankruptcy for a third time.” The same year, Garden Fresh Restaurants, which owns Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes, filed for bankruptcy as well, citing $175 million in debt.

    In 2016, Eater’s Dana Hatic blamed the fall of the buffet on America’s “newfound focus on fast casual dining [and] farm-to-table menus,” as well as “widespread attention on the health effects of obesity and overconsumption.” This makes some sense, and at the same time, it does not.The buffet is a good idea. The buffet is a symbol of the American dream. The buffet is delicious. The buffet is affordable, and a lot of us love a deal. When did our hearts grow cold toward buffets, and why?…

    Meditate on the mystery of the missing comestibles at “When did America’s heart turn cold on buffet chains?

    * George Carlin

    ###

    As we walk the line, we might spare a thought for Benjamin Eisenstadt; he died on this date in 1996.  After a stint running a cafeteria in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Eisenstadt became a manufacturer, first (and briefly) of tea bags, then of an invention of his own– the single-serving sugar packet.

    In 1957, he began mixing powdered saccharine (previously available only in a liquid form with dextrose, and created Sweet’N Low, a no-calorie sweetener available in (his) single-serve packets, which he colored bright pink to avoid confusion with (white) sugar packets.

    Eisenstadt was also the first to packet soy sauce in single-serving packets.

    eisenstat source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:45 on 2019/03/24 Permalink
    Tags: , , Food, , , large recipes, Nathan Handwerker, , ,   

    “Never eat more than you can lift”*… 


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    meatloaf

     

    350 lb. ground beef
    10 lb. fresh chopped green
    onions
    10 lb. ground celery
    3 doz. eggs
    5 lb. chopped green peppers
    4 (No. 10) cans (12 qt.)
    tomato puree
    12 to 15 lb. bread crumbs
    3 c. salt
    6 to 8 oz. pepper
    1/2 c. Worcestershire sauce

    Gently mix all ingredients in 4 even batches (at least!). Divide
    into approximately 70 loaf pans or pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 to
    1 3/4 hours with a watchful eye. Makes 1,000 servings

    Just one of the hundreds of recipes one can find at Growlies, “the place to find large quantity recipes.  This one is from the “advanced” section: Really BIG Recipes— meals for 100+.

    [Image above: the 2012 El Cerrito (CA) “Burning Loaf,” a 206.5 pound meatloaf prepared a part of a charity fundraiser… and as an attempt at entering the Guinness Book of Records.  There is a Guinness record for the largest meatball – 1,110 pounds set in Columbus, Ohio, in 2011, and one for the largest Leberkäse, a German liver cheese )also sometimes called a meatloaf); it was set in 2009 in Germany- a whopping 6,874.01 pounds.]

    * Miss Piggy

    ###

    As we ruminate on repasts, we might spare a thought for Nathan Handwerker; he died on this date in 1972.  In 1916, with $300 borrowed from friends, he and his wife Ida started a hot dog stand on Coney Island– and launched what evolved into Nathan’s Famous restaurants and the related Nathan’s retail product line.

    An emigrant from Eastern Europe, Handwerker found a job slicing bread rolls for Feltman’s German Gardens, a Coney Island restaurant that sold franks (hot dogs) for 10 cents each.  Encouraged by a singing waiter there and his piano player– Eddie Cantor and Jimmy Durante– Handwerker struck out on his own, selling his hot dogs (spiced with Ida’s secret recipe) for a nickel.  At the outset of his new venture, he reputedly hired young men to wear white coats with stethoscopes around their necks to stand near his carts and eat his hot dogs, giving the impression of purity and cleanliness.

    Handwerker named his previously unnamed hot dog stand Nathan’s Hot Dogs in 1921 after Sophie Tucker, then a singer at the nearby Carey Walsh’s Cafe, made a hit of the song “Nathan, Nathan, Why You Waitin?”

     source

    Your correspondent is heading off on a trek to the remoter reaches of the American Southwest, where connectivity will if iffy at best.  Regular service will resume on or around April Fools Day…  appropriately enough.

     

     

     

     
  • feedwordpress 09:01:31 on 2019/02/22 Permalink
    Tags: beverages, Cocktails, , drinks, Food, , , Margarita,   

    “If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee.”*… 


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    Coffee

     

    Cream, milk, skim milk, sugar, sweetener; more recently, soy milk, almond milk…  there’s not a lot of variation in the things one adds to coffee.  Phronk has devoted himself to blazing alternative paths…

    This is a blog about putting weird things in coffee. I drink coffee every day, but get bored with the same old cream and sugar. I figured I might as well document my experiments for the benefit of all humankind…

    From “Maple Bacon Latte” through “Tumeric and Matcha in Coffee” to “The Peanut Butter Solution: PB2 in Coffee.” he guides one through preparation, then assesses the results of dozens of adventurous brews.

    Take a sip at “Putting Weird Things in Coffee.”

    [TotH to Eureka!]

