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Stunt Foodists Join the Occupy Wall Street Protest Movement

11 Oct
Stunt Foodways activist, Adele Higgins, 24,  confronts a pair of “deep pockets” as protesters march north to midtown Manhattan and beyond intent on visitingthe homes of the homes of News Corp. CEO Rupert MurdochJP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and oil tycoon David Koch, among others.

Stunt Foodways activist, Adele Higgins, 24,  confronts a pair of “deep pockets” as protesters march north to midtown Manhattan. Higgins is one of dozens of Stunt Foodists who have joined the national Occupy Wall Street protest movement. “We are the 99 percent, too!” proclaimed Higgins, who, like many Stunt Foodists, advocate using the whole animal when cooking. Higgins says she and and fellow Stunt Foodists found in the now familiar “99 Percent,” Occupy Wall Street rallying cry a demand they could relate to, and took to the streets today. Higgins chose only the Primal Cuts grid as a costume–but  elected to wear gloves to ward off the cold.

(courtesy The Huff Post)

NEW YORK — Hundreds of protesters, emboldened by the growing national Occupy Wall Street movement, streamed through midtown Manhattan on Tuesday in what they called a “Millionaires March.”

They marched two by two up the sidewalk, planning to pass the homes of some of New York City’s wealthiest residents. An organizer said they didn’t have a permit and wanted to avoid blocking pedestrian traffic.

“No Billionaire Left Behind,” said a placard hoisted by Arlene Geiger, who teaches economics at Manhattan’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Protesters expressed concern about how much less the wealthy will pay – and who would be negatively affected – when New York’s 2 percent “millionaires’ tax” expires in December.

In the closest they’ve come to naming names, the protesters planned to visit the homes of News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch, JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and oil tycoon David Koch, among others.

Protesters have been camped out for weeks in lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park, near Wall Street, saying they’re fighting for the “99 percent,” or the vast majority of Americans who do not fall into the wealthiest 1 percent of the population.

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Butchery Is Childsplay

8 Aug

Whether it’s continuing education classes, or competitions at food events, evidence of a growing interest in the nearly-lost art of animal butchery is all around us. Leave it to the folks at Schleich, the same forward-thinking German toy designers who brought us the Smurfs, to anticipate a child’s curiosity in the burgeoning trend.

And leave it to the crack team of investigative reporters here at stuntfoodways.com to secure the first images of this secret new toy line. Made from the same highly detailed, quality casting that has made the toy line a favorite of deep-pocketed parents the world over, a new line, Primal Cuts, now offers kids a toy with all the classic primal cuts clearly delineated on the hide of a cow, pig and sheep.

Cow with beef primal cuts chart

Pig with pork primal cuts chart
mutton with chart

The line (rumored to be expanding to lamb, chickens, ducks, turkeys, rabbits, goats and possibly a horse) encourages kids to identify the source of those cuts of meat they eat every day (below right).Ooh, now there's a hard one lad, where does that Newport steak come from?

The new toy line allows kids to identify and locate the cuts of meat they eat everyday

An ambitious youngster can even use the clearly marked charts to memorize each cut (left).

Each toy comes with its own primal cut chart so kids can study and memorize every cut right down to the brisket

We at Stunt Foodways cheer the progressive thinking of the good folks in Schwäbisch Gmünd who are working to make learning about the harvesting and butchery of animal protein fun. High quality cuts of meat have always been enjoyable; now, with the new Primal Cuts line of domesticated animals, meat can also be a game.

Of course, not everybody approves of the new line. British television personality, celebrity pin-up and Peta activist Jodie Marsh has responded to the new Primal Cuts toy line by (apparently) tattooing her naked body with a primal cuts chart. This dedicated act of protest was, in all likelihood, undertaken before elective surgery to greatly increase the size of her breasts

Peta activist Jodie Marsh tattoos entire body with primal cut chart to protest German toy manufacturer's new line

At press time neither Jodie Marsh nor her representative at Intrigue Management could be reached for comment, though Marsh, has been outspoken in support of the rights of food animals including chicken in the past.

It’s a big world full of people.

