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My family and I recently moved across the country, and I have found myself desperately looking for new sources of locally grown food. The easiest place for a city dweller to find local food is at a farmers market. But a farmers market, at its best, should be more than simply a supermarket with outdoor booths. A good farmers market makes you a participant in an entire system, not just a consumer.
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Food comes from your farmer. So as a newcomer to the Mid-Atlantic, I was determined to find my farmer — at least one — who would hopefully lead me to others in the future.
I began on a Saturday morning in Alexandria, Va., at the Del Ray Farmers’ Market on a tiny corner lot at the end of a street full of shops and family-friendly restaurants in the historic port city outside D.C. I tried to remain focused amid the array of tents and booths, steering clear of the glitzy world of bakers, cheesemongers and kimchi purveyors. There was plenty of time for preserved foods later. My mission was clear. I needed raw ingredients, the building blocks of meals.
Then I stumbled upon the stall for Smith Meadows Farm, providing fresh beef, pork, lamb and chicken that were grass-fed and free range. I bought a pound of frozen ground beef, a pack of freshly made chicken empanadas and a book by Smith Meadows’ owner Forrest Pritchard. “Gaining Ground” reveals Pritchard’s struggle to save his family farm by raising grass-fed beef in a sustainable way.
That evening I made four amazing cheeseburgers with Smith Meadows ground beef, then began to read Pritchard’s book with fascination. When I was done I told my husband, “He’s the guy.” I’d found my first farmer.
I contacted Pritchard through his website and he graciously invited me to tour his 500-acre farm in the Shenandoah Valley, just outside of Berryville, Va. He and his family raise hogs, chickens, turkeys, sheep and beef cattle. But it turns out that Pritchard is as passionate about forming connections with customers as he is about farming itself. He is committed to creating and supporting the sustainable economic system of small farms, local markets and concerned participants. Not only had I found my farmer, my farmer could tell me how to find other farmers.
How to find farmers
Our conversation was as free-ranging as the hogs Pritchard tended as we talked. But I’ve distilled his advice into several key tips for those who want to find their farmer.
Most farmers markets have an online vendor list, and from there you can check out the farmers’ websites. Those sites should be able to tell you whether they’re sustainable, organic, pesticide free and/or free range. Ask friends and neighbors where they get their food. Yelp and Angie’s List also will have reviews. The world is wired, even for farmers who usually deal with life’s more tangible elements.
Pose specific questions to the vendors at the farmers market. Ask your livestock farmer, “Is your beef grass finished?” This assures customers that the cattle have never been given any grain. Ask a produce farmer, “What’s at the peak of the season?” Buy the peak produce, and don’t worry too much about prettiness or durability. Some farmers will be responsive, some not, but you’ll be able to tell whether they care about their product. More important, you’ll find out if they care about the same things you do.
Shop for what interests you
There’s no point in eating great food you don’t like. Enough said.
Grow your own food
Plant a garden and ask the farmers at the market for advice. Your local farmer knows better than anyone which plants will grow best in your soil and climate zone. Raise chickens, a pig or even a single steer. There’s no better way to appreciate a farmer than to try to grow food yourself.
Be passionate and have fun
The quest to find your farmer should have a sense of adventure. The more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it. Farmers at a market are usually passionate about what they do. They will respond to your own passion.
I’d come away with a list of questions and tips to help me create relationships with the people who help feed my family. In the coming months I plan to seek out more of my local farmers and see what I can learn about our local honey, goats, root vegetables and cider.
Pritchard and I talked about a lot more: grass fed versus grass finished, the difficulty of storing ovoid-shaped foods such as frozen chickens and the surprising economics of ground beef. But throughout my conversation I realized how lucky I was to have found my first farmer. He wants to spread the word about sustainable farming. He’s hard at work on his second book, which combines photographic portraits of sustainable farmers with the farmers’ favorite recipes. He’s committed to promoting small, local food systems that include the buyer and cook as part of that ecosystem.
Pritchard may have more to say about farming than most farmers. Your farmers might not be quite so talkative but they’re probably just as passionate about the food they grow. Meeting your farmers and buying food at a farmers market turns you into one more thread in the web of good food.
If you care about food, you care about where it comes from. So I urge you, find your farmer.