    * Abraham Lincoln

    ###

    As we broaden our horizons, we might recall that today is National Margarita Day.  While its origin is uncertain (there are several competing creation stories), it is indisputably the most-ordered cocktail in the U.S., accounting for almost 20% of all mixed drink sales in the U.S.

    20150323-cocktails-vicky-wasik-margarita source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 09:01:59 on 2019/02/01 Permalink
    Tags: , Food, food pyramid, , James L Kraft, Kraft, , Michael Pollan, , pasteurized process cheese,   

    “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”*… 


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    food

    Food pyramids and the like – the sort that have defined how everything from hospital meals to school lunches to Meals on Wheels funding have worked for decades, all over the world – are bastardised, imperfect things, a product of industry lobbying and backroom deals as much as they are of good nutrition science. Every time we link to an article about obesity or food security, it’s a given that these broken guides and the politics and economics around them come up. But for this one, the Canadian government has tried something different, as all those responsible for the report were kept safe behind a DMZ, away from lobbyist influence. It is, its makers claim, a scientifically pure guide to what it is to eat well, and it is radically simple (and no doubt problematic in ways we haven’t really absorbed yet) – almost Michael Pollan’s “not too much, mostly plants” mantra in manual form.  Of course, initial reaction has been a lot of “that’s great, but poor people can’t afford tofu”. But we think guides like this should be idealistic, and if based in good science, they should be seen as a provocation, not pipe dream: “that’s great, but if this is eating well, how do we build the systems that allow everybody to eat this way, and to enjoy it?”…

    From the ever-illuminating newsletter Buckslip, an appreciation of Canada’s new nutrition guidelines: “Canada’s Food Guide.”

    Contrast with the U.S. healthy eating guidelines, and its “food pyramid.”  For an account of the lobbying that went into those U.S. recommendations, see here and here.

    * Michael Pollan

    ###

    As we parse prudence, we might spare a thought for James L. Kraft; he died on this date in 1953 (though some sources give the date as September 16).   A wholesale cheese distributor and producer, he patented pasteurized process cheese in 1916.  A  low-cost cheese product that would not spoil, it wasn’t an immediate hit with the public, but the U.S. army purchased over 6 million tins of it during World War I.  During the depression, it became more broadly popular because of its low cost.

    james_lewis_kraft source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 09:01:14 on 2018/12/01 Permalink
    Tags: , , Food, , , , , , ,   

    “Three meals a day are a highly advanced institution”*… 


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    breakfast_lunch_dinner_1050x700

    The typical American “breakfast, lunch, and dinner” pattern is a product of the Industrial Revolution.

    Early U.S. dining habits were shaped by those of English colonists. And, as Anne Murcott, a British sociologist specializing in food, writes, for centuries, up until about 1800, most English people ate two, not three, meals a day. The larger of these was often called dinner, but it wasn’t typically an evening meal. During the reign of Henry VII, from 1485 to 1509, the day’s big meal normally took place around 11 am.

    In both England and the U.S., dinner became the large afternoon meal for farm families—which is to say most families—in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It might be preceded by breakfast—the meal to break the nighttime fast—and followed by some kind of light meal or meals, variously called supper or tea.

    Lunch is the newest addition to the triad of U.S. meals. Back in 1968, the English-language scholar Anne Wallace-Hadrill traced the etymology of the word itself, along with its close relation, “luncheon.” One possible origin of the words is from “lump.” A 1617 source mentions “eating a great lumpe of bread and butter with a lunchen of cheese.” In 1755, one dictionary writer defined lunch or luncheon as “as much food as one’s hand can hold,” but not as a specific meal. Somewhere in the first half of the nineteenth century, the word “lump” seems to have merged with “nuncheon,” a light midday meal (with the “nun” coming from “noon.”)

    As workers and kids left the farms for factories and schools over the course of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, eating patterns shifted. Workers and children might shove a lunch of bread into their pocket to eat during the day or return home for a quick luncheon, but dinner now had to wait for the end of the day, creating the set of mealtimes we know so well…

    The origin of the familiar breakfast-lunch-dinner triad: “Why Do Americans Eat Three Meals a Day?

    * E.C. Hayes, Introduction to the Study of Sociology (1913)

    ###

    As we dig in, we might recall that it was on this date in 1999 that the Russian Duma (its legislature) voted 273-1 to pass an animal rights bill that prohibited Russians from eating their “animal companions”– their pets.  Shortly thereafter the newly-elected President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, vetoed the bill.

    group-of-pets-together-15229056 source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:55 on 2018/10/29 Permalink
    Tags: advertisements, , , Food, , , , , ,   

    “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are”*… 


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    Food

    Food regularly plays a role in religious life, in forms that range from communion wine to Kahlua cheesecake…

    A sampling of 34 cloistered comestibles: “A Guide of Heavenly Cuisine.”

    * Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

    ###

    As we devour with devotion, we might recall that it was on this date in 1993 that the first “Got Milk?” ad premiered.  Created by the advertising agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners for the California Milk Processor Board, it  was later licensed for use by milk processors and dairy farmers nationwide.  The campaign launched with the now-famous “Aaron Burr” television commercial, directed by Michael Bay.

