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Food Quote Friday: Julia Child

Rich Chocolate in Barcelona

"I'm awfully sorry for people who are taken in by all of today's dietary mumbo jumbo. They are not getting any enjoyment out of their food."

Julia Child, as quoted in Esquire

More sinfully delicious food quotes can be found within the food quote archive

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5.02.2008

The Food FEMA Forgets

Two years ago, in the midst of Avian Flu scares, I typed up a quick Foodie's Apocalypse Kit... a nice grouping of emergency preparedness items I felt (and still feel) FEMA and the Red Cross really missed the boat on.

Now that two years have passed and the flu scare headlines have been replaced with the terror du jour, folks may have forgotten their annual apocalypse kit freshness review. So... How're those expiration dates looking? National holidays ought to correspond to the practical needs of the citizenry, so shouldn't the second Thursday of January always be Check Your Apocalypse Kit Day?

As we all take a moment to take stock of our stockpiles, I think it's particularly appropriate to plan for a very practical emergency preparedness component that FEMA forgets: Vice.

Tucked in alongside the 10 Essentials, addicts of every stripe need to lay in stock for their needs. Stressful times are not the right moments to quit smoking or try to kick the caffeine.

There's three underrated bug-out bag essentials I'm thinking about at the moment: Coffee, Chocolate and Hard Liquor.

apple martini

Coffee is a no-brainer for bean-worshipers like me. It's le soma quotidien. I feel ooky without it. Ooky is most certainly not what I want to feel if there's anything that's required of me.

Chocolate isn't much of a mental stretch, either. If there's a disaster, you're probably going to feel very unhappy and uncomfortable. For most people, chocolate is something soothing and pleasant. A staple diet of brown rice and canned beans might keep the body working, but a nip of good chocolate is food for the spirit.

I've already mentioned the liquor in brief, but as it's still not on any emergency preparedness list I've ever seen, I'm pressed to make my case with more persuasive detail.

Even if — like me — you're no fan of clear liquors like vodka (or whiskey, or rum), said fluid should be de rigueur for nearly anyone's go-bag. Aside from obvious benefits as a mental balm during hard times, liquor is endlessly useful:

  • It sterilizes wounds and cleans tools.

  • Liquor preserves foods.

  • It's a local anesthetic and disinfectant. Use it on cuts and broken blisters.

  • For painless bandage removal, rub a vodka-soaked cloth on the bandage to dissolve the adhesive.

  • Liquor can be used as an accelerant.

  • I've not tried it, but vodka's rumored to take the sting out of jellyfish encounters and poison ivy incidents

  • Liquor is a commodity that maintains its value. Trade it to the neighbors for something you want or need.

I was around for the Northeast Blackout of 2003, and I can tell you with great certainty that in the sudden absence of electricity, people become very interested in clean water, long-burning candles and a good, stiff drink.

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1.10.2008

Charge of the Peach Brigade

Peaches at Tompkin's Square Greenmarket

Down on the Lower East Side, the invasion slipped in quietly.

For ages (was it months? years?) there wasn't a peach to be found. Then suddenly, in the space of a few spectacular days, a fleet of luscious peaches rolled in on fuzzy skins. We saw them first in the Tompkin's Square Greenmarket.

White Peach Donuts (and Sweet Basil Donuts) overtook the ever-seasonal sandwich board outside The Donut Plant. Peach Cobbler Muffins lined up in the Essex Street Market. A Market Beet & Peach Salad materialized on the menu at Little Giant. Towering crates of peaches stood stacked inside the door of Il Laboratorio del Gelato.

Once we realized we were surrounded by peaches on all sides, it was too late. We were powerless against them. How easily they entered our homes, our businesses, our lives. We were captives. Captivated. Stunned. Transfixed.

Just Peachy Cobbler Muffins at Tra La La Juice Bar

As the days progressed, I suppose it was predictable that we became accustomed to their presence. I think we developed a kind of stonefruit Stockholm syndrome, allying with them, inviting them to join us at breakfast, lunch, dinner and teatime.

I can't verify anything, but there may have been a few tantalizing trysts of sweet, sticky juice and tender flesh savored over the sink. Who can tell? It's all a dizzy blur now.

In the last few days, I've heard rumors (just whispers, mind you) of a retreat. It seems like a wild fiction. Having become so pervasive, such fixtures in our lives, is it possible they could vanish entirely? I won't believe it.

The future? Speculative. (It always is.) The one thing I can say with certainty is this: our present moment is peaches.

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8.06.2007

Gelato Throwdown

il laboratorio del gelato: Avocado Gelato
The avocado gelato at Il Laboratorio del Gelato

Sometimes the food is about more than just the food.

Flavor is a factor, of course, but given food experience is also influenced by the ambiance, the price, the service, the level of love involved in the operation and the convenience factor (not to mention the quality level when compared to other available options).

Recently caught the grip of a sultry spring evening, and J and I trekked up to Grom, the first US outpost of an Italian chain that's fast become the Upper West Side's must-have sweet fix. Not surprisingly, so did hundreds of other New Yorkers.

Milling about in a line that stretched down to 76th street, we compared notes with our fellow line lizards. The couple ahead were true believers, back for another fix. The couple behind questioned the collective intelligence of sixty people who would wait in line upwards of 30 minutes for pricey cups of gelato.

The verdict? Grom is good. Their menu promising seasonal change is appealing. Their Slow Food-approved flavors are compelling. And their rich, dark Ecuadorian Extranoir Chocolate was probably the best flavor of the sampling we tried.

But truthfully, my perennial favorite, Il Laboratorio del Gelato, is still better. A spoon-to-spoon comparison of Grom's pistachio vs. Laboratorio's pistachio revealed more richness and more ka-pow pistachio flavor for a significantly lower price. (A small cup runs $3.50 at LdG vs. $4.75 (plus 8.375% tax) at Grom.)

For some, Grom's uptown location and conveniently late-night hours (Laboratorio closes around six — unbearably early for those with impulsive post-dinner cravings) may outweigh the benefits of Laboratorio's creamy superiority. I respect that. But for my purposes, I'll make the effort to stock the freezer with Laboratorio in those few sweet hours when they're open.

Grom's not bad, but thankfully, there are better options. This girl does not live on Grom alone.

three spoons
GROM (Gelato Come Una Volta)
Grom on Urbanspoon
2165 Broadway (betwn 76th & 77th)
Manhattan, NY
646.290.7233

four spoons
Il Laboratorio del Gelato
Laboratorio Del Gelato on Urbanspoon
95 Orchard St (below Delancey)
Manhattan, NY
212.343.9922

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5.16.2007