Top photo: Forrest Pritchard stops to say hello to one of his flock. Credit: Susan Lutz
Fall has arrived, and with the turning leaves comes an ample harvest and a desperate need to make sure I save, preserve and conserve every last bit of summery goodness before it all goes away.
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It’s hard to complain about having too much fresh produce, but when the end of the growing season comes there’s a lot of pressure to make the most of summer’s last stand, especially where corn and tomatoes are concerned.
Early in the summer, I wait longingly for the first corn to ripen. Tomato season is already in full force by this point, but it’s the sweet, crisp corn that signals the true beginning of summer to me. As soon as I discover a few ripe ears, I make tomato corn soup.
This soup is special in our house because it’s part of the first meal I ever made for my husband back when we were dating. At the time, he wasn’t a fan of soup, and he claims that this delicious soup changed his mind about soup and about me. If I was worth eating soup for, then he decided it was time to reconsider a few things in life.
It’s a great compliment to be able to change someone’s long-held beliefs about food (and many other things, but I digress), and I take great pleasure in making tomato corn soup for our family each summer.
My version of tomato corn soup is adapted from a recipe by Renee Shepherd and Fran Raboff in their classic cookbook “Recipes From a Kitchen Garden.” In the early summer, I make soup using their recipe, but as fall approaches I like this slightly richer version.
I like to keep the “fresh” soup supply coming in winter months, so I also make ample use of our freezer. The soup freezes very well, but I prefer to freeze the individual ingredients, then make the soup when I’m ready to eat. I first strip the corn kernels from the freshest cobs I can get, then blanch them. I chop the tomatoes, then place both ingredients in separate freezer bags marked “ready for corn soup,” each with the appropriate amount to make one recipe. (Two pounds of chopped tomatoes will fit nicely into a quart-sized freezer bag.)
End of the Season Tomato and Corn Soup
Adapted from a recipe in “Recipes from a Kitchen Garden” by Renee Shepherd and Fran Raboff
Serves 6 to 8
2 slices center-cut bacon
1 tablespoon bacon grease
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped in medium dice
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 cups water or chicken stock
2 pounds (approximately 4 to 5 medium) ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cups fresh corn kernels (approximately 2 large ears)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
⅓ cup chopped basil
1. In a large, heavy sauce pan, sauté 2 slices of center cut bacon until crispy. Remove bacon and bacon grease from pan, leaving approximately 1 tablespoon bacon grease.
2. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to pan. Once the oil has warmed, add chopped onion and sauté until onion has browned slightly.
3. Add tomato paste and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until it turns a rich, dark color.
4. Add water or chicken stock, tomatoes, salt, pepper, and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, until tomatoes are soft and starting to lose their shape.
5. Turn off heat and let mixture cool slightly. Purée mixture using an immersion blender or purée mixture in a blender and return to pan. Note: If using a blender, be sure to let mixture cool sufficiently and purée in batches.
6. Add corn and herbs and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
7. When ready to serve, ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle with a few bits of crumbled bacon. If you have leftover soup, toss the remaining bacon into the soup before cooling completely and storing in refrigerator or freezer.
Top photo: Tomato corn soup. Credit: Susan Lutz
I count myself among the millions of tomato fanatics who obsess over the lush red fruit during the summer months. In our Southern California back yard, we grew Mortgage Lifters, Brandywine and tiny Yellow Pear tomatoes, which rarely made it to the kitchen because my 4-year-old daughter simply devoured them on the vine.
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But there is one variety that I have failed to grow, to my great dismay. It’s an heirloom breed that my Uncle Richard received from a Mennonite farmer in Virginia more than 20 years ago. He gave some to my mother a year later. I don’t know what the breed is. My family simply calls them “Mennonite tomatoes,” but apparently that is the name for a large variety of tomatoes. Whatever variety they really are, they are delicious, and my family has been growing them and saving the seeds from year to year.
I tried to grow my mother’s Mennonite tomato seeds in California with dismal results. I once gave seeds to my friend Daniel, a master tomato grower, and even he had no luck with them. Eventually I gave up, deciding that Mennonite tomatoes simply weren’t suited for Southern California. The difference between the sultry, sticky Shenandoah summers, and the baking desert heat of Los Angeles was too much for the seeds.
