Bakers Tout The Spicy Flavor Of Mesquite Flour
Mesquite trees have long had a reputation as a pesky weed, but the wood has been put to good use as fuel for barbecue. Bakers also swear by the flavor in mesquite beans. The beans are encased in pods that resemble long string beans. When the beans are milled into flour and baked, their hazelnut, cinnamon, cream, and molasses aromas come alive. Mesquite flour is gluten-free, so it’s frequently mixed with wheat flour to help breads and baked goods hold their shape and rise. Wheat’s mild flavor also moderates mesquite’s more intense taste. Think of it as a Southern heirloom ingredient, one that many bakers are now celebrating for its unique flavors. Austin-based baker Sandeep Gyawali has even started the Texas Mesquite Movement to encourage the culinary use of native mesquite pods.
White Director Of Southern Foodways Alliance Urged To Resign
John T. Edge, co-founder of the influential Southern Foodways Alliance, has been asked to step down by several colleagues and food media professionals. The most recent request was in a public webinar hosted by the James Beard Foundation, in which Nigerian chef Tunde Wey asked Edge to step down and give his position to an African-American woman. “I’ve been in the position 20 years,” Edge responded, “It’s time for me to get out of the way. I recognize and embrace that.” Edge went on to explain that he has been preparing for his successor for several years. According to the organization’s publicist Melany Robinson, Edge has raised more than $13 million, including an endowment to pay his successor’s salary. In response, Wey said that it is taking longer than anticipated to find a replacement.
The Southern Foodways Alliance was formed to preserve and document the food of the Southern United States, and by many accounts, Edge’s work has been carefully addressing issues of food and race for years. “What we have is a middle-aged man who like so many progressive Southerners has wrestled with the demons of his white Southern past and used that to help build a better South,” said Marcie Cohen Ferris, a former board president and professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina.
One of the ongoing issues is that Edge has risen to prominence with several of his own published books, magazine articles, and media appearances that have changed the historical narrative about African-American, immigrant and Indigenous cooks who pioneered what came to be known as Southern food. But he did that while the descendants of those same people struggled to get published themselves. Ferris hasn’t flat-out called for Edge’s resignation but endorses an exhaustive reorganization of the alliance and the hiring of people of color in management positions. .
Kimchi Isn’t Just Pickled Cabbage
Though cabbage is the most widely known base for kimchi, this staple of the Korean table is more of a preservation method than a single food. “I think of kimchi as a verb,” says food writer Eric Kim. “You can kimchi just about anything.” The dish can be made with fennel, tomatoes, radishes, scallions, cucumbers and other vegetables. If you’re in a hurry, Kim suggests a quicker alternative. “I like to combine vegetables with vinegar to achieve kimchi-like results, which I think of as ‘quick kimchi.'” The key is to pre-salt the vegetables for at least 30 minutes to draw out some of their moisture. “In Korea, these technically would be considered muchims,” says Kim, “which can refer to any number of ‘seasoned’ or ‘dressed’ salads or other preparations.”
Ghost Kitchens May Be Here To Stay
In a San Francisco parking lot, an unmarked trailer powered by a generator churns out meals for six different “restaurants,” including WokTalk, Burger Bytes, Fork and Ladle, Umami, American Eclectic Burger, and Wings & Things. The restaurants are run by Reef Technology, and its trailer’s parking space is only one of 1.3 million parking spaces that Reef manages in 4,500 locations throughout the United States and Canada. At least 70 of those parking spaces are occupied by Reef’s delivery-only kitchens or “ghost kitchens” that prepare food for customers who order online only.
Run by a culinary team that includes former executives from Potbelly and Jamba Juice, Reef’s virtual restaurants are part of a growing trend. Other ghost kitchen companies include Zuul, Kitchen United, Deliveroo, Panda Selected, and CloudKitchens, which is run by Uber founder Travis Kalanick. CloudKitchens leases kitchen space and delivery-only service to chefs and small-business owners who couldn’t otherwise afford the expense of opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant. Uber Eats, working with both Reef and CloudKitchens, now delivers meals from 7,000 different virtual restaurants. According to journalist Matt Newburg, an 11,000 square foot CloudKitchens commissary in Los Angeles houses 27 kitchens that prepare meals for 115 delivery-only restaurants. Even the national chain Ruby Tuesday, announced it is leasing kitchen space to third-party restaurant brands to prepare delivery-only meals. .
