More Research We Didn’t Need: Healthy Chocolate

Dark Chocolate Lowers Heart Attack, Stroke Risk | Metabolic Syndrome & Heart Disease |

Someone ought to do some really useful research on how many hundreds [thousands?] of studies have been done, usually with public funds, on the amazing health benefits of chocolate. [This one was paid for by Australian taxpayers, with help from a drug company, but we in the USA have had, and paid for, no end of similar, repetitive urgent studies.]

These studies do have several unquestionably important side benefits:

  • They keep the whole apparatus of research nutritionists, statisticians, assistants,  interns, et al, in grant monies
  • They keep mindless health journalists supplied with a predictable flow of  collusively-headlined copy
  • They corroborate and ratify the food desires and fantasies of multi-generations of yuppies, especially women, many of whom ‘feel’ thereby ‘scientifically’ ’empowered’ to denounce less enlightened mortals who eat ‘bad’ foods — like meat, for example.

Why ‘collusively headlined’?  Well, the article might have been much more informatively titled:  ‘Dark Chocolate, Eaten By-Itself for Ten Years,  Added to Long List of Flavenoid-Rich Foods’   Leafy greens, beans, eggplants, green tea, soy products already provide ample, less expensive sources of flavenoids —- and they don’t require ten years of consumption to show meaningful health benefits.

The unfortunate effect of the constant flow of reported-on and, yes, collusively-headlined studies blaring the great health benefits, no matter how trivial, of chocolate is to create and/or confirm, in the chocolate- and-dessert-fixated sectors of the general public, the welcome, if-erroneous, conviction that chocolate desserts, cookies, brownies are approved by ‘science, because, after all, we all know that “chocolate is good for us.  Science says so.”.

Peter di Lorenzi

Pasta Blunders: From Domestic Science to Celebrity Chefs

Non-Italian-Americans have always had a ‘filtered’ relationship with the very simple techniques required to cook pasta properly.  From the late 1800s until roughly the 1980s, the filtering was done primarily by teachers of ‘domestic science’, home economists [DS/HE], and home- recipe book writers, both of which groups, especially the former two, had little or no familiarity with Italian foodways.  They were concerned with their own cherished values of convenience, time-saving, and industrially-guaranteed sanitation  rather than with flavor, authenticity, or the optimization of gustatory quality.  The unappetizing pasta techniques they espoused were, then, errors of ignorance, inattention, and shabby ‘delicacy’. Thus:

  • Undersalting pasta water  -–  more a result of simply not bothering, I think, than of any visionary concern with excessive sodium consumption.  The result, an irreparable blandness, probably made the final tasteless product more suitably ‘delicate’ in their kitchen-clock-focused eyes.
  • Overcooking pasta —  As much, I am guessing, an effort to tame the whip action of twirled al dente strand pasta  — with resulting unseemly stains — as from a generalized propensity to overboil everything.   Water-logged pasta also nicely dilutes the too-strong flavors [sic – these were the notions of home ec ladies, after all] of the canned pasta sauces [or stewed tomatoes] they advocated and no doubt used.
  • Breaking strand pasta  —   Again, to avoid whipping/staining, as well as to minimize the pointless, inefficient effort  — lest you forget: this was domestic science! — involved in twirling unbroken strands.
  • Rinsing cooked pasta  —  This practice flows logically from the DS/HE  foundational  value of convenience over flavor [except, sometimes, in sweets] and from their doctrinaire disinterest in the practices of those cultures that value and cherish their foods — none of the time-consuming fussing and bothering of immigrants for these educated, careerist WASPs. They imagined, I bet, that rinsing rendered unnecessary the practice of tossing hot, unrinsed pasta in butter or, horrible dictu, in greasy olive oil.
  • Not tossing cooked pasta in oil  —  Oil in any form was somehow un-Protestant and best kept to a minimum to the DS/HE missionaries, thus leading to the rinsing of pasta cited above but also to its near invisibility in their preferred concocted salad dressings, where it was usually camouflaged in nice white, dairy-looking mayonnaise.
  • Over-saucing pasta  —  There really is nothing one can do with bland, overcooked, undersalted, water-logged, unlubricated pasta save to drown it in so much sauce that it sort of disappears into a kind of red sauce noodle soup. Given the kinds of sauces that probably passed efficiency muster for these scientific educators, one can more charitably comprehend the preference of such large number of non-Italian Americans for Chef Boy-Ar-Dee and Franco-American canned pasta products.
  • Not tossing pasta with sauce  —  again, a matter of the ‘no-extra-step’ Taylorite mentality, seen also in untossed green salads and in the characteristic pile of grated cheese sitting atop the ladle or four of sauce.

