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Why I Don’t Eat at McDonald’s or any other fast-food restaurants

Why I Don’t Eat at McDonald’s or any other fast-food restaurants

The Atlantic has an article on their website about McDonald’s strange, seasonal sandwich, the McRib. Ian Bogost’s column is mostly about why people want to eat McRibs (advertising!), but he opens with the following description of the “barbecue wonder”:

…this would-be rib sandwich is really a restructured pork patty pressed into the rough shape of a slab of ribs, its slathering of barbecue sauce acting as camouflage as much as coating.

“Pork” is a generous term, since the McRib has traditionally been fashioned from otherwise unmarketable pig parts like tripe, heart, and stomach, material that is not only cheap but also easier to mold and bind into a coherent, predetermined shape. McDonald’s accurately lists the patty’s primary ingredient as “boneless pork,” although even that’s a fairly strong euphemism. Presumably few of the restaurant’s patrons would line up for a Pressed McTripe.

I checked the website (you can too if you click here) and found that the primary ingredient is “pork”. That to me implies it is no longer “boneless”.

Okay so sausage is made up of many of the same things, and I eat sausage once and a while. Here’s another excerpt from the article and it’s why I won’t eat a McRib:

[It’s] bound and preserved by a petrochemical preservative called tertiary butylhydroquinone, or TBHQ. According to the Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives, one gram of TBHQ can cause “nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium, a sense of suffocation, and collapse.”

I’m lovin’t it! NOT.

McDonald’s manufactures their much more popular McNuggets the same way. If you click on the link to view what they’re made of  you’ll find the primary ingredient is “White Boneless Chicken”. That’s a little more precise than “pork”, so maybe it’s not as bad.

Other fast-food restaurants serve chicken nuggets, and another Atlantic article reports that Doctors Richard D. deShazo and Steven Bigler dissected samples of chicken nuggets from two unnamed restaurants and found:

The nugget from the first restaurant (breading not included) was approximately 50 percent muscle. The other half was primarily fat, with some blood vessels and nerve, as well as “generous quantities of epithelium [from skin of visceral organs] and associated supportive tissue.” That broke down overall to 56 percent fat, 25 percent carbohydrates, and 19 percent protein.

The nugget from the second restaurant was 40 percent skeletal muscle, as well as “generous quantities of fat and other tissue, including connective tissue and bone.” That was 58 percent fat, 24 percent carbs, and 18 percent protein.

I’m lovin’ it two times! Not NOT.

So do yourself and your kids (if you have any) a favor by not buying manufactured food from fast-food restaurants. You’ll all be better off.

August 1st is IPA Day

August 1st is IPA Day

I wasn’t aware of this until a few hours ago, but today is the third annual IPA Day.

I thought every day was IPA Day. Well almost every day is for me anyway. But if you need an excuse to drink a finely crafted IPA from your local or regional brewery, well now you have one.

Here’s a little background from CRAFTBEER.com:

Founded in 2011, IPA Day is a universal movement created to unite the voices of craft beer enthusiasts, bloggers and brewers worldwide, using social media as the common arena for connecting the conversation.

IPA Day is not the brainchild of a corporate marketing machine, nor is it meant to serve any particular beer brand. IPA Day is opportunity for all breweries, bloggers, businesses and consumers to connect and share their love of craft beer. It is an opportunity for the entire craft beer culture to combine forces and advocate craft beer through increased education and global awareness.

If you are into tweeting out your thoughts about whatever IPAs you decide to drink today, there’s an #IPAday hashtag.

And whatever you drink, you should be drinking it from a Spiegelau specially designed IPA glass.

They are available at online stores and I’ve also seen them at The Beer Junction in West Seattle. (That’s where I bought mine.)

I’ve got some Ninkasi Total Domination IPA in my refrigerator, so that’s what I’ll be drinking tonight.

Cheers!

Kudos to Whole Foods on GMI. Now where are other major grocery chains?

Kudos to Whole Foods on GMI. Now where are other major grocery chains?

The decision by Whole Foods Market to label all products with genetically modified ingredients within 5 years is a very welcome if overdue one. Now other retail grocery chains should follow suit.