Le Diner en Blanc Arrives in NYC, August 2011

21 Jun
Diner en Blanc, Berlin

Image by artie* via Flickr

This Year’s celebration of the culinary inside-job and tight, cropped white jeans, was celebrated on June first. The location of the Le Diner en Blanc is shared with participants just one hour before the event. This year two locations were arranged: Cathédral de Notre Dame–above–and Cour Carrée du Louvre (an inner courtyard of  the Louvre),
The challenge for diners is to get the tables and chairs set up and the food served before the cops arrive. Once underway the police will not (dare?) disrupt the meal. One stuntfoodways source with a seat at the Louvre estimated the crowd at nearly 8,000 Some estimates put total at 12,000. The event is 2o years-old this summer and has already been  in Lyon, Amsterdam, Munich, Zürich, Quebec City and Montreal.

On August 25, 2011 there’s a plan afoot to hold the cloak-and-dagger dinner in NYC. Is there really already a waiting list? …We shall see.

Drowning in Crawfish

4 Jun

We hosted a memorial day crawfish (crayfish?  i’m going with crawfish, but go crazy if you need to) boil.  I had not had crawfish for a very long time and figured it was a good time to eat some.  (figured is a southern term for “I thought it was a good idea” just like “fixin to” means getting ready or going to do something)  Anyway, I called up some friends with New Orleans ties and surfed some sites for info on getting crawfish.  The local fishmongers all said the same thing, that gas prices where to high to justify running small batches of crawfish.  I decided on LACrawfish Company. (check the spelling!)  I did some more research on appropriate quantities for a party and got all sorts of conflicting reports from 2 lb per person to 7 lb per person.  My wife and I came up with a list of people to invite and I ordered 50 lb of crawfish, as looking at the website it looks like one big sack of crawfish.  I ordered early in the week with saturday delivery, airport pickup was cheaper so I went with that.   I had to have them delivered on Saturday as FedEx wouldn’t be available on Sunday or Monday (Memorial Day).  Turns out that airport pickup means at the FedEx facility that is 5 minutes from my house so bonus!  I drove down Saturday 9:30 am and strolled into the facility.  Once I told them what I was picking up they mentioned the “huge seafood package.”  They wheeled out the foam casket that was my shipment and let me use the dolly to get into the car.   I brought the casket home and opened it up to reveal two large sacks of very pissed off crawfish.

Angry Crawfish
Crawfish

Angry Crawfish

Healthy and Alive, and yes angry.  From this point on It was a matter of keeping them alive till Memorial day.  I put each sack in it’s own cooler, (I left one sack in the original foam casket) and rotated ice and cold packs for the next two days.  I panicked a couple of times as the crawfish where silent when the cooler was opened, but upon stimulating then (easy now… just poking them a bit… seriously grow up) they sprang to activity, apparently just too cold.  We had several cancellations for the party as the date approached and it became clear (to my wife) that we where going to have too much food.  I had bought some sausages from Belmont Butchery which I had planned on grilling with some clams, but as I prepared to go out the door to the seafood shop for clams my wife stoped me cold and pretty much kiboshed the idea of more food.  I admit I was a bit put out, but begrudgingly agreed to not have more food.  (Grilled clams and sausage is going to happen this summer at some point though)  Monday came around and what do you know, hottest day in the new summer, I think it got up to 98 deg Farenheit.  I went out and cleaned up the pool and grill area, gathered wood to, of all hairbrained things, light a fire.  I planned to cook the crawfish in my Cowboy Cauldron.   I rinsed and flushed the mud out of the crawfish.

I cleaned and chopped some corn.

Once I got the fire going beneath the cauldron I noticed I wasn’t feeling so great.  I had breakfast but not lunch as the party was schedulled to begin at 3 pm.  I went in and told my wife I was a dehydrated, my daughter made me drink some water and some electrolyte water (smart water and gatorade), and I started to feel a bit better.  People started to arrive and I fired up the grill and two extra pots of water to boil the crawfish.  I divided the potato, corn, andoui sausage and seasoning amongst the three cooking areas, cauldron and grill.  I also made some spicy dip from a jar of rocotto pepper puree, queso fresco and lime, all pureed in a blender.  Went great with the potato and the crawfish tails.