Vegas Culinary Union Files Lawsuit Demanding Better Employee Protections
Both the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and the Bartenders Union Local 165 have filed a lawsuit against hospitality companies MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment. The lawsuit alleges that several restaurants, including The Signature at MGM Grand, Sadelle’s Cafe at the Bellagio, and Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen & Bar at Harrah’s Las Vegas, did not provide adequate rules and procedures to address the spread of COVID-19. “This lawsuit … is the just the beginning of the culinary union’s legal efforts to make sure workers are fully protected,” said Geoconda Argüello-Kline, the Culinary Union’s secretary-treasurer. Multiple workers have come forward with statements regarding the incident. “I did everything to follow social distancing,” said Jonathon Munoz, food server at Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen & Bar. “We follow the strict protocol for three months. And now I come to work with a company that breaks protocol within a week…I feel the company doesn’t care about my wife or my kids.” At The Signature at MGM Grand, bellman Sixto Zermeno says he tested positive for COVID-19 on June 11 and attempted to “warn the Signature and its parent company MGM Resorts, but was not contacted for two days, even as co-workers with whom he had worked, including one who later tested positive for COVID-10, continued to work.”
States Roll Back Restaurant Reopenings As COVID-19 Cases Rise
States including Washington, Florida, California and Texas are rolling back their restaurant reopening dates as the United States sees a second surge in coronavirus cases. According to Johns Hopkins data, the country’s seven day average of coronavirus cases increased by 42% the last week of June. That’s roughly 38,200 cases within the week. As the numbers were released showing a sharp spike in cases, Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee postponed the planned reopening of the state’s restaurants and bars on Saturday. California Gov. Gavin Newsom followed suit and ordered the state to close its bars last Sunday. As case numbers climb up in states throughout the nation, more and more states have rolled back reopening restaurants for inside dining, limited them once again to takeout, delivery, and in some cases limited outdoor dining. The sudden backpedaling has made it even harder for restaurants that ordered food and rehired workers in preparation for reopening on the weekend. .
Celebrity Chefs Teach Online Cooking Classes For Restaurant Relief Fund
As people cook at home more instead of eating in restaurants, Airbnb has launched a series of Online Experiences featuring chefs such as David Chang, Edward Lee, Claudette Zepeda, and Rōze Traore. The virtual cooking classes take place throughout the summer, and each class costs $75–100. Proceeds from most of the classes support chef Edward Lee’s LEE Initiative Restaurant Reboot Relief Program. Proceeds from the class taught by chef Rōze Traore, who is a two-time open heart surgery survivor, will help fund Harboring Hearts, a nonprofit that provides emergency financial support and food delivery to heart surgery patients and their caregivers. The chefs will host all four cooking classes on Zoom with a cap of 10 participants, and participants will be able to interact with the chefs while receiving feedback via Zoom. More Online Cooking Experiences classes are planned, including chefs Roberto Ruiz, Jun Lee, Nicola Dinato, Soo Ahn, Paolo Gramaglia, Cristina Bowman and more.
Booze Map Shows Which States Drink The Most
U.S. consumers drink about 570 million gallons of liquor, 914 million gallons of wine, and over 6 billion gallons of beer each year. Wondering where your state falls on the booze map? An analysis of recent data from The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism shows that some consumers in some states drink more than others. New Hampshire tops the list for liquor consumption, likely because it has no booze tax. Delaware comes in second, followed by the District of Columbia, and Nevada, due it large part to Vegas casinos and tourism. Those in Vermont consume the least amount of liquor, less than a million gallons per year, quite a bit less than those in California, who consumer an annual 69.1 million gallons. The states consuming the least spirits also include West Virginia, Utah, and Ohio.
Moderate Drinking May Improve Brain Function, Study Says
A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that middle-aged and older adults who drank alcohol in moderation had higher levels of cognitive functioning than those who abstained. Between 1996 and 2008, researchers for the University of Michigan’s Health and Retirement Study tested 19,887 participants on their mental acuity multiple times. Each participant’s cognitive function was tested through vocabulary, word recall, and mental status. Overall, those who consumed one to two drinks a day performed better on all mental acuity tests. Moderate drinking was associated with a better vocabulary and better word recall compared to those who abstained from alcohol. Women made up 60% of the participants with an average age of 61, and 85% were white. About one third (35%) of participants said they drank alcohol, and among those, 85% drank low to moderate amounts.
Iowa Permanently Legalizes To-Go Cocktails, Other States To Follow
Iowa has become the first state to convert its temporary law allowing to-go cocktails into a permanent one. Michigan has also extended restaurant and bar sales of cocktails to go through 2025. Legislators in New York, Texas, Florida, Ohio, Oklahoma, and the District of Columbia say they will likely introduce bills of a similar nature. Alcohol sales often account for about 30 percent of a restaurant’s revenue, and allowing takeout alcohol sales during pandemic lockdowns has been a boon for the struggling restaurant industry. More than 30 states currently allow to-go cocktails from bars and restaurants. Many lawmakers believe the legislation is legalizing permanently to help restaurants survive beyond the pandemic. “Making cocktails to-go permanent provides a much-needed source of stability and revenue for local bars, restaurants and distilleries as they begin to recover,” said Dale Szyndrowski, vice president of state government relations for the Distilled Spirit Council of the United States.