Searching for rooster sauce
I was reminded of the difference in sharp detail this past month, as I found myself once again a native of Virginia. My husband’s job has taken him to Washington, D.C., and our family has exchanged the micro-climate of Mediterranean L.A. for the tidewater seasons of Potomac-adjacent Virginia.
It has not been a particularly easy switch, food-wise.
My first trip to the local grocery store was a revelation. After 20 years of experiencing the abundance of L.A.’s greens, I knew better than to wheel my shopping cart anywhere near the produce aisle. I’d already scouted out the location of the closest farmers market and saved my produce list for the Saturday morning market at the local train station. Even so, it still took longer than expected to stock my pantry. Although much of the shopping was easy — milk, salt, olive oil were all purchased without incident — there were a few items that eluded me.
I searched desperately for Herdez Salsa Ranchera and the spicy red Sriracha Chili Sauce, commonly called “rooster sauce” in our house and many other homes in Los Angeles. These two items are pantry staples in my house mostly because I’m the only one in my family who likes really spicy food. I know that when I’m in the doldrums or I’ve had one too many demands for boxed mac and cheese from my daughters, I can splatter red rooster sauce over almost anything and call it delicious, except perhaps boxed mac and cheese.
Because they were such standard items in our pantry, I hadn’t even bothered to write the sauces on my shopping list. So I was almost frantic when I couldn’t find them. After 15 minutes of searching, I eventually gratefully found a small puckered plastic jar of Sriracha. The canned salsa still eluded me. In its place, I found an entire aisle of pickles. Pickles. I have nothing against pickles, in fact I make my own homemade version, but a whole aisle? How much has my home state changed since I left those two decades ago? Fortunately I eventually found other local markets with a selection of the foods I love, including both my favorite canned salsa and beloved rooster sauce.
There is another item I have missed since leaving behind the sun-baked shores of L.A.: loquats. Loquat season is now over in Los Angeles, and we’ve already eaten our way through the most of the stash of loquat butter I made this past spring from our backyard loquat tree. I didn’t know we’d be moving away from L.A. and the loquat tree in our backyard when I had generously spread my morning toast with loquat butter throughout the summer. I have only a single jar left and am now fiercely hoarding it for the cold winter ahead.
The perfect tomato sandwich
Moving across the country has its share of joys and stresses. One of the joys is that I’m near my parents, and I’m in the foodshed I grew up in. I’ll get to regularly experience the delights of apple butter, homemade sweet pickles and my father’s basement-cured hams. But at times the stresses of this kind of move can seem to overwhelm the joys. And I was near despair as I attempted to make chicken quesadillas for dinner without salsa ranchera. Just at that point, my mother appeared at the door. In her hands was the cure for homesickness: a ripe Mennonite tomato fresh picked from her garden that same day.
We sat at the kitchen table and ate it together. My mother believes a tomato sandwich should consist of a roll, a slice of tomato, a dab of mayo, and a sprinkle of salt. I like mine without any extras, so I slapped the slice of Mennonite tomato, as wide as my hand, onto half a homemade roll straight from my mother’s oven. I bit into the tomato and roll, felt the tangy flesh melt into the springy bread and tasted — for the first time in years — the richness of the earth of the Shenandoah Valley.
And I knew, finally, I was home.
Top photo: Homegrown tomatoes make my new house feel like home. Credit: Susan Lutz
Horseradish barely registered on my food radar. My only real use for the stuff came once a year when I added heaping tablespoons of horseradish into the spicy sauce served with our shrimp cocktail on Christmas Day.
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But horseradish has recently come back into my life, and now I’m a fan.
My mother called me recently and told me that my father has started growing his own patch of horseradish behind his garden shed. She said that the next time I came to visit their home in Virginia, I needed to “record Dad grinding horseradish for posterity.” When my mom uses this phrase, it’s usually code for something she finds funny and often slightly ridiculous. Naturally, I agreed that this was just the thing to do and thanked her for the hot tip.
I’ve just returned from a trip to Virginia, and my mother was absolutely right. The process of grinding fresh horseradish is fascinating. Funny and ridiculous too. But mostly fascinating.