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:49 on 2018/10/07 Permalink
    Tags: , fish sticks, Food, , , , tuna, tuna fish sandwich,   

    “Enjoy every sandwich”*… 


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    Tuna-Melt-2000x1657.jpg

    It is hard to think of a food more emblematic of America’s working-class spirit than the humble tuna sandwich. While the Spanish make their tuna bocadillo with piquillo peppers and sherry vinegar and the French have their pressed pan bagnat, made with high-quality jarred tuna and an array of vegetables in a real baguette, the American version is an object of convenience and thrift.

    Its assembly rests on three post–Industrial Revolution convenience foods: canned tuna, presliced wheat bread, and mayonnaise. The sandwich is portable, dependable, and eminently satisfying…

    How Japanese-Americans helped launch the California tuna-canning industry—and one of America’s most beloved sandwiches: “A Second Look at the Tuna Sandwich’s All-American History.

    * Warren Zevon

    ###

    As we muse on a melt, we might spare a thought for Clarence Birdseye; he died on this date in 1956.  An  inventor, entrepreneur, and naturalist, and the founder of the modern frozen food industry.

    On Arctic trips as a field naturalist for the United States government, he noticed that freshly caught fish, when placed onto the Arctic ice and exposed to the icy wind and frigid temperatures, froze solid almost immediately. He learned, too, that the fish, when thawed and eaten, still had all its fresh characteristics. He concluded that quickly freezing certain items kept large crystals from forming, preventing damage to their cellular structure. In Sep 1922, Clarence organized his own company, Birdseye Seafoods, Inc., New York City, where he began processing chilled fish fillets.  He moved on to vegetables and other meats, then to the “fish stick,” along the way co-founding General Foods.  In the end, Birdseye had over 300 patents for creating and handling frozen food.

    Clarence_Birdseye source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:23 on 2018/09/22 Permalink
    Tags: , cornucopia, , Food, , ice cream cone, , Italo Marchiony, St. Louis World's Fair,   

    “The art of the cuisine, when fully mastered, is the one human capability of which only good things can be said”*… 


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    cuisine-igredients

    Every cuisine, while sharing many common elements with others, uses a handful of ingredients that combine for unique flavors.

    With Chinese food, you often see soy sauce, green onion, and sesame oil. With Italian food, you often see garlic, parmesan cheese, and olive oil. Vietnamese food uses fish sauce. Korean food uses chili paste.

    As I venture into new cooking territories, it’s been fun to discover the flavor bombs from various cuisines. A lot of “where have you been all of my life” moments.

    So what are the ingredients that make each cuisine?…

    From the ever-illuminating Nathan Yau and his wonderful blog Flowing Data, a deep dive into the Yummly ingredients dataset (which contains ingredient lists for just under 40,000 recipes, from 20 cuisines– amounting to 6,714 ingredient)– the top five ingredients in 20 different cuisines: “Cuisine Ingredients.”

    * Friedrich Durrenmatt

    ###

    As we read it and reap, we might recall that it was on this date in 1903 that Italo Marchiony applied for a patent for an ice cream cup mold. Marchiony is credited with inventing the ice cream cone in 1896, when he introduced it in New York City.  Initially, he folded warm waffles into a cup shape.   He then developed the 2-piece mold that would make 10 cups at a time. (U.S. patent No. 746,971 was granted on Dec 15, 1903).

    Several other claimants introduced “ice cream cones” at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition, known as the St. Louis World’s Fair.  While they weren’t the inventors of the cone, it was from the time of the Fair that the edible “cornucopia,” a cone made from a rolled waffle, vaulted into popularity in the United States.

    Marchioni source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:32 on 2018/08/10 Permalink
    Tags: cookbooks, , , , Food, Francatelli, , novelty, ,   

    “Every restaurant needs to have a point of view”*… 


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    chili bowl

    Launched in 1931 by former amateur boxer Art Whizin, the Chili Bowl chain had 22 outposts at its peak. Each building was round and shaped like a chili bowl with 26 stools around a circular counter where diners could get the signature dish: an open-faced burger blanketed with chili. This 1937 photo shows the original Chili Bowl, located at 3012 Crenshaw Boulevard.

    One stop on a wonderful tour of La La Land’s most exceptional eateries; see them all at: “LA’s Awesome History Of Weird, Food-Shaped Restaurants.”

    * Danny Meyer

    ###

    As we muse on the mimetic, we might sparea thought for Charles Elmé Francatelli; he died on this date in 1876.  A Italian chef working in England, renown in his time, he was chef to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert for a time, chef of the St. James Club, among other prestigious postings .  But he is probably better remembered for his best-selling cookbooks, The Modern Cook (1845), A Plain Cookery Book for the Working ClassesThe Cook’s Guide and Housekeeper’s & Butler’s Assistant, and The Royal English and Foreign Confectionery Book.

    Charles_Elme_Francatelli source

     

     

     
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