Though they malinger in some stubbornly dismal backwaters of home practice, these debasing practices no longer corrupt the pasta served in many restaurants and on television food shows.  There they have been replaced by new errors:  of performance, presentation, and  — this will make the pretentious, little price-gouging hearts of ‘celebrity chefs’ and Food Channel ‘personalities’ swell  — ‘deconstruction’ [understood here as the willful dis-integration of a usually traditional or classical dish for the purpose of showcasing in unmistakable isolation the expensive ingredients and  laboratory processes that  supposedly justify the ridiculous price; or for no reason at all save to display a by-then commonplace ‘creativity’ and an equally conformist ‘daring’].

These new de rigeur frills of performance/conformity pasta preparation have everything to do with the food channel and celebrity chefs and their intense quest to be seen doing whatever the hapless food media happens to be lapping up this season.  These latter poor souls strive comically to find some ‘new’ technique or fad ingredient [that others of their clan — probably in New York — are already writing about; lest how would they, in their usual journalistic ignorance of things culinary, have ‘discovered’ it?].

These ‘discoveries’ they are quickly delighted to proffer — and, too often, alas, wield — to their readership as evidence of their ‘in-the-know’, cutting-edge status as interpreters and tribunes of the culinary avant garde. The wielding part comes when these are inflicted upon sacrificial restaurateurs and chefs who may not yet have realized that such trendy performance/ingredient frills are the basis by which food writers and reviewers will deem them worthy of notice, cheerleading feature stories, or positive reviews.  For these unenlightened dullards, to be out of step with current food fashion, as understood by your local food writer, is to be consigned to the dustbin of disdain.

The second generation of ‘filterers’ were spawned in the era of nouvelle cuisine presentationalism, and have become virulent in our own era of food TV, food media, and  ‘celebrity chef ‘ shows, ‘competitions’ and restaurants.  What unites them all is desperate gotta-be-with-it conformity and self-promotion.

Thus, you get the kind of silliness whereby all pasta dishes are tossed in the pan, no matter what the nature of the sauce; pasta is wrung into absolutely pointless presentational cones; pasta is dressed with shaved/microplaned cheese that actually limits the total amount of cheese used AND, worse, its likelihood of adding meaningfully to the overall flavor of the dish. To wit:

