The wine industry is in love with the word "terroir," but there's a note of ambiguity about what it actually means. Simply defined, it conveys a sense of place – the complete environment from the soil to the climate – that gives each wine a distinct flavor. It’s the vines’ calling card.
In addition to the agricultural boundaries, many people broaden that landscape to include all the living creatures that exist within it. By that definition, a Labrador retriever named Willow has been a bedrock at Bedell Cellars.
She’s been riding shotgun in a pickup to the winery since she was 10 weeks old, alongside her owner Donna Rudolph. A dozen years later, she’s become the self-appointed patroller of the vines, chasing deer, groundhogs and rabbits.
Know what tastes great? Real butter and real lard. Know what isn't packed with trans fat? Real butter and real lard.
Schmaltz isn't either, nor are nut oils, suet and other naturally tasty fats that have gotten a bad rap over the years. So how about a grand return now that trans fat may be getting the heave-ho from the American menu?
Each autumn, some of the world's most prominent food scholars, chefs, journalists and enthusiasts gather together on the campus of the University of Mississippi for a symposium on the state of Southern food. Overarching themes covered by the Southern Foodways Alliance in the previous 15 years have included the role of farmers, a study of global influences, the undercurrents of music and booze, just to name a few. The subject at the core of 2013's installment: Women at Work.
For two days, featured presenters and honorees like Diane Roberts, Vertamae Grosvenor, Emily Wallace, Candacy Taylor, Charlotte Druckman, among many others, spoke eloquently and enthusiastically of the essential roles that women have played in the creation of Southern food culture past and present.
Then it was time for dessert. Eatocracy's managing editor Kat Kinsman and New York Times Atlanta bureau chief Kim Severson faced off in a tongue-in-cheek Lincoln-Douglas debate. The topic at hand: which holds more essential social and emotional currency in the South, pie or cake?
Kinsman defended the pro-pie position, and Severson took the side of cake. They tied, by an assessment of audience applause, but here in the spirit of National Dessert Day, we're serving up slices of both their arguments. Dig in.
Home cooks have been all a-cluck over recent guidance not to wash raw chicken before it's prepared and cooked. While it may seem counterintuitive, food safety resources like the United States Department of Agriculture's "Ask Karen" website advise:
The same goes for beef, pork, lamb and veal. Eggs, too, can incur an uptick in potential contamination, because according to the USDA, "the wash water can be 'sucked' into the egg through the pores in the shell."
So why did we all start bathing our birds in the first place? Probably because Julia Child, James Beard, Bettie Crocker, Fannie Farmer, Margaret Mitchell and the "Joy of Cooking" told us - and our parents and grandparents - to.
Depression is a daily struggle for millions of people, and stigma around the illness only adds to the burden. Emma Thomas' Depressed Cake Shop campaign is helping make conversations around the taboo topic a piece of cake.
"The concept is: make gray cakes, sell gray cakes and create a platform for discussion and media coverage," said Thomas. "And I think that's what we've done."
The London-based PR specialist and creative director became increasingly aware that people in the creative community around her frequently suffer from depression, but don't always have the freedom to discuss this with people in their professional or personal lives.
"If you go to the doctor and you're depressed the doctor will sign you off with stress so depression isn't on your record," Thomas said. "If you return to work after having the flu, people don't judge you forever. But if you have depression and you return to work after being down, you're judged forever."
Some residents of Grand Isle, Vermont, don’t want to talk about what happened in that blue building on Pearl Street. Others have an awful lot to say on the matter.
A cattle trailer, spray-painted in red with the Animal Liberation Front’s acronym “ALF,” still sits out front of the complex now shrouded in overgrown weeds.
It’s an eerie reminder of the events just four years ago that thrust this tiny town of fewer than 2,000 people into the national spotlight.
In October 2009, the now-deserted structure – which once housed the veal processing plant Bushway Packing Inc. - was permanently shut down by the U.S. Department of Agriculture after an animal protection organization, the Humane Society of the United States, revealed an undercover video showing plant workers kicking, dragging, stunning and skinning live calves that were less than a month old.
It was yet another blow to the U.S. veal industry, which has long been mired in conflict with animal welfare groups because of its use of crates to restrain the calves’ movement.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, consumers seldom cite animal welfare as a concerning food issue but express it as “a matter of high concern” for veal.
But just 40 miles from where that horrifying video was filmed in Grand Isle, in the small town of Fairfield, Vermont, the folks behind Stony Pond Farm are among a number of smaller-scale dairy farmers trying to persuade consumers and fellow farmers alike to think outside the pen when it comes to veal – and they’re aiming to make more humane rearing and slaughtering practices an industry standard.
No matter how you slice it, Southern food is complicated. Some detractors dismiss the whole menu as an over-larded, gravy-drenched, carbed-up monolith; they clearly just haven’t been invited to the right homes for supper.
At its core, Southern food is one of the most multilayered, globally-influenced and constantly evolving cuisines on the planet. It’s inextricably and equally tied to the rhythms of the seasons and the lives of the people who cook it the way their grandmother did, and her grandmother before her, and so on.
No one cooks Southern food alone; there’s always a ghost in the corner giving guidance. For millions of people, that’s Paula Deen, a celebrity chef whose sugary, bubbly bonhomie has earned her the moniker “Queen of Southern Cooking” - as well as her share of critics.
I lived in a fifth-floor New York City walk-up apartment with no yard when I started getting the itch to put food to flame. I was drawn to it like a moth, for reasons I couldn’t quite grasp, and which now smolder at the core of my food-loving soul.
Whenever my friend Ali was out of town, I’d let myself onto her back deck to fire up her kettle grill after watering her plants. Since I took pains to replace the charcoal and scrub the grate as cleanly as I could manage, she was kind enough to issue me a key.