Facebook Food

I always knew that on a primal level food registers as being a top priority. I didn’t expect to see the day that we projected our favorite fried goodies into politics.

I recently became a fan of the Facebook group ‘Can this Onion Ring get more Fans than Steven Harper’. For those of you who aren’t aware Steven (I like to call him Stevie) is the head of the Conservative Party of Canada and the Canadian population reluctantly elected him into office due to the lack of a better option.

Needless to say it didn’t take long for the Onion Ring to roll it’s way past Stevie’s 29 822 fans. Mr. Ring (or is it Mrs…. how do you tell the gender of an onion ring?) currently sits at 165 653 fans.

The trend has spread. New groups such as ‘Can this Pickle get more Fans than Nickleback?’ and ‘Can this Apple get more Fans than Creeed?’ (purposely misspelled due to copyright issues) have recently come across my news feed. I quickly joined both. Nothing beats the crunch of a zesty pickle, and apples… well where do I even begin? As for Nickleback and Creed they just can’t compete. The combined fans of over 800 000 seem to agree.

Food: a tool for Facebook mockery since 2010.


Valentines Day…..

I don’t really buy into the whole consumer thing, but I do enjoy some of the lovey-doveyness behind it. I’m not a big romantic, but I’m a newly wed and I figure that kinda makes me obligated at least for the first V-Day as a married couple.

Of course than there’s the fact that I’m pretty sure my husband’s initial interest in me was cemented by my incessant cooking and fixation with feeding him. I was a horrible cook as a child, I entered the kitchen blindly and attempted to stumble my way through recipes.  Agreeing on the inedible nature of my cooking was one of the few things everyone in my family of six agreed on. So when I first started dating L and he was willing… even eager, to eat my meals I took full advantage.

Part of a toast given at our wedding in September involved one of L’s family members stating that ours was the perfect marriage because he was ‘the boy who loves to eat’ and I was ‘the girl who loves to cook.’ It’s the only part of any of the speeches given that I remember… funny how you memory focuses on things like that eh?

A few years and one culinary degree later and my cooking skills have improved a bit and I’m still just as fixated on feeding L. When we first met when we were teenagers he was an awkward skinny little guy and I think I’m still haunted by the image.

The other day I was making my way through recently updated food blogs and Ree The ( legendary) Pioneer Woman put up a post featuring the sweet glazed fried goodness that is doughnuts. I knew the moment I saw them that they’d be the perfect thing to make for L to express my V-Day Newly Wed love.  The man has a sweet tooth that my palette can’t comprehend but my baking obsession sees eye to eye with.

I followed her recipe for the doughnuts exactly, I love the extra details she gives that are missing from so many recipes, Ree really goes the extra mile. I didn’t have powder sugar on hand (powder sugar and I have a bad history, it’s always missing when I need it most) so I made a very thick simple syrup based glaze with vanilla and salt added in, it worked wonderfully.

They were a hoot to make. I love making baked goods that are kitschy and fun and doughnuts were especially satisfying.  The husband was very pleased with his box of suitably sugary fried cakes. But I suspect he was more amused by my enthusiasm with how amazingly bakery-esk they turned out.

The toast from the wedding stands true, he loves to eat and I love to cook. And so far it’s worked out perfectly.

On a side note I’ll add that while I didn’t go so far as to cook the food for my wedding I did make my own cake. Something almost EVERYONE told me not to. But there was no way I was going to miss an oppertunity like that. I started learning as much about cakes as I could about 6 months before the wedding. Cake Central is the single most useful tool to any budding cake decorator, and I can safely say 93% of my cake skills came from that amazing community of people. If you are thinking about getting into cake decorating or simply want to gauk at the masterpieces sugar artists are making, visit that site. But I’ll warn you now… it’s very addicting.

Local Food

Local, Local, Local we’ve been assaulted with the ‘new’ doctrine for well over a year now. And there’s a growing sense that people are eager for a respite. While familiarizing myself with Serious Eats (a great food community) I stumbled on a thread where one of the comments was expressing some very distinct disdain for the Local movement.