  • Pan-tossing all pasta  —  purportedly to allow the pasta to ‘soak up all the delicious flavors of the sauce’ by heating/dressing it in the sauce pan before service, this practice originated in restaurants in the post-1970s and 1980s,  after the triumph of the ‘Northern-Italian-cream-sauces-are-more-sophisticated-and-‘in’ orthodoxy/fashion that sneered at the old Southern Italian tomato-based sauces.It was quite functional as a means of reducing the liquidity and enhancing the coating capacity of cream-and oil-based sauces [because the fat content of these sauces coated the pasta and limited absorption after initial contact] that became so prevalent in ‘serious’ Italian restaurants of the late 20th century.  It also worked well for oil/brothy sauces such as white clam sauce and other seafood pasta dishes, making them less liquid and, with sufficient olive oil or butter, more clingy.  For tomato and vegetable-based sauces however, the pan dressing process, amplified by the high heat involved, will often, unless the pasta is well oiled, absorb too much of the base vegetable juices, resulting in sauce-bloated pasta and  dried-up sauces, especially after the initial serving.  That is why, when pre-indoctrinated Italians dressed and tossed their pasta off the heat, in bowls, they would first lubricate pasta intended for tomato or vegetable-based sauces with oil or butter. Pan-saucing also produces unnecessarily hot pasta that may be seen as necessary in restaurants, where food stands until it is picked up and served — and where steaming hot food is seen as a sign of quality, though many sauces actually taste better, and more intensely flavorful, when they cool a bit.  Tossing in a bowl has the added benefit of bringing down the overall temperature to these more flavor-developing levels. Pan tossing with grated cheese is a disaster-in-waiting, encouraging a very high likelihood that even properly aged, quality cheese will clump up or burn.
  • Presentational pasta cones  —  this is nothing but a purely pathetic conceit — rooted in the even more embarrassing ‘tall food’ plague, to demonstrate presentational flair when done by TV conformity- robots, and even more ridiculous when simply so arrayed on a plate carried out to you from the kitchen.  For home serving, where the standards tend to be much less idiotic, it is laughable.  If it does anything, this vice of simpletons guarantees that an intentionally higher percentage of the pasta is NOT in contact with the puddled sauce below.  Worse, if done with thoroughness, it will succeed to a degree in actually wringing sauce from the pasta in the manner of those old wringer-mops that wrung the mophead dry with a pull of a lever on the handle. [This practice, one imagines, may not have been quite so purposeless back in the Home Ec/Domestic Science days, considering the gustatory quality of the sauces they no doubt advised their victims to use.]
  • Shaved [or even micro-planed] grating cheese  —  Those curled shavings of Italian grating cheese, usually parmigiano reggiano, that are displayed prominently atop pasta dishes in pricier, pretty-food restaurants and food TV shows, are perfect metaphors for the debasement and vitiation implicit in the whole performance-presentationalist  project.  The shavings are eye-catching; they let you know you are getting cheese worth being gouged for; and, if you wish, you can easily take a piece and taste it to verify quality.  But they consolidate the cheese in discrete curls, thereby NOT integrating them into the whole dish, where, for centuries, wiser, simpler, non-Manhattanite, non-Culinary-Institute graduates  knew — without benefit of celebrity shows and food writers — that they should be dispersed to flavor the entire dish.  Even the beloved microplane, a fixture now in every food-attuned household and so beloved of lingering close-up TV cameramen, in fact, degrades the simple act of grating cheese for pasta. Sufficiently aged, hardened, granular cheeses [‘parmesan’-type cheeses are called grana cheeses in Italian] are so perfect for intensifying already highly-flavored pasta dishes precisely because, when grated on an old-fashioned raspy/tearing grater, or even in a food processor, they are broken into tiny ,solid granules that disperse easily in the sauce yet do not entirely dissolve — or worse, melt — and disappear.  Instead, they provide little crystalline nuggets of flavor sparkles within every forkful. Highly salted pecorino romano cheese behaves in much the same way.  The microplane, in its usual grating-cheese configuration, actually shaves very thin feathery/flaky sheets of cheese that — because they lie so lightly upon each other, with a lot of air trapped between layers due to irregularities and curling, just like feathers — actually contain much less actual cheese than a visually similar pile of cheese grated the old-fashioned way.  [Just try pressing down a small cup of both cheeses and note the result].  The overall result, then, is that a] there is usually less actual cheese for the dish, and b] unless the pasta is at almost room temperature, the tiny ‘feather-flakes’ melt almost immediately and provide far less residual flavor than the nuggets rendered by the more traditional manner.  But the cheese shower produced does looks so much better on TV, and the cynical restaurateur knows that a ramekin of microplaned cheese costs him a whole lot less than the same of grated cheese.  As for the use of the stick-sized shaved cheese, it is just about as useless to the real flavoring function as are the lovely shaved curls.

The simple truth is that both generations of fallacies might so very easily have been avoided by simply observing the practices in any reasonably traditional Italian-American home, of which there have been and still are millions. The ‘scientists’, we know from Laura Shapiro [“Perfection Salad”] and others avoided them because they represented precisely the target of their progressive crusade to indoctrinate malleable schoolchildren against the ‘excessive’ time wasting and uneconomic expense devoted to meals by their then-immigrating traditional parents — unnecessary fresh vegetables and leafy greens — often bitter! —not to mention how offensively all those cheeses and garlic assailed their privileged, Protestant noses.

The newer generation of ‘filterers’ ignores the simpler traditional methods of families for far less ‘noble’ reasons.  For them, it is all about making it by getting noticed, and home methods are anathema.  There is no ‘creativity’;  no reputation to market;  no claques of adulatory disciples, writers, and viewers to cultivate;  no justification for high prices when outstanding flavors can be achieved by ordinary people with common ingredients for relative pennies.

G.K. Chesterton, one of my favorite thinkers, sums up our current situation on this issue quite nicely, I think:  “Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.”  Nor, one is tempted to add, because they become crusades for a blithely assumed progress, which Chesterton aptly defines as “a comparative of which we have not defined the superlative”.


Paula Deen and Selective Media Condemnation

Frank Bruni of the New York Times points out how the food media is eager to condemn Paula Deen’s ‘heavy-handed’, ‘unhealthy’, ‘gross’, and ‘inelegant’  southern cooking  [descriptive terms I have seen applied by crowing critics to the revelation of her diabetes] .  One hears echoes here of the culinary media in-crowd’s resentful distaste [and that of their admirers] a few years back for Rachel Ray’s success on their own self-promoting cabalistic turf.