And ran back and forth between the crawfish, cauldron and grill… with occasional dips in the pool.  I nearly burned the grilling sausage,  as I tried to keep an eye on multiple cooking sites, and then really began to feel poorly.  I was drinking water and my daughter asked me why the water was shaking… I couldn’t stop trembling… I doubled up on the water intake and took a break in the pool.  My wife worriedly looked me over and asked me if I was OK.  I probably wasn’t but I didn’t want to disappoint the guests.  Who by the way where devouring crawfish.  I had a pair of leather gloves on so I could scoop the bastards into a colander and the into the boiling seasoned water.  I stayed away from the beer and alcohol and tried to stay alive as I continued to cook… it soon became apparent to me that 50lb of crawfish is a shitload of mudbugs, there was no way in hell that 1. I could cook all of them in one afternoon, 2. that they would all be eaten in one afternoon with the number of people present. and  3. this shit might kill me.

I decided to stop cooking, get away from heat sources and spent the remainder of the gig, eating crawfish in the pool.  I had to rally to cleanup,  feeling rather shaky I didn’t chase the escaping crawfish in the yard… maybe they have set up a renegade clan in our creek.  I put away a ton of crawfish to clean and reserve for another day, along with leftover potato and corn.

This is the first time I felt that my health was in jeopardy from prepping for a party, despite that the gig went great (probably with the exception of my wife saying “if you go down who is going to pick you up?”  Despite the risk on life and limb,  we are considering doing it again next year just with half the amount of crawfish and hopefully less heat.

THREE MONSTER FISH HEADS IN A BROKEDOWN COOLER MAKE A DAMN FINE CURRY

24 Mar

My cooking philosophy is rooted in a couple of principles.  First of all I love to recreate dishes I enjoy either from my childhood or from new experiences.  Second I like to learn something new from a new dish whether it’s a new technique or a new ingredient.  And finally the “cooking for Tricia” factor, that is cooking for my wife.  For the strangers out there when I married my wife, I joked that she only ate white things… chicken breast, white rice, pasta, parmesan cheese, and cereal.  Now to be fair she has always been a fan of cuban food but this was never her every day meals.  Over the years I have managed to slowly introduce new foods into her arsenal, dishes that are tasty and add variety to her diet.  This is not one of them.

Fish head curry

I grew up in Puerto Rico and love seafood,  I have no problem with head on fish, and will eagerly gnaw on a fish head.  Living in Richmond, VA I have been shocked at the lack of accessible whole fish, and particularly fish with heads on.  I’ve wanted fish heads for stock, head on fish for frying, baking, grilling and finally for a curry dish.  I’m not sure where this came from, probably from surfing the internet on sites like friedchilies.com seeing food from exotic places and imagining what it will taste like.

The opportunity to prepare this dish came together as I whined at work about the lack of fish heads in Richmond,  one of my coworkers chimed in that her husband and son where going fishing and if I wanted I could have the heads of whatever they caught.  I eagerly signed up.  What she delivered where human size rockfish heads, fresh and bloody in a beat up cooler with a broken stick as a plug on the drain hole.

So I showed up at home with three enormous fish heads, and I can’t exaggerate how big they where, all bloody with collar intact, and what I imagine is the thymus hanging out.  My wife was less than accommodating, as the fish head filled the sink.  So from this point on preparation began.  These monster heads required someone to eat them and it was clear that this is not cooking for Tricia material.  My first thought was my Korean friend Steve Kim, who signed up immediately, I invited Manny mostly from a religious standpoint, but just like the three kings I didn’t expect him to necessarily show up… but he might.  I had to freeze the heads as nobody’s schedule matched up, but this allowed me time to scout out some indian markets.  It just happens that one of my partners at work is from India and had a ready list of his favorite Indian markets.  I hit the market and bought some curry mixes as well as the base ingredients, potato, okra, onion, shallot, tomato, and jasmine rice.  Once we decided on a date for the event  I defrosted the heads 2 days in advance and to my horror realized I had not scaled them!  What the hell to do.  I figured I would grill the scales off which worked remarkably well.