GMI labeling is popular with the public and objections to it don’t hold water. For example:

The Grocery Manufacturers Association, the trade group that represents major food companies and retailers, issued a statement opposing the move. “These labels could mislead consumers into believing that these food products are somehow different or present a special risk or a potential risk,” Louis Finkel, the organization’s executive director of government affairs, said in the statement.

Mr. Finkel noted that the Food and Drug Administration, as well as regulatory and scientific bodies including the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association, had deemed genetically modified products safe.

It seems the Grocery Manufacturers Association has a surprisingly low opinion of the public in suggesting that they could be confused by too much information. I guess the GMA believes Americans are dumber than residents of the European Union, for example, since the latter already insist on such labeling?

And the fact that genetically modified ingredients have been deemed safe is not in dispute. The sole issue is whether consumers have the right to know whether their food has been produced the old fashioned way, i.e. more or less naturally, or not.

The GMA and others in the food production industry would prefer that we all continue to live in a fog of ignorance about the reality behind the production of food in America. This surely extends to the shamefully inhumane conditions under which animals are raised so that we can buy our meats and dairy products cheaply. This is an issue that has been highlighted for me by a good friend who is passionate about it. And you know what? She’s right and I’m glad she did because it was something I had barely thought about before. For example, if we each understood clearly that a typical egg-laying hen spends her life in a factory occupying a space barely larger than her own body, some of us at least might gag on our next omelet.

You can be sure that lobbyists for agricultural business interests will ensure that congress continues to dodge the regulation bullet both in terms of food labeling and ensuring that farm animals are treated humanely. Any meaningful reform will only come from the grass-roots – that means us, primarily through our buying habits.

Whole Foods and its customers have taken a positive step and I applaud them for it, but we have a long way to go.

Bastille Day in Ballard

Bastille Day in Ballard

For we English speaking people, July 14th is Bastille Day. For the French it’s La Fête Nationale – the day they celebrate the 223rd anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, a prison where the royal court held commoners on arbitrary charges like talking smack about the queen or organizing protests against the monarchy.

The citizens of France prevailed, and a few weeks later the French National Assembly approved the Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyenThe Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen – affirming “the natural and imprescriptible rights of man” to “liberty, property, security and resistance to oppression”.

In honor of Bastille Day, the new French President Francois Hollande has proposed raising taxes on income over €1,000,000 from 41% to 75%. And 67% of the French approve! (If President Obama had any balls he’d propose the same thing.)

Anyway, for me it’s just another excuse to drink some fine French wine. It’s supposed to be a hot day, so I suggest you head down to your local wine shop and buy the best style of French wine to drink on a summer day – rosé. I recommend Chateau Bellevue la Forêt and Domaine Tempier Bandol. If you are downtown, you should check out the best selection of pink wines in Seattle at the Pike and Western Wine Shop.

If you are in Ballard, you can walk on down to Bastille Café and Bar where they will begin their celebration at 2:00 p.m. with drinks, baguettes (served by Marie Antoinette), oysters on the half shell, petanque (bocce ball), and burlesque.

Vive la France!

So Many Reasons to be a Bitter American

So Many Reasons to be a Bitter American

I’ve been feeling bitter about all the bad things happening during the last couple of weeks.

Paul Ryan introduces his budget that cuts programs for the needy and gives more huge tax cuts to the rich.

Supreme Court Justice Scalia builds a straw man out of broccoli and then chews it up and spits it out during the Obamacare arguments.

Republicans blame Obama for the rising cost of gasoline.

George Zimmerman, the murderer of Trayvon Martin, still hasn’t been charged for his crime.

So what do I do? Well not much blogging. Just drinking. And what better beer to drink during these times than 21st Amendment Brewery’s latest seasonal brew, a session IPA they call Bitter American.

 

This IPA has about half the alcohol content of their other ones. That means you can savor a few cans before your legs get all wobbly.

So get off your monkey ass and go buy some while you can – then find your deep space.

Drink some beer out of a can today

Drink some beer out of a can today

It’s the first day of summer, and something strange is going on in Seattle.  The sun is shining, the sky is blue, and my thermometer is reading in the mid seventies range.

Celebrate by drinking some cold beer out of a can today.

May I suggest my new favorite canned beer?  From San Francisco’s 21st Amendment Brewery, Brew Free or Die IPA.

