Just In Time for Summer: AP Settles Barbecue Debate; Deems Foodie Real Word

Today the Associated Press releases its first ever food section for the 2011 AP Stylebook. What does this mean for food lovers? We can finally settle the debate on what barbecue means: Can grilling and barbecuing be used interchangeably?

Growing up, I would use barbecue to simply mean a party where we grilled foods. We were not eating actual food that had been barbecued: no pulled meats, with either dry or wet rubs coating the skin. We ate dogs and burgers. As I learned more about the severity of the vinegar vs. tomato-based barbecue debates, I became careful not to use the term barbecue when I all I wanted to do was grill jalepeno poppers. Although, now it looks like I’ve been doing it right all along:

barbecue: The verb refers to the cooking of foods (usually meat) over flame or hot coals. As a noun, can be both the meat cooked in this manner or the fire pit (grill). Not barbeque or Bar-BQ.

But this isn’t the only food war settled. Among AP Food Editor Jason M. Hirsch‘s most interesting findings, which he detailed on a call last week:

  • Bloody mary is not capitalized, but sloppy Joe is;
  • Fluffernutter is trademarked, as well as Broccolini;
  • Use foil when referring to aluminum foil, and definitely not tin foil. (“It’s never been made out of tin,” Hirsch discovered.)

Hirsch admitted he was “puzzled over whether to include foodie.”  But he deemed the word “pervasive” enough in the culture to provide it a proper definition:

foodie: Slang for a person with a strong interest in good food.

While I hate the term, I do find it useful when describing the current crop of food lovers. It’s more fresh than gourmet: “a person who likes fine food and is an excellent judge of food and drink;” but also sits above the fine line of gourmand: “a person who likes good food and tends to eat to excess; a glutton.” (Or does it?)

My favorite find, though, brings me back to the frightening, yet ridiculous days of post 9/11: the changing of french fries to freedom fries. Why is the f in french not capitalized when talking about these magically fried spuds: “lowercase french because it refers to the style of cut, not the nation.”


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Meat Photography Uncovered in Vegan Magazine

Holy Seitan! There’s been some serious muckraking going on in the ultra-ethical land of veganism. The vegan blog Quarrygirl uncovered doctored photos from VegNews, a San Francisco-based vegetarian magazine.

To illustrate its recipe for vegan spare ribs, the magazine apparently used stock photography of the real meat kind of spare rib, then scrubbed out the bones to make it look faux.

Quarrygirl posted numerous examples of the fraud, deciding that “VegNews has serious editorial integrity issues, and cannot be trusted.”

On Thursday, VegNews published a formal response, acknowledging the real meat in the photo, but explaining their reasoning as financial:

Yes, from time to time, after exhausting all options, we have resorted to using stock photography that may or may not be vegan. In an ideal world we would use custom-shot photography for every spread, but it is simply not financially feasible for VegNews at this time. In those rare times that we use an image that isn’t vegan, our entire (vegan) staff weighs in on whether or not it’s appropriate. It is industry standard to use stock photography in magazines—and, sadly, there are very few specifically vegan images offered by stock companies.

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PlanEat: An Education in Our Food Choices

PLANEAT.co.uk Trailer from planeat.co.uk on Vimeo.

Ed. Note: More from our resident evolutionary biologist Ph.D., EvoDiva.

The AFI Theatre in Silver Spring, Maryland presented a special viewing of “PlanEat,” a documentary that broadly examines how the food choices we make affect everything around us. The title leads you to believe that it’s all about the planet, but it’s that and so much more.

We were lucky to have the young British filmmaker Shelley Lee Davis introduce her first film to us via Skype. Three years ago, she used to argue with her vegetarian boss over his dietary choice. But the more she discovered, the more urgent it seemed to get her newfound message to the masses. She quit her job and co-produced this film (with Or Shlomi) with no start-up money and no budget for marketing. Given all this, the film itself is impressive.