Horseradish plants will grow pretty much anywhere, at least anywhere with a decent amount of moisture and somewhat loose soil. It’s the ultimate survivor. My dad grows it in a patch behind his garden shed because it is a spot he didn’t need for anything else. He has a friend who grows it in a greenhouse and gave him the starts for his current patch.
Easy to grow
The great thing about horseradish is that you can keep it going year round. It’s best planted in the spring and can be harvested in fall, but you can really grow it, and eat it, any time.
You can harvest horseradish throughout the year, but the roots will be larger and have a stronger flavor the longer you wait. My dad dug up roots that were about eight months old and they were relatively small and mild in flavor. I thought it was delicious and suggested that eight months seemed like an ideal time to harvest. My father reminded me that he was growing his horseradish in poor soil and partial shade. Back on the family farm, my dad’s family grew a large plot of horseradish in their sunny garden bed. Grown in rich soil with plenty of sun, horseradish will grow large and strongly-flavored roots in eight months.
When my father harvested his crop, he cut the root about a half-inch from the green stem. Then he stuck the stem and partial root back in the ground to wait another six months for the next harvest.
He also cut off most of the leaves before replanting because, he says, the leaves will “suck up a lot of energy from the plant.”
After replanting the horseradish stubs, my father and I headed up to the house to clean and grind the roots. My dad washed the dirt off the roots, peeled them with a pocketknife and gave them a second cleaning.
Then he pulled out my grandmother’s old meat grinder and began to turn the fresh roots into the delicious condiment. While cranking the old metal handle, he told me to be careful not to grind it too fine or it will end up as mush.
As my father ground the horseradish he said, “Don’t poke your nose in there” and warned me that a deep breath of freshly ground horseradish would send me reeling. I didn’t risk it, especially because I was holding a camera. From 2 feet away I still got the point.
Beware the volatile oils
It turns out the fibrous roots of horseradish, once ground, immediately emit a volatile oil that irritates the membranes of the eyes and mouth. It’s powerful stuff when fresh — the same compound that gives mustard and wasabi their bite.
Those oils soon dissipate from the root, so traditionally the flavor is fixed in place (and toned down) by the addition of vinegar. My father put the ground root into a half-pint Mason jar and poured just enough white vinegar over it to cover it completely.
My father says the mixture will keep in the refrigerator for up to a month. I couldn’t wait that long. My father and I ate our freshly ground horseradish on steak, which he cooked specifically for this occasion. The steak was rare and the horseradish was sharp and hot — the perfect combination of flavors and texture.
I could now see why the pungent burn of horseradish has been relished since ancient Egypt, why it’s one of the bitter herbs of the Passover Seder, or why a guy named Heinz first made his fortune by bottling the stuff.
I’m now going to find a small patch in my garden, and get a couple of my father’s cut roots. And I hope he’s going to have more roots ready to harvest when it comes time to spike the bottled cocktail sauce on Christmas Day.
Top photo: Grinding fresh horseradish in my grandmother’s meat grinder. Credit: Susan Lutz
My transition from urban-dweller to backyard farmer began with a pickle.
I’d lived in Los Angeles for 10 years before I began to miss the traditional foods I’d left behind in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. So I forced my mother to ship me homemade sweet pickles, grape jelly and the country ham that my dad cured in his basement. And that was more than enough. For a while. After giving birth to two daughters it dawned on me that I couldn’t FedEx the foods of my childhood to California forever. I wanted to discover and share the knowledge, skill and experience of making these beloved foods with my family and friends.
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So I shopped for cucumbers at the local farmers market and persuaded my mother to teach me how to make sweet pickles when she came to visit that summer. It would have been far cheaper to buy a jar of pickles from the grocery store. But that wasn’t really the point. I didn’t want pickles. I wanted my mother’s pickles.
My homesteading campaign continued, as I coaxed my mother to teach me how to make Granny Willie’s grape jelly and Betty Sheetz’s apple butter. My urban farming campaign continued as I earned a Master Food Preserver certificate. But as I studied and cooked and preserved, I realized that the recipes I loved so dearly came from a very specific time and place: the “foodshed” of the Shenandoah Valley.
But my family and I live in a different foodshed. So I turned to the natural resources growing in our own backyard.