Bruni  concludes his piece:

“And discipline is in order, because some of the upscale victuals they concoct and invariably test aren’t all that much safer than Deen’s grub, the doughnut burger excepted. While Deen has a preponderance of calorie bombs in her playbook and a heavy hand with salt, a given dish of hers can sometimes be lighter than its haute counterpart. An analysis of written recipes that I commissioned from a dietitian suggested that her oven-fried potato wedges, made with mayonnaise, are 328 calories per serving. The chef Thomas Keller’s “tasting of potatoes with black truffles,” made with cream and butter, is 494. [Underlining mine.]

That’s the kind of thing that made me consider some past put-downs of Deen elitist. After all, she isn’t alone in exhorting people to pig out. She’s just unusually cornmeal-crusted, saucy and bewigged about it.

I hope she’ll have plenty of company now, too, as she tells some valuable truths about food and consequences, belated as they are.” []

Sadly, just as their political counterparts, our New York, bicoastal media food elites and their culinary idols inhabit a world of reflexive self-righteousness and self exemption — and they usually get away with it.

The Trajectory of Postmodern Culinary Progress: Cuisine Blasé, Cuisine à le Chat du Schrodinger

The endless parade of new food styles, ingredients, techniques, and ‘cuisines’ that have buffeted cooking, both international and American, for the last thirty years, has only strengthened my conviction that the best cooking by far is that which makes common ingredients, prepared for and by ordinary people, taste delicious.

Does anyone still remember the blaring fanfares that announced,  for nearly a decade,  the arrival of nouvelle cuisine?  Does anyone now seriously believe that the legacy of nouvelle cuisine has been a positive one for any but those who became employable as its propounders, practitioners and vendors?  That its legacy went much beyond:

    • ‘celebrity’ and, yes, even worse, ‘rock star’ chefs
    • miniscule portions on huge plates for much higher prices
    • blander food
    • baby produce and other unflavored, frivolous, expensive garnishes
    • nearly raw, underflavored vegetables despite the colorful extrinsic sauces poured near, around, and under them
    • [or, alternatively] routinely-food-processed-to-death [ and still nearly raw] vegetables, frequently with cream, despite the “lighter, healthier” claims
    • and, of course, the then-generation-old Fernand-Pointian committment to market freshness

But one legacy, worse even than the ‘celebrity chefs’, was the hyper-emphasis on ‘presentationism’ that did nothing for food’s flavor, healthfulness, or value. This purely visual component of nouvelle cuisine was and is, we have been platitudinously reminded ever since, of apparent critical import for the periodic reviving of the jaded palates and for lightening the wallets of the great ooh-and-aah-bleating herd of privileged restaurant-goers.  “We eat with our eyes, you know.”  Well, at least those without appetites and with exquisitely twisted attitudes and postures concerning food — they most evidently do.

Yes, the substance [in the term’s least rigorous connotation] of nouvelle cuisine is now happily a faded memory.  The precious, inverted, bonsai-like presentations, however, have thrived with epidemiological expansion and mutation:

  • Abstract impressionist sauce driblets that cool instantly
  • Tall food inanities that crisp/ruin or pile perfectly good foods to produce jagged triangular shards or leaning towers of pure profit for purely visual effect
  • Japanese-inspired arrangements of micro-mini-geometric portions
  • The tuna-fish-can reshaping of everything, to ‘delight the eye’ with robotically mini-cylindricalized food
  • And far too many similar extractive hoaxes

No longer confined to the corpse of the original la cuisine nouvelle host, this virulent, cooking-free form of culinary ‘creativity’ has spread since the ‘80s and ‘90s to damned near every roadside hotel and to every restaurant desperate to anoint itself as ‘serious’ or ‘upscale’ — no matter how inept or criminal the actual food or pricing.

It is taught with reverence but with neither examination nor counterbalancing irony at our culinary schools.  It makes one long for the old days of equally silly garde manger work, when apple swans, radish roses, ice carvings, befrilled veal chops, and utterly useless sugar paste sculptures were the coin of seduction for privileged taste buds. Those ‘eye-pleasers’, at least, rarely inflated final prices of all but the showiest items.

