If you don't know beans, you don't know Appalachia
May 21st, 2014
07:00 AM ET
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Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of Southern food. Sheri Castle is the author of "The New Southern Garden Cookbook." She wrote this essay for the Appalachian-themed issue #51 of the SFA's Gravy quarterly.

This is a story about pinto beans. But first it’s a story about my mountain people and one of our curious traditions.

The Appalachian Mountain South is to the rest of the South what bourbon is to whiskey: It is distinguishable from the rest, yet part of the whole. That includes our food, which is rooted in our geography. Like the rest of the rural South, mountain people traditionally ate off the land. Unlike the rest of the rural South, my people live up and back in one of the oldest mountain ranges on the planet, where the landscape and climate are quite different. On a map, we’re in the South. In practice, we claim our own place.
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Filed under: Appalachia • Cultural Identity • Culture • Obsessions • Recipes • Soup • Southern • Southern Foodways Alliance • Staples


This hippo-like critter can help you be less lonely
May 16th, 2014
12:45 AM ET
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Talk about creative coping mechanisms for being alone - from the blogger who photographs selfies with his imaginary girlfriend to the company that takes your stuffed animals on vacation without you, Japan appears to be cornering the market on accommodating solo travelers.

You can now add the "anti-loneliness" Moomin House Cafe to the menagerie of "wait, what?" strokes of Japanese brilliance.
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Filed under: Japan • Restaurant News • Restaurants • Solo dining • Theme • Travel • Weird News


Chef's Jon Favreau talks food, family, filmmaking
May 13th, 2014
07:30 PM ET
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In Jon Favreau's new film, "Chef," the writer-director-star plays Carl Casper, a formerly adventurous and celebrated chef who's since stagnated in both his career and his relationship with his ex-wife and young son. An unexpected thrashing from Los Angeles' most prominent restaurant critic (and a major social media meltdown) sends Casper running for the open road - in a food truck - in search of his next course of action.

Favreau didn't just tie on an apron and step into the role as a seasoned chef. He put in hard hours on the line in chef Roy Choi's kitchens and food trucks, and brought him on as a consultant to achieve authenticity in everything from knife technique to kitchen culture.

Eatocracy spoke with Favreau about his lifelong obsession with food, connecting with family and the lengths he'll go to for a killer brisket. An edited transcript is below.

Eatocracy: Your character in the film spends a lot of time cooking food for people to show them how he feels about them. How conscious was that?

Jon Favreau: I had been thinking about the film “Eat Drink Man Woman” and Roy Choi pointed me to “Mostly Martha.” It's a German film about a female chef who is a complete emotional basket case and could not communicate, but had such passion in her food. She would feed everyone around her. It's almost like someone who couldn't speak scribbling on a piece of paper like in "The Piano."

There's something romantic about that and I think it’s reflective of what I've seen in the chefs I've known. The most accurate, sincere communicating they do is through their food.
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May 12th, 2014
12:00 PM ET
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Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.

The other day, a cold-hearted Brooklyn kid kicked a cat, and then the Internet exploded.

I’m with the Internet on this one. I have two cats that I’m fiercely in love with and this kind of story makes me insane.

Clearly, there are a lot of people in my camp. Witness the multiple cat cafés - casual spots that stock snacks, drinks and temporary cat companionship - that are in various stages of opening here in the U.S.

Note that local health departments have rules about live animals in eating establishments, so you’ll no doubt see a separation of the food service area from the cat hangout zone. There are also animal treatment rules to be observed; you probably won’t be able to pick up the cute cat lounging nearby, although most of these places will double as pet adoption agencies.

Note: None of these spots are open yet. To get a look at a successful cat café culture, check out Tokyo, where there are places where each cat has its own set of baby pictures, headshots and videos. Awwwwwww.
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Filed under: Content Partner • Culture • Food and Wine • Pets • Restaurants • Theme • Trends


The indulgence of pickled rope baloney
April 30th, 2014
03:15 PM ET
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Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of Southern food. Silas House is the author of five novels, three plays, and one book of nonfiction. He is the NEH Chair of Appalachian Studies at Berea College. He wrote this essay for the Appalachian-themed issue #51 of the SFA's Gravy quarterly.