So first disaster averted, I prepared what I would describe as the sofrito, shallots, onions, garlic, lemon grass, curry powder and tomato.  I sautéed them till they were well combined

Once the curry was nice and fragrant, I added the grilled fish heads

I ended up using only two heads as the third wouldn’t fit in my stock pot.  I added water to cover and corrected for seasoning, both curry and salt and pepper and added a large bunch of cilantro at the end.  I cooked it for about 45 minutes.  I served it with Jasmine rice cooked with a piece of pork belly

I blanched and roasted fingerling potato and okra

I also prepared some grilled shrimp… for Tricia as she was very clear she wasn’t going for the fish heads, marinated in garlic and tamarind juice.

Steve brought some garlic naan bread, and some korean marinated beef, which he sautéed.

We feasted, and the fish head curry was spectacular.  the collars and cheeks where superb, I could have jacked up the spice on the curry some more, but it was pleasant and comforting just shy of being a fish stew.

We had a great evening, had a ton of leftovers (now deboned and frozen)  we really had food for around 15 and we only sat 7.  I think I have moved my wife slightly off of her current taste setting as everyone enjoyed the food.  Maybe next time she will try the fish heads.

Dog Eater

1 Feb
Fresh cut meat for Korean BBQ Category:Korean ...

Image via Wikipedia

My English grandmother insisted on returning to her local Chinese restaurant after the Board of Health found the hind quarters of a german shepherd in the walk-in refrigerator. My family was outraged but, over the horrified cries of her children and grand children, she insisted on going back. “I liked the food before, so I must like dog,” she told us. “I just hope they havent changed the menu too much.”

My grandmother didn't care that inspectors found half a dog on the walk-in, she liked the food.

It first occurred to me to eat a dog myself while lobbing center-cut pork chops over the cinderblock wall in my back yard. On the other side of this wall lives a ferocious Doberman Pinscher. We are a machine, this dog and me. I toss a pork chop. She gobbles it up. She is not my dog. I don’t even like her, though I like her owner less. But I figured that if I get her used to pork chops sailing over the wall then maybe she will take a liking to me and stop barking whenever I open my back door.

Every time I enter my yard there is a frenzied scrape of fore claws as the monster scrambles from her basement lair. The barking begins and does not stop until a few minutes after I’ve retreated back into my one-room apartment. I’ve tried to reason with the fellow next door. Each time I complained, though, he patiently explained that he’s gotta have a guard dog or someone will steal his shit. And there is little point in having a guard dog if the dog does not bark. It’s fierce logic, and unassailable in its simplicity. So I stopped bothering my neighbor. Now it’s just me, his dobey bitch and The Law of The Jungle.

I toss a pork chop over the wall and wonder idly what the penalty for killing your neighbor’s dog might be. My mind turns to reruns of late-model police dramas. We learned from Quincy and MacMillan and Wife and even Miami Vice that it’s not murder if they can’t find the body. But what does one do with this much dead dog? “I could always eat it I s’pose.” The sounds of greedy gorging from the yard next door what’s this refer to? drowns-out my own sinister musing.

Far from a bland and detached academic interest, this murderous moment is the grim source of my obsession with eating dog. [this graph needs expansion, you have to show the small seed taking root & growing into a full-fledged obsession]

Captain Cook wrote in his ships log after supping on his first roast dog leg that it tasted like mutton. Some people say it’s more like pork, though they make the point that it is much more tender than the other white meat. Connoisseurs say that black dogs have a warming power and they’re best eaten in winter to guard against the bitter cold. The dog best-suited for this purpose is a black lab puppy: very tender and, because it’s been bred for hunting trips in freezing cold marshes, it’s meat is well-marbled with a protective layer of fat. Both Black-Tongued Chows and Mexican Hairless Dogs (or Xoloitzcuintlis) were originally bred specifically for their flavor and tenderness but most of the dogs consumed in the world are that familiar mongrel, the default dog. Two-thirds as long as it is tall, the default dog is so many furtive, brachycubiatic generations from a pure breed that it has reverted to an entirely unimpressive squinty-eyed shades-of-beige beasty at the bottom of it’s own family tree.