Culinary ‘progress’, however, has in recent years brought us to the discovery of a greater selection of ethnic cuisines [generally a good thing if free of mult-cult ideology];  but among the anointers and anointed of celebrity and creativity, ethnic cuisines are, just on their own, not good enough — simply too restrictive of talent, of innovation,  of genius.  And so, what these unfetterable prodigies have really drooled over in recent decades is an entrepot cuisine that well befits the affluent American progressive’s multicultural-gentrified-shopping-mall view of what ‘dining’ is.  Thus, we have a ‘fusion cuisine’ style, a 52-pickup, jumble-words pastiche of appropriated styles that throws together ingredients, techniques, flavors — and names that once actually meant something — to achieve something ‘creative’,  something that just might, somehow, be more appetizing than the original, time-tested cuisines from which it was derived. What it is good for, in truth, is showcasing and packaging the trendy, expensive ingredients and techniques of the day and for providing the claque of mindless food writers an opportunity to gush about what all their peers are also, concurrently, gushing about.

It is a cooking style of juxtaposition, collage, ‘deconstruction’, and that most delicious [sic] of postmodern terms, ‘transgression’. Truly a cuisine hors classe foraffluent, with-it diners.

But the future promises even greater titillations.  Today’s jaded foodie can  hope for truly transformational change.  That our culinary best and brightest will now transcend Àdria, El Bulli, and the clumsy ‘molecular’ and stride boldly, in lock step, en masse,  into the more challenging and definitely more remunerative area of the sub-atomic and the quantum — perhaps with generous government grants, which would, after all, do what government research grants are supposed to do:  provide even more comfortable employment for the already well-off to spend on unnecessary consumption of their choice sans the incriminatory moral-political staining that indicts those who earn their money in the selfish, for-profit sector.

Perhaps we will finally attain the Holy Grail of creativity and profitability: something like la cuisine à la chat du Schrodinger.  Imagine it, all you foodie elites, innovation-hungerers, celebrity chefs, culinary transgressors, and leeches on the overfed — the affluent diner is charged the big bucks that are the culinary artist’s due  for a very beautiful  miniscule, but tall, box on a huge sauce-drizzled plate; a box that simultaneously contains and does not contain any real food, and only when he opens it does the privileged diner find out which it will be.

A godsend for food cost-cutting  and even for fashionable waistlines.  And ohhhhh-so-drool-inducing for the affluent, don’t you think?  Alas, this imminent triumph of presentationism will remain, as true art always must, beyond the appreciation capability of  bible-thumping rednecks, those angry white ethnics,  and the yucky  Tea Party people.   Pondering all this, one must concede, albeit sadly, that there are those rare occurrences when the mechanisms of supply and demand really do work magically…..when the privileged and the pure actually get what they can afford to pay for…..and most fittingly deserve.

Peter di Lorenzi

“It’s Fresh and Cheap, but You Have to COOK It !!!

I do most of my produce shopping at an old-fashioned Italian-run,  green-grocer-type market.  The prices are very low, it is always busy, and there is a happy mixture of basic and ethnic fruits and vegetables along with grains, beans, oils, and canned goods.

There are no organic, heirloom, heritage, nor otherwise better-than-ordinary products available, but neither are there any pre-packaged, pre-washed, or pre-cooked options.  When there are locally-grown items, it is almost certainly because they are very seasonal and can be sold less expensively than those from other sources.

The produce is often not as large, un-blemished, or perfectly-shaped as the offerings at the larger supermarkets, though sometimes, especially with ethnic foods, it is in even better shape as a result of much faster turnover.

The prices are outstanding:  Just one example that is typical:  onions are usually 3 lbs. for a dollar to $.49/lb.  For the price of a gallon of gas any four or five people can , and do, carpool and take a bi-monthly trip to such places and stock up very inexpensively on basics and seasonal specialties.

The clientele shows a very conspicuous over-representation of Asians, Hispanics, Middle-Eastern, Caribbean, African, and older Southern Europeans — and seniors.  To my eye, but less strikingly, there is a distinct underrepresentation of whites and black Americans, and those who are there tend to sound and look distinctly middle-class or higher.

[NOTE TO READERS:  I freely admit to generalizing when I determine it to be useful and justified, and to relying on my own anecdotal evidence when I deem it illustrative or informative. It is to be understood here that ‘most’, ‘many’, and ‘frequently’ do not mean ‘all’ and ‘always’ — and that generalizing does not have to mean stereotyping…]

It is sad to see these differences portrayed so starkly. Here is a regular source of inexpensive, fresh, healthy food that is VERY affordable if not organically or politically perfect.

The problem, of course, is that it must be COOKED;  and before that it must be washed, peeled, picked through, and prepped. And even before that, it must be identified and understood as a palatable foodstuff — in pre-convenientarian times, associated with memories of family, commensality, and gratitude.

