Photo by Minh Tam Nguyen. Cover photo by Minh Tam Nguyen and Brandon Chin
EDITORS FEATURES Isabel Genecin (CC `15) Bethany Wong (SEAS `17) Danielle Deiseroth (SEAS ‘18 ) REVIEWS Katja Lazar (CC `15) RECIPES Matthew Tsim (CC `16) Tara Mohtadi (CC ‘17)
EXECUTIVE BOARD Meena Lee (CC`15) Jenny Xu (CC`15) Minh Tam Nguyen (CC `15) Joanne Raptis (BC `16) Rachel Hsu (BC `18) Amy Fu (SEAS `15) Alex Nguyen (CC `17) Amelia Rosen (BC `15) Isabel Genecin (CC `15)
Editor-in-Chief Managing Editor Photo Director Art Director Design Director Business Director PR Director Events Director Secretary
STAFF WRITERS Crystal Ang (CC `15), Katie Barr (BC ‘16), Mirella Blum (BC ‘18), Jordan Brewington (CC ‘17), Daisy Chaussee (CC `17), Monica Chen (CC `18), Mercedes Chien (CC `18), Quincy DeYoung (BC `16), Danielle Deiseroth (SEAS `18), Madeline Ehrenberg (CC `18), Janice Fong (CC `17), Emma Guida (BC `16), Jessica Gruenstein (CC `18), Omar Halawa (CC `16) Caitlyn Harrington-Smith (BC ‘16), Yoon-Ji Han (CC ‘17), Caitlin Harrington-Smith (BC `16), Wallace Kalkin (BC `18), Carolyn Kang (CC ‘17) , Nia Judelson (BC `18), Tara Mohtadi (CC `17), Cole Neuffer (BC `16), Ili Odouard (BC `18), Amelia Rosen (BC ‘15), Lilli Schussler (CC ‘17), Ana Vargas (CC `16), Coco Weng (CC `17), Megan Wilcots (CC `18), Jenny Xu (CC `15)
STAFF PHOTOGRAPHERS Aku Acquaye (BC `18), Mirella Blum (BC ‘18), Mercedes Chien (CC `18), Brandon Chin (CC `18), Audrey Crane (BC ‘17), Amelia Edwards (CC `17), Kevin He (CC ‘16), Bridget Jackson (BC `18), Carolyn Kang (CC `17), Tara Mohtadi (CC `17), Minh Tam Nguyen (CC `15), Coco Weng (CC `17), Megan Wilcots (CC `18), Bethany Wong (SEAS ‘17)
STAFF ARTISTS Rachel Hsu (BC `18), Joanne Raptis (BC `16), Allison Scott (CC `15), Wanlin Xie (CC`18), Lacey Minot (BC ‘17)
SENIOR DESIGNER Rachel Hsu (BC `18)
BUSINESS TEAM Claudia de Lavalle (CC `17) Hannah Liu (CC `17) Gabriella Belnavis (BC `18)
PR TEAM Gauri Bahugana (CC `17) Kelsey Burns (CC `16) Lilli Schussler (CC `17)
BLOG EDITORS Ashley Mendez (CC `15) Arianna Winchester (CC `16)
WEBMASTER Sandya Sankarram (SEAS `15)
EVENTS Amelia Rosen (BC ‘15)
who is a culinarian? The magazine was started by Amanda Tien (CC’14) and Manon Cooper (BC’14) in the fall of 2012. This issue marks the product of the endeavor to create professional content and a brand new infrastructure. The other members of the executive board answered when Amanda and Manon put out a request for a team of leaders to assist them with this project. the Executive Board has met weekly since January 2013, even Skyping and emailing over the summer. The team for this issue is over 60 people from a myriad of majors coming together for the common passion of the culinary arts. Visit our website to apply to become a part of our staff, learn more about the magazine, and read our summer issue that followed students’ travel throughout the world in a curated blog format. We hope you enjoy this issue of Culinarian. culinarianmagazine.com
...letter from the editors Food has always been entwined into art and culture, from still lifes of luscious fruits spilling from the table to vivid descriptions of the burnt thighbones in The Iliad. Food is similarly prevalent in pop culture today, in works like Ratatouille and The Hundred Foot Journey or Lady Gaga’s infamous meat dress. But in addition to food serving as a platform or medium for other art forms to express greater themes, food and cooking can be just as much a form of artistic expression as writing a poem or a piece of music. A clever chef can combine the same raw ingredients that you and I purchase at the supermarket and transform them into something surprising and evocative, something that engages all the senses. By the materials they choose to use or the traditions they decide to pull from, chefs can convey important messages about the environment, awareness of other cultural traditions, and even stories about themselves and how they experience the world. There is also the culture of the audience and customer now, as we become increasingly obsessed with our food. Since you’re reading this, you’ve undoubtedly heard the terms foodie and food culture being bandied about. It’s a fascinating phenomena, our visiting restaurants just to experience a particular chef’s inspired way of putting ingredients together on a plate. The swift and sure saturation of food on the internet and social media may put more and more pressure on chefs to become creative idea generators rather than mere vocational cooks. This issue celebrates both food as an art form in and of itself and food’s place in the larger world of art and culture, both past and present. This is our (and much of our board’s) final issue at the Culinarian, and as we sit on the brink of graduation, we could not be more proud of the magazine’s content and the way it is presented. Our staff truly embraced the theme of the issue, interpreting food and art through their own art, design, photography, and words. We also appreciate everyone who has helped us achieve our overarching vision of transforming the magazine from a food publication bursting with recipes and restaurant reviews to an experience unique to Columbia, one that weaves food into conversation with other academic and extracurricular interests represented at this school. So be sure to check out our plates inspired by favorite works of literature—a collaborative venture between many of our recipe writers and our photographers-turned-food stylists— for edible twists classics like Tara Mohtadi’s sophisticated version of Green Eggs and Ham. Flip further and you’ll find Lilli Schussler’s analysis of School of Visual Arts faculty member Kara Walker’s use of sugar in sculpture, Ana Vargas’s delectable modern art-inspired dessert, and incoming editor-in-chief Quincy DeYoung’s narrative essay about exploring South African food culture, among other excellent pieces. The magazine and our blog is also chock full of interviews with everyone from Columbia professors to chefs, food truck owners, food bloggers, food stylists, and museum curators, each weighing in on different aspects of food’s intersections with art and food culture. We hope you enjoy this issue of the Culinarian. We can’t wait to see what Quincy, incoming managing editor Danielle Deiseroth, and the rest of the Culinarian executive board and staff come up with next. Happy reading, Meena + Jenny
Volume II, issue ii
Culinary Arts 08 | Review | The Culture of All Things Beautiful 10 | Interview | Perfect Plating
Visual Arts 18 | Recipe | Mondrian Cake Pops 20 | Review | Modern Art/Modern Eats 22 | Feature | Reclaiming Our Stories
Literature 24 | Review | Down the Rabbit Hole 25 | Recipe | Reader’s Digest 22 | Feature | Reclaiming Our Stories
Music 46| Feature | Why Everyone’s a Little Bit Synesthetic
Film & TV 47 | Review | Let’s Go To The Movies 48 | Feature | The Pie is Mightier Than the Sword
Modern Food Culture 52 | Feature | Food Trucks: Out of the Driver’s Seat 54 | Feature | Cronut Culture 56 | Feature | Food52 61 | Opinion | Accidental Juice Generation
Global Food Culture 58 | Feature | Kitchen Apothecary 62 | Feature | Embracing the Braai
Text and Photos by Megan Wilcots
The Culture of All Things Beautiful Tucked between Avenue of the Americas and 5th Avenue lies a small cafe with HGTV-esque charm and distinctive coffee. Culture Espresso Bar, home to maple cappuccinos and renowned chocolate chip cookies, is the answer to many a commuting New Yorker’s prayers: mere steps away from a subway, local, efficient, tasty, and, most of all, beautiful. None of their carefully crafted coffee drinks are served without a design etched into the bubbly foam. Culture’s talented employees pour, twist, and drizzle steamed milk over espresso, and with a few flicks of the wrist, your morning cup of joe is transformed into a MoMA-worthy masterpiece. Latte art is the norm at Culture, with one barista in charge of making drinks and another solely dedicated to beautifying them. Yet, the commitment to latte art may be greater than their dedication to quality coffee. “The first couple sips are just foam,” said one customer, “I don’t taste my drink at all right now.” No doubt this is an unintended outcome for these beautiful mug masterpieces. Does a delicate design make up for a few extra sips of foam, or should you receive 100% of the coffee experience we pay for? The choice is yours.
Culture Espresso Bar is located on 72 W. 38th St. For more information please visit firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo courtesy of Eleven Madison Park
Perfect Plating 3 chefsâ€™ answers
Chef Jamie Bissonnette of Toro Chef Bissonnette is perhaps more well known for his Boston restaurants Coppa and Toro, but last year, he opened a New York outpost of Toro. He’s having a good year—Toro NYC is flourishing, he won the 2014 James Beard Best Chef Northeast award, and he recently published his first cookbook, The New Charcuterie Cookbook.
Text by Mirella Blum; Photo courtesy of Toro
Culinarian’s Mirella Blum: In general, how important do you think plating is?
Chef Jamie Bissonnette: I think it’s kind of
50/50; it depends on what you’re eating. You can only make a taco look so pretty before you’re taking away from what the taco should be. You’ve gotta find the balance between the aesthetics and what’s practical for your food. I think I’d rather have delicious food that should be hot or warm rather than some of the restaurants that say “Well, we have a lot of touches to make our food look the way it is. We don’t serve hot food, we serve tepid food.”
MB: What do you think about the “every bite should be the perfect bite” method? Should you have an element of each taste in every bite? CJB: It depends on what you’re eating. For a sandwich, yeah, don’t just put mayonnaise on half the sandwich, put it on so every bite will have some flavor. But what I like about different kinds of food—say, bibimbap, one of my favorite Korean dishes—is that you’re getting different bites every time so you become more engaged. Every time you’re biting, you can kind of curate your own perfect bite. I find it more interesting to have a couple different bites throughout a meal, throughout 12
a dish, rather than having every single bite be the same. My favorite meal is breakfast. I get to have a bite with just the white on my toast, and a little bit of hash brown, and I can dip a little of the potato in the yolk, or I can just dip just a little bit of bread in the yolk—I like being able to make my dishes more interactive.
MB: How did you learn how to plate, and is it intuition at a certain point, or is it completely learned? CJB: I think it’s intuition. It’s kind of seeing what other people do, having fun. You know, I call it the “drop and drag.” You drop it on a plate and drag it across—the swoosh, the doosh—whatever anybody calls it, they are what they are. Now you see a lot of people throwing the sauce on the plate, so it goes and looks all Jackson Pollock, you know, whatever you’re into. I like to look at the food so you still recognize that it’s food, and it looks kind of interesting, but at the end of the day it should look appetizing. Sometimes what looks really appetizing in a centered photo with a filtered lens in a magazine looks amazing, and then you go to that restaurant and it doesn’t look that great.
MB: What’s your favorite utensil to use for—
CJB: My fingers.
MB: Do you think plating is more of an aesthetic issue, or does it contribute to the taste? CJB: I mean, subconsciously, it’s gotta contribute. Things that look prettier will contribute to taste. Again, it depends on what it is. I try to take the fancier plating of food back to something that I can relate to growing up, that I’ve been eating most of my life. If there’s a bowl of french fries with salt on them, and a couple side things of all the different sauces you want with it, it might not look as nice, might not be the cover of a magazine, but they [the customers] eat more honestly.
