Posts Tagged With: taste

Global warming: Forecasting breakfast

Lara604. Flickr. January 30, 2011.

Lara604. Flickr. January 30, 2011.

Although the human diet is varied, we all have the same nutritional needs for protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.  Despite concerns about the western consumption of processed foods such as Velveeta Cheese, Twinkies, and soda pop for sustenance, we all must eat animals and/or plants.  That is, we must grow or hunt all of our foods.  Slim Fast and Jell-O aside, the laboratory doesn’t yet have the capacity to synthesize meals for human nourishment.  Global warming, then, has implications for more than the severity of hurricanes, the configuration of coastlines, the existence of islands, the stability of buildings, the functionality of the power grid, and the longevity of neighborhoods.  These consequences of climate change are of great importance to humanity.  Just ask the former residents of New Orleans or the current residents of New York City how they feel about severe storms.

Fortunately, humans have the capacity to rebuild homes, streets, and communications infrastructures. Our inventiveness and technological knowledge will ensure we build them stronger, too.  Like our great grandparents though, we are still dependent on the abundance of the harvest.  Although we can preserve, store, and transport foods in ways unknown them, we must still have supplies of cucumbers, tomatoes, pinto beans, rice, chicken, and fish for pickling, canning, drying, and freezing.  Our sophisticated predictions of severe weather won’t permit us to save our crops like we evacuate our citizens.  Unlike people, fields of corn, wheat, and rice are immobile.  Even more, they can neither adapt to nor be protected from extremes in temperature or precipitation.

If climate changes are inevitable, we will find that our menus must change, too.  Humans can competently predict the weather, farm the land, and develop seeds that will grow to fruition.  Antique grains such as teff, quinoa, emmer, spelt, kamut, or amaranth and the dishes that include them will replace wheat bread, rice and wheat noodles, and corn tortillas.  Sandwich wraps prepared from rich brown teff or pale green spelt may become ubiquitous.  Soups and stews with nutty quinoa or amaranth will grace dinner tables.  Fast food restaurants will serve pancakes and fritters rather than doughnuts and French fries.  Soy hamburgers and hot dogs will be the usual fare, too, due to the increased cost of the care and feeding of cattle, pigs, and chickens.  The increased prices for meats will render most people vegetarian.  Would most of us miss automobiles or meat more?  We’ll learn the answer within our lifetime.

© Laura Rizzardini, Inc., 2013

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Ethnic authenticity: No hyphens allowed

Stu Spivack. Flickr. January 3, 2012.

Stu Spivack. Flickr. January 3, 2012.

Concern with authenticity isn’t necessary to serve or eat ethnic foods in America.  The savvy restaurateur caters to local tastes.  Without his or her innovations, there would be no Tex-Mex chili, chicken chow mein, vegetarian sushi, or Chicago style deep dish pizza.  Assimilation would demand American breakfasts of cold cereal, lunches of hot dogs and apple pie, and dinners of steaks and baked potatoes.  Accommodation welcomes new citizens with friendly interest in their cultures if not their languages.  Just as friendship necessitates finding commonalities and sharing experiences, Americans have adapted ethnic recipes to suit their own tastes, ingredients, and customs.

Our best intentions have brought us nachos comprised of tortilla chips, Velveeta cheese sauce, hamburger, and pickled peppers for lunch.  Pasta, of course, is readily assembled from packaged noodles, canned tomato sauce, and hamburger.  Chocolate chips and chocolate cream cheese transform bagels.  This disguise renders breakfast as richly sweet as dessert.  Plenty of salt and fat as well as sugar suits American tastes.  An abundance of meat and cheese is important to Americans, too.  Fresh herbs and spices and unprocessed oils aren’t missed; they would be overwhelmed by all the fatty meat and melted cheese.  Even more, rather than reserve all this rich abundance for holiday celebrations, Americans enjoy it daily.

We’re quick to give credit as well.  While Italians may wish compliments neither for Snooki nor for “Italian” beef sandwiches, they are legendary in the United States.  Swedish pancakes served at American family restaurants are probably about as well known to Swedes as Dolph Lundgren.  Chinese fried rice and Bruce Lee offer similar dubious compliments to the long history of Chinese civilization.  American pride in these adulterations of ethnic foods and culture does acknowledge their hyphenated or hybrid nature.  After all, credit is due to Americans for their development, if not their taste buds.

