Why Michael Pollan Is Wrong About Artisanal Food

I’m kind of exhausted with food talk these days, so I almost skipped this interview. Glad I didn’t. It’s a great change of pace.

Farm products are not food; they are the raw materials for food. Turning plants and animals into something edible is just as difficult, just as laborious as farming itself. Very few of our calories come from raw, unprocessed food. And if those calories are from fruits and vegetables, then it’s only because centuries of breeding has made them less chewy, more tasty, and easier to digest. Cooking, which is one part of processing, went hand in hand with becoming human. Human food is processed food. And there are good reasons for this. Overall, processed foods are easier to eat and digest, more nutritious, tastier, safer, and longer lasting. The idea that any change made in the raw material is detrimental is just flat wrong. […] That we can talk about “A cake made from scratch” when the butter, sugar, and flour that go into it are are highly processed shows how we have lost awareness of the energy that formerly went into food preparation.

Why Michael Pollan Is Wrong About Artisanal Food

Decoding a Menu at Root & Bone – NYTimes.com

In a study of more than a million Yelp restaurant reviews, Mr. Jurafsky and the Carnegie Mellon team found that four-star reviews tended to use a narrower range of vague positive words, while one-star reviews had a more varied vocabulary. One-star reviews also had higher incidence of past tense, pronouns (especially plural pronouns) and other subtle markers that linguists have previously found in chat room discussions about the death of Princess Diana and blog posts written in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks.

In short, Mr. Jurafsky said, authors of one-star reviews unconsciously use language much as people do in the wake of collective trauma. “They use the word ‘we’ much more than ‘I,’ as if taking solace in the fact that this bad thing happened, but it happened to us together,” he said.

Another finding: Reviews of expensive restaurants are more likely to use sexual metaphors, while the food at cheaper restaurants tends to be compared to drugs.

Decoding a Menu at Root & Bone – NYTimes.com

15 Questions for San Antonio’s Matt Bonner

15 Questions for San Antonio’s Matt Bonner

Can authenticity be aware of itself as such and still be authentic?

Michael Pollan, talking about the way we talk about food, specifically, the bullshitting/storytelling endemic to Southern barbecue culture (which is part of its charm, right?).

So Jerry Seinfeld Called Us To Talk About Coffee : The Salt : NPR

I got married and I had a family and my entire day was not free for social interaction. And eating is annoying and difficult to arrange, [and it’s] hard to choose places. And meeting someone for coffee suddenly seemed like a wonderful, compact, accessible and portable social interaction. You don’t even really need a place. But you feel like you’re doing something. That is what coffee is. And that is one of the geniuses of the new coffee culture.

Shortly before reading this, I invited a friend to meet for coffee and not talking:

ELAINE: Come on, let’s go do something. I don’t want to just sit around here.

JERRY: Okay.

ELAINE: Want to go get something to eat?

JERRY: Where do you want to go?

ELAINE: I don’t care, I’m not hungry.

JERRY: We could go to one of those cappuccino places. They let you just sit there.

ELAINE: What are we gonna do there? Talk?

JERRY: We can talk.

ELAINE: I’ll go if I don’t have to talk.

So Jerry Seinfeld Called Us To Talk About Coffee : The Salt : NPR

Julian Baggini – The art of coffee

The logical consequence of molecular gastronomy is haute-mechanisation. If the best way to cook meat, for example, really is to vacuum-seal it with some herbs and spices and cook in water at 55 °C (131 °F) for 48 hours, then as soon as a suitable, cheap sous-vide cooker is available, there is no reason why a novice chef in a local pub, or anyone else for that matter, couldn’t collect it from the butcher and do as good a job as anyone else.

Julian Baggini – The art of coffee