MB: What is your most important tip for plating? CJB: Don’t just plate food for the sake of plating food. Before you start thinking about plating, don’t just think about why you’re plating just for making it look good; make sure that every part of that dish has a reason for being there. Don’t put things on there that don’t make sense.
MB: What are your pet peeves when you’re in the kitchen and you watch people plate food? CJB: So many cooks put so much emphasis on plating that they forget to finish something with a little bit of espelette or sea salt, and they take a shortcut in cooking so they have more time for plating. And I feel like it should be backwards—you should not take any shortcuts in cooking, ever; you should make your food the most delicious it can be every single time, season it the best that you can, and if you can’t do that and plate at the same time then you need to take a step back and reassess your techniques.
MB: Is there something in food besides plating that you think more relates to art? CJB: I don’t think that food and art are as comparable as a lot of people think. Sure, visually, to compare the plating of food to the way a painting or sculpture looks, [it] is an easy comparison, but I think it’s short-sighted. You know, if you look at an artist or you talk to an artist—a real artist, somebody who’s doing something that’s creative, it’s more about the process. Art isn’t about the end product. It’s not about looking at the painting after it’s done. For the artist, it’s about that cathartic way of getting there, of making the painting, of trial and error, of figuring out how they want to express themselves, and as a cook, I don’t express myself by arranging already cooked food on a plate. I express myself by thinking about how to take raw ingredients
and make them delicious and create food that people say, “That’s fucking delicious.” Having somebody come to me and say, “That’s really pretty,” and then they go home and you say, “Would you go back to Toro?” and they go, “The food was really pretty, but it really didn’t satisfy me.” That’s failed art to me. But good art is if somebody comes in and you ask them, “How was Toro?” and they say, “The food was so good I could not stop eating. I ate too much. It looked really great as well.” But if the first thing somebody thinks about is how it looks and the flavor comes second, then that’s not art.
MB: What are your thoughts on garnishes? How much should they contribute? CJB: A garnish should always contribute something. We do a dish here that’s quail egg yolk, caviar, jamon iberico, and sea urchin on a spoon, and a lot of times when I clean the shell of the egg, I’ll put the shell next to the spoon upside down. You’re not going to eat that shell, it’s not really doing anything there but saying “hey, this is where the shell came from.” But looking at the quail egg yolk and seeing the shell, to me, ties something together. A sploosh of chervil on top of a crispy pork belly crouton is gonna add that light anise flavor, and a little bit of freshness. A tempura confit-cured lemon ring on top of a salt cod croquette mimics the flavor of french fries or onion rings with fish so that you get a fish and chip thing. It is a garnish, but it’s an integral part of the meal. MB: Do you have any tricks that people might not expect when you’re plating things? CJB: Layering things, like putting things so people don’t know they’re there, like if I want a flavor on something. I’ll take the bottom of a piece of fish, or pork belly, and smear that same sauce that I put as the garnish on it, so the guest doesn’t have to overthink their food. I hate going out to eat and having somebody stand next to you and say: “The chef suggests that as you take a bite of this, you eat a bite of that.” It’s like, don’t tell me how to wipe my ass and don’t tell me how to eat. Those are two things that I’ve been doing my whole life, I’m pretty sure I can do them. Toro is located on 85 10th Avenue. For more information, please visit toro-nyc.com or call (212) 691-2360.
Chef Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park Eleven Madison Park is arguably one of New York’s most famous and most accoladed dining establishments. With Daniel Humm at the helm, the restaurant has been awarded three Michelin stars and six James Beard Foundation Awards, including Outstanding Chef and Outstanding Restaurant in America. Culinarian’s Yoon-Ji Han: What would you say is the beautiful—like a blank canvas. We’ve been using stonemost important effect plating has on the fine dining experience? Chef Daniel Humm: We eat with our eyes first, so it’s incredibly important to make sure every dish is not only delicious, but also beautiful.
ware the past few years, which is lovely as well because it is neutral enough to not take away from the beauty of the food, but also has some texture for added interest.
YH: What are some
anything in the kitchen, or any craft. I also learned from some very talented cooks and chefs. It’s also important to have an idea of how you will plate a dish before you actually assemble it, which is why drawing a dish out can be very useful.
technical tips, tricks, and rules of thumb that you use when plating, in terms of color, size, shape, and texture, to name a few? CDH: There are a number of things to keep in mind, but the food should always look fresh, vibrant, and appetizing for one. Hot dishes should look hot; there shouldn’t be any congealed sauces or crusts on purées. Cold food should look cold—no melted cheese, deflated foams, etc. Color is also very important, but not in the way you may think. I’ve heard comments that you always need to have lots of colors (greens, browns, reds) on one plate, that herbs need to always finish a dish. But I disagree. Sometimes that helps, but in other cases, monochromatic colors, simple plates, can be just as beautiful.
YH: Do you have a preferred backdrop for your food? 14
YH: Any tips for a novice plater? CDH: Practice for one is important, just like
YH: Where do you get inspiration for new dish concepts? CDH: Our menu and our restaur-ant are directly inspired by so many things from different industries and brands we respect in New York, and the deep culinary and cultural roots here. This allows us to really create a narrative and to build an experience for our guests that is wholly unique, but also familiar at the same time. For every dish we go through a similar process, always looking at the amazing ingredients we have and finding ways we can showcase them.
YH: What are some current trends in plating? CDH: A lot of chefs are playing with the idea of a surprise, covering dishes up with other ingredients to then reveal something to the guest. You are also finding food styled in a way that it looks like other ingredients, or even non-food items.
YH: How would you plate a simple dish—say, salmon, steak,
YH: How would you plate a simple dish—say, salmon, steak, mashed potatoes and sautéed vegetables?
Eleven Madison Park is located on 11 Madison Avenue. For more information, please visit elevenmadisonpark.com or call (212) 889-0905.
CDH: I’d probably plate that just like my mother used to, very simply.
Text by Yoon-Ji Han; Photos courtesy of Eleven Madison Park
Chef Andy Bennett of Rouge Tomate Executive Chef Andy Bennett of Rouge Tomate—an award winning, sustainable restaurant with a New York Times lauded wine list— advocates the simplistic approach to plate presentation and shares his greatest challenges, influences, and how to select the right garnish.
Culinarian’s Quincy DeYoung: How would you describe your style of plating in a sentence or less? Chef Andy Bennett: Seasonal simplicity, if that’s even a thing.
QD: Have any artists or artistic works inspired your
plate presentations? What usually inspires your plate presentations? CAB: My plating is inspired by the components of that dish and the season in which it is based. Within the flavor profiles I am just trying to highlight or elevate the flavor of these great products, and I try to do the same with plating. Nature does so much of the work for us, and when plating, I am just trying to keep food looking the way nature intended it to look.
QD: Do you find that a particular style of plating is
more successful than others? CAB: Clean and simple will nearly always work. From an aesthetic side, I feel there is an understated elegance in modest presentations. From an operational standpoint, simpler plating can translate into a smoother service, better quality food, and a high level of consistency. 16
Text by Quincy DeYoung; Photo by Sean Turi
QD: What have been your greatest challenges in plating? CAB: The greatest challenge is making a plating that can be executed consistently during a busy service, but still look the way you want it to look. Sometimes, when conceptualizing dishes, you focus so much on flavors and textures that plating ends up being the last thing to figure out. It works for and against you. Sometimes, because there is no preplanning, you nail the first test plating because it just flows and is natural, but sometimes you end up with a great dish with all these components that work together but no cohesive way to put them together. You then have to work backwards and rework it to make the components gel together.
QD: Considering that you have worked in New York,
Washington D.C., Winchester, England, and travelled extensively during a culinary sabbatical, do you find that your plating style varies according to the place you are in? CAB: It varies based on the style of the restaurant. But I am always learning, evolving and developing so my plating style changes with that evolution.
QD: Do you ever struggle with the balance between taste
and presentation, and if so, how do you navigate this struggle? CAB: It’s not so much a struggle, but sometimes you have to rein yourself in a little bit during the creative process. During the testing phase of dishes, it’s easy to get carried away and keep adding garnishes. If I feel that I’ve gotten carried away, I’ll go back to basics and bring the dish back to the star of the show and to support cast.
Rouge Tomate is currently in the process of relocating to 126-128 West 18th Street, and will reopen this summer. For more information please visit www.rougetomatenyc. com, or call (646) 237-8977.
QD: Do you have any “pet peeves” when it comes to plating? CAB: Dirty plates and clutter.
QD: Do you have any tricks of the trade, or tips for
plate presentation? CAB: Keep it simple and do what feels natural. The same goes for life as well.
QD: How do you determine the right garnish? CAB: It has to be relevant and/or be there for a
reason. If it’s been added just because you feel the dish needs a garnish then it probably does not need to be there. I once heard someone say: “Once you feel like you have the perfect dish, take off the last two things you added.”
QD: What are your thoughts concerning white space
use, color contrasting, and balance in plate presentation? CAB: There is no rule of thumb for these things, each dish takes on its own persona and what works for one dish might not work for another.
QD: How much time does it take you to design a new
dish and its presentation? CAB: Anywhere from five minutes to the better part of my adult life.
QD: How has your style of plating changed over the
course of your career? CAB: It’s constantly in flux. Like I said earlier I’m always learning new things and with that, the way I look at food changes. What I thought was great a few years ago might seem stupid now. That’s the exciting thing about this life in this industry. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been at it. The industry is always evolving, you are always evolving, and there are always things to learn from everyone.
Photo courtesy of Eleven Madison Park
Mondrian Cake Pops in Red, Yellow, BLue
Inspired by Mondrianâ€™s Composition with Red, Yellow, Blue (1930)
Use this recipe to impress friends with the surprise masterpieces inside. These treats are a reminder that every bite can be a work of art.
Text by Ana Vargas; Art by Lacey Minot; Photos by Kevin He
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Cream sugar and butter in a medium mixing bowl. Add eggs and beat until well mixed. Sift salt, flour, and baking powder and add to mixture. Add milk and lemon juice. Bake in a non-stick pan for 1 hour or until golden brown. Let cool for 15 minutes.
Cake Pop Dough
1 ¼ cups sugar ½ cup butter, melted 2 eggs ¼ teaspoon salt 1 ½ cups flour 1 teaspoon baking powder ½ cup milk 1/3 cup lemon juice
Cake Pop Dough
1 can vanilla frosting Red, blue, yellow food coloring
Cake Pop Construction
1 bar dark chocolate 1 bar white chocolate Lollipop sticks Toothpicks Styrofoam block or cake pop stand
Trim the crust from all sides In another bowl, crumble the cake, making sure there are no large lumps. Empty the can of frosting into the bowl and mix until combined. Separate about a third of the mixture and divide it into thirds again, placing each into a separate small mixing bowl. In one bowl, add 6-10 drops of red color to achieve desired color. Mix until the color is blended throughout and roll into a ball. Repeat previous step for blue and yellow. Roll the undyed cake into a ball. Line a sheet pan with parchment. Roll the balls of colored dough until the sheet of cake mixture is ¼-inch thick. Refrigerate until the sheets are firm, about 25 minutes.
