Community through food from people of colour

Catharine Hughes looked at the various UK community food projects headed by people of colour:

“Community is the act of coming together, but for me, it’s the coming together to achieve something,” says Fahima Jilani, the owner of Mosa Mosa, a Bengali food platform based in the West Midlands. Fahima began Mosa Mosa back in 2017, born out of a love for food passed down through her family. Initially, she was working at markets and catering small events like birthdays, and then the British Red Cross approached her to ask if she would be interested in providing meals for teenage asylum seekers, who were attending guidance sessions.

“These asylum seekers come predominantly from East African countries like Sudan, Eritrea, and I think they do genuinely appreciate spicy food, and I bring them South Asian food that is also spicy. Although it’s not the same culture as theirs, I think it’s comforting,” says Fahima.

An oral history of the weird Folgers "incest" commercial

Folgers Coffee Brother & Sister Home For Christmas 2009 Christmas TV Commercial HD

Living in the UK, I never got to see this controversial Folgers coffee commercial. But I found out about it through this oral history by GQ:

“Coming Home” opens with a taxi dropping a young man off outside a snow-covered house bedecked in Christmas decorations early one morning. A young woman excitedly opens the door and establishes that she’s his sister by pointing at herself and saying “sister!” He’s weary, having just returned from volunteering in “West Africa,” and the two share a cup of freshly-brewed Folgers coffee while their parents are still asleep. (In some versions he even says “ah, real coffee,” as if he didn’t just come from where some of the best coffee in the world is produced.) He hands her a small present, but instead of opening it, she peels off the red bow and sticks it on his shirt. “What are you doing?” he asks. “You’re my present this year,” she responds. The camera zooms in on her shy glance, then cuts to his furtive, flirty smile. Those three seconds sealed its fate forever.

When I first saw the ad, I thought: wait, are they fucking? (Then, every time after that: okay, they’re definitely fucking.) As I would come to learn, I was hardly alone. The reaction to the ad was an example of the internet at its most fun—the phenomenon of collectively realizing that the specific thing that you believed you’ve singularly noticed is actually a widely-held opinion. Memes, articles, and parody videos abounded. It even inspired a genre of vividly-rendered fan fiction known as “Folgerscest.”

It is weird and does give off incestuous vibes. But the people behind the commercial didn’t feel that way:

Jerry Boyle (SVP and executive producer at Saatchi & Saatchi): You kind of get sucked into the story, which is nice. It was all very, very innocent. Obviously what’s happened since then has been a real … something that nobody imagined happening. And our client is so wholesome. It was, we thought, emotional.

What people read into it—once that took off—was just insane.

This was my favourite reaction, and the first one to notice the strange vibe between the brother and sister:

Alexa Marinos (corporate communications manager): I’m a marketer by trade so I always pay attention to commercials and ads, particularly holiday ones because I’m always curious to see how brands flex and adapt their marketing for the holiday season. I used to do all my writing in front of the television. So when, I’ll call it, “Peter Comes Home for Christmas 2.0” aired I was sitting in front of my laptop. And I just remember immediately critiquing the spot in my head as a marketer. Particularly the casting, the casting seemed off to me. I was like “why is Peter’s little sister 22 instead of four? And why is Peter, like, vibing on his little sister?”

I hope nobody ever puts a gift bow on me.

Non-creept commercial related: Commercial Break: a YouTube channel for archiving commercials

What knives does Salt Bae use?

Folks wanted to know what salt Salt Bae used and now they want to know what knives he uses. So here’s the what I found during my research (read: Google searches):

Tools for The Discriminating Chef wrote a piece called Salt Bae and His Knife that claimed the Turkish restaurateur used breaking knives:

The talented chef cuts through his beef with ease using a 10″ breaking knife. While everyone is talking about his chiseled good looks, viral fame and his delicious cuts of beef; we want to focus on the knife and why it smoothly cuts through beef.

[…]

The knife is used to “break” through skin, light cartilage, and small bones. It is also pretty good at slicing and carving fat (As we have seen Mr. Gökçe do multiple times through his videos).

To be more specific, it appears Salt Bae uses F Dick breaking knives but if you can’t afford those, you can always try Dalstrong or Pirge (for UK readers).

Kashmiri chai

Kashmiri chai
credit: jslander, via CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

While Kashmiri chai is a green tea, it’s actually pink in colour.

Originally a Himalayan drink, pink tea goes by many names across South Asia, some which reference its unusual color and flavor, from nun chai (salt tea) to gulabi chai (rose-hued tea). Salt and baking soda are key ingredients. Salt acts as an electrolyte to prevent dehydration at high altitudes, and baking soda is the catalyst that turns it pink. Infused with spices such as star anise and topped with crushed nuts, the tea is tailor-made for cold weather. In Kashmir, nun chai is drunk piping hot several times a day, accompanied by an array of breads: crispy kulcha, dimpled girda, or bagel-like tsochwor.

via Atlas Obscura

There are plenty of recipes online (some more authentic, some quicker and easier) but the key to its pinkness is getting in the right reaction between the baking soda and your green tea leaves and how long you brew it for.

What was François Mitterrand's final meal and why was it so controversial?

The ortolan is a small bird from the bunting family that lives in Europe and western Asia. It is also the last meal that former French president François Mitterrand ever ate, 8 days before his death. But eating ortolans is illegal in France (even though some chefs will still make it) and it comes with some… unique traditions:

[…] To prepare it, the ortolan is drowned in a glass of Armagnac. This is not a metaphor. It is actually drowned, and then it is cooked in a cassoulet.