Why Use Plain Water In Cocktails When Coconut Water Tastes Better?
While coconut is often associated with rich and creamy cocktails like the Piña Colada, bartenders are more frequently using coconut water for a lighter, refreshing taste without the heavy texture. Dilution is often the key to a balanced cocktail and coconut water can stand in for plain water. “Coconut water is a great way to make the dilution in a cocktail more interesting without changing the texture of the drink,” says Lost Lake bartender Vince Bright. You can use coconut water instead of plain water to make coconut simple syrup, or it can be frozen into coconut ice cubes or added straight to high-proof rums and whiskeys as a diluting agent. It works particularly well with tropical fruits like mango and pineapple and sits nicely in nut-based cocktails as well. .
Maine Lobster Prices Drop Amid Lockdowns And Trade War
Closed restaurants, a lack of tourists, and the U.S.-China trade war have battered Maine’s lobster industry. With meager sales and a surplus of lobsters, consumer prices have fallen to less than $6 a pound from about $8-$9 a pound at the same time last year. According to state government data, lobster fishers were paid an average of $4.82 a pound for their haul last year, while this year the going price is just $2 to $3 a pound.
The Maine lobster industry hit peak sales in 2016 with 132 million pounds caught valued at $540 million, according to state data. But in 2017, 2018, and 2019, the industry has sold less than $500 million worth each year. China’s retaliatory tariffs on American lobster have also taken a toll on wholesale exports in the past year. In 2019, Maine lobster exports to China fell by 48%. Last month, at a rare meeting in Bangor, Maine’s fishers outlined the dire state of the industry to President Trump, and in response he directed the U.S. Agriculture Department to funnel some of its federal farming aid to the Maine lobster industry to keep it from sinking. .
Bees Are Rebounding, A Good Sign For Agriculture, Study Says
For decades, scientists have witnessed shrinking populations of pollinators, which are critical to agriculture and the world’s food supply. Honeybees are the most easily tracked, and fortunately, only 22.2% of bee colonies died from October 1 to March 31, according to the Bee Informed Partnership’s annual survey. The average loss has been higher at 28.6%, and the new figure marks the second smallest winter loss in the survey’s 14-year history. To compile the survey, scientists interview 3,377 commercial and backyard beekeepers across the United States in both winter and summer. Low winter losses are considered the most important marker of colony health. In the previous winter of 2018-2019, a record 37.7% of bee colonies died. That significant loss also followed beekeepers through the summer of 2019 with a 32% death rate during that season. While the new numbers are encouraging, University of Georgia entomologist Keith Delaplane says it is possible that beekeepers are relocating their colonies indoors during the winter, improving their chances of survival.
Dairy Farmers Worldwide Suffer Massive Economic Downtown
The global dairy industry is valued at about $700 billion, and the sector accounts for about 14% of agricultural trade, according to the United Nations. But it appears that consumers around the world eat more cheese and butter when dining out than at home. As restaurants have closed, dairy farmers worldwide have been forced to dump millions of gallons of unused milk and euthanize older cows due to low demand for milk products. According to the National Milk Producers Federation, U.S. herds will likely contract to record lows this year. To help the struggling dairy industry, the U.S. is issuing $2.9 billion in aid, while the European Union has pledged 30 million euros ($34 million) to aid its dairy industry, and Australia has earmarked funds as well.
Government stimulus money has helped dairy farmers survive the pandemic thus far, yet dairy industry analysts predict a long road to economic recovery. Consumer consumption patterns have been changing for decades, and overall milk consumption is on the decline in developed nations. “How fresh fluid milk becomes a staple again remains to be seen,” said Tony Sarsam, chief executive officer of the bankrupt Borden Dairy Co. “It’s not going to be solved with a government program. Consumers want new ideas, indulgent foods, healthy choices and convenience, and the dairy industry has a lot of work to do there.”
Latin American Food Markets Implement Safety Protocols To Contain Virus
Mexico City’s Central de Abasto is a massive compound of food warehouses and wholesale outlets, a prime spot for the metropolitan area’s 20 million consumers to buy fruits and produce. About 90,000 people work at the market, which receives roughly 300,000 customers a day. With so many people, the Central de Abasto became the source of over 200 recorded coronavirus cases per week during the month of May. To improve safety, Market Director Hector Garcia Nieto says the market installed its own testing center and triage area and instituted contact tracing even before the city did. Since the installment, the weekly number of cases traced to the market fell to about 60 or 70.