Cake Pop Construction
Set a pot of water to boil. Place a metal bowl over the water to melt the dark chocolate. Take out the sheets, and while the cake is firm, cut the cake lengthwise into strips ¼-inch wide. Trim the strips until they are around 1 ½-inches long. Starting with what will be the bottom of the cake pop, arrange the red, blue, yellow and plain cake strips in the desired order. Brush a generous coating dark chocolate on each side of the strips before laying together with another strip. Do not brush chocolate onto any side that is part of the outside face of the cube. Once the cube is constructed, chill for 15-20 minutes. Melt the white chocolate. Pull out the cake cubes. Dip one end of a lollipop stick in chocolate and gently insert it in the bottom of the cube until it is about halfway through. Be careful not to break through the cube! Chill for 2 minutes to help the chocolate set. Hold a cake pop upside down and dip until the chocolate covers the entire pop. Lift up and let the excess chocolate drip back into the bowl. When turning the pop right side up, rotate the cake pop at an angle to even out the coating. Use a toothpick to remove any excess near the stick if needed. Stick the cake pop into a stand, and let dry and harden completely before serving. 19
MODERN ART/ modern eats Just a few doors down from the main entrance to the Museum of Modern Art is culinary juggernaut Danny Meyer’s Michelin star-winning restaurant, aptly named The Modern. Both atmosphere and dishes are sleek and glamorous. Be sure to start with the Maine shrimp fritters, complemented by a dipping sauce of avocado and Meyer lemon. The olive oil-poached European branzino with potatoes gribiche and herb vinaigrette is an inspired main course that highlights the fish’s delicate flavors. For a heartier dish, try the herb roasted chicken with winter vegetable and wheat berry fricassée. What makes The Modern an exceptional dining experience is not only the execution of sophisticated flavor combinations but also the artful presentation of each dish—even the woven steel bread basket looks like it belongs more in the MoMA than on your table. The Modern is located at 9 W. 53rd St. For more information please call (212) 333-1220 or visit themodernnyc.com.
Text by Danielle Deiseroth; Photo by Brandon Chin
RECLAIMING OUR STORIES:
bitter & sweet
In comparing food to art, William Deresiewicz asserts in his New York Times op-ed, “How Food Replaced Art as High Culture,” that like art, food “begin[s] by addressing the senses, but that is where food stops.” He continues: “Food is not narrative or representational, does not organize and express emotion.” Enter Kara Walker. Or rather, enter the Marvelous Sugar Baby. “A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby” was a 40-foot tall sculpture, constructed entirely of sugar, of the archetypal “Black Mammy,” showcased in the sprawling industrial remains of the Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn. The piece was on view to the public from May through July of 2014, shortly before the factory was demolished. Playful and disturbing, Walker’s piece had stereotypically “black” features and was essentially nude, save for an Aunt Jemima kerchief and earrings. In creating a work of this scale, Walker required viewers to not only consider but sexualize her rendering of the mammy—the American archetype of a black slave woman responsible for bearing the children conceived as a result of sexual encounters, wanted and unwanted, both with other slaves and with the master. The Wikipedia page for the term is notably less graphic, defining a mammy instead as a woman who worked “often for a white family nursing the family’s children.” Walker, however, made the sexual element of the mammy narrative its defining feature. The Mammy sat in a position resembling a Sphinx, her back arched to emphasize her lower half features, denoting her fertility. She was attended by lifesize boys cast in molasses. Viewers of the Mammy fell largely into three categories. Some were talkative, their voices reverberating through the cavern as they reveled in the blatant sexuality of the piece. Others were more introspective, navigating the piece alone or in small groups, their emotional reactions tempered yet evident. A third group was somewhere in between the first two—beyond the age at which the piece was a playground, yet unable to resist the urge to snap a selfie. The vast majority of viewers were white, a fact that was well-noted in analysis by black art critics. The interaction of white viewers with an (essentially, though not visibly) black body demanded that white people enter into this conversation and engage with this narrative of sex, abuse, and capitalism—both unconsciously and consciously. It also reintroduced the slave as spectacle, a body that is stripped of its humanity, commodified, and sexualized. In foresight of the spectrum of reactions to her piece, Walker installed video cameras in and around the Mammy, recording every curious peek, every photo moment. The video recording was legally valid vis-à-vis consent forms that viewers signed before entering the exhibition. This footage and social media documentation of the exhibit was then compiled into a 28-minute film titled “An Audience.” Walker said of the video, “I put a giant 10-foot vagina in the world and people respond to giant 10-foot vaginas in the way that they do.” Perhaps the integrality of the reactions to the piece is not surprising. After all, what was the Mammy for, if not to showcase how people behave in
the face of histories of oppression, and to display a shocking level of disregard? Walker is best known for her black and white cut-outs, intricate silhouettes depicting colonial figures that seem to dance on the page. After admiring their craft, look closer: you will find images of the abuses of slavery on the black body--beatings, rapes, lynchings. Walker is good at this: she lures her viewers with something that appears sweet. In the case of the Mammy, Walker commences this process with her title. It’s demarcation as a “subtlety”, rather than simply a sculpture is a nod to the intricate sugar pieces that characterized European banquet tables in the Middle Ages, known as subtleties. They were a means by which hosts could allude to their wealth--and guests could admire it--as members of the party lingered over dessert. Walker’s piece commands similar admiration, before viewers realize its disturbing history. Walker describes the piece as an “homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World.” In most historical consideration of the cultivation of sweet tastes in the New World, rarely ever considered is the role of the mammy in producing and caring for the children of a plantation. Walker’s piece highlights the limits of this scholarship. It also draws attention to the narrowness of the lens through which we usually deal with slavery. For instance, I wondered why the Mammy does not reflect the slave economies of the United States’ South; why was it not instead composed of compressed cotton or tobacco? While the histories of these products are important, they do not approach the robustness and global ubiquity of sugar in the 18th century, driving an interconnected global economy and changing our tastes. As the Domino Sugar Factory’s location in Brooklyn undoubtedly implies, New York was not divorced from this economy. “A Subtlety” thus marks an opportunity to reclaim this history and the ways in which New York in particular was part of the global story of sugar, and in turn, slavery. In an interview with Matthea Harvey for BOMB Magazine, Kara Walker said of her work: “[a] certain moment opens a fissure and all the past comes flooding in.” Is this really true? The destruction of the Domino Sugar Refinery was completed in November. The empty swath of space that remains will be converted into commercial and office buildings, the eddies of air the Mammy once haunted soon to be occupied by other stories of capitalism. Has the Mammy’s “moment” expanded the slavery discourse, or does does it convey a sad parallel to the use and subsequent disavowal of black women in the American economy? Only our tastes will tell.
Text by Lilli Schussler; Art by Joanne Raptis
Down The Rabbit Hole
Al i c
will enchant you with its afternoon tea done Lewis Carroll-style. From the decor, including beautiful handpainted walls depicting scenes from Alice’s meeting with the Red Queen, down to the menu riddled with Alice references, Alice’s Tea Cup is sure to plunge diners straight through the looking glass and into Wonderland. Each afternoon tea set, including your choice of scones, sandwiches, cookies, and tea, is served on the traditional three-tiered stand. Although beautiful, the pricey sandwiches and cookies tend to be bland. Reach instead for the fluffy scones, prepared savory or sweet with specials changing daily. Let’s not forget about the tea: there are over 100 varieties, either served by the pot or for purchase by the pound. With three locations–one chapter on the Upper West Side and two on the East– there are ample opportunities to join the tea party. Just don’t be surprised if you find yourself among petite princesses decked out in crowns and glittery wings, proving that afternoon tea and Lewis Carroll stories can be enjoyed at any age. Alice’s Tea Cup Chapter I is located on 102 W. 73rd St. For more information please call (212) 799-3006 or visit alicesteacup.com.
Text by Janice Fong; Art by Joanne Raptis
Readerâ€™s Digest; [culinary treats for literary geeks]
Blueberry Ricotta Tart
inspired by William Shakespeareâ€™s Romeo and Juliet
inspired by Roald Dahlâ€™s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Pastry adapted from MarthaStewart.com Filling adapted from WholeLiving.com
Blueberry Ricotta Tart Recipe Makes two 6-inch tarts; serves 4
“The sweetest honey Is loathsome in his own deliciousness And in the taste confounds the appetite. Therefore love moderately.” This warning comes from the infamous scene in Romeo and Juliet when Friar Lawrence is about to wed the unfortunate couple. Though it is highly improbable that Shakespeare was referring to honey in the literal sense, the metaphor highlights how sweetness, like love, should not be consumed in excess. Blueberries are in season in April, making this a perfect dessert to welcome spring. Ingredients
1 stick butter, softened at room temperature 6 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar 1 cup flour ½ teaspoon salt Dried beans
1 ¼ cup ricotta cheese 1 tablespoon honey ¼ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon cinnamon 1 cup blueberries 1 tablespoons honey
Start by taking your butter out of the fridge about an hour prior to making this recipe. Preheat oven to 375°F. Mix the softened butter and confectioner’s together until fluffy and well combined. Stir in flour and salt until well incorporated. Shape pastry roughly into a ball. Tear off pieces of dough and press them into the bottom and sides of the tart pans with your fingers. Cover tart shells with parchment paper and fill with dried beans. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until they develop a nice golden-brown color. Allow pastry to cool.
While pastry cools, combine the ricotta, honey, salt and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, carefully toss blueberries with honey, carefully to avoid smashing them.
Assembly Remove cooled tart shells from the pans and fill with the ricotta filling. Spoon the blueberries on top, adding as much or as little as you like. Serve immediately, sharing with a loved one or having it all for yourself, without the guilt of too much sugar. If Romeo and Juliet had a wedding dinner, Shakespeare would surely have put this on the menu. Text by Omar Halawa; Photo by Mercedes Chien
Chocolate Fondue Recipe
Adapted from Chow.com
Makes one pot of fondue and 8 2x2in. chocolate bark bars; Serves 4-6 Now you can make a smaller version of the chocolate river in Willy Wonka’s factory that abruptly swept away our portly friend Augustus Gloop. Dip bananas, strawberries, apples, marshmallows, pound cake, or anything else you can think of into this chocolate fondue! The accompanying chocolate bark can be thought of as a frozen chocolate river with snowy white almonds garnishing the surface. Or, your very own Willy Wonka chocolate bar! Golden tickets not included. Ingredients
8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped ¾ cup heavy cream 1-2 tablespoons butter
¾ cup slivered or chopped almonds (or any other toppings such as peanuts, walnuts, pecans, raisins, salt, chili powder, coconut, etc.) 12 ounces dark chocolate
Over medium heat, heat the cream for about 2 minutes, or until simmering. Lower the heat and add chocolate, stirring frequently. When smooth, add butter and stir until smooth. Serve warm in a fondue pot or directly out of the saucepan. Use forks or toothpicks to dip fruit or other dippers in the fondue.
Over medium heat, toast nuts in a pan. Shake pan every 30 seconds or so. When almonds start to brown slightly, remove from heat. If toasting in the oven, heat the oven to 300 degrees. Spreads nuts in a thin layer on a baking tray. Place in the oven for 5-7 minutes, shaking tray every couple of minutes. Remove when nuts are lightly browned. While nuts are toasting, melt the chocolate in a saucepan over very low heat. Watch carefully to avoid burning. Stir occasionally. When the chocolate is just about melted, turn off the heat and stir vigorously until perfectly smooth. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Pour the chocolate onto it and use a wooden spoon or spatula to spread into a thin, even layer. Sprinkle the nuts (or other toppings) on top and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours. The chocolate will solidify more quickly if it’s in the freezer. When the bark is solid, break the bark into pieces by pressing down on the bark with the tip of a butter knife. This will create jagged cuts; do not expect perfect squares! Store the pieces in a sealed container in the fridge. Chocolate bark can be kept for up to 2 weeks.
Text by Ili Odouard; Photo by Bethany Wong
Plum Icebox Cake
inspired by William Carlos Williams’ “This is Just to Say”
Baked Eggs in Crepes
inspired by Dr. Seussâ€™ Green Eggs and Ham
Graham Crackers adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Plum Icebox Cake Recipe Serves 8-10
“I have eaten the plums that were in the icebox and which you were probably saving for breakfast Forgive me they were delicious so sweet and so cold.”