[…]

You place a white cloth over your head and pick the bird up with your fingers, and then you eat it whole, wings, feet, organs, head, everything except the feet. The ortolan is supposed to represent the soul of France.

The white cloth is to create a closed sensory world of just taste and scent.

The cloth is also, traditionally, to hide the act from God.

via Interconnected

For more on Mitterand’s last meal and the ortolan, read Michael Paterniti’s 1998 piece for Esquire magazine. You can also read this Smithsonian article on the ortolan from 2018 and how it is/was eaten into extinction. (A note that while the ortolan’s global conservation listing is “Least Concern”, in France, it is “Endangered”.)

Nik Sennhauser's airline meals

Nik Sennhauser and I share a common sentiment. We both miss air travel. To combat his FOMO and general quarantine boredom, Nik decided to start making his own airline flight meals. This from a Thrillist article:

“Having been grounded for nearly a year in January 2021, I was so bored during the weekends with absolutely nothing to do due to restrictions. Like in many other countries, we were confined to our homes,” the Scotland native told Thrillist. “This, combined with the Scottish winter weather, it was just plain miserable.”

He said that one Sunday in January, he made himself a to-go breakfast of hash browns, omelettes, and sausages, and caught himself thinking about what a great in-flight meal it would make.

“Being an avid airline dinnerware collector—I have an airline trolley stocked with plates, glasses, and trays—I plated up the breakfast like an airline meal, actually making use of my collection,” Sennhauser said. 

He continued plating regular meals on his airline dinnerware “just for fun,” but soon had the idea to start actually recreating the dishes he had experienced on his travels. 

Now that I’m double vaccinated (and I hope Nik is or will be soon), I’m hoping to experience this soon albeit a short-haul version when I plan to go to Lisbon and Nice at the end of the year.

You can follow his endeavours on Instagram.

What kind of salt does Salt Bae use?

While not a burning question (it came up 3 times in the last 28 days), the phrase “what kind of salt does Salt Bae use?” came up in Google search data so I thought I’d answer it directly. My research lead me to an article called “In Defense of Salt Bae” by Daniela Galarza:

Salt Bae is the world’s newest celebrity chef, but with his internet fame, Gökçe has lost some of the credibility he earned while building his steakhouse empire in Turkey. What most of Gökçe’s fans and foes are missing is that, in spite of the distracting show (and ignoring the fickle whims of the Department of Health), Salt Bae’s salting technique is actually on point.

But further down, I got the answer I needed:

At his New York City restaurant, Gökçe pulls off his signature move using Maldon flakes. “He says salt is essential because it brings out flavor,” a spokesperson told Eater, “especially when finishing off meat.” Nusr-Et currently goes through at least five large buckets of pricey — but delicious — Maldon per week.

So there you have it: Salt Bae uses Maldon salt on his overpriced steaks. It’s a UK brand that’s hand harvesting and has been since 1882 according to their website. If you’re in the UK, you can buy it from Asda, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, and Tesco (you can contact them for wholesale inquiries).

J. Wellington Wimpy, the patron saint of hamburglars

I saw this on Twitter today and thought it was hilarious and oddly poignant, from a modern political perspective.

In the panels, Popeye asks Rough House where J. Wellington Wimpy was to which RH replied “I ain’t seen him and I don’t want to see him—he hasn’t been around today.” Popeye calls Wimpy “arful” before showing pity for him, although RH didn’t share the sentiment:

Well, I don’t. Why, say—that fellow would commit a crime for a hamburger.

We then spot Wimpy taking out razor of some kind as he starts cutting through a barred window into a jail where incarcerated people are eating from a plate full of hamburgers. He sits down to their disbelief and says:

Ah, good evening, gentlemen. Pleasant weather, isnt it, we’re having?

Wimpy literally broke into jail, not to free the people incarcerated there, but to get some of his favourite delicacies, thus breaking the law that could have extended his voluntary visit. It reminded me of how we have the power to abolish jails or and attempt to dismantle the system behind it all but only show glimpses of that for moments that benefit us (i.e. how I’ve seen a lot of performative activism since last year’s BLM protests)

I’m probably reaching but so was Wimpy—behind bars, for another hamburger.

(via Popeye Otaku on Twitter)

The Cube Rule of food

Is a hot dog a sandwich? Xavier Woods doesn’t think so but New York State Department of Taxation and Finance does. And then the idea evolved into Twitter conversations and eventually, The Cube Rule of Food Identification:

identify any food purely by the location of structural starch

Compelling arguments are made for a variety of foods including pizza (toast), sushi (also toast), toast (which is actually a sandwich), and hot dogs (which are, apparently, tacos). The logic behind it all would make a philosopher weep with hunger but it’s very interesting to think about *hits blunt*

Volcano pizza is hot, hot, hot!

An enterprising gentleman in Guatemala decided to put a fiery volcano to work for him, and bake his pizza.
It’s an idea that probably shouldn’t be copied, but it sure is adventurous, and if we’re to believe chef David Garcia, the intense heat of the (very active) Pacaya volcano lends the pizza a delicious flavor.

For more on pizzas and volcanos: La Soufrière’s eruption: before and after photos and sexy MFing pizza

How to make a Star Wars TIE Advanced grill

How to build a spacecraft shaped BBQ grill | Crafty Enigneer

Great stuff from Interesting Engineering:

Do you need a unique and interesting BBQ-come-fire-pit for your garden? Then this fantastic build is something you really need to see. 

But wait, there is more. This particular burner/BBQ just happens to also be in the shape of Darth Vader’s Tie Advanced from Star Wars! What is not to love?

This would go well with a Star Wars stormtrooper decanter filled with a beverage of your choice.