Similarly in Peru, which has over 2,600 food markets vital to its citizens, government officials report that 36 of the most popular markets in the capital city of Lima were points of contagion. And in Venezuela, the Las Pulgas market became the source of an outbreak which caused 400 of the province’s nearly 580 recorded coronavirus cases. While health experts and organizations worldwide report that there is currently no evidence that you can catch COVID-19 from food or food packaging, crowded spaces such as food markets remain a significant risk due to the sheer number of people. Throughout Latin America, public health officials continue to implement safety protocols to reduce outbreaks while simultaneously providing consumers with access to their primary sources of food.
UN Seeks Food Funding As Millions To Go Hungry Around The Globe
The United Nations’ World Food Program (WFP) appealed for nearly $5 billion to help poor and middle-income countries that are food insecure due to the pandemic. The WFP aims to help 138 million people, far exceeding its past record of 97 million in 2019 and making it the biggest humanitarian response in history. According to the WFP, the amount of people going food insecure in countries where WFP operates could balloon to 270 million before the end of 2020, an 82% increase since the pandemic bega. Latin America has been hit the hardest, as the number of people in need of food assistance increased three-fold. Central Africa has seen a 135% increase in food insecurity, and Southern Africa sees a 90% rise. More than half of WFP’s response plan consists of cash transfers, and aid will be sent as both cash and vouchers so that communities in need can buy food at local markets to further boost struggling local economies.
Bagged Salad Recall: More Than 200 People Sickened In 8 States
Fresh Express has recalled a bagged salad mix sold in several grocery stores under the Fresh Express brand label as well as store brand labels such as ALDI Little Salad Bar, Giant Eagle, Hy-Vee, Jewel-Osco Signature Farms, ShopRite Wholesome Pantry, and Walmart Marketside. The recalled salads were manufactured by a Fresh Express facility in Streamwood, Illinois, and are linked to a multistate outbreak of Cyclospora infections, which typically causes diarrhea. So far, 206 people in 8 states have been sickened, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Get the full story here at USA Today or CBS News. Details on identifying the recalled products can be found here at the Centers for Disease Control
Coming In 2021: World’s First 3D Printed Vegan Steak
Israeli start-up Redefine Meat has joined the plant-based “meat” market with plans to launch a line of 3D printed vegan steaks next year. “You need a 3D printer to mimic the structure of the muscle of the animal,” said CEO Eshchar Ben-Shitrit. The company is testing its “Alt Steaks” at several fine-dining restaurants this year and aims to roll out industrial-scale 3D printers to meat distributors in 2021. Redefine Meat’s machines will have the capacity to print 20 kilograms (about 44 pounds) of 3D printed plant-based meat per hour.
While Redefine Meat has focused on beef, the Spanish company Novameat has also been developing a line of 3D-printed plant-based meats focused on whole-muscle cuts that resemble pork. Like Redefine Meat, Novameat’s products will tested in European restaurants this year and the company has rollout plans for 2021.
“The market is definitely waiting for a breakthrough in terms of improving the texture,” said Stacy Pyett, who manages the Proteins for Life program at Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands. It remains to be seen whether 3D printing will provide that breakthrough. Either way, sales of alternative “meat” products are predicted to reach $140 billion by 2029, about 10% of the world meat market, according to Barclays.
China’s Country Garden Opens Restaurant Run Entirely By Robots
Health and safety concerns during the coronavirus outbreak have accelerated the use and acceptance of robots in restaurants. In the city of Shunde in China’s Guangdong province, Country Garden real estate and catering group has just opened a 21,000 square foot restaurant complex operated entirely by robots. The restaurant’s menu has 200 items including fast food, hot pot, and various other Chinese dishes that are prepared by 20 robots. The restaurant can handle 600 diners at once.
While robots have been used before in restaurants to greet guests and run food, most establishments still relied on human chefs. In Country Garden’s new restaurant complex, robots perform all tasks from cooking and serving to cleaning with specific robots trained to make dishes such as ice cream and clay pot rice. To assure customers of their safety, the robots have all received new safety certifications from China’s National Robot Testing and Accreditation Center.
Country Garden plans to expand with additional centralized kitchens in and around Hong Kong this year with the expectation of producing 5,000 robots a year. In the coronavirus era and beyond, the company is betting that customers will feel safer dining in a restaurant in which the food has been produced with no human contact.