Ingredients Graham Crackers
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1 cup dark brown sugar 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon kosher salt 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen 1/3 cup honey 5 tablespoons milk 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 ½ pounds plums ½ cup brown sugar ½ cup water ½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups heavy cream ½ cup confectioner’s sugar 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Text by Nia Judelson; Photos by Minh Tam Nguyen
Method Graham Crackers
Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until combined. Add the butter and pulse until mixture resembles cornmeal. In a small bowl, whisk together honey, milk, and vanilla extract. Add to the food processor and pulse until the dough just comes together (it will be soft and sticky). Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface. Pat dough into a rectangle, then wrap with plastic wrap. Let sit in refrigerator until firm, at least two hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough to about ⅛ inch thick and cut into 9x5 inch rectangles. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment and put in freezer until firm again. Bake for 15-25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch. Let cool.
Slice the plums into small wedges. In a pot over medium heat, combine the plums, brown sugar, water, and cinnamon. Cook until the plums are broken down and soft, but not completely disintegrated. Let cool.
Pour the heavy cream into the bowl of an electric mixer. Whip on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Add the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla extract and continue to whip until stiff peaks form.
Assembly Line a 9x5 inch loaf pan with plastic wrap. Place one graham cracker on the bottom of the pan. Layer with whipped cream and then plum compote. Repeat layers—graham cracker, whipped cream, plum compote—until you reach the top of the pan. Top with one more graham cracker. Cover the top with plastic and let sit in the refrigerator overnight. To serve, unwrap cake and invert onto a plate. Cut into slices and serve with extra whipped cream and plum compote.
Baked Eggs in Crepes Recipe Makes 4 crepes
“Say! I like green eggs and ham! I do! I like them, Sam-I-am! And I would eat them in a boat. And I would eat them with a goat...” Ingredients
½ cup all purpose flour ¼ teaspoon salt ¾ cup whole milk 2 large eggs 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted Butter for pan 4 thin slices prosciutto 4 tablespoons basil pesto 4 eggs 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese Salt and pepper, to taste 4 thin slices prosciutto 4 tablespoons basil pesto 4 eggs 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese Salt and pepper, to taste
For the crepes, blend or whisk together flour, salt, milk, eggs and butter until completely smooth. Refrigerate batter for at least 15 minutes, or until ready to use. Batter can be made up to 1 day ahead. After batter has rested, whisk together again. Heat a skillet over medium heat and lightly coat with butter. Add ¼ of the batter, and swirl pan to completely cover the bottom. Cook until edges begin to pull away from pan and bottom is cooked but not browned, about 2 minutes. Use a spatula to lift and flip crepe over, cooking for 1 minute more. Place each crepe on a greased baking sheet when done. Lightly coat skillet with butter between cooking each crepe.
Assembly Heat oven to 350°F. On each crepe, place a piece of prosciutto, followed by 1 tablespoon pesto. Crack the egg on top, being careful not to break the yolk. Fold up the edges of the crepe to form a square. Sprinkle top with ½ tablespoon parmesan, salt and pepper. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until egg whites are set. Serve warm.
Text and Photos by Tara Mohtadi
Salmon With Mixed Berry Reduction inspired by F. Scott Fitzgeraldâ€™s The Great Gatsby
Kerouac’s Apple Pie
inspired by Jack Kerouac’s On The Road
Salmon with Mixed Berry Reduction Recipe
Serves 1 lonely millionaire; double recipe for romantic endeavors Ingredients
1 cup strawberries (fresh or frozen) 1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen) 1 cup blackberries (fresh or frozen) 1 tablespoon sugar (optional) Â˝-1 pound salmon fillet 2 tablespoons olive oil Â˝ teaspoon salt
1 cup pomegranate juice, sweetened 1 750-milliliter bottle champagne or sparkling wine Pomegranate seeds (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut half the strawberries into small pieces and leave the rest whole. Place the berries in a small saucepan and heat on medium-low heat. Crush most of the berries into a fine paste with a spoon or potato masher to release juices, leaving some berries only slightly crushed for texture. Cook the berries for about 30 minutes, or longer for a thicker sauce. Be sure to stir often to keep the bottom from burning. If adding sugar to the sauce, pour in now and stir till combined. While sauce cooks, salt the skin free side of the fillet, massaging the salt into the salmon. Grease a glass pan slightly bigger than the fillet with olive oil, then place the salmon in with the skin down. Bake for 20 minutes. Serve hot with berry reduction spooned over meat.
Divide pomegranate juice among 8 champagne flutes. Top off each glass with champagne. Garnish with a few pomegranate seeds, if desired. Serve immediately.
Text by Monica Chen; Photos by Bridget Jackson
Kerouac’s Apple Pie Recipe Serves 8-10
“I ate apple pie and ice cream—it was getting better as I got deeper into Iowa, the pie bigger, the ice cream richer.” Ingredients
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) very cold, unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces 2 ½ cups all purpose flour ½ teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon sugar ¼ to ½ cup ice water
6 large apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced ¾ cup granulated sugar 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon ½ teaspoon vanilla extract ¼ teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons cornstarch 2 tablespoons whole milk 1 tablespoon sugar for sprinkling atop crust
Measure out 1 cup of water and add ice cubes. Using a fork or whisk, mix together flour, salt and sugar. Add butter pieces. Using fingertips, pinch butter and flour together until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Alternatively, use two knives to cut butter and flour together. Gradually add ¼ cup ice water, making sure no ice gets in dough. Gently knead mixture together until dough forms. Add up to ¼ cup more water one tablespoon at a time if dough does not come together. Divide dough in half. Place each half on a piece of plastic wrap. Gather plastic wrap around each piece, and compress into a disk. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until ready to use. Dough can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for up to a week.
Preheat oven to 425°F. Place sliced apples in a bowl and toss with sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, vanilla, salt and cornstarch. Set aside. Remove dough from refrigerator.
Assembly Lightly flour a surface, such as a countertop or large cutting board. Using a rolling pin, roll each ball of dough into a 12-inch circle. Lift and turn dough occasionally to avoid sticking. Carefully transfer one of the halves into a 9-inch pie plate and press into sides and bottom. Add apple filling and cover with other half of dough. Using scissors or a knife, cut dough so that only a half inch remains hanging over the sides. Pinch together bottom and top doughs along edge of pie plate. Cut 5 small slits in center of top crust to allow for ventilation. Brush top crust with milk and sprinkle evenly with sugar. Bake pie for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, reduce temperature to 375°F and bake for about 25 minutes more, or until pie is golden brown. Allow to cool before serving. Text and Photos by Tara Mohtadi
Sansa Stark’s Lemon Cakes
inspired by George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series
Bathilda Bagshotâ€™s Cauldron Cakes inspired by J.K. Rowlingâ€™s Harry Potter series
Adapted from InnattheCrossroads.com
Sansa Stark’s Lemon Cakes Recipe Serves 6-8
Sweet and sour, like Sansa. Ingredients
1 ¾ sticks unsalted butter 2 cups granulated sugar 2 large eggs Zest of 1 lemon 3 cups flour 1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder 1 ½ teaspoons of kosher salt ½ cup lemon juice 1 cup and 3 tablespoons of whole milk, divided 2 lemons, sliced thinly ¼ stick butter 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 300°F. Coat a 8x8x2-inch baking pan with nonstick spray. Combine unsalted butter and granulated sugar in large mixing bowl. Beat at medium speed until mixture is light and fluffy. Add eggs to mixture and continue mixing for 1 minute. Then add lemon zest. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Add a third of the mixture to the butter and mix on low for 1 minute. Add the lemon juice and 1 cup and 1 ½ tablespoons of milk. Mix on low until combined. Add flour mixture to butter, alternating wet and dry, until everything is fully mixed. Cut the lemons into thin slices and lie them on a nonstick baking sheet. Melt remaining ¼ stick of butter in the microwave or on the stove. Pour hot butter on lemon slices and then generously sprinkle with granulated salt. Place the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out with spatula. Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. On another pan, bake lemon slices in oven for 15 minutes as well or until the tops turn golden brown. Remove pan and lemons. Use cookie cutter or rim of cup to cut into tiny cakes. Serve on a platter, garnished with lemon slices and sprinkles of powdered sugar to taste on top of each cake.
Text by Jordan Brewington; Photos by Kevin He
Cauldron Cakes and Licorice Wands Recipe Makes 12 cauldrons and 24 wands Anything off the trolley, dears? Ingredients
Cauldron Cake Glaze
6 ounces (1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips 4 tablespoons butter
12 devil’s food cupcakes (use a mix or make your own!) 2 cups mini marshmallows ½-¾ cup dark or semisweet chocolate chips Turbinado sugar Black licorice
6 ounces white chocolate 24 licorice twists (or Twizzlers, any flavor) Sprinkles
In a double boiler, melt together the chocolate and butter, stirring until smooth. Glaze will be relatively thick. Remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes before use. If chocolate thickens too much, return to heat and stir until smooth and melted once more.
Using a sharp knife, cut out a cone shaped cavity in the bottom of the cupcake. Dip the top of the cupcake into the chocolate glaze. Flip the cupcakes right side up and let rest until the chocolate sets, about 30 minutes. Place remaining chocolate glaze into a piping bag (or plastic bag with a hole cut out of the corner) and pipe chocolate around the edge of the cavity. Alternatively, you could use a knife to spread the glaze around the edge of the cupcake. Fill cavity of the cupcakes with mini marshmallows. Garnish the top with turbinado sugar. Bend black licorice to desired size and attach on either side of cauldron opening–add extra chocolate glaze to corners if extra stickiness is needed.
Melt white chocolate in a microwave or double boiler. Coat half of the licorice twists with white chocolate (Tip: fill a shot glass with the white chocolate and dip twists into the glass). Sprinkle chocolate handles with sprinkles and lay gently on wax paper. Let dry for at least 1 hour for coating to set.
Text by Emma Guida and Katie Barr; Photos by Minh Tam Nguyen
Lolita’s Ice Cream Sundae inspired by Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita
Pan-Fried Honey Garlic Eggplant inspired by Pearl S. Buckâ€™s The Good Earth
Lolita’s Ice Cream Sundae Recipe Makes 1 sundae
In Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, Humbert Humbert and Lolita travel across the American landscape. At nearly every rest stop they made, Lolita would order this classic sundae. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, feel free to skip ahead to the homemade hot fudge sauce! Ingredients Vanilla Ice Cream
2 cups heavy cream 1 cup whole milk 2/3 cup sugar 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt 6 large egg yolks 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Chocolate Ice Cream
1/3 cup heavy cream 3 tablespoons cocoa powder 1 cup semisweet chocolate 1 ½ cups whole milk ¾ cup sugar 6 large egg yolks ¾ cup crème fraiche or sour cream ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Strawberry Ice Cream
2 cups heavy cream 2/3 cup sugar, plus 3 tablespoons, divided ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt 6 large egg yolks ½ teaspoon lemon juice 1 pound strawberries
Hot Fudge Sauce
3 tablespoons unsalted butter 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate 2/3 cup water 1/3 cup sugar 6 tablespoons corn syrup Pinch of salt 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Whipped cream Sprinkles
Text by Nia Judelson; Photos by Minh Tam Nguyen
Method Vanilla Ice Cream
In a small pot, simmer cream, milk, sugar, and salt until the sugar dissolves. Remove the pot from heat. In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks together. Slowly whisk a cup of the hot cream mixture into the egg yolks. Then, slowly whisk the egg yolks into the pot with the rest of the cream. Cook on medium-low heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Whisk in vanilla extract. Cool in the refrigerator overnight. Once chilled, churn in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s directions. Store in freezer until firm.
