Organic Monkey Brains & Shock and Awe Cuisine

It’s been a very busy morning: Not even 10 A.M. and the floodgates are open and the water is pouring in.  Where’s a dike when you need one?

It all started late last night and then appeared in print first thing today:

On page 5 in The New York Times Business section, the part of the paper where, truly, the best food stories appear each day, it was reported that: “Hepatitis Warning Leads To Recall of Frozen Berries.”

Here’s the link:

What makes this story different from others like it are a number of important facts:  For one thing, the juice advertises itself as both organic and an antioxidant.  Good news for the soil and your heart?  Maybe.  Bad news for your liver?  Evidently, from the article: “Townsend Farms of Fairview, Ore., said it was recalling its Organic Antioxidant Blend, a mix that includes pomegranate seeds imported from Turkey, which the company said might be the source of the virus that has affected 49 people in seven states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.”

Just another story about how stuff labeled “organic” or “antioxidant” does not ensure much of anything.  From the article: “The CDC interviewed 25 people who had the virus, 19 of whom said they had bought the Townsend frozen berry mix from Costco, which has retail stores across the country. At Costco, the berries have been sold since February in three-pound bags labeled Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend.”

In other, unrelated news: An over the top review this A.M. in the Food section of The New York Times by Pete Wells of Carbone.  Wells inexplicably gives it three stars (out of five) despite many negative statements about the place.  What caught my eye were these sentences: “Nearly the entire menu at Carbone is a quotation, starting with the $50 veal parm, which is larger than some fancy brick-oven pizzas and looks like one, too, with ovals of browned buffalo mozzarella and a bright red, summer-fresh, barely cooked tomato sauce. Served with a fried shaft of bone, it’s a shock-and-awe dish, and the most shocking thing about it is that there is no real revisionism here; it is a veal parm, the way you always hoped it would be.”

The reference to “a shock-and-awe dish” strikes home.  I wrote about that kind of cooking right here on 5/30/13:  “This is the culinary version of the chef saying that he’s cool and you’re not.  Bonus: Customer get so thirsty, they drink more.  Best of all, it’s wartime cooking: Shock and awe.”

Can’t we get past the use of marketing labels in selling food?  Can’t food be cooked without the need to shock and awe?

Why can’t we all get along?





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