Of course it’s not about the killer special effects though – it’s about the content. We’ve heard morsels of much of this stuff before. The filmmakers interviewed scientists who study the relationship between food production and its impact on the environment. The wastewater from America’s breadbasket factory farms flows down the Mississippi River and creates a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico the size of New Jersey. The most striking (and frankly depressing) finding was that ovo-lacto vegetarians tend to have a worse impact on the environment than poultry eaters. This was based on the assumption that ovo-lacto vegetarians consume LOTS of cheese, and those cows really drain our resources.

Meanwhile, for those of you out there who can’t afford a new hybrid, you don’t have to get your tree-hugger card taken away: simply maintain a plant-based diet and you can have over 30% more of an impact than your flesh-eating, hybrid-driving friends.

As an evolutionary biologist and anatomy geek, I was most fascinated by the undeniable findings on the impact of animal protein on human health.

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Fart Without Fear

We don’t hype a lot of cookbooks here at ES because, well, they’re all so boring. In fact, if I get one more press release along the lines of Learn to Cook Family Favorite in 20 Minutes or Less! I’m going to barf all over my laptop. But once in a blue moon we get one that actually sounds like our style. Clearly, Fart Without Fear falls into that category.

Now this is not your run of the mill anti-farting cookbook. FWF is not here to tell you to forgo the black bean nachos or the macaroni and cheese pizza. Come on, we wouldn’t do that to you. Nor do they share instructions on how to make these fatty foods flatulent-free. We all know that’s not possible. No, this is much more complex that that. Instead, Fart Without Fear promises a more attainable goal — 70 comfort food recipes that the book’s authors swear result only in the less offensive kind of farting, i.e. weeding out the ingredients that result in “bad flatulence (a. k .a. smelly farts, silent but deadlies, air biscuits, backdoor trumpets, poots, etc.)” They promise their recipes will show readers how to:

Reduce the pungent, eye-tearing, sulfur-laden farts from recipes for breakfarts, loaded lunches, oop soups, sneaky snacks, appetooters, side splitters, dangerous dinners, and deadly desserts…Decide which ones to prepare using the authors’ very own scientifically based and politically incorrect rating system, the Original Boston Baked Bean Odor Index.

Finally, a cookbook that actually wants to help.

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A Chef’s Revenge

Every aspiring food writer has had that recurring nightmare where they’re kidnapped by a celebrity chef/serial killer, tied up, and forced to make perfect eggs for eternity, right? No? Just us? Regardless, I’m pretty sure you’re all going to be excited about the movie Bitter Feast, in which a disgruntled chef kidnaps a critic who wronged him and forces him to cook his own perfect dinner. Completely unclear why this one was not released in theaters, but it’s available on DVD now.

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Who is the 2010 Eater of the Year?

2011 is just around the corner, and that means it must be time for the 4th Annual Endless Simmer Eater of the Year Awards. Every December, ES asks our readers to decide which food personality has had the greatest influence on our edible lives over the past 12 months. Past nominees have run the gamut from Padma Lakshmi to John Mayer and Meryl Streep, but only one outstanding luminary can win the title Eater of the Year (Anthony Bourdain, Hezbollah Tofu and This is Why You’re Fat won the popular vote in past years). Who will take home the crown in 2010? It’s up to you. Read up on our five finalists below, then vote for your favorite at the end of the post.

And the nominees are…

Ruth Bourdain


Like everything we love, the original concept behind Ruth Bourdain was equal parts preposterous and ingenuous. Take the earnest, life-affirming tweets of Gourmet (RIP) editor Ruth Reichl and spice them up with the gutter mouth of 2007 Eater of the Year Anthony Bourdain. The result is a 20,000-follower twitter feed that reeled off some of the year’s most prescient foodie thoughts, from “I’m all for grass-fed cows, so long as they don’t eat my stash,” to “If I read another food trend list, I’m going to drink a beer cocktail, hijack a food truck, and drive a cupcake up your bacon-infused ass.” The gag grew into a daily project that soon spawned a Ruth Bourdain advice column and even caught the attention of Reichl and Bourdain themselves, who both profess to love it. Tony Bourdain says he has a suspect as to who the mystery writer is, but for now the real identity of this tweeting eater remains deliciously secret. (Any guesses?)