I’m ready to settle for the default dog, but I am more particular about where I get it. If I just wanted to eat dog, a quick trip into the world could fix that jones. People familiar with far-flung foodways will direct you to Hawaii, Samoa, Burma, the Philippines, Indonesia, East Timor, even Belgium and Switzerland if you’re looking to eat dog. There’s Tan, a neighborhood in Hanoi on the banks of the Red River where all of the restaurants specialize in canine cuisine. I’ve seen dog meat for sale in what passed for an open-air market in Haiti just after the ‘996 revolution. Skinned and strung up by their back feet, about half a dozen ten-pounders stared, sightless, through a veil of flies into the hot, late afternoon sun. I wasn’t even tempted. The whole point of this adventure is to eat a dog here in New York City. I’ve eaten snake, turtle, even guinea pigs in restaurants in this town. It stands to reason then that if you could eat a dog anywhere in the America, it’d be here.

But I know better., Sure, there’s plenty of diversity, but this isn’t Disneyworld. Ethnic New York is a club and you absolutely [not really absolute…you can get certain kinds of access, just not full access] have to belong before you can gain access. Have you ever tried to trade in some tired old bacony-looking strips of beef at a Korean barbecue restaurant without being able to curse proficiently in Seoul barrio slang?  Well, it can’t be done.

Fasteddie is a great big Jew from Brooklyn back when being A Great Big Jew from Brooklyn meant something. Except that he’ll tell you pretty much the first chance he gets, you’d never know from looking at him that he speaks a fistful of Chinese dialects and has had a piece of the action or consulted on the openings of most of the important Chinese restaurants in New York City since the ‘60s.

Fasteddie figures he’s gained and lost a couple of fortunes and he often tells a story about losing his first. Cheated out of his restaurant by some mobbed-up hoods from a marquee-name crime family who broke the news of their dissolved partnership by knocking him over in his chair, kneeling on his neck and threatening to remove his left eye with one of Fasteddie’s own hand-picked teaspoons. Yes, Fasteddie’s bona fides are in order. If I was ever gonna get that dog dinner, Fasteddie was going to have to do the talking.

Dress For Success in the meat market

 

The first place Fasteddie and I tried was Yuan, a restaurant on Bayard Street. No English is written, never mind spoken, anywhere in this narrow storefront. Masking-taped to the wall behind a stump of a counter sheathed in battered formica, some of the glyphs scribbled in black and blue marker on yellowing sheets of curling copy paper look like they’ve been there for a lifetime. Others have the crisp appearance of today’s special. None of them mean shit to me.

Fasteddie barks something at the pimply young man studiously ignoring the only two Europeans in the tiny room.

Fasteddie figures he’s gained and lost a couple of fortunes and he often tells a story about losing his first.

The kid nods, clearly surprised and embarrassed, answers a series of rapid-fire questions in halting phrases. Fasteddie smirks. “We’re in luck,” he stage whispers. “They have fox today. You want to try some armadillo? They have that too.”

No dog, though.

The warren-like streets of Manhattan’s Chinatown bustle, but the broad boulevards and well-manicured garden streets of Brooklyn’s Chinese and Vietnamese neighborhood, Sunset Park, positively saunter. I got a call from Fasteddie late one morning. He said he was pretty sure he could guarantee some dog for lunch at a Hong Kong-style banquet hall called Hang Kong Banquet Hall up on Eighth Avenue. In Hong Kong dog is proudly called “fragrant meat.” Here at Hong Kong Banquet Hall it’s not even at the menu. When, after Eddie inquired about what his sources said was the specialty of the house the manager started speaking excitedly and using chopping motions with his hands. Fasteddie turned to me and shrugged. “He says he doesn’t serve dog, but it says ‘dog’ right there on the posted specials,” says Fasteddie pointing to a glyph scribbled in magic marker on a piece of festive pink paper. “He thinks you’re some kind of Animal Cop.”

“What kind of Animal Cop?” I ask.

I began to understand the Animal Cop paranoia in June, when a pair of state legislators introduced a law specifically outlawing the killing of dogs for the purposes of consumption. What’s going on here? Is everybody in New York eating dog but me?