Chocolate Ice Cream
Bring cream and the cocoa powder to a simmer in a saucepan. Chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in a bowl. Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate and stir until completely melted. Combine the milk and sugar in a saucepan and cook until sugar dissolves. Remove the pot from the heat. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks together. Slowly whisk a cup of the hot cream mixture into the egg yolks. Then, slowly whisk the egg yolks into the pot with the rest of the cream. Cook on medium-low heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Mix in the chocolate mixture, crème fraiche, salt, and vanilla extract. Strain and chill. Churn according to manufacturer’s instructions. Store in freezer until firm.
Strawberry Ice Cream
In a small pot, simmer cream, sugar, and salt until the sugar dissolves. Remove the pot from the heat. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks together. Slowly whisk a cup of the hot cream mixture into the egg yolks. Then, slowly whisk the egg yolks into the pot with the rest of the cream. Cook on medium-low heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. In a blender, purée the strawberries, 3 tablespoons of sugar, and lemon juice. Stir into the base. Strain and chill. Churn according to manufacturer’s instructions. Store in freezer until firm.
Hot Fudge Sauce
Melt butter and chocolate over a double boiler. Meanwhile, boil the water in a small heavy saucepan. When the butter and chocolate have melted, stir into the boiling water. Add the sugar, corn syrup, and salt and mix until smooth. Turn the heat up and stir until mixture boils. Boil mixture, stirring occasionally, for nine minutes.
In a large dish, place a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a scoop of chocolate ice cream, and a scoop of strawberry ice cream. Serve with the hot fudge sauce, whipped cream, and sprinkles.
Pan-Fried Honey Garlic Eggplant Recipe
Adapted from iamafoodblog.com
"There was such a mass of jewels as one had never dreamed could be together, jewels red as the inner flesh of watermelons, golden as wheat, green as young leaves in spring, clear as water tricking out of the earth." Ingredients
1 large eggplant Grapeseed oil 3 garlic cloves, minced 2 tablespoons honey 1 tablespoon soy sauce 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper Toasted sesame seeds Sliced green onions
Cut the eggplant into ¾ inch sticks. In a deep-sided skillet, heat up ½ inch of oil over medium to medium-high heat until it reaches 360°F. Fry eggplant in small batches, flipping if needed, for about 2 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Remove from the oil and drain on a cooling rack. In a small sauce pan, heat up a touch of oil and cook the garlic on medium heat for about 1-2 minutes or until slightly golden but not browned. Add the honey, soy sauce and ground pepper. Turn the heat to high to thicken honey-soy mixture. Toss the eggplant with the sauce and garnish with sesame seeds and green onions as desired. Serve immediately with rice or cream of wheat of choice.
Text by Daisy Chaussee; Photos by Minh Tam Nguyen
Food and Music:
Why Everyone’s a Little Bit Synesthetic
ynesthesia is a rare condition with which peo ple form associations between two of the five senses. Some people with this condition might hear colors or smell words. Then there are those who can taste music. Certain instruments might evoke the bitterness of coffee, specific keys conjure the sweetness of apple pie. These synesthetes experience a tangible relationship between two usually separate methods of observing the world: taste and sound. Yet these associations are far more natural than one might think. A study at Oxford University found that the songs played while subjects ate the same brand of toffee significantly altered the subjects’ perceptions of sweetness. As a result of this and additional evidence that even non-synesthetes regularly connect food with music, some restaurants pair musical pieces with their dishes so that diners are able to more fully experience their food.
is savory, rhythms are chewy. The balance of instruments in a symphony orchestra becomes akin to the balance of textures in a perfect salad. Trills are that first pop of fresh lemon zest. The slow diminuendo at the end of a piece is a spoonful of ice cream melting in the mouth. Of course, these are just subjective associations from a non-synesthete. But it stands to say that music and food can be associated, even consciously, and that they are far more similar than we might have imagined. We can think about them in terms of each other, and therefore enhance our experiences of both. If you’re craving fried chicken after listening to some country, or if you think you hear a hint of Beyoncé while you’re eating a bowl of mac and cheese, it may just be your synesthesia talking.
It makes sense to tie together these experiences, these cultural elaborations upon the innate senses of taste and sound. Food and music are paralleled in many ways. For one, food and music are creations characterized by a nuanced collection of many components. In the case of food; smell, texture, temperature, balance, and appearance make up a dish. In the case of music, melody, rhythm, dynamic, tempo, and timbre create a piece. The differences between dishes, ethnic cuisines, even the bite-to-bite experience of consuming a single dish through time, are created by differing measures of these culinary ingredients. Likewise, differences in measures of musical components distinguish pieces and musical genres. Both eating and listening to music are evocative experiences, capable of dredging up old memories and creating new ones with their themes and arcs, tones and emotions. Those who truly love food will often envelop their entire bodies into the eating experience, closing their eyes to better experience it, breathing deeply and thinking of nothing else. Those who truly love music will often bop their heads without realizing it, hold their breath at a particularly emotional moment or before the resolution of a chord, or slump in their seats to let the music fully wash over them. Then there are the aftertastes and the silent moments after pieces of music are finished, the contemplation of specific moments in gustation or listening. Both tasting and appreciating music can be either solo indulgences or shared experiences with family and friends. So what would music taste like? Perhaps there’s a dark bitterness to somber minor tones, a smoothness during a legato, a crunch or carbonation to staccatos. Fortes are spicy, a descending bass line
Text by Jessica Gruenstein; Art by Rachel Hsu
Let’s Go to the Movies! Dinner at the Movies
Culinarian’s Caitlin Harrington-Smith reviewed Nitehawk Cinema, Williamsburg’s food-centric movie theater. Nitehawk Cinema shakes up the dating game by serving dinner at the movie theater. They could easily slack on the food front—it’s dark and we’re distracted—but luckily for us, they don’t. This small three-theater cinema hosts an eclectic mix of films, from indie shorts to cult classics and almost everything in between. In each of the 30 to 60-person theaters, stout triangular tables fit snugly amid pairs of plush red seats, making the layout perfect for couples or groups of four. The films currently playing are referenced on the menu: for example The Black Hole cocktail and The Universe in a (Wal)Nutshell crepes allude to The Theory of Everything. Any time during the film, jot your food or drink request down with the golf pencil provided and stick the paper in the wire stand on the edge of your table, and a waiter will glide by to pick up your order and later deliver you your meal, without any distracting verbal exchange. You’ll notice bright, simple flavors that could rival any of the other quaint brunch spots around on Williamsburg’s charming Metropolitan Avenue. Nitehawk is singular among theaters with its range of plates, from breakfast tacos to curried winter vegetables, though they do offer traditional snacks like chips & queso and popcorn. Although their featured dishes and drinks are tailored to fit corny film puns, the food itself is unforced and the flavors put on a show that is a close second to the films themselves. Nitehawk Cinema is located at 136 Metropolitan Ave. To find out what films are currently playing please call (718) 384-3980 or visit nitehawkcinema.com.
Dinner in the Movies
Culinarian’s Wallace Kalkin asked some of Columbia’s film professors about their favorite food-driven movie scene.
Babette’s Feast (Gabriel Axel, 1987, Denmark) “One of my favorite food movies is Babette’s Feast, winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film of 1987. Legendary French actress Stéphane Audran plays a refugee in a 19th century Danish village. Working as a servant for two elderly sisters, she wins a lottery and decides to spend it all on a French feast to repay the sisters for their kindness. Although the guests fear the meal, one mouthwatering dish after another turns them from ascetic to grateful.” -Professor Annette Insdorf Big Night (Campbell Scott and Stanley Tucci, 1996, USA) “As two brothers prepare a feast in expectation of a critic’s arrival, the luscious assembly of the timpano (an enormous Italian layered pasta dish) makes your mouth water. The whole evening is a metaphor as well for the power of the critic, and I saw it at a time when I would anxiously await the arrival of the New York Times theater critics to my productions.” -Professor Evangeline Morphos Chef (Jon Favreau, 2014, USA) “The recent film Chef,...aside from being fun to watch, really gets across the artistry and passion of food creation. It equates being a chef with being an artist in a way that I had never connected with before. The stunning visuals of the film brought into perspective the sheer artistry that goes into food creation. Seeing such masterfully created dishes on the big screen was pretty remarkable. When you’re presented with a beautiful dish in a restaurant you’re going to be impressed, but there was something magical about seeing such visually impressive dishes in the theater that really hit home for me. I think that kind of big screen magic really evoked in the audience a feeling of appreciation for the artistry of food presentation.” -Professor Ira Deutchman
Culinary Symbolism in Orange is the New Black Food as Privilege
One of the most memorable collections of scenes in OITNB is the back and forth between Piper’s (played by Taylor Schilling) starvation in prison after accidentally insulting Red’s (Kate Mulgrew) food, and a flashback to her and Larry’s (Jason Biggs) attempted seven day juice cleanse. In a very stark juxtaposition, the show successfully contrasts the lavish, wasteful, and privileged lifestyle of the upper class with the destitute and unsightly living conditions inside the prison. Food is a cultural artifact in this show (as it is in history) and is undoubtedly synonymous with privilege in this episode. Even the amorphous globs of prison food are beginning to look appetizing to a starved Piper.
Mightier Than The Sword In Season 1, Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” (Uzo Aduba) develops feelings for Piper and attempts to court her with a recitation of a love poem. During lunchtime, Piper is annoyed by Alex’s (Laura Prepon) unwanted presence at the table, and when asked by Suzanne whether Alex was bothering her, Piper responds that yes, she was indeed being bothered. Suzanne responds with an outburst of yelling, hitting herself, and throwing her pie at Alex to prove her point and claim her protection over Piper. When this reaction is taken badly, Suzanne simply responds, “I threw my pie for you.” In this uncomfortably comical scene, the pie becomes a token of pride or sacrifice that should not be taken lightly.
As campaigns roll around for the Women’s Advisory Council (WAC), inmates use food as bribes for votes. Morello (Yael Stone), for example, creates her own campaign treats as voting incentives. After the elections are over, the elected women of the council meet with corrections officer Healy (Michael Harney) to supposedly discuss changes they would like to see in the prison. However, once Dunkin’ Donuts are on the table, they are given a choice between actual prison changes and donuts and coffee at monthly WAC meetings. The donuts win by a landslide.
Critically acclaimed Netflix original series Orange is the New Black is widely known for its authentic and irreverently hilarious yet poignant portrayal of life inside a women’s federal prison. The show successfully explores larger societal issues—such as race, class, and sexuality—through the raw stories of friendship, loss, pain, and triumph conveyed by its exceptionally developed characters. But although these compelling characters take the stage, the true lead of OITNB is its food. Food is used as a unique storytelling medium in every single episode of the show, but it becomes something more than simply just a prop. Food becomes the driving force of the plot, and takes on the role of a malleable character that remains a constant in both the real world and the prison world. It becomes a symbol of power, privilege, and freedom for the women of Litchfield Penitentiary, as well as a source of corruption and manipulation. Here, we explore a few of the many occasions when food took the main stage in OITNB.
The Chicken No one can forget about the chicken that was spotted in the field surrounding Litchfield, or the frenzy that ensued in order to capture it. Red recounts a flashback of a chicken taunting her in her dreams, and ponders upon the near orgasmic thought of making Chicken Kiev from a fresh bird. But more than just a tasty dinner, the chicken represents an ideal of freedom for the inmates—it is free to travel in and out of the gates of the prison and maintain a connection with the outside world. Getting a bite out of a fresh, juicy chicken leg is equivalent to a taste of freedom.