The Michelin Man


In an era when everyone swears the professional critic is dead and the new arbiters of taste are none other than you and I, the 2006 announcement that France’s most venerable restaurant reviewers would expand into the United States was met with a chorus of skepticism. This was, after all, the same year Time magazine declared YOU the person of the year. Who cares what the snooty writers from some 100-year-old French guidebook think when I can just read my own reviews on Yelp? The answer apparently, is everybody. In just four years, The Michelin Guide has defied the conventional wisdom of the Internet age and become the most respected restaurant review in North America (as it already was in Europe and Japan). The guidebooks’ results are reported not just on the food pages but in the main section of newspapers as genuine national news stories; the country’s most celebrated chefs pace all night before new ratings are released; and the designation of a shiny star from the Michelin Man has made neighborhood cooks from Brooklyn to Oakland into instant cheflebrities. Now everyone just wants to know where he’ll go next.

Sid Lerner


In 2003, Mad Man-era advertising guru Sid Lerner turned his back on consumer culture and took up the mantle of sustainability. He partnered with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to start Meatless Mondays, a novel initiative that encourages eaters to go without flesh one day a week, thus cutting consumption by 15 percent, lowering greenhouse gasses, helping us all live longer…you know the drill by now. It took a few years, but the Meatless Mondays mantra is now a food world commandment that has changed the way many of us eat. A-list restaurants like Dovetail and Babbo offer meatless menus every Monday; public schools systems and colleges including Yale have embraced the concept; and San Francisco is about two steps away from making meat on Mondays against the law. Thank you Sid Lerner, for giving us a way to feel good about ourselves while still eating bacon 18 times a week.

Professor Mark Haub


No civilization has ever had a more dysfunctional relationship with weight loss than America. Every year or so, we collectively decide what the new way to lose weight is. Don’t eat fat. No, wait — don’t eat carbs. Actually, eat carbs, but only before 10 a.m. Strike that — no carbs, but eat as much meat as you want and only while standing up. Of course, there’s one old-fashioned weight loss method that we never hear much about — just don’t eat so freakin’ much. But could that really work? To prove the relevance of this rather novel theory, Kansas State Professor Mark Haub spent two months eating nothing but crap — specifically, Twinkies and other Hostess/Little Debbie snack cakes. The twist is that he was only allowed to eat 1,800 calories of it a day, making the point that you don’t need some miracle food or fad diet to lose weight — you just need to eat less. Haub lost 27 pounds during two months on the Twinkie diet, and an attentive American audience vowed that each of us would never eat more than 1,800 calories in a day ever again. Nah, I’m just kidding. We shoveled fifty pounds of Twinkies in our face every day and swore we’d sue Mark Haub when we didn’t get skinny.

Sarah Palin


For a few months following the 2008 election, it seemed possible that Miss Wassila 1984 would fade quietly from the national scene and head back to a simple life of moose chili cook-offs. But that was not to be. Fortunately for freedom-loving foodies everywhere, Sarah Palin repositioned herself as the anti-Michelle Obama, anti-Michael Bloomberg food crusader. Wherever there was a seemingly noncontroversial food issue this year, Sarah Palin was around to spice up the argument. The healthy kids act? Not on her watch. Curbing childhood obesity and addressing the rise of diabetes rates? Sounds like a bunch of cookie-hating commie bullshit to Sarah. Whenever foodie elites like the Meatless Mondays crowd started to overreach, Sarah was there to refudiate them with red meat quotes like “If God had not intended for us to eat animals, how come He made them out of meat?” Finally, a politician not afraid to endorse cannibalism. Give ’em hell, Sarah. (Photo: Momlogic)

Also receiving votes: Gail Simmons, USDA Dairy Management, Sandra Lee, The Lawrence/Julie & Julia Project. Vote for the winner — or write in your own candidate — below.

2009 Eater of the Year: This is Why You’re Fat
2008 Eater of the Year: Hezbollah Tofu

2007 Eater of the Year: Anthony Bourdain

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