BrewFreeOrDie

Road Kill Rabbit Fricassee

Road Kill Rabbit Fricassee

I do love ordering a tasty rabbit entree when I see it on a menu because I never get to eat it at home.  My wife and kids think eating a rabbit is evil.  I have seen a few dead rabbits on the side of the road and as much as I love eating them, I’ve never thought about stopping the car to pick one up, take it home, and eat it.

Someone has thought about it and actually done just that.  Here’s and excerpt from a Slate article titled “Does this Rabbit Taste Like Tires?” by Catherine Price:

It really was a good-looking rabbit. Shiny coat, sleek body, glassy eyes—only its mangled back leg hinted at its violent cause of death. My husband Peter and I had come across this rabbit on a trip to a bird sanctuary in Gridley, Calif. It was lying in the middle of a narrow country road, stretched stiffly across the pavement; Peter swerved slightly to avoid its body.

Peter made a U-turn. When we reached the rabbit, still lying sprawled across the pavement, I refused to get out of the car. Instead, I watched as Peter crouched down to examine the bunny and, with me telling him to only pick it up if it “seemed fresh,” returned holding its stiff body in his hands.

When it comes to road-kill-eating individuals, however, my favorite example is an Englishman named Arthur Boyt, who lives in West Cornwall with his wife, a vegetarian. The 70-year-old retired entomologist and competitive orienteer ate his first piece of road kill—a pheasant—when he was 15 years old, and hasn’t looked back.

At first, Boyt only ate animals you’d find on a restaurant menu—pheasants, rabbits, hares. But eventually he moved on to more adventurous game. Today, he has a stand-alone freezer packed with pieces of animals he’s collected over the years: badger, otter, roe deer, pheasant, partridge, pigeon, rabbit, and even a little bit of cat. “I’ve eaten three dogs,” he told me matter-of-factly, emphasizing that he never kills animals himself. “Two greyhound mixes, and one Labrador retriever. Dog is one of the nicest-tasting meats I’ve ever had.”

[Butchering] It was gruesome. The crunching of bone, the ripping of fur—these are not sounds that I like to associate with dinner. The irony, of course, was that this rabbit likely had a happier life—and a less painful death—than many of the animals whose meat I think nothing of buying from the grocery store. The key difference was that I was involved in the process.

Then they cooked it, “wrapped in prosciutto, sautéed in white wine and butter, and garnished with a sprig of rosemary,” and ate it, and it tasted good, even without one of the best parts, the discarded legs that had been squished by car tires.

For all the gory details of butchering a rabbit and photos that go along with the story, go here.

The Old Viking’s Recipe for Glögg

The Old Viking’s Recipe for Glögg

It’s December and it’s getting cold, so you need a hot, hearty beverage to heat youself up from the inside out.  I think a steaming cup of Glögg will do the trick.

Ingredients:

Burgundy (I use Carl Rossi) 1.5 liters
Ruby Port (not Tawny port) .75 liters
Sugar (adjust to preference) 6 ounces
Raisins 1-2 ounces
Cloves 15
Cardamom seeds (peeled) 24
Almonds (Filberts okay) 24
Fresh ginger 3 pieces 1” x ½”
Cinnamon sticks 6 to 8
Dried Figs (optional, I use them) 4 to 6

.75 liters of akavit

(I make a lot. Adjust accordingly)
Also, use inexpensive wines because the spices change them)

Directions:

Best prepared the day before serving. Heat slowly. I use a crock pot. Take one hour to bring to the simmer. Test every half hour after heating has begun and correct spices and sugar if necessary. ( I never have to change it.)

Strain out all spices and save for another batch (except don’t save raisins.)
When serving reheat slowly. When hot add akavit. You can flame it if you want at that point.

The day before soak some raisins and almonds in akavit. Leave until serving.
To serve: put 6 raisins and almonds in a cup and fill with Glögg. Serve with small spoon to dig out the raisins and almonds.

Deep Fried Beer at the State Fair of Texas

Deep Fried Beer at the State Fair of Texas

It’s late summer, and you know what that means.  It’s time for y’all to go to a state fair and gorge yourself on all kinds of things that have been submerged in a vat of very hot oil.

Used to be just donuts and other doughy things like fritters and elephant ears, but over the years the stuff they deep fry at fairs has gotten weird:  like Twinkies and Snickers.

Well as the late Dr. Hunter S. Thompson said, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”

The guy that invented deep-fried beer is a pro.

Story here.