You Run the Kitchen, You Rule the Prison As the head of the kitchen at Litchfield, Red earns the title of prison matriarch. Because she controls the kitchen, which also functions as a portal for smuggling in prison contraband, Red demands a lot of respect from the other ladies, as well as the power to manipulate the other inmates into doing favors for her (she has two willing and faithful sidekicks) and starve people into getting her what she wants (Piper’s punishment for insulting her food).
Text by Carolyn Kang; Art by Rachel Hsu
“Food is used as a unique storytelling medium in every single episode of the show, but it becomes something more than simply just a prop.” 49
Contributed by Professor Anne Dewitt: A hen larger than the barn pecking the other chickens as if they were kernels of white corn. The legend says it’s my great-grandmother. We are running for our lives, my great-grandfather leading the way. “We’ll take your glasses away, Cornelia.” he yells over his shoulder! She gobbled us all up anyway. It was like what Jonah went through with the whale, except for the young village bride we met there. She smiled mysteri ously in welcome and showed us the beds where we were going to spend our long captivity. “You’d better stop this nonsense, my dear,” we heard our great-grandfather whisper before we fell asleep. Charles Simic, The World Doesn’t End
Art by Lian Plass
Food+Trucks: Out of the Driver’s Seat
You see food trucks serving streetside delights to hungry pedestrian patrons lined up around Union Square, on a corner in SoHo, and even on Broadway outside College Walk. Yet, for both Coolhaus and Red Hook Lobster Pound, trucks aren’t only stopping on a couple city blocks: they’re serving up the tastiest treats thousands of miles across the country. We chat with CEO and co-founder of Coolhaus, Natasha Case, as well as the co-founder of Red Hook Lobster Pound Truck, Susan Povich, about the metropolitan food truck.
Text by Jordan Brewington; Art by Joanne Raptis
Red Hook Lobster Pound
Culinarian’s Jordan Brewington: What is Coolhaus? Natasha Case: Coolhaus is a gourmet, all-natural, super-premium ice cream company known for unique sweet-meets-salty flavors (Fried Chicken & Waffles ice cream, Brown Butter Candied Bacon ice cream, Butterscotch Pretzel cookies) and elevated classics, like our Dirty Mint Chip ice cream made with real, organic mint leaves and a touch of brown sugar. Coolhaus draws inspiration from the world of design (hence the punny name which calls upon Bauhaus [German art school famous for its approach combining crafts and the fine arts], architect Rem Koolhaas, and the ice cream sandwiches which are tiny little “cool hauses”). Today, Coolhaus has a national fleet of ten trucks in four cities including L.A., N.Y.C., Austin, and Dallas, and two brick and mortars in the L.A. area (Culver City and Pasadena).
JB: What is Red Hook Lobster Pound? Susan Povich: Red Hook Lobster Pound is a restaurant in Red Hook, Brooklyn with satellites in Montauk and the East Village that specializes in serving delicious lobster and seafood, specifically lobster rolls! It was founded by Ralph Gorham and me in 2009.
JB: How did you decide upon Los Angeles as your starting point? NC: Freya [Estreller], cofounder of Coolhaus, and I are both natives, so we have a fairly vast and strong network [t]here. Overall though, L.A. is a fantastic place to start a food truck business. L.A. is one of the only cities where it is actually legal to pull up along a sidewalk and vend. Great weather allows for year-long business. Also, L.A. is totally a city of “car culture,” so that attitude lends itself naturally to the food truck industry. JB: What is the biggest difference in culture between Los Angeles Coolhaus and New York Coolhaus? NC: N.Y.C. is a much more seasonal business, so summers are super intense—busy and hot—and then things are nearly closed from October through April. In L.A. culture, the workflow is more even throughout the year, and the culture of L.A. more readily accommodates part time schedules. JB: Is it easier in cities like New York to get business because of the pedestrian nature of the city? NC: In some ways yes...you can “discover” the Coolhaus truck while shopping in Soho, for example. In L.A., basically all of our business is destination driven. However, in N.Y.C., because there is so much foot traffic, streets are more dense and filled with distraction so it is harder to stand out, and more competitive. JB: Any future goals for Coolhaus? NC: Continue to grow the product line through the distribution channel. We added pints and bars in 2014 which were a huge success, and we’d like to add more flavors of each type of product, plus mini bars and bonbons, and venture into the cookie/ baking aisle and beverage aisle. Times are really changing such that a boutique, handmade product like ours can be distributed to 5000 plus stores without having to change anything about the recipe. We are even looking at some international markets, as we have launched in the Philippines, Guam, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, and other locations. For more information, please visit: www.eatcoolhaus.com.
JB: Where did the first food truck start? SP: My cousin Douglas opened the first food truck in Washington, D.C. There were only a few food trucks there and the licensing was easier. JB: What has branching out to other metropolises been like? SP: D.C. and Montauk are fairly close but we do have to be careful with local codes. JB: What is the biggest difference in culture between D.C.’s Red Hook Lobster Pound trucks and New York’s? SP: In D.C. it is a lot easier to park! The customers are enthusiastic in both places. JB: For the East Coast—how does the weather affect your business? SP: It is hard. The past two winters were very cold and we only keep the truck out a few days a week. We are very quiet in the winter, we are also somewhat seasonal in sales anyway since we sell lobster. JB: Is it easier in cities like New York to get business because of the pedestrian nature of the city? SP: Absolutely, there is nothing like N.Y.C. for density. That being said we sell a fairly expensive lunch so we need to be in areas where people can spend $20 on lunch. Also no one wants a lobster roll many times per week, so we need to establish good rotating spots. JB: What are any future goals of Red Hook Lobster Pound trucks? SP: Food trucks are very difficult to make money in. We will not likely expand our fleet, but we do intend on doing festivals and events in other states. For more information, please visit: www.redhooklobster.com.
“There is nothing like N.Y.C. for density.” –Red Hook Lobster Pound’s Susan Povich
c r nut culture FADE IN: EXT. DOMINIQUE ANSEL BAKERY, A QUIET SIDE STREET IN SOHO—8:00 AM The gates are opening. The sleepy crowd jolts into motion, licking icing sugar—residue from fresh madeleines doled out at 7:30 by the staff—off our fingers, straightening shoulders hunched from cold and weariness, running stiff hands down wrinkled jackets. We must look our best to meet our Cronut™ King, Dominique Ansel.
This might be a similar, if not the same, crowd that lines up for each iPhone, a comparison which even Ansel draws. “If you have an iPhone 4, you want an iPhone 5 because it’s better, newer, faster. It’s the same with my food. I want to make it taste better, to be yummier. I want to always be improving and making it better.” This careful doublespeak of seeming sincerity and shrewd awareness can be found in most interviews with the chef. Unsurprisingly, Steve Jobs is one of the regular answers Ansel gives when asked which person— alive or dead—he would like to meet most. If you take a look at the news section of Ansel’s carefully curated website, you can easily track his rapid rise to success. Newspaper clippings are organized lovingly, beginning from the bakery’s opening in 2012. There are a few articles filed about various awards, then a sudden spike in May 2013. The website explains the catalyst: “Perhaps what has most widely been reported is Chef ’s creation of the Cronut™. It is also the first pastry to have been so in demand, it sells of up to 20x its retail price on the black market…After its launch on May 10, 2013, Cronut™ pastry fans spanned the world from Berlin to Singapore, making it the most virally talked about dessert item in history.” This is incredibly careful and self-aware wording; instead of self-congratulatory nonsense, the emphasis is on the media response. Ansel is blasé about the source of his renown: “…we are not a PR company, we didn’t try to force it on people, you know? Even if we did it may not have worked. Especially with food, if people enjoy it, they’ll talk about it; it goes where it has to go,” he tells interviewers. By most accounts, the phenomenon seems to have occurred as naturally as most viruses go, or “by the same strange magic that guarantees the success or failure of a movie on its first afternoon” as New Yorker contributor Adam Gopnik quipped in his article, “Panic in the Pastry Shop.” Strange magic, or the familiar magic of a fairy tale? We know a lot about Ansel, but across various interviews and outlets, we are always given the same charcoal sketch of a man, always with the same repetitive wording: Dominique was raised in the rough city of Beauvais, the youngest of four children of a poor family. Despite having to carry a knife to school and being able to see his own ribs at one point, he still has a sense of humor. He has strong morals, as seen by his Marxist governance of the cronut line: no one, not even Emma Roberts, or the pope, or even his own father may cut the line for a cronut. He truly cares about his customers, responds to comments on Instagram, retweets selfies, recognizes regulars, sends out hot chocolate to the line in cold weather. He takes pride in himself and his accomplishments while staying humble, seemingly unfamiliar with fame as he puts up screenshots labeled “Wow! The #waffogato on #SNL.” or “Wow, a shout out for the CRONUT™ on Glee.” What better man to open what so many laud as a real-life version of Willy
Wonka’s Chocolate Factory than one who is an eternal child at heart, a man whose favorite snacks are gummies and peanut M&Ms? INT. DOMINIQUE ANSEL’S BAKERY—8:33 AM Well, here we are at last. This is the room in which thousands of selfie dreams have been realized. I put in my order for two cronuts, but then the alluring scent draws me to the display case. “I know I’m French, but a pastry shop shouldn’t be a jewelry shop. You should have fun, and not take yourself too seriously,” Ansel has said about his SoHo bakery. Indeed, the counter is more of a curio cabinet than a Tiffany’s display. There is something here for all tastes and desires: the muted gold familiarity of baked goods in the form of classic French pastries like chouquettes, cannèles, madeleines, sable bretons, and kouign-amanns, sold at Dominique Ansel as DKAs, that form the year-round foundation of Ansel’s offerings. Then the slightly more colorful riffs on classic desserts: a Paris-Brest with a Snickers twist renamed Paris-New York, a beautiful rectangular line of chocolate tart, a religieuse decorated as a kitten and named “Coco.” Ansel loves animals as much as the next kid; past creations have included owls, pandas, ladybugs, teddy bears, and snails. “I think each thing should be fun. It should be playful. People should be surprised. It should give people emotion,” Ansel has said. This is apparent in the constantly shifting stars of the menu, the main draw of crowds and media, the nostalgia-inducing adult retakes on childhood: frozen s’mores, cookie shots, and Nutella pancakes. FADE TO BLACK. FADE IN: EPILOGUE—THE UPTOWN 1 TRAIN, SECOND TO LAST SUBWAY CAR I’m feeling the weight of the butter in my belly at a particularly shaky segment of the tracks when I recall one of the more bombastic lines I’d seen in reference to Ansel’s golden goose. Said Gail Simmons, a judge on the cooking show Top Chef, “I can’t think of a single pastry ever in existence that has had this much impact on popular culture.” Bombastic, but I can’t think of a more famous pastry either. So what is the impact of this creation? Gopnik writes that it is “...new, pervasive, and quite possibly perverse: the hybridized and fetishized schnecken. Oblivious of the peril, we wake and find ourselves in an age of mutated pastry, crossbreed, trying to be two things at once.” There is certainly a duality to everything surrounding this man-child and his sugar workshop. There is the combination of the dreams of a child combined with the techniques of a world-class chef, a trend personified in another popular New York City pastry chef, Christina Tosi, with her candy bar pie and cereal milk. There is the idea that the glamour of the supermodels and celebrities who adore the cronut can be transferred to any buyer for just five dollars. There is the poshness of the ingredients—champagne, gold leaf, rosewater, spices—that appeals to the most devout foodie, combined with the preferred fodder of Homer Simpson and Paula Deen. These are dualities that seem like they ought to be contradictory, yet in forcing them together, Ansel has created the culinary iPhone that has managed, perhaps involuntarily, to hit almost every strata and subsection of a population that wants it all. What does it say about us, our protracted obsession with this glamorous edible object of status that doesn’t come directly from money and cannot come from privilege—this symbol we can have only through sheer, giddy dedication? Gopnik writes: “Now you can’t buy a house or an apartment and your internship doesn’t actually, you know, pay. So you get a croissant that’s fried and sugared and filled and glazed…Fantasy is…a fried and filled croissant sold in the early morning and costing hours in lost sleep.” Perhaps it is Ansel who has stumbled into our dreams instead of the other way around. He had the luck and the ingredients, but is the cronut not just a manifestation and outlet for our continued fetishization of food in a culture of fetishization and obsession with extremes? On an individual level, to attach such emotion and significance to food would be a symptom of a disorder stemming from some deeper dissatisfaction. On such a widespread level, perhaps it signifies a troubling grave something, a blank that drives us into craving pure decadence, constant change, distraction and entertainment. And what is Dominique Ansel portrayed as—thanks to excellent PR—but a Hollywood trope, a symbol of the good ol’ American dream, a hard worker who went from stale crusts to a wealth of sweets? What is he but an extension of the democracy we worship and put on screen, Robin Hood doling out the prestige of fine dining—historically reserved for aristocrats—upon everyone he touches through his creations? It is all a show; we half realize how exaggerated the phenomenon is. Perhaps Ansel’s personal archive puts it best: “For 2013, TIME Magazine asked: What makes an invention great? For some, it was solving a problem that never could be solved. And in other cases, it was about solving problems you didn’t know you had. ‘Maybe you didn’t realize you needed to eat a croissant and doughnut at the same time,’ TIME reports. ‘Now you do.’ TIME classified the Cronut™ under the category of ‘Extremely Fun.’ ” It’s true, we didn’t realize or we don’t realize anything beyond the fact that Ansel and the cronut are extremely fun and quite lovable. When asked how he’s surviving on so little rest, Ansel looks up wearily and smiles. “I think of all of the happy people,” he says. “It’s so nice to see all the happy people every morning.” As I lay on my bed and scroll through Instagram pictures of chocolate pinecones while my nausea subsides, I decide that Ansel’s original motives for creating the cronut were as innocent as a Snickers bar. For a jumpcut in my tightly controlled, constantly forward-driven life, the experience of waiting in line for a cronut takes up the right amount of space, time, and emotion. FADE TO BLACK.
