August 12, 2004
Food Section Digestion - August 12, 2004

We took a couple weeks off, but we're back with the weekly survey of the best articles in the Food Sections of newspapers around the U.S. and around the world.

We start with my favorite story of the week which appears in the UK's Daily Mail about "the most dangerous supper in Scotland". The Stonner is a "fat-laden pork sausage, wrapped in a doner kebab, soaked in batter then deep fried" and comes in at over 1000 calories and 46g of fat. It sells for a mere 3. Creator Saei Sangag says the stonner is selling like hotcakes (which you'd have to eat 10 of to match the calories in a single stonner).

In the (London) Guardian, Nigel Slater answers questions from his readers with his usual aplomb. Taken to task by a reader for only giving metric measures for his recipes, Slater replies in part, "We are only talking about a new set of scales, Ms Bennett, not a sex change." In the same issue, novelist Justin Cartwright thinks out loud about how Britain's "parochial attitude towards cooking" has shaped the British character.

France and the U.S., long time friends, have been at loggerheads recently. The Tocqueville Connection reports on an American-style diner in Paris where native Parisians and Americans come together to talk civily and commiserate. Amusingly, the one American cultural trend the French at the diner don't comprehend is the Atkins craze.

Simon Thomsen at the Sydney Morning Herald wants to get you a cup of coffee. A cup of Australian coffee. The tiny continent is becoming a big producer of quality coffee.

"No man can eat 50 eggs." But if one could he'd probably be found in New Zealand where they wolf down 55 million eggs a year. Read about it at

The Manila Bulletin from the Philippines is all about meat this week with a trio of articles on steak. The also examine the cuisine of the island of Cebu.

The English language Athens News from Athens, Greece chooses to navigate the calm before the Olyympic storm next week with an article on hot peppers, many of which are grown and available in the markets of Athens. Bite the wrong one, and you might run 26 miles for a glass of soothing milk.

In Tokyo, the heat is in the weather rather than the peppers, and its the perfect season for relaxed grazing. Robbie Swinerton tells us Tokyo is ready for grazers, and describes a method of drinking sake with different flavors of salt, similar to the U.S. method of shooting tequila.

On to another foreign land - Los Angeles - where the L.A. Times writer Russ Parsons interviews and prys recipes out of chef Josiah Citrin, a master of chicken.

Hsio-Ching Chou at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer writes about "custom-canned" tuna, which is troll-caught, contain less mercury than the big commercially canned fish and, Chou reports, tastes a lot better. At $3 to $6 a can, it had better taste a whole lot better.

Eugenia Bone in Denver is a mistress of zucchini blossoms and other locally available foods, whether local for her at the time is New York City or her North Fork ranch. The author of the "At Mesa's Edge" cookbook give us a batch of recipes for everything from trout to the aforementioned zucchini blossoms.

Marcelle Bienvenu at New Orleans' Times-Picayune knows that you don't bother trying to cheer up a blue crab. You just eat the darn thing. But you don't have to reserve that liquid crab boil for depressed crustacea. Judy Walker finds plenty of people who use crab boil with ribs, corn, and other foods.

The Washington Post ties into an Olympic theme with Judith Weinraub telling us how Athens got its groove back. Or rather, how Greek cooking, which had surrendered to French recipes, came thundering back as its own distinctive, marvelous cuisine. Looking to the local Asian markets, the Post gives us uses for sugar cane.

The New York Times features bluefish this week. Dana Bowen takes on the difficult fish, and the Times gives us three recipes to try featuring bluefish. In Bordeaux, Frank J. Prial reports that while the great estates are cashing in, the smaller winemakers are not faring well in the face of reduced French wine consumption, foreign competition from the U.S. and Australia, and onerous labelling requirements that prevent growers from adding the grape variety to the label of any wines but the most comman. Their solution? Raise prices. It doesn't make sense to Prial, either.

What doesn't make sense to me is how New York City allowed a real-estate developer to mess up the deal to bring a Sam's Wine and Spirits to Gotham. Instead, the Chicago Tribune reports, the Chicago and Internet wine and liquor superstore will open its second location in the Western Suburbs of the Big Onion. Sure, you've got better bagels in NYC, but you've never been to a REAL hooch barn until you've walked into Sam's with its 4,322 varieties of French wine, 3,621 U.S. wines, 3,623 Australian wines, 165 New Zealand wines and 131 South African wines. Bill Daley might be headed there to get some Riesling, a wine critics adore, but the public shuns.

Did I really say the stonner story from Scotland was my favorite article this week? Well, maybe I was wrong. The one that made me smile was this Tribune portrait of the mother of the fine food craze in America and the woman who taught us home cooking could mean not just burgers and macaroni, but cassoulet and brie en coute - Julia Childs. Childs says shes not ready to be "pushing up the parsley" just yet and remains alert and active at 92. Must be all that low-fat food she taught us to make. Save the liver, spoil the chef, I always say.

picture of Ms. Childs linked from WGBH Boston website

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