EU Relaxes Rules on Imperfect Produce

The EU has scrapped strict standards on the size and shape for 26 fruits and vegetables, paving the way for the sale of funny looking fruits and vegetables. The decision came despite protests from some nations which wanted to keep the rules for fear that produce prices would drop significantly.

Aleqm5ggdwnsfn1lhmtkya231vt0evzvgq "This is a happy day indeed for the curvy cucumber and the knobbly carrot, and other amusingly shaped fruits and vegetables," said European Commission spokesman Michael Mann.

"It's a concrete example of our drive to cut unnecessary red tape," added EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel. "We simply don't need to regulate this sort of thing at EU level." She also noted that in a climate of high food prices and economic crises, "consumers should be able to choose from the widest range of products possible. It makes no sense to throw perfectly good products away, just because they are the 'wrong' shape."

Rules will be eliminated for apricots, artichokes, asparagus, aubergines, avocados, beans, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflowers, cherries, courgettes, cucumbers, cultivated mushrooms, garlic, hazelnuts in shell, headed cabbage, leeks, melons, onions, peas, plums, ribbed celery, spinach, walnuts in shell, water melons, and chicory. However, as a compromise, standards remain in place for apples, citrus fruit, kiwi fruit, lettuces, peaches and nectarines, pears, strawberries, sweet peppers, table grapes and tomatoes.


Agenda: Dumplings and Dynasties, Nose to Tail Eating, and the Sense of Taste



Dumplings and Dynasties
The James Beard Foundation presents, "Dumplings and Dynasties," a gala dinner/auction followed by a two-day conference celebrating the evolution of modern Chinese cuisine. The gala will feature a feast of Chinese fare prepared by guest chefs from China and North America along with wine pairings hand-picked by guest sommeliers. The conference that follows will feature experts in the field of Chinese cuisine and food culture.

The Gala and Auction will take place on Thursday, November 13th at the Edison Ballroom (240 West 47th Street). A dim sum reception and silent auction will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. The dinner and live auction will follow at 7:00 p.m. and last through 11:00 p.m. Tickets: $500/JBF members, $625/general public, $10,000/VIP table of 10 people. (212.627.2308, VIP: 212.633.9145)

The two-day Conference on Cuisine and Culture will take place Friday, November 14th and Saturday, November 15th. Visit the official site for full details and schedule. Tickets: $175/JBF members and NYU faculty, $250/general public, $125/students.

Read More >



The Brie Cheese Effect

To explain the growth of the Himalayan mountains tens of millions of years ago, geologists turn to an unlikely analogy: oozing brie cheese.

Cheese_mould_photo2If the thick, firm mold on a wheel of brie represents the rocky surface of the high Tibetan Plateau, deep below the rock is more like soft cheese, capable of flowing under pressure or when heated (by the Earth's interior). "It's like you put that into your microwave and turned it up just a bit," geologist Kip Hodges explained to National Geographic. "It doesn't melt, but it begins to flow." The softer rock slowly oozes through the crust and onto the surface, adding new layers, and therefore new height, to the mountains.


Using Wine to Build a Better Beer


Bioengineering students at Rice University are experimenting in making beer more like wine -- or, at least, channeling red wine's healthful properties into something sudsier.

The objective is to take the yeast used to ferment beer and genetically engineer it to produce resveratrol, the compound in red wine that is believed to be beneficial for cardiac health and fighting cancer. Why beer? As reported on NPR, the students' ultimate goal is to bring the health benefits of wine to a much larger audience (beer consumption greatly outstrips consumption of wine).

In order to brew their "Biobeer," the students are introducing two genes found in grapes into a yeast strain provided by the Saint Arnold Brewery in Houston, Texas. According to the research project's web site, fermentation experiments are still ongoing. And, if you're not interested in drinking beer or wine to improve your health, future work will explore genetic engineering of yeasts to make other resveratrol-infused liquors like cider, whiskey, bourbon,  and vodka. Hic.


Have Wine, Will Travel


Don't want to risk soaking your suitcase with your souvenir sangiovese? You can always take your chances on wrapping your bottles with dirty laundry (my own preferred technique), but here's a piece of travel gear for the truly risk-averse oenophile. Designed for "culinary travelers," the liquid-tight BottleWise Duo bag will hold two 750 ml bottles of wine inside checked luggage. Sure beats trying to fill up those TSA-regulated tiny shampoo bottles. $58.95 to $125, depending on color and style, at


Agenda: Fish Fry, Taste of T, Bacon, Beer, and Chutney


Mermaid Inn Fish Fry
Cod In response to popular demand, The Mermaid Inn (568 Amsterdam Avenue and 96 Second Avenue) is resurrecting their take on the classic New England fish fry. Each of their two locations will have a unique fish menu. The UWS will offer Crispy Cod with Skillet Fried Hush Puppies, Leeks, Old Bay Fries, and Cole Slaw. The LES will offer Crispy Cod with Old Bay Chips, Creamed Corn with Cumin, Hush Puppies, and Celery Root and Caper Cole Slaw. The fish fries will be offered for $18/person and take place every Wednesday starting November 5th. To sweeten the deal, Pabst Blue Ribbon will be sold at $2/can (212.799.7400 [Upper West Side], 212.674.5870 [Lower East Side]).

Read More >



Spoons, Knives, and Forks That Float


Shelterrific points to these innovative concepts for floating utensils: The ceramic forks, knives, and spoons are shaped with an empty ball in the center so that they will bob up and down rather than sinking to the bottom of your sink (and ending up in the garbage disposal).

The gastronomic buoys might also make for an interesting way to serve food: I could imagine them floating in a container of just about anything brined or, perhaps, in a bowl of bocconcini chilled in water. The utensils' creator, Seongyong Lee, has also designed a plastic ladle that, like the forks and knives, floats upright. Both designs only appear to be concepts at this point, though a hypnotic video of the ladle in action is available on YouTube.

Images: Seongyong Lee.


Barack Obama for President



Latest Polls: Obama Favored By Burrito, Frozen Custard, and Waffle Eaters

As we noted earlier, a number of food-oriented polls/publicity stunts have cropped up this election season to measure how voters are leaning.

Here are the latest results:

Obama7-Eleven: Obama
Obama has a strong lead among coffee drinkers who patronize the convenience stores: 60% have chosen a blue cup for Obama vs. 40% picking a red cup for McCain.

ObamaCulver's Custard: Obama
The ice cream chain crowned "Heath Toffeebits," the Democratic candidate, as the winner with 52,157 votes. "Reese E. Buttercup," the Republican candidate, garnered 50,889 votes.

ObamaWafels & Dinges: Obama
As of 12:00 p.m. today, the New York-based maker of Belgian waffles reports that sales of the "Barack Obama Waffle" have outpaced the "John McCain Waffle" by two-to-one: Customers have purchased 243 Obama waffles compared with 141 McCain waffles.

Obama California Tortilla: Obama
The Mexican food chain has sold 5,680 O-Chili-Bama burritos (51%) as compared with 5,456 McCain-Chilada burritos (49%).