Jimmy has been cooking at his Mandarin Wok restaurant in suburban Washington DC for many years. Millions of Americans search out Chinese food every day and find it in thousands upon thousands of small and large Chinese restaurants all over the country. Many are family affairs, like the Mandarin Wok. Jimmy’s son Nelson is one of seven family members, his mother, brother and sisters in addition to his father, who operate the restaurant.
"...the discovery, understanding and celebration of the food, drink and the related culture of the South, " is open, daily, at Riverwalk Marketplace in New Orleans. Its focus:
---The many ethnicities – African-American and Caribbean, French and German, etc. — that have combined to create unique Southern food and drink traditions;
---The farmers, fishermen, and hunters and gatherers who have produced the food;
---The processors, inventors, chefs and business people who run the restaurants and stock our stores with Southern products, and the home cooks and families who have passed down recipes and food traditions for generations.
Liz Williams, the prime mover behind SOFAB, told us that a few years ago she just decided to open the project, still not well-funded, or prepared, but they had scored a deal on the retail space, and Liz felt they should just plunge ahead. The result is a mix--some exhibits utterly professional, some frayed around the edges, all of interest to any foodish person. Liz, a lawyer with a specialty in food-related issues, is well aware of the limitations, of the gap between the vision and what is possible to achieve given limited resources and staff. But she and her colleagues and volunteers have done it--started a major food museum in the U.S. Bravo!
Another New Orleans favorite to anyone with an interest in booze has its home at SOFAB: the Museum of the American Cocktail. The New Orleans "Sazerac" identified with the city is rye whiskey based.
Current large temporary exhibit: All About Sugar. (Thank you, Domino Brands.)
(Above right: the Katrina Deli exhibit, with Heckuva Job Brownies down front. Levee Leak Soup is also on the menu... )
You may have seen the headline--McD's is thinking of putting one of their joints in the "food court" that serves the Louvre in Paris. I can barely believe I am juxtaposing the words "food court" and Louvre. I haven't been there in a while but hitting a little bistro around the corner would have been my choice, after a morning spent tromping through the galleries. But I need to enter the 21st c., don't I? Apparently the Champs Elysees McD's is the most successful in the entire McD universe.
Gourmet Magazine, on the other hand, must not be shining brightly enough for Conde-Nast. It is ceasing publication of the ancient ( est. 1941) food journal by the end of this week, astonishingly. The company's Bon Appetit--less grand, less precious, more accessible? will carry on, for the moment.
My mother subscribed to Gourmet for several years in the 1970's, but the real Conde Nast star in our house was always The New Yorker. I've been reading it since I could read, and love it still.
Grateful that I do not have 150 feet of intestines tucked inside, as do manatees, I see that the current crop of free healthy product magazines are recommending a huge roster of "cleansing" items this winter, none of which would be needed if the magazines' audience were eating as advised in the first place, right?
But I digress---a slaughterhouse video from Hallmark Meat Packing in Chino, CA, has prompted Los Angeles schools to withhold meat products from a company called Westland that buys meat from Hallmark, on the grounds that the "downer" cattle unable to walk towards their deaths were being dragged or pushed in, and thus might be suffering from diseases that could render their meat iffy for human consumption. Westland provides ground beef to the USDA's National School Lunch Program. Many school systems around the US have chosen to reject meat from Westland, including some in Oregon and Florida.
( Meanwhile, rival groups in Kenya have been killing one another not only machetes, but also with bows and arrows. )
Japanese whalers, despite concentrated efforts to stop them, continue to slaughter whales with impunity, though Australian authorities now claim the video evidence they have will bolster their case against the spurious legal claim of the Japanese that they are taking whales for "research purposes."
Apparently The Teapot Museum of Sparta, NC, was the recipient of a $500,000 grant from the Federal Transportation office back in 2006, a fact now revealed to all and sundry with great derision. This report from 2007 says the planned new museum idea has been scrapped. Now as one who applauds any museum effort directed however tangentially at the subject of food, the stuff that sustains us, rather than at yet another monument to war and destruction, I must say that chunk of change would have been a fine first step towards the creation of the National Museum of Food & Farm on the Mall in Washington, DC. Read more about The FOOD Museum's proposal here.
The watermelon, long associated in the American mind with southern summer seed spitting contests, sweltering hot days, and ants paddling in rivers of pink juice on the creaky old picnic table, is native to Africa. It was part of the Egyptian scene by 2000 BC and may well have grown wild throughout much of the continent, including the Kalahari desert.
( Like that segue?)
China, as we are all painfully becoming aware, grows more of everything than any other country on earth, including watermelon. ( Turkey is a very distant second in watermelon production.) A small area in DaXing province has held a watermelon festival yearly since 1987, and the province grows 1/3 of all the world's watermelon, apparently. The museum in Panggezhuang Village opened in 2004 and features over 170 different watermelon varieties, watermelon art, info on growing and harvesting, plus "the world's largest watermelon," whether in waxwork effigy or oozing on a pedestal we do not know.
The Japanese have been growing square watermelon in glass frames for decades now, and yellow watermelons, seedless watermelons and mini perfectly round watermelons are becoming commonplace. And for more on all this see the website of the National Watermelon Promotion Board.
For The FOOD Museum's exhibit on watermelon click here.
ps True to its name, the w.melon is 92 % water, but it also is vitamin rich and packs lycopene, an ingredient that supposedly has many health-giving qualities...