Chef of the moment David Chang talks about his book, business, and his rapid rise to fame.
Outgoing New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni interviews outgoing New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni.
Author Michael Pollan talks with Leonard Lopate about nutritionism, "food rules," food safety, and a nascent food reform movement in the U.S.:
Author Jonathan Safran Foer talks with The Young and Hungry about being a vegetarian, the difficulties of being a vegan, and his thoughts about Michael Pollan. Foer, whose next book (non-fiction) is titled Meat Eating Animals, recently created a video for PETA critiquing the kosher meat industry.
Joanne Chen is the author of the newly released The Taste of Sweet: Our Complicated Love Affair with Our Favorite Treats. In the book, her first, she explores the science and culture behind why some of us have insatiable sweet tooths while others do not. The book also pays particularly interest to Americans' love-hate-guilt relationship to sweets and desserts.
There’s no doubt you're an avid lover of sweets. How did your sweet tooth become the inspiration for the book?
I grew up in a family that loved food, all sorts of food including sweets. We always had desserts and afterschool snacks, and I never thought sweets were a bad food or something limited to special occasions. So, when I became an adult, I was appalled that people didn’t feel the same way. I couldn’t believe people would pass up a just-baked pie! Or feel guilty about eating a cookie. So this book was an excuse to explore how our relationships with sweets (and food in general) came to be.
You write about the many ways people experience taste. What’s the difference between a non-taster, taster, and super-taster? How can someone find out what category they fall into?
Super-tasters have a higher density of taste buds than tasters and non-tasters. Our taste preferences are mainly determined by culture and experience, but our density of taste buds influence how intense certain foods might taste. So super-tasters are more apt to think certain vegetables, like Brussels sprouts, are very bitter, or certain sweets, like Rocky Road ice cream, are too sweet. As one scientist I interviewed explained, super-tasters live in a neon taste world, while non-tasters live in a pastel taste world. You can get an idea by taking a quiz on my website, The Taste of Sweet. You can also get strips of PTC paper from science hobby or teaching shops. These test strips will taste bitter to super-tasters and tasters. Non-tasters will taste nothing at all.
Are some sweets perceived as more low-brow than others? Why is a box of Godiva chocolates more coveted than a box of Whitman's? Isn't it all chocolate?
Yes, I believe some sweets ARE perceived as more low brow than others. It all depends on context. Godiva chocolates are considered more high end than Whitman’s because the price points are higher, justified, in part perhaps, by the purity/quality of the chocolate and fillings it’s made with. However, one scientist I interviewed brought up a good point. He wonders why certain wines are deemed better than others—what is “better”? It’s only deemed better because someone influential in a particular circle says so. Of course, in some social circles, Godiva chocolates are low brow, and something else—like Vosges or Michel Cluizel—is consider high brow.Read More >
Jaden Carda is the three-year-old Internet sensation behind the "Mini Minimalist," a video homage to New York Times writer and cookbook author Mark Bittman. In a single take, Jaden recites an almost verbatim rendition of Bittman's instructional video on making chocolate ganache. Jaden's memory and delivery is even more amazing considering that he was born in Thailand and has only begun to master English during the past eight months, when his family moved to Arvada, Colorado. We talked with Jaden's producer (and father) Joel Carda about the budding chef.
In the video, your son appears to mimic Mark Bittman's video for making chocolate ganache nearly word-for-word. How did he do it?
I download children's podcasts for Jaden on my iPhone from Sesame Street, NickJr, and PBS, which he loves, but of course I also download podcasts for myself. Most of my podcasts bore him but he returns again and again to "The Minimalist." Who would have guessed that Mark Bittman would be like catnip for kids?
Some of the comments on various blogs were almost as funny as the video. A couple of concerned parents suggested that he was showing signs of autism. Others were worried that we force him to watch Bittman in lieu of play-dates. He was hailed a prodigy and a genius. Like all biased parents, I think he is cute and smart and would love to believe that he is a genius but the truth is that he is none of the above. All kids are sponges and it is cute and surprising when they imitate adults. We just don't expect that kids would find something like that interesting and when they do, it strikes us as funny. For better or for worse, technology allows kids access to all kinds of unexpected information. Lucky for me, he'll soon be making some great meals.Read More >
Tattfoo Tan (below right) is the Malayasian-born artist behind the newly installed mural on Front Street in DUMBO. The mural is life size replica of a placemat he created as part of his Nature Matching System (NMS). The colors in the placemat are inspired from actual food colors and serve as a reminder to eat properly.
What was your inspiration for the NMS project?
NMS was developed as a reminder to consume our daily recommended doses of color. The shades of color displayed at farmers’ markets are more than skin deep, reflecting the inner potential of every fruit and vegetable; intense colors might even be called nature’s nutrition labels. They get many of their colors from phytonutrients, compounds that play key roles in health and reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. The more colors come together at a meal, the better. Sadly, marketers of junk food apply the same technique used by nature to pollinate seeds in order to sell their nutrition-deprived products. Color is a device that can either do good or be deceptive and even ensure the "pollination" of unhealthy eating habits. The colors on the placemat are all actual food colors, taken from photographs of various fruits and vegetables. Match your meal to the placemat -- it is truly a rainbow connection.Read More >