Then, one sweltering day in August, Fast Eddie drops by my office. He says he has some business with Chinese guys in Queens who might know something about dog-eating. “Sic gao!” Fast Eddie shouts. Sic fan is what a host says to his guests at a banquet in Hong Kong. Literally translated from the Cantonese it’s an exhortation, almost a command, to “eat rice,” but it’s offered in the same cheerful spirit as buon appetitto. Gao is Cantonese for dog. Whenever Fast Eddie tires of talking about dog-eating he begins to bellow the battle cry of our mission: Sic gao!

It was funny the first time. Sort of. But from what I observed, many of the Chinese people in Chinese restaurants speak Chinese. In that kind of crowd, a great big Jew from Brooklyn commanding everyone and no one to Eat Dog never seems to go over all that well.

China joins the UN in 1971, at the time the average salary was ten cents a day. Dog meat cost nearly $2 a pound.

We drive out to a critically acclaimed restaurant on Queens Boulevard in Flushing, where Allen, the general manager, speaks matter-of-factly about dog-eating in Mainland China in the seventies. “You never ate dog in a restaurant. Always at home,” he explains. “Dog cost maybe $2 a pound and the average salary then was—what? Ten cents a day? It was very expensive.” As a kid, he was the designated dog killer for his family; he recalled making a dog casserole with fermented bean curd and peanuts. “We chop it on the bone and cook it with the skin. In Mainland China the dogs bred as food eat rice. I would say I would never eat a dog in America because it is not fed right.”

“How long do you cook a dog?” I ask breathlessly, realizing that my search had reached a new frontier. I am standing on the mountaintop, looking down on the promised land.

“Depends on the age. Normally about two and a half hours,” responds Allen.

Then he deadpans, “You get the dog, I’ll cook it for you.”

Suddenly my view from the mountaintop collapses and I am looking through the wrong end of the telescope. Far away, through water maybe, I hear myself asking, “If I bring you the puppy will you kill it for me?”

 

Then he deadpans, “You get the dog, I’ll cook it for you.”

“Fuck no!” Allen says.

 

I hear Fast Eddie laughing deeply—basking in the satisfaction of a job well-done. “Sic gao! You gonna do it?” he taunts. “Not-so-good job you’ve gotta do first, huh?”

Is that me heaving the puppy into the back of my Volvo wagon and stuffing him into a gunny sack? Is that me wringing its neck, as tradition requires, gutting it, chucking its gore in a dumpster behind a Dunkin’ Donuts

“No problem,” I respond, regaining my composure enough to vamp a bit. But what are my options? Is that me plunking down a credit card at the pet store and pointing at the plumpest puppy in the window? Is that me heaving the puppy into the back of my Volvo wagon and stuffing him into a gunny sack? Is that me wringing its neck, as tradition requires, gutting it, chucking its gore in a dumpster behind a Dunkin’ Donuts and then pulling into Allen’s driveway a few hours before dinner?

No. That isn’t me.

And rather than being relieved, I’m disgusted with myself. After all, that was me killing and butchering a sheep during an unsuccessful bear hunt in the Ukraine. That was also me offing a pair of whitetail doe in Montana and then gutting the grunty beasts right there in the field—innards steaming in the cold of predawn. I’ve shot and gutted a goose and turkeys and ducks, and pheasants, and grouse. I’ve killed a wild boar using only a knife. I’ve even shot a chipmunk–not that I’m particularly proud of it, but that was (still is) me.

Yet here I am, staring at the man I’ve been seeking for nearly a decade, and you know what? I’m going to tell him thanks but no thanks. All because that puppy peeing in the pet-store window of my mind is—what? Cute? Chipmunks are cute. Sweet? Sheep are probably sweet—even  Russian ones.

No. Though I try to fool myself that I just need time to clear my head, I know right then that I’ll never shake the notion that dogs are something other than meat. Never mind that half the world disagrees.

“Let me get back to you,” I say.

Allen smiles. “No problem. You know where to find me.” We shake hands before parting company.

Back outside, squinting against the sun, Fast Eddie mutters, “Sic gao?” Then asks: “So, you gonna get your new friend a dog?”

“You know I’m not.”

“Good,” says Fast Eddie, gripping me by the shoulder. “This thing over now?”

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