Dot’s Grocery, owned by my aunt, was the community center of tiny Fariston, Kentucky: a therapist’s office, sometimes a church, and—always—a storytelling school. Everyone gathered there to gossip and to seek the sage kitchen wisdom of Dot. She kept a Virginia Slim permanently perched in her fuchsia-lipsticked mouth and latched her steely blue-eyed gaze on her customers while they spilled their guts and sought her advice. A few times I witnessed prayer services there. The epicenter of a largely Holiness community was hard-pressed to escape that, after all. There were always the big tales, swirling around like the twisting smoke of the regulars’ cigarettes (in my memory, all of them smoked, everyone).

Looking back, the stories are what matter the most. But when I was a child in the 1980s my favorite things were: the cakes-and-candy rack, the old-timey Coke cooler with the silver sliding doors on top, and the huge jar of pickled baloney that sat on the counter next to the cash register. Beside it were a loose roll of paper towels, a box of wax paper, a sleeve or two of Premium saltines, and a large Old Hickory–brand knife.
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February 19th, 2014
01:45 PM ET
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In cooking, the process of clarification entails straining out extraneous muck from liquids so that they might be pure, clear and ideal for consumption. With this series on food terminology and issues we're attempting to do the same.

If it seems food safety issues are on the rise, that's because they are. About 48 million people contract some form of food poisoning each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At any given time the FDA is responsible for watching over some 167,000 domestic food facilities or farms, and another 421,000 facilities or farms outside the United States, according to FDA officials. But there are only about 1,100 inspectors to oversee these facilities, officials told CNN in 2012.

There is a third party audit system, where farms or facilities hire auditors to inspect their premises and provide scores. But some say the audit system is full of conflicts of interest. For instance, shortly before Jensen Farms in Colorado caused a listeria outbreak that killed 30 people, a private inspection company’s auditor gave them a “superior” grade, even after noting that they had no anti-microbial solution in place to clean their cantaloupes.

Sometimes, food slips through the cracks and makes it to the consumer marketplace, as in the recent case of the 8.7 million pounds of meat from Rancho Feeding Corporation (and their associated products like Hot Pockets) that were recalled due to "adulteration." Here's what that means.
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Considering beer as a gift from God
February 10th, 2014
03:15 PM ET
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Something is brewing among American Protestants, and it has a decidedly hoppy flavor.

For much of the last century in the United States, Protestant Christianity’s relationship with beer was cold or even hostile at times. Protestant organizations such as the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and the Anti-Saloon League led the campaign to make alcohol illegal.

Even after Prohibition ended, many evangelicals defined themselves by their abstention from alcohol, called “the beloved enemy” by televangelist Jack Van Impe.
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Filed under: Beer • Religion • Sip


January 31st, 2014
08:00 PM ET
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Editor's note: Cindy Y. Rodriguez is CNN's editor for Latino audiences. February 24 is National Tortilla Chip Day.

As a non-sports aficionado, my attraction to game day festivities has been solely food focused. So naturally, I noticed how potato chips have taken less and less space on the snack table to make room for tortilla chips and guacamole.

Although potato chips continue to be the top-selling salted snack in terms of pounds sold, tortilla chips have been increasing in sales at a faster pace than potato chips, especially during this time of year, according to Tom Dempsey, CEO of the Snack Food Association.

And, it's not just tortilla chips selling at such high rates either.

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Filed under: History • Junk • Mexican • Mexico • Super Bowl • Tailgating


January 31st, 2014
12:05 AM ET
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Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.

2014 is the 50th anniversary of the first Buffalo wings at the iconic Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York. So, as we do every year at Super Bowl time, let’s go to the National Chicken Council for some amazing stats:

1.25 billion wings will be consumed during this Super Bowl – that’s 20 million more wings than last year.

There's enough to put 572 wings on every seat in each of the 32 NFL stadiums.

There will be no chicken wing shortage this year; in fact, chicken wings will be about 5% cheaper than they were last year.
 
To celebrate the all-important Buffalo wing anniversary, let’s honor some great wing spots, as well as places to stock up on stellar nachos and chili.
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