Text by Jenny Xu; Photos by Minh Tam Nguyen
nice to meet you,
Walking into the Food52 offices feels like walking into your grandma’s home—if your grandma were very chic and lived in an airy Chelsea studio that is. As soon as the elevator doors slid open, my eyes were automatically drawn to the spacious, open kitchen with its beautiful stove and ample counter space that would make any New York City cook gawk with envy. Amanda Hesser was waiting on a cozy couch framed by shelves of cookbooks, meticulously typing away on her laptop. She greeted me with “It’s Casual Friday!” and a gesture towards her black hoodie, jeans, and rain boots as explanation. With that, my conversation with one of the pioneers of the modern food era began.
Culinarian’s Amelia Rosen: What is Food52? Amanda Hesser: We think of it as a place where you
can get anything you need in your cooking life, whether it be recipes, how-tos, or a social platform for talking about food.
AR: How did you come up with the name Food52? AH: We liked 52 because there are 52 weeks in a year, so
you’re cooking year round and we’re cooking year round with you. Also, it relates to our proof of concept, which is 56
“Can we create and curate a cookbook in 52 weeks?” [referring to The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century ] so it was an approach for testing out our concept model as well.
*Note: The original name of the company was Burnt Toast, which is now the name of the Food52 podcast.
AR: What are you working on at the moment? AH: A Food52 iOS app and a gift registry!
AR: How would you describe your cooking style? AH: My mom was a practical cook but she was very ahead
nary world in the past five years?
AH: It has made the sharing of food inspiration and news much more rapid and much more vivid.
of her time. She was adamant about cooking seasonally. She made her own bread and did her own canning too. I would say I’m a different kind of cook partially because of my profession. I’m more experimental but I do know how to make my own bread like she did and I originally thought about becoming a bread baker after college.
AR: What are your thoughts on Instagramming food pic-
AR: Do you have any favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants
AR: How do you think social media has benefited the culi-
AH: I love Instagram but if you look at my account, I tend to do more non-food than food. But, it’s nice to see food photographers use Instagram as a way to show their more casual photos, like James Ransom (follow @jamesransom_ NYC), who takes many of our photos. AR: Any food photography rules to lives by? AH: When choosing the location for the new Food52
offices, we needed a space on a high floor with windows and ceilings of a certain height, and north light to allow for our photography needs. Natural light is key! Also our backgrounds tend to be neutrals or darks because we feel like the food should do the talking.
AR: What was your relationship with food in college? AH: I began working at restaurants in college. I went to
Bentley College and worked at Michela’s in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Jody Adams was the chef (who owns Rialto in Boston now). I lived in a dorm but I wasn’t a huge dorm cook. I was exposed to a city for the first time in college (Boston) so it was so exciting for me to eat out and buy interesting foods.
AR: If you had to choose 3 or 4 kitchen essentials for a college student, what would they be? AH: You need a chef ’s knife, a cutting board, a cast iron
skillet, and a wooden spoon…the wooden spoon you could even live without. Also a bowl would be nice.
AR: Do you have any go-to snack recipes for students (and their many hours in the library)?
AH: I’m a big fan of seasoned nuts with chilies, salts, and spices—I tend towards Asian flavors. They’re a good energy food! We [at Food52] have a recipe for Flapjacks. They’re like chewy, crunchy homemade granola bars. I’m also a tortilla chips and guacamole kind of girl. We have a really great guacamole recipe that changed the way I make guacamole; it has to do with the technique. It’s the order in which you mix things and you don’t mash the avocado very much.
you’d recommend in the city?
AH: One that is very hole-in-the-wall is Hit Deli on 28th
between 6th and 7th Ave. It’s inside an office building near the area where it’s usually just janitorial closets. Their bibimbap is fantastic, and they make a kimchi fried rice that I love. They grow their own vegetables for it on their rooftop. It’s a true mom & pop establishment! Ganso Ramen is a favorite too, and this isn’t hole-in-the-wall but I love Pok Pok in Red Hook.
AR: What would your ideal food day be? AH: Coffee and an egg on toast at Blue Bottle in San
Francisco, lunch at Roberta’s in Brooklyn, cocktails at the Raines Law Room in Manhattan, and dinner at Pok Pok in Red Hook.
AR: What is your favorite food memory? AH: On my honeymoon, my husband and I were at Clam
Bar between Amagansett and Montauk. It’s just a handful of stools pulled up to a shack and you’re looking out at the Atlantic, eating lobster rolls. It was one of those cornflower blue skies, and all of the airplanes that were flying to Europe were passing overhead. I thought of it as a metaphor: these airplanes are starting a new journey and so were we.
“You’re cooking year round and we’re cooking year round with you.” Text by Amelia Rosen; Photo by Brandon Chin
Text by Crystal Ang; Art by Joanne Raptis
ather embarrassingly, up until recently, I considered myself an old hand at Indian food. I am, after all, Singaporean-Malaysian—both my countries consider curries, paratha, na’an, and thosais very much part of the local cuisine. A friend’s recent invitation to lunch at Ayurveda Café, however, has thankfully expanded my culinary horizons.
schools in the US (many billing themselves as “Colleges of Natural Medicine”), and the National Council on Ayurvedic Education plans to introduce a national certification exam by 2016. Now seems to be a good time to look into some of the general principles in Ayurvedic cooking, and to examine how they correspond to, or diverge from, nutrition science as it stands in the West today.
The meal, a preset menu of ten small vegetarian courses, was delicious, but it piqued my interest more than it satisfied my stomach: what was Ayurveda? Why had the restaurant insisted on serving ten (ten!) very small portions of food, each served in its individual silver bowl? Most intriguing of all was the diversity of flavor, texture, and temperature in that one meal, so very unlike my previous experiences with Indian food (hot, spicy curry; warm, crispy, spicy thosai). Ayurveda Café paired cool, sour raitas with warm, musky dals, and cardamom fragrant halva. I wasn’t intrigued, I was hooked.
The Principles of Ayurveda
Ayurvedic History Ayurveda is a 5000 year old Indian tradition of holistic medicine. However, it is often touted as more than a system of treating illness; practitioners use the word’s Sanskrit etymology (ayur means life, veda science or knowledge) to argue for its true potential as a philosophy of wellness designed to bring mind, body, and spirit into harmony with itself and the world. As a way of life, Ayurveda sees medicine and diet as complementary rather than separate. Since good medicine treats the underlying causes of illness (imbalances in the bodily elements) rather than its superficial symptoms, it necessarily weaves itself into the rhythms of daily life and our daily meals—the kitchen thus becomes an apothecary. Ayurdeva isn’t entirely foreign to the United States. Its first popular proponent, Dr. Deepak Chopra, the ex-chief of staff at the New England Memorial Hospital, brought the tradition to public attention via a veritable blizzard of talk show appearances in the 1990s, capping the whole thing off with Perfect Health, his bestselling practical guide to “harnessing the healing power of the mind.” Chopra’s 1991 New York Times profile describes him as a “controversial New Age guru.” No one, however, can deny his charisma and influence. Chopra appeared on TIME magazine’s list of 20th century heroes and icons in 1999 (Mother Teresa, Marilyn Monroe, the Kennedys, and Mohammad Ali were also on the list), and as of 2005, he charges $25,000 to $30,000 per lecture, all while warning of the ill effects of materialism. Chopra’s career is, if anything, very much part of America’s increasing interest in alternative medicines and treatments. And Ayurveda’s popularity and visibility has only increased over the past decade: there are now at least 20 Ayurveda
At its core, Ayurveda aims to bring the diet in line with the individual’s constitution. Much of the tradition of Ayurvedic cooking therefore focuses on identifying the predominant elements in one’s body. Generally speaking, practitioners believe that our bodies, as products of the physical world, contain the following energies: earth, air, fire, space, and water. Of the five energies, one or two are generally dominant in each individual, giving rise to three broad categories of bodily constitutions: Vatta (air and space), Pitta (fire and water), and Kapha (water and earth). Each type is naturally suited to certain flavors, and the individual is advised to lean towards those while keeping everything else in moderation. For example, a Vatta type is supposed to be naturally “warm” because of the absence of “water” in his system; he is thus advised to focus on sweet, sour, and salty foods while eating pungent, bitter, and astringent foods only in moderation. Why? Because Ayurveda physiology holds that sweet, sour, and salty foods stimulate the appetite, or “the digestive fire,” while pungent, bitter, and astringent foods dampen it. As the digestive fire burns, the body become warmer, making such foods more suitable for Vatta constitutions already inclined to heat. Despite the tradition’s focus on the unique needs of each constitutional type, yogis and practitioners nonetheless tout a few general principles of food preparation applicable to Vattas, Kaphas, and Pittas alike. These principles, followed consistently and accurately, are supposed to lead to peace of mind and health of body: 1. Food needs to be hot (usually cooked). 2. Food needs to be tasty and easy to digest. 3. Food needs to be eaten in the proper amounts– not too much, or too little. 4. Food needs to be eaten on an empty stomach, only after the previous meal has been digested. 5. Food should be eaten in pleasant surroundings. 6. Eating should not be rushed. 59
7. Only eat food which is nourishing to your partic ular constitution and which suits your mental and emotional temperament.” (A selection taken from The Ayurveda Cookbook by Amadea Morningstar and Urmilla Desai; Lotus Press: 1995)
Ayurveda vs. Science So what do we think of them? Some, such as (3), (4), and (6), seem uncontroversial. Portion control (3 and 4) obviously promotes long term weight management, while reducing the occurrence of post-meal discomforts such as heartburn and cramps. In addition, eating smaller, more manageable portions at mealtimes helps our body maintain stable glucose and insulin levels in our bloodstream, reducing sugar cravings over the long run. Eating slowly and chewing more (6) is also another widely accepted health booster. Various studies have shown, for example, that slowing down at mealtimes encourages the consumption of fewer calories over the course of that meal while increasing the diner’s water intake. As we eat, our stomachs fill up with food or water, allowing us to gradually reach a point of satiety. At that point, the body’s fat cells begin to secrete leptin, the hunger suppressing hormone that transmits the stomach’s satiety to the brain allowing us to feel full and stop eating. The body, however, is an imperfect mechanism–it takes the stomach at least 20 minutes to transmit the feeling of fullness to the brain, giving us plenty of time for to unknowingly overeat. Eating more slowly reduces that likelihood. In addition, Ayurvedic tradition holds that cooked food reduces pressure on our bodily systems because it is easier to digest (1). That is certainly true: heat helps to break down tough materials such as cellulose fiber, which is why well cooked vegetables are easier to digest (and chew!) than raw ones. Similarly, cooking foods such as rice and potatoes initiates the breakdown of polysaccharides,the starchy stuff, improving the digestibility of carbohydrates. Scientifically speaking, Ayurveda’s emphasis on cooked and tasty food also seem to be compatible goals (2). Heat is also an essential ingredient to kickstart chemical reactions that allow deeper, more complex, flavor compounds to develop–this makes your meal, well, tastier. The Maillard reaction–the reaction between amino acids, sugars, and heat–is one of those processes. Continuous heat (generally between 284°F to 329°F) allows the amino acids and sugars to interact and form a complex mixture of rather unstable flavor compounds; these, in turn start off a cascade of further chemical changes to produce literally hundreds of 60