Home preservation traditions
Our suburban Southern California house has trees that produce loquats, oranges, grapefruit, lemons and plums. My husband and I carved out a tiny plot of sunshine amid the trees to plant tomatoes, Swiss chard and a variety of herbs. In spring we make loquat butter and loquat leather, which my youngest daughter eats as fast as I can make it. During the summer months, we can tomato sauce and tomato preserves. When winter rolls around, we make marmalade, my husband’s favorite toast-topper.
All of these treats use the natural resources of our environment, but they aren’t the basis of our day-to-day diet. In fact, my grandparents might think the entire urban homesteading concept is simply silly. They were farmers. Real farmers. They grew most of their food on 80 acres, and they had a lot of kids to feed. Growing food and preserving it at home was the cheapest way to maintain a consistent food supply for a large family throughout the year.
My parents grew up on farms but moved into a small town. Yet they continued to grow their own food. When I was in high school, my parents bought an empty lot down the street and still plant a massive garden on it every year. My father plants most of the vegetables they eat all year long. My mother cans dozens of quarts of green beans and tomatoes each summer. She fills up several freezers with endless pint containers of peas, corn and lima beans that she cleans, shells and blanches with help from my father. My parents do this work by choice. They know they’d still eat if their crops failed and there’s a world of comfort in that thought.
Discovering your foodshed
I don’t have the time, space, or inclination for that type of garden. Our backyard simply isn’t large enough for food production on such a grand scale and luckily for us, it doesn’t need to be. But with the wealth of food options in Los Angeles, I still want to keep a connection to my family’s farm heritage, tenuous as it may be.
Our foodshed is radically different from the one I grew up with, but it is resilient and satisfying in its own way. I’ve connected with folks who see food in similar ways by joining the Los Angeles Bread Bakers and the Master Food Preserver Program of Los Angeles County. My children have their own set of special treats from the garden, like picking ripe strawberries from our tiny strawberry patch and eating sweet cherry tomatoes still warm from the sun. When my husband finds an abandoned grape vine in a hidden corner of a parking lot near his office, we make grape jelly. And if the cucumber patch fails, I’ll grab some from the farmers market and start a batch of vinegar syrup. Because I still love sweet pickles.
I don’t have an urban farm by any stretch of the imagination. And I certainly don’t have the wealth of information and tradition that my parents and grandparents grew up with on their family farms in Virginia. I do have fresh, healthy food and preserves made by hand (and sweat) that reflect the foodshed I find myself in. And that’s a tradition I’m proud to pass on.
The Shenandoah Valley creates some of the world’s best apple butter. Here is a twist from the Southern California foodshed: loquat butter. This recipe is adapted from one I received from Ernest Miller, a talented chef and fellow Master Food Preserver in Los Angeles County.
Yields approximately 6 half-pints
4 pounds ripe loquats (approximately 12 cups)
¾ cup bottled lemon juice
1 cup water
1 organic lemon, cut in half
2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped into three sections
3 cups sugar
1. Wash loquats and cut in half. Remove ends, seeds and white interior membrane from each half. Do not bother to peel the loquats.
2. Place cleaned loquat halves in a heavy, non-reactive saucepan with the lemon juice, cup of water, lemon halves and ginger. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and cook over medium heat for approximately 30 minutes. Remove lemon pieces and ginger after 30 minutes and continue cooking until the loquats are very soft.
3. Purée in a food processor or food mill. (Using a food processor will increase the yield, but will result in a more textured, opaque loquat butter. I prefer using a food mill to achieve a more transparent end product, although the yield will be smaller.)
4. Add loquat purée back into the pan. Add sugar and stir to combine. Cook loquat purée and sugar mixture for 15 to 20 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally until mixture reaches desired consistency. To test for doneness, remove a spoonful and see if it mounds slightly on the spoon. You can also put a small spoonful of loquat butter onto a plate that has been chilled in the freezer. Watch to see whether a rim of liquid forms around the mound. If it does, continue cooking until a spoonful of loquat butter mounds on the plate without creating a puddle of liquid around it.
5. While loquat butter is cooking, sterilize half-pint jars.
6. When loquat butter is done, pour it into hot half-pint jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars and put on lids and screw rings. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath following USDA recommendations.