If only the same devotion afforded to recipes for apple pie and potato salad accompanied forays into tacos and Thai noodle dishes.  Treasured recipes for flaky crusts include prescriptions for specialty ingredients and their temperatures.  Selected varieties of apples are recommended for fillings of the best texture and flavor.  Traditional family recipes for potato salad call for particular types of mustard and varieties of potatoes and onions.  The ingredients of their dressings, accompanying vegetables, and temperature at serving are diverse and detailed.  Respect for other cultures would be improved by respect for their cuisines.  In our global society, there’s ready access to unfamiliar ingredients and authentic recipes via the web if not your local grocery store.  Unlike learning another language, eating authentic ethnic foods offers fun with much less exertion.

© Laura Rizzardini, Inc., 2013

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Bottled water: Pure convenience

sleepyneko. Flickr. August 27, 2007.

sleepyneko. Flickr. August 27, 2007.

The minerals in a favorite brand of bottled water may improve its taste, but not its nourishment.  Tap water offers the same hydration, but not the same convenience.  Americans love packaged foods.  No matter the lightness of the steel, the durability of the plastic, or the sleekness of the design, refillable water bottles can’t achieve the convenience of disposable, bottled servings of water.  There are no worries about losing a favorite or an expensive water bottle.  Spills or drips into a bag or onto clothes don’t happen.  Taking responsibility for an adequate intake of water is also less burdensome than taking responsibility for its container.

There’s also the prestige of buying water.  Even the most oblivious among us know that tap water is free.  Like designer clothes, bottled water is evidence of a high disposable income or conspicuous consumption.  If the brand is a well-known one, it suggests not only affluence, but sophistication.  In the interests of creating less plastic trash, how might consumers be encouraged to choose refillable over disposable water bottles?

1.  A solution might be found in clear refillable water bottles.  Flaunting one’s optimal hydration and healthy lifestyle would be facilitated by the view of the contents of the bottle.

2. Logos or personalization with one’s initials or photograph would enable individuals to identify with their refillable bottles.  The prestige of particular logos might improve sales of refillable water bottles.

3. An emphasis on decorum in the design of refillable water bottles such that they resemble cups instead of bottles is needed.  Imbibing water should have all the grace of sipping coffee.  Swigging water from a bottle implies sweaty exercise rather than a cordial meal or break.

What do you recommend?  How do you drink your water?

© Laura Rizzardini, Inc., 2011

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Coffee: All buzz; no percolation

Jeremy Noble. Flickr. June 5, 2005.

Jeremy Noble. Flickr. June 5, 2005.

Starbucks and, of course, the web have brought us all buzz all the time.  Even McDonald’s – with billions of burgers served – must be anxiously contemplating the day that more Americans choose coffee and oatmeal for breakfast.  If Americans aren’t drinking coffee, they’re shopping for coffee, brewing coffee, talking about coffee, or watching coffee commercials.  We relish coffee cake, spoon up coffee ice cream, slurp mocha milk shakes, sip coffee liqueurs, and savor coffee candies.

Whatever happened to percolation?  This decorous and melodious form of animation provided us with an enthusiastic rather than an edgy start to each day.  Sure, it was likely bland, slightly stale, ground, canned coffee burbling, but its aroma was still fragrant and powerful.  Consumed at the table in a bone china tea cup or a pottery mug and accompanied by the rattle of newspaper, the chatter of children, or the quiet contentment of adult loved ones, it was a lovely and homely ritual.  Refreshment was due more to the warmth of family, kitchen, and beverage than to ample amounts of caffeine.

There were no stainless steel to-go mugs and automobile cup holders.  Repeated infusions of caffeine weren’t necessary to jumpstart each day.  Although its breakfast ritual can’t even spark a reminder of a Japanese tea ceremony, coffee cups have become so ubiquitous in autos, on buses and trains, in television dramas and newscasts, and at public events that they might be deemed accessories.  White, squeaky Styrofoam cups of generic, automatically brewed, ground coffee accompany polyester slacks and a spandex t-shirt.  Sturdy, creamy white paper cups with corrugated, brown paper sleeves are gripped by manicured nails attached to the wearer of designer jeans and a hand knit sweater.  Of course, the beverage is Columbian or French Roast.  Still, fashionable and technical sophistication due to programmable coffee makers, thermal brewers, or espresso machines can’t replace the homey charm of percolated coffee.

© Laura Rizzardini, Inc., 2011

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