In our rejective, spoiled, quality-bloated, mindlessly disgustible popular food culture, these latter positive associations have gone the way of reticence, respect, contentment, and familism  — plowed under,  as rapidly as the forces of ‘progress’ can manage,  into the melancholy cultural landfill at the very core of our society of individual choice, convenience, and all-important careerism.

And yet, there remain all those ‘ethnic’ families, and their second- and third generation descendants, who will continue to shop, prepare, eat, and give thanks for basic, healthy food as ordinary people always have.

In the likely future of shrinking affluence that all but the most secure among us are likely to experience, it is they — not the privileged and  the ‘enlightened’, and certainly not the culinary ‘celebrities’ and trend-hoppers— who will have borne without fanfare the humble torch of example and practice, quietly reminding us of how to make the very best of  humble ingredients, how to purchase them gratefully,  and how to ennoble them with care, tradition, and love.

Peter di Lorenzi

“…..but I’m too busy to cook…..”

Ahhh, yes….a misfortune that besets us all, it seems…And yet, the inquiring mind cannot but leap to prosecutorial interrogation:

Busy doing what?

And, above all, why?

But those fruitful questions aside, what if we benignly accept all the busy-ness and its positive value as givens for now……Other, nagging questions remain.

Do you watch or listen to the news? Music?  Babble on the phone at length?

Maybe you have kids and need to squeeze in some ‘meaningful-interactive-shared’ time during which you can even converse, banter, be silly, play, learn….

Or maybe you need a creative outlet, or hands-on craft to shed the compliance-dredged intellectual and physical stultification of your job….err…..CAREER…..

Something to do, perhaps, in the evening or on weekends while you reap the unscheduled fruit of the career to which you’ve sacrificed the greater part of your time and, worse, your mind …..watching, perhaps, the least-of-eighty cultural evils because you have, after all, earned the right to do so……

Well, folks, I have just the product for those pressing lifestyle needs…..

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Act now, folks!!… have nothing to lose [well maybe a few pounds and a those love-handles of purposelessness]…..just say you’ve read this blog and want to sign up for a free, no-risk trial version of HEALTHY COOKING AT HOME!!!…..a time-tested interactive formula for lifestyle and health success.

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FOOD PLATITUDES: 1. “Only the freshest, highest quality ingredients,etc.”

Yes, we know…….stick a microphone in front of any well-reviewed, scripted, celebrity, self-promoting, culinarily-correct, or actually talented chef and you get the mantra.   In some cases, it is actually true  —-  my guess, averaging all the variables,  is about 10-15% at most  —  less than a decent tip.

For the rest, as with any shibboleth in current favor by all those entitled to be, as they say, in the conversation, the realities vary from mindless parroting, to projecting from a few righteous-ingredient-based dishes to an entire menu/operation, to sound- good-at-all-costs marketing, to abject tell-the-fools-what-they-want-to-hear-and–they’ll-line-up-in-droves cynicism.

Some veracity checks do come to mind.  Perhaps some food writers or restaurant reviewers might take a break from extolling the virtues of perfect ingredients and follow the delivery truck of one of the less-fancy produce distributors for a few days; or just follow the big restaurant supplier trucks, noting the cases of low-end, tart […just add some sugar] canned tomatoes, bulk extra-virgin olive oil, domestic grated cheeses, etc…..

…..NOT that there is anything wrong with these ingredients if the prices and claims are honest [except, of course, to those who feel they must, honestly or not, differentiate themselves from their use], but it might be instructive to see how often they deliver to some of those freshest/finest [f/f]-mongering restaurants and caterers.

Or maybe make a determination just how many of those fresh/fine ingredients are discarded after a day or two, or given  —-  still usable, but not up to puristic standards  —-  at that time to food banks, or honestly described in righteous menu descriptions, or described accurately in the soups, stews, sauces, “medleys’ or pureées, that will otherwise fall under under the freshest/finest claims umbrella.

Confronted with typically parvenu food writers and reviewers dying to be ‘aware’ and ‘cutting edge’ and ‘on the right side’, chefs have a easy time indeed time getting the word out to the public that they qualify for inclusion among the freshest/finest laureates.  Thus  the need for reality checks…..or tasting the stuff, but f/f claims do tend to inflate prices a lot  —  and most of us, unless we really care, wouldn’t know the difference; and that, I guess, is the point of it all, if you think about it……………..

[I am not finished with this topic yet….see future postings]