Miss Ginsu: About/Bio


Grocery Store Tourism

This may seem a bit strange, but one of my very favorite overseas travel activities isn't visiting the museums or galleries (though they're very nice, of course)... it's touring local grocery stores and food shops.

I like to see how the average person lives. In Italy, for example, your average shopper has access to powerful traceability and sourcing information.

Behold! Egg coding!

Italian Egg Coding

The eggshells come with printed sets of numbers. The packaging includes the key to translating the numbers.

What do you find in that code? Everything about where that egg came from, including the state, province, municipality and farm where it was produced, the breed of the chicken and of course, the date on which the hen produced the egg.

Pretty cool, no? One glance at the eggshell, and you know just where it came from, what kind of chicken made it and how fresh it is.

Similarly, when I visited both Italy and France, I noticed that the produce is all labeled with the country and/or region of origin... even at the farmers' markets.

Farmers' market labeling

The second reason I enjoy checking out other peoples' groceries: they have things we don't.

While looking in rural France (Les Eyzies) for food that would work well on the grill, we were delighted to find an upgrade on the traditional canned campsite "pork 'n beans" duo. This canned duck confit and lentils heated up just fine on the grill and made couple of très magnifique dinners.

The same shop also had shelf-stable jars of duck rillettes (essentially a fatty duck spread), which tasted amazing when spread across a fresh baguette.

Can of Lentils & Duck Confit

And finally, there's the joy of discovering cool packaging logos and graphic design. You'll find some of my recent favorites, below:

Goat's Milk Yogurt
An adorable goat's milk yogurt label from Trento, Italy

Devilish Rotisserie Chicken Bag
A devilish rotisserie chicken bag from Toulouse, France

Devilish Rotisserie Chicken Bag
A charming nut sack from Berlin, Germany

Corleggy Cheese Label
A lovely little cheese label from Belturbet, Ireland

I know I can't be alone in my tendency toward grocery store tourism. Anyone have foreign food discoveries to report? Let me know in the comments or link me over to your adventures.

Miss Ginsu

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Food Quote Friday: Rose Art Industries

Ginny eats her cotton candy

"This unit is equipped with a safety system using magnetic fields, infrared beams, thermal controllers and time base logic to ensure the accurate and safe functioning of your new Cotton Candy Machine."

— Excerpted from the Rose Art Cotton Candy Machine Instruction Manual

More sugary-sweet food quotes can be found within the food quote archive.

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FoodLink Roundup: 07.21.08

Cupcake's Link Roundup
As surmised, last week Cupcake was visiting the handsome polar bear at the Musée d'Orsay. Where in the world is Cupcake this week? Be the envy of your friends and the bane of your enemies by posting a guess in the comments.

Vertical Farms for Urban Areas
Critics question zucchini-in-the-sky visions: “Would a tomato in lower Manhattan be able to outbid an investment banker for space in a high-rise?”

Cutest. Spaghetti film. Ever.
I love this short so much. PES, you rock.

The Food-Truck Revolution
NY Mag offers up a handy map of NYC's most mobile meals... with recommendations, of course.

Red Hook vendors in the red
I know they mean well, but I kind of hate the health department.

felt egg cosy
I can't say I've ever had need for an egg cozy, but... OMG SO CUTE!

Is Eco-Wine Better?
An exploration of the "green" wine spin factor.

Parker's Wine Vintage Chart
A good "print out and take along" reference for the next time you're out wine shopping.

Fun with Toxins
MUG sends out a call to New Yorkers... Help keep consumer labeling on your milk!

Good Fish, Bad Fish: A Consumer Guide
Think wild Alaskan (sablefish, salmon) or think small: mussels, oysters, anchovies, sardines

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FoodLink Roundup: 06.16.08

Cupcake's Link Roundup
Happy Bloomsday! Last week, Cupcake was located in Chinatown, NYC, just south of Canal on Mott Street. (Another win for Mr. Hazard.) Where in the world is Cupcake this week? Post a guess in the comments.

US Tomato Industry in "Complete Collapse"
Gosh, wouldn't it be great if we had accurate paper trails on our produce crops? Of course, I couldn't help notice the x-treme price-jump effect this news produced in the grape tomatoes at my local market... see here for the evidence at Flickr.

Triple whammy
As with many things mythical and natural, it seems that three is a magic number in the kitchen.

Tasting the Grape, Among Other Things
A conference to taste those wines that "you would not, of your own volition, spend an entire weekend drinking"

Japan, Seeking Trim Waists, Measures Millions
Can you imagine the uproar this would cause in the US?

10 paths to painless pizza-making
Smitten Kitchen does up a very liberating guide to the art of making pizza at home.

Peak-Season Produce Map
An excellent use of the internet. Thanks, Epicurious!

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Goal 4: Snuggle up with a good label

I think it's sad that Whole Foods Market has taken over the world. I can no longer proclaim my love of whole foods without people misconstruing it as a love of Whole Foods.

Research continues to show us that best stuff we can choose to eat is the food we've had available to us for the several hundred thousand years we've been on the planet. Food that's as close to its natural form as possible. Carrots. Beans. Apples. Blueberries. Fishes. Honey. Walnuts. You know... whole foods.

The category of "almost as good" includes very minimally processed things. Olive oil, nut butters, tomato juice, apple sauce, steel-cut oats, boiled lentils, plain yogurt, split pea soup... the ingredient list on these items is short and pronounceable.

Then, there's the "sure, but don't pig out" food category. Vanilla ice cream. Couscous. Banana muffins. Lemon curd. More, and more processed, ingredients.

Finally, the "really, you shouldn't" category: processed foods. Not sugar or honey, but high-fructose corn syrup or aspartame and acesulfame potassium. Not butter or oil, but partially hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed and/or palm kernel oil.

Incidentally, do you know what that "and/or" means on a product label? It means they don't exactly know which product they're using. It means they're holding out to see what's cheapest on the ag markets.

Food Value Pyramid

I've created an infographic (because I love 'em) to demonstrate this point a little better. Clearly, it's my own reinterpretation of the USDA's food pyramid.

All you need to do for better health is get in the habit of actually looking at nutrition labels on the food you're about to put in your mouth.

Is the thing you're about to eat a whole food? It probably doesn't have a label at all. Great! Try to make sure your diet is filled with whole foods.

Minimally-to-partially processed food with just a few things on the ingredient listing? Fine. If you're the one doing the processing, that's all the better.

Food that's processed to the point at which nothing that grew or flew is verifiable in it? Can't readily explain to a 5-year-old how people make or find all the ingredients it contains? Those are bad signs, friend. Put that thing back on the shelf and back away. Or, if you really can't resist, keep consumption to a minimum. One or two Oreos. A small handful of pita chips. A candy bar in the "mini" size.

We really are made up of what we eat. You can give your body far better building blocks than Doritos will ever provide.

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