Almost everyone understands the cyclic nature of fashion. As someone who stands proudly at 5 foot 2 I can (in theory) appreciate the many reincarnation of platform shoes. As someone who is coordination-challenged I usually by-pass any heel of more than… well really any heel at all.

What so many of us haven’t realized is that for the food and the culinary world going local is its own throw back to past food fashions. All those ‘Top Ten’ list for the food trends predicted of 2010 included a lot of focus on simpler styles of foods, comfort foods, a return of your neighbour butcher, and a focus on sustainable, oh and lamb! We’re coming back full circle to styles of food our daily life was based around years and years ago.

For a ridiculously long time the food people dined on didn’t really change much. There were some slow-moving trends (by today’s standards) where one culture came into contact with another and ingredients or cooking methods were swapped, but other than that we ate and dined in a continual fashion.

The industrial revolution created a new world where everything accelerated in speed. Our lives are lived in warp time. We need to do everything quicker (and easier). No longer could we afford to bake our own bread. Or slow cook those tougher (and cheaper) cuts of meat.

As the industrialization process spread to farming, t-bones steaks became an item every household could afford to put on the table. No more slowly stewed lamb shank or mutton infused with a medley of spices and herbs for us.

We wallowed in the joy of this new easy come easy go world for awhile. But like children longing for the taste of our youth we have started to turn our palettes back to multigrain breads and melt in your mouth lamb stews.

The companies created by the industrial revolution caught on to our shift and offered us brown breads and pre-chopped lamb chunks to accomodate. We’ve sampled, but there is still something missing.

In the past few years a food movement has taken hold of us like none other. Eat Local, Shop Local, Be Local.

Back in the days before that good old industrial revolution local was everything. It was local with a lower case. It was the only option. Because of this anything that was brought back from lands far away was a welcomed respite from the same old stuff.

Then everything changed and we became a global society.

You could walk down the main street of any city in North America and find at least 6 different cuisine waiting for us to walk through the door and pick up a fork (or chopsticks).

But somewhere down in the warmer climates the people started to enjoy the fresh flavors local food provided, and it started to spread. A food fad like no other, this one resonated within us in a way sushi and zucchini blossoms never did.

Well that and it worked really well for local economies, which of course had some big money sponsors jumping on the bandwagon. Not that I’m accusing anyone of having ulterior motives… no never…

But it hasn’t taken long for the very ideals behind the movement to become lost in a muddy splash of branding and advertisement. Happy healthy classy ladies and gentlemen preparing perfect meals for their perfect 2.5 children in their perfectly organized and outfitted kitchens. All while supporting the local economy. How more perfect could life get?

How about being wrist deep in worms, dirt and composted sheep manure?

That is the side of local we don’t see in those studio shot commercials. That is the reality of being local that we were all so eager to get away from when the industrial revolution offered up food that required no dirty work. That’s the side of local that’s harder to sell.

I cringe every time I use the word ‘local’. It invokes images of cloth grocery bags and fake smiles on fake people in fake commercials.

To me local isKingston to you local is ‘insert name of your city here’.

Local is not a word that can blanket every food culture in every city. We all have something different to experience in the way of the vegetables, fruits and meats available to us from the farmers, butchers, and artisans that share the same postal/zip code as us.

Local is the people who we come to know and the foods we come to love through the process of changing our shopping and eating habits.

Local is the culture we build with each other not the brand the companies have fabricate  for us.

But wait! There’s more….To all those purest out there what I’m going to say now may be seen as heresy but I’ll do it anyway.

The culture of local is only further enriched by bringing in ingredients from other areas. Local in the 21st century includes what we have surrounding us as well as what we can obtain from other members of our global village. Hold your angry pitchforks for a second, allow me to explain.

The difference in shopping from a grocery store that fills its shelves with mass produced items and peppering your pantry with quality unique ingredients from producers in different parts of the world is ten fold.

It’s what I call Imported local. In the end its about the culture and society behind the product that qualifies it as local, not the postal code or 100 mile radius it sits in. I think I see some of those pitchforks lowering… After all even chocolate isn’t the best it can be when it’s nothing but 100%. It’s no secret that chocolate didn’t start to dominate the globe until it was cleverly enhanced with complimenting ingredients.