Top photo: Loquat butter ready to eat. Credit: Susan Lutz
I’ve never really understood the lure of molecular gastronomy. I’ll admit that the science behind it is fascinating, but as food it just never rocked my world. While dining on cotton candy foie gras at a restaurant known for molecular gastronomy, I ordered an Old-Fashioned. By the time I’d swallowed the chemically engineered “cherry” at the bottom of the drink, I’d had a brainstorm. This experience would be a lot more fun if the chef would simply sit beside me and explain why the seemingly solid maraschino cherry magically disappeared in my mouth. In fact, I wanted to know everything about the scientific principals that made crazy concoctions like this possible.
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Unfortunately I’d never found a way to make this happen. That is, until I attended the 2nd Annual Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream Social at LA Makerspace in Los Angeles. It was really less of an ice cream social and more of a molecular gastronomy magic show. This event answered my question about the maraschino cherry, plus a few I’d never thought to ask.
The molecular gastronomist at work
The mastermind behind the event was Ariel Levi Simons. He’s a passionate amateur molecular gastronomist, as well as a physics teacher at Wildwood School in West Los Angeles and a founding member of LA Makerspace. In front of a group of about 50 people, Simons created culinary illusions, while simultaneously explaining the science behind the magic. Families with small children helped him freeze ice cream in less than 30 seconds under a cloud of bubbling liquid nitrogen. Grown-up science geeks mulled the question of which tasted better, carbonated pineapple or fizzy habañero-infused avocado.
I was most excited to learn about spherification, the process by which my faux-maraschino cherry was created. Simons enthusiastically described a magical elixir that could turn almost any liquid into a sphere. It’s all thanks to sodium alginate, a common food additive derived from kelp that many of us eat every day. It’s used to prevent freezer burn in ice cream and thicken McDonald’s apple pies. Simons makes a slightly more upscale concoction: synthetic caviar.
Simons loads equal amounts of a concentrated syrup, such as Torani, and sodium alginate into a syringe. Then he squeezes small drops of the mixture into a solution of food-grade calcium chloride. When the two solutions meet, the calcium ions bind to the sodium alginate, forming a skin around the liquid that magically transforms into a sphere within a few seconds.
It’s pure physics and chemistry. When you bite into these tiny spheres, the thin skin immediately bursts, unleashing the taste of tangerine or black tea inside. It’s not quite caviar, but the mystery of the faux-maraschino was solved.
The greater mystery of the event turned out to be Simons himself. I was surprised to learn that Simons’ interest in food chemistry runs deeper than the simple parlor tricks of molecular gastronomy, which he describes as “the showiest and quickest” way to talk about food chemistry.
Molecular gastronomy illuminates our food preservation traditions
Simons is passionate about traditional methods of food preservation, as I am, and we discussed real magic: the slow but startling fermentation of kimchi, the alchemy of 1,000-year-old eggs, and the mysterious transformation of black garlic. Simons is fascinated with the chemistry of even the most basic foods. He revealed the fact that corn syrup is far more chemically complex than anything he made at the ice cream social. In fact, the production of corn syrup is so complex that it is only economically feasible because the United States government subsidizes the production of corn, which makes it almost free as a raw product.
Simons thinks the complexity of our food actually may be a problem, especially because no one realizes how ubiquitous it is. “Food production has been a driving force in human history,” he said. And sadly, this driving force has largely been forgotten.
“We don’t think about food production because we don’t have to,” he said. “We’ve sort of won the game.”
But Simons recognizes that there are good reasons to understand where our food comes from and how it’s made. The point of Simons’ “magic show” at the ice cream social was to “show that it’s not actually magic. It’s a technique we developed to take food and transport it and sell it across the world.”
For me, the real thrill of molecular gastronomy is discovering the science behind the seemingly magical concoctions that I eat. I’ve tried my own food alchemy demonstrations with my kids, including making my own sugar from sugarcane. And when I next have the opportunity to taste potato foam gnocchi or dried olive soil, I won’t need the chef sitting next to me to fully enjoy the experience.
But frankly, my favorite form of molecular gastronomy involves the chemical reaction between a large bag of salt and the back leg of a pig. Country ham — now that’s magic.
Top photo: Molecular gastronomy in action. Credit: Susan Lutz