Link Buffet: The Commerce of Everyday Life

Relax, NPR! You’re not too cool to make your own veggie broth. It’s easy and convenient and economical. Although I never thought of blending the cooked vegetables to make a thicker soup stock, as the story’s chef does; my stock is full of unblendable garbage like papery onion skins and tough squash peels.

I loved this interview with the owner of a small grocery store in the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans, one of the neighborhoods hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina ten years ago. I remember how challenging it was to get groceries without a car when I lived in the city: even from my well-connected block with three bus lines, even before the storm, it took a long bus ride and the better part of an afternoon to get to the nearest Kroger. I bummed rides whenever possible and (once I was bringing in enough as a tour guide) got a lot of takeout. This man’s customers don’t always have those options, and before the Lower 9th Ward Market opened, the neighborhood was caught in a loop: not enough returning residents to attract a grocery chain, no grocery chain to attract returning residents.
If you wish to support the Lower 9th Ward Market you can donate via GoFundMe.

Bottled water is bad and you should feel bad, but even if you don’t (says the blogger drinking Fiji at work because she forgot to bring her own), this WaPo article has some interesting stats about bottled water versus soda consumption, among other things.

At Nautilus, some fanciful menus for fantastic kingdoms like Atlantis, Avalon, and Shangri-La.

io9 recounts a dark little story about arsenic-laced peppermints that poisoned hundreds of people in 19thC England. In addition to being a Weird True Tale, this incident is a vivid illustration of what I and many other food writers always say about our study: food history is the history of the world. In tracking the arsenic from apothecary to confectioner to retailer, this story paints a picture of 19th century commerce and law in vivid and meaningful detail.

I’m feeling a little yes and a little no toward this Atlantic interview with Eve Turow, author of a recent book about Millennial food obsessions. (I suspect the interviewer felt similarly, as his questions sound a bit more skeptical than probing.) Yes, we are most certainly in the midst of a major shift and arguable expansion of food discourse: we do see more books, more shows, more analysis on food topics every day–even just since I began reading up on food four or five years ago. Are millennials the drivers of this movement? Eh, not really, although young folks are certainly swelling the ranks. Are we led to this juncture by technology-induced sensory deprivation? Eh, well, there are lots of things that isolate and alienate; it’s convenient to blame screens, which are easier to put down than taxing jobs and too-high rent.

Neophobia aside, I liked this NYT meditation on what recipes were like centuries ago. Some are emphatically specific on the subject of what color eyelids your poultry should have; most are vague in ways that presume either that the culinary reader is familiar with basic methods or that the method and ingredients are more or less interchangeable with whatever you can manage. I like this because I cook this way–recipes are more suggestion than instruction–and it reminds me of a “recipe” I sent a friend after we made a summer vegetable dinner together.

Boil rice, if rice.
Oil in the skillet. Sautee onions (or shallots or the white parts of scallions).
When the onions start to go translucent, add next thing.
-if using fresh chopped tomatoes, add them and the seasoning, stir, and cover. Cook on high heat until tomatoes start to break down.
-If using diced potatoes, coat potatoes with seasoning and add to onions and stir to coat. Cook on high heat, stirring occasionally, until potatoes start to brown.
After whichever thing you added is sufficiently cooked, add medium-cook-time vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, or zucchini.
When medium-cook-time vegetables get a little soft, add quick-cook-time ingredients like beans, corn, or the green parts of scallions.
After quick cook time veg has been in the pan for a minute, if using tomato puree or tinned diced tomatoes instead of fresh, add and stir. Add additional seasoning if necessary.
It’s done when it looks like you want to eat it.
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