This is the local of 2010 not the local of 1020. This is the unique local of where each of us live, not the Local brand that we have been assaulted with. This is local with a lower case l.

Unless you are a leather faced granny living in a ramshackle hut in a deep green valley of the Rocky Mountains chances are that you’ve used the internet for something to do with food one way or another.

When we go online occasionally to look up a recipe,locate a restaurant or indulge in some celebrity gossip most of us aren’t aware that for those brief moments we are seeing a glimpse of an enormously extensive community.

For those of us who are a little more into food (lets say to the point where your squeal of glee rang through the produce section when you found out that your local grocery store carries black garlic) this online community of what has officially become known as foodies begins to claim you as one of their own.

Over the past few years I have slowly found myself immersed more and more into this world of renegade restaurant reviews, celebrity food bloggers, and tantalizing food porn.

Speaking of food porn, here’s a quick example:

Can’t you just taste the sharp cheddar coming through the rich mellow flavor of the cream cheese in that broccoli cheese stuffing? Mmmm….

Right! Back to our story.

I had stood long enough on the other side of the fence, watching the other foodies. Each of them toiling away in their kitchens, lining up at the doors of the latest restaurant, or poised behind the lens taking shot after shot till they get ‘the one’.  I read their account of their adventures with envy etched across my face.

With my hands laced between the links of the fence staring in at their world I realized that I wanted to be a foodie.

I wanted to blog.

Simple enough. 

All I needed to do was join Blogger or WordPress, decide on a cute and catchy name and boldly walk into the yard where the rest of the bloggers are playing.

So I did.

I wrote a couple of posts and I waited. I decided to be patient and added a few more. And waited.

None of the other foodies were even looking at me. They didn’t want to play with me at all. While I sat on my blog waiting for some traffic I took a closer look at the foodie bullies who were ignoring me.

I looked at their concentrated faces, I watched as they busily moved around, and I realized that they were working. It wasn’t just play to them. They were enjoying it, they exuded satisfaction when they got their task of the moment complete, but there was no doubt that, unlike me, they took it all very seriously.

I raised my eyebrows in disbelief, were they crazy? Why would they take on something that was so intense and involved so much commitment.

I walked out of the yard and placed myself firmly back on the sane side of the fence.

Crazy food bloggers.

But it wasn’t long before I found myself looking over my shoulder. I could see a  foodie blogging about lasagna. I love lasagna, and oh! the picture… perfectly melted oozing mozzarella…

Like a fly to honey I was drawn back. I wanted to contribute. I wanted to be a part of this community.

This time I did my research.

And in my spare time: Food Porn!

Blogs are huge! And food blogs are a very popular way to go.  The Foodblog Blog lists almost 2000 and Food Blog Search has over 3000. When there is that many out there in order to stand out you’ve got to do something and do it well. And not all food blogs are created equal. There are  yearly awards given out like the Blogger’s Choice Awards and Weblog Awards with categories just for food blogs.  Sometimes it is even broken down into specific types; like City, Rural, Family/Kids, Photography, and Humour food blogs. 

The number of foodies who are actively blogging about their adventures is so prevalent that there are sites dedicated just to food blogging events and the food blogging community. Is My Blog Burning? and Food Blog S’cool are little island havens just for foodies in the middle of the large http ocean.

It wasn’t long before I realized that the busy blogging foodies in the yard weren’t bullies at all. Many of them have even created posts about how to start a food blog, what to avoid and what to be sure and do. These posts from bloggers like Delicious Days and The Amateur Gourmet were all the encouragement I needed to jump back into the world of food blogs.

So here I am with my very own shiny new food blog (we’ll pretend the first one never happened and leave it to float away into cyberspace).  I’ve begun (began?) my very own adventure into the community of dedicated foodies (again we’ll just ignore that first attempt).

I will Cook. Dine. Shoot. (As in photography, not the gun/killing type of shooting. But you probably could have figured that out on your own.)

I will eat and I will write.

Most importantly I will commit.