“We’re more likely to eat nutritious meals if they also happen to be tasty.” ble flavor compounds; these, in turn start off a cascade of further chemical changes to produce literally hundreds of other flavor compounds, resulting in deeper and more complex flavors. The Maillard reaction is the reason why dulce de leche tastes so much richer than plain old milk, and why oven-roasted tomatoes often taste sweeter and smokier than their fresh counterparts. Delicious food is, of course, an aesthetic pleasure. Ultimately, however, we’re more likely to eat nutritious meals if they also happen to be tasty. When it comes down to it though, health and heat don’t always go hand in hand. There is sometimes a happy correlation between nutritive value and flavor: heat, for example, brings out the potassium in mushrooms, while cooking increases the amount of beta-carotene in carrots. Our bodies then convert beta-carotene into Vitamin A, which is used to regulate our immune systems. But the nutritive value of other vegetables–such as broccoli, beets, and onions–suffer from the introduction of heat. Beets, no matter how gently cooked, lose at least 25% of their folate, a type of vitamin B necessary for tissue repair. Similarly, heat deactivates the myrosinase in broccoli, an enzyme that helps cleanse the liver of carcinogens. Ultimately, however, it’s hard to ignore the elephant in the room: Ayurvedic cooking is distinguished–even characterized–by its elaborate system of categorizing our bodies according to the five elemental energies and assigning certain flavors to each body type (7). As far as I can make out, there hasn’t been—nor is there likely to be—any scientific study on whether certain flavors are more or less suitable for certain types of people. So where does this leave us? Many of the broad principles of Ayurvedic cooking seem to be sound, common-sense ideas. It can be agreed that portion control, mindful eating, and cooking techniques sensitive to the nutritive characteristics of the ingredients are beneficial to any lifestyle, but if you’re a temperamental Vatta, you don’t need to avoid bitter or pungent foods just yet.
l a t n e d ci ce c A i Ju tion ra e n Ge
very now and then, I begin a sentence with, “When I was on my liquid diet…” This bit of informa tion raises no eyebrows among the friends and family who watched me subsist on yogurt, juice, and lukewarm soup for six weeks last spring. However, I’ve become quite familiar with the questioning expressions with which the people who don’t know that I had corrective surgery for my temporomandibular joint (that is, my jaw) immediately respond. It’s okay, I’d have given me a look too, but I always explain and show a couple photos of the swelling. Unable to chew, exercise, or stay awake, I spent April and May of last year primarily on the internet. I had rap lyric jokes to tweet, Netflix Originals to finish in one to two sittings, and recipes to discover. The third of these tasks was a bit misguided since the diet my surgeon had ordered was strikingly limited and unnatural—no chewing for six weeks. The only nourishment I could think up on my own was yogurt since soup was
“I fainted in response to standing up.” out of the question, lest I unknowingly burn my mouth due to residual numbness. One can take only so much probiotic dairy. After eating nothing but yogurt, I was at a complete loss regarding not only variety, but also protein and—as became apparent once I fainted in response to standing up—sugar. My search for ways to fit sustenance into a sippy cup brought me not to Cooks or America’s Test Kitchen, but to the web’s true authority on anything and everything: blogs. These bloggers may have imagined their expertise, but they had more ideas than I did. Dealing with the word “superfood” was better than starving or buying my local supermarket out of its Chobani and Fage products. Did you know there’s something called a “high-carb vegan?” Were you aware that they advocate for “Raw ‘til 4?” Can you decode hashtags like “SF” and “GF” and “DF” and “JERF” and “CTFU?” I familiarized myself with the mysteries of the trend-diet world for hours while icing my face. Partly because of my mother’s medical degree and partly because of common sense, I’ve always been vocal about my disdain for every cleanse (something a colon does not need) and somatically unnecessary eating restrictions. Yet here I was, taking tips from people who endorse these lifestyles on how to blend the nutrients out of my food. I was disgraced in my hypocrisy. As if to exacerbate my six week period of hunger and internal conflict, people in the physical world provided poorly qualified and unsought input as well. Every conversation included quips like “You should blend a hamburger,” or “make green smoothies,” or simply, “Do you eat anything?” There was always an opinion to be shared, no matter how redundant or, at times, insulting. I had already conceded to taking advice from usernames like @buckwheatfoodiekalehappinessgirl—I was not ready to listen to countless “informed” peers as well. And yet, I am alive—albeit slightly hostile toward the slough of trendy food promoters whom the internet has given a powerful platform. I have not renounced all that they represent—I refer to blended frozen bananas as “ice cream,” I associate with chia seeds, and I even bought those raw kale chips from Dig Inn the other day. However, I will neither suggest that humans consume 20 servings of fruit in a day nor take seriously anyone who asks for tips on a two week juice cleanse (yes, this has happened to me). If you find your jaw is broken, we can talk.
Text by Madeline Ehrenberg; Art by Rachel Hsu
EMBRACING THE BRAAI
top the white plastic fold-out table were seven severed sheeps’ heads. Mouths agape, tongues lolled to one side, blood dripping down the table legs and color ing the water in the gutter a faint red. While it all seemed a little comically biblical, I was also terrified this would be my next meal.
I had come to Khayelitsha, South Africa’s largest township, in search of authentic braai. Braai is short for braaivleis, Afrikaans for “grilled meat,” and is similar in fare to American barbecue. Yet if you so much as utter the word “barbecue” in South Africa you will be scoffed at. Barbecue doesn’t exist here; it is the uncouth cousin of a revered social custom, not to mention devoid of braai classics such as skewered ostrich and boerwors sausage. Unlike the general perception of “barbecue,” braai transcends the food on the table the way a Christmas dinner might. It is as much about history and atmosphere as quality of meat. Braai congregates families. It is the flagship food on Heritage Day (at one point referred to as Braai Day). Archbishop Desmond Tutu commemorated his appointment with braai. To my relief, my friend-turned-host in Khayelitsha, Fikiswa, navigated my two friends and me around the severed heads. She had invited us to her home to experience braai, and explained that the best is found in townships. Like most townships in South Africa, Khayelitsha is far from the city center. During apartheid, all citizens deemed “not white” 62
were forcibly relegated to townships at the fringes of South Africa’s cities. With few resources and means of constructing infrastructure, crime and poverty flourished. Townships continue to struggle for development and education, and against gang violence. As visitors are warned, one should never visit a township at night or without a guide. It took over an hour to reach Fikiswa’s selected braai spot. Under her guidance, we took a series of mini-buses—white vans that serve as a popular but unregulated form of transport in South Africa, and notoriously cram passengers in like sardines. We wedged our way into the third row, and watched as the familiar landscape surrounding the University of Cape Town, our home for the next six months, denatured into miles of shacks with corrugated tin roofs. Some were homes, others barbershops and groceries. Almost all were crammed side by side with laundry lines demarcating property boundaries. After our third mini-bus transfer, we came to a stop outside what appeared to be a wall of smoke. It took a moment for my eyes to discern four picnic tables, an open trailer holding a table and chairs, and five working grills. Two large, aproned women towered over the grills, armed with stern expressions and metal prongs. They stood ready to dip cuts of meat from the tomato-based, chilispiced braai sauce into the flames. Each woman had applied a chalky white sun-protectant to their foreheads and cheeks to defend themselves against South Africa’s notorious February summer: a blistering 97 degrees, not including the warmth from the grills.
The air was thick with heat and the sweet, metallic scent of raw meat basking under the sun. I noticed with some unease the collection of flies circling the cuts, which Fikiswa quickly dismissed as normal. Meat here is guaranteed fresh; otherwise, it would rot conspicuously under the South African sun. The portions of beef, steak, and pork stacked upon foldout tables next to the grills were most likely slaughtered minutes ago. Charcoal-grilled steak, chicken, lamb, pork, and various sausages like boerwors are common fare at a braai, with ostrich making an appearance every so often. Sides include potatoes and salad as well as the regional pap, a corn based porridge, and chakalaka sauce, a vegetable relish. After selecting our cuts, a combination of pork and sausage, we sat within the open trailer to escape the smoke. While Khayelitsha has one of the highest crime rates in Cape Town, the vibe was relaxed, the people welcoming and seldom without a coat of braai sauce on their fingertips. Though foreign visitors are often well received, Fikiswa explained that it is unusual for tourists to venture into the remote regions of townships. Here in the outskirts of the city, beneath the veneer of Cape Town’s affluence, apartheid lingers. The conversation came to a halt as our trailer filled with the sweet aroma of braai sauce-smothered pork ribs and sausage. A single, steaming plate was set before us with five wet cloths to clean our fingers after the meal. After a nod from Fikiswa, we dug our fingers in. Each of us went first for the pork, and delicately pried the ribs in two, allowing the pork to slip from the bone in neat, pointed strips. Next, I approached the boerwors. Dreading the waxy bite of a factory made frozen sausage, an unfortunate staple of my childhood, I was pleasantly taken aback when met by the tangible graininess of genuine, minced beef. I took another bite despite a recent vow to boycott the meat industry, and experienced my first appreciation of sausage. Shamelessly, I licked my finger to collect the crumbled remains and fennel seeds that still lingered on the platter. Maybe it was the irresistible, smoky succulence of the meat, or the golden ratio of salt to sweet of the braai sauce, a secret recipe. Perhaps, it was the experience of consuming a meal from one plate with friends in the outdoors where it was prepared, among the boisterous chatter of grill chefs and patrons. Desmond Tutu described such braai culture as “the one thing that can unite us irrespective of all the things that trying to tear us apart.” Once we leaned back in our chairs and licked the remnants from our fingertips, I knew I would never again confuse a barbecue for the braai.
“Barbecue doesn’t exist here; it is the uncouth cousin of a revered social custom.” Text by Quincy DeYoung; Art by Joanne Raptis
Art by Joanne Raptis
Volume II | Issue II | Spring 2015