Meat Cloud

MeatcloudMeat Cloud (noun): A pungent, potentially noxious mass of smoke caused by the cooking of meat in a restaurant kitchen.

New York Magazine reported on the discomfort of New York Times staffers enveloped in a meat cloud believed to be emanating from the kitchen of Wolfgang's Steakhouse, located within the New York Times Building.

According to the Newspaper Guild of New York, a complaint was made to address health concerns about the fumes:

Several weeks ago, a group of BizDay reporters on the second floor of the Times building alerted us to an odor of cooking meat from the steakhouse downstairs that was lingering over part of their work space. They had brought the matter to the attention of the Facilities Department last fall, but the smells persisted. Several BizDay employees were suffering health effects, including burning eyes and breathing issues, from what had been dubbed a “meat cloud.” - See more at:
Several weeks ago, a group of BizDay reporters on the second floor of the Times building alerted us to an odor of cooking meat from the steakhouse downstairs that was lingering over part of their work space. They had brought the matter to the attention of the Facilities Department last fall, but the smells persisted. Several BizDay employees were suffering health effects, including burning eyes and breathing issues, from what had been dubbed a "meat cloud."

Tests of air quality by the New York Times found no carcinogens, carbon monoxide, or other harmful effects.

"For now, this is being considered a 'quality of life' issue and not a health concern," the Guild reported. "Nonetheless, Times managers have temporarily relocated the people who felt the effects of the fumes and said they would look into moving others if need be. Needless to say, a permanent solution to the 'meat cloud' problem is the goal."


2012: The Year in Food Words

Dictionary2012wine apart·ments (noun): A Tokyo property developer broke ground this year on the Shibuya Shinsen Wine Apartment Project, an upscale apartment complex aimed at wine lovers that will feature a wine bar and bistro on the ground floor, along with a 10,000-bottle underground wine cellar. The apartments are due to be completed in 2013.

sour·dough ho·tel (noun): Stockholm’s Urban Deli charges 300 Swedish Krona ($43) per week at its surdegshotell (sourdough hotel) where sourdough starters are maintained with daily "feedings" of flour and water while their owners leave town for vacation.

broc·co·li man·date (noun): During oral arguments on the Affordable Care Act, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia famously invoked the concept of the "broccoli mandate" to dispute the constuitutionality of the law: "Everybody has to buy food sooner or later," he argued. "Therefore, you can make people buy broccoli."

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Ultrapizzaul·tra-piz·za (noun): Pizza made with highly unorthodox ingredients, a subject of controversy in Naples, Italy.

The Guardian reports on the fuss in Naples, Italy, over ultra-pizzas, gourmet pizzas made with nontraditional ingredients like stilton, shrimp, and even licorice. While purists decry the divergence from orthodox pizza, the alternative pizzas have gained a strong following:

Enzo Coccia has an evangelical air as he discusses his spring pizza – piled with asparagus, buffalo mozzarella, sheep's cheese, lard and beans. "They may say I am a heretic, but I just want to experiment," says the controversial exponent of the Italian trend for what are being dubbed gourmet, or "ultra-pizzas".

The fashion for ultra-pizzas has spread throughout Italy. But as Coccia is constantly being reminded, this is Naples, the home of the tomato and mozzarella margherita. Since opening in 2010, Coccia's restaurant, La Notizia, has whipped up an almighty row, provoking an army of growling traditionalists to voice their contempt for Coccia's daring combination of salt cod with mozzarella, his use of figs and pesto and his €25 truffle oil pizza. His innovative – some would say sacrilegious – approach has divided a city.


bone luge

Bonelugedictionarybone luge (noun): A method of drinking alcohol whereby spirits are poured down a length of a roasted marrow bone into one's mouth.

The bone luge -- which has emerged as something of a meme, with its own website where afficianados may document their drinking experiences -- is said to have originated in Portland, Oregon, in 2010.

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po·ta·to move·ment

Potatomovementpo·ta·to move·ment (noun): A practice emerging in Greece whereby municipalities coordinate direct sales of potatoes and other agricultural products from producers to consumers. Consumers benefit from deep discounts over retail prices, and producers benefit by being paid immediately for their goods.

An article in The Guardian described how the potato movement works in practice:

As devised by [agricultural marketing professor Christos] Kamenides and his students, it's a simple system. Their brainwave was to involve Greece's local municipalities, lending the movement a degree of both organisation and official encouragement that it might otherwise have lacked.

So: a town hall announces a sale. Locals sign up for what they want to buy. The town hall then tells Kamenides the quantity required and he and his students call local farmers to see who can supply it. They show up with the requisite amount of produce at the appointed place and time, meet their consumers, and the deal is done.


blood cash·ews

Bloodcashews blood cash·ews (noun): Nuts processed by inmates enduring human rights abuses at Vietnamese forced labor camps.

The term is an analogy to blood diamonds (or conflict diamonds), precious gems that are sold in order to fund armed conflict and civil war.

Time magazine reported on allegations made in a report by Human Rights Watch about the production of blood cashews in Vietnam:

First there were blood diamonds from the Congo. Then blood rubies from Burma. Could blood cashews from Vietnam be next?

That's one implication of a new Human Rights Watch (HRW) report that claims cashew nuts and other Vietnamese exports are produced by drug addicts detained in forced-labor camps across the country. Those who refuse to work are beaten with truncheons, given electric shocks, locked in isolation, deprived of food and water, and obliged to work even longer hours, the report says. Joseph Amon, director of the New York City–based organization's health and human-rights division, says what's happening at the centers "constitutes torture under international law."


zab·ster zal·ad

Zabsterzalad zab·ster zal·ad (noun): A salad sold by Zabar's that closely resembles lobster salad, but whose primary ingredient is crawfish.

After a minor controversy erupted when Doug MacCash, a reporter for The Times-Picayune of New Orlean, noticed that Zabar's so-called "lobster salad" was actually made from freshwater crawfish, not lobsters, the salad has been renamed zabster zalad to better reflect its eternal lobsterlessness:

Zabar’s, the Upper West Side grocery store, has renamed the lobster salad that contains no lobster “zabster zalad.” The main ingredient remains the same: wild freshwater crawfish. Like the lobsterless lobster salad before it, “zabster zalad” also contains mayonnaise, celery, salt and sugar.

“It’s a combination of lobster and Zabar,” said Saul Zabar, the president and an owner of Zabar’s. “We could have called it Zobster salad, but our name is Zabar’s. And instead of the word ‘salad,’ we put a Z in there.”

For the record, he pronounced “zabster” to rhyme with Napster, the music-sharing service, not the ingredient that his lobster salad never had.



Boattotable boat-to-ta·ble (adjective): Of, relating to, or denoting a direct relationship between chefs and fishermen with the goal of optimizing freshness.

You've no doubt heard of "farm-to-table," the term used (and abused) to describe cuisine based on a close relationship between chefs and farmers. Now comes the boat-to-table phenomenon, which, as described by Joan Nathan in the New York Times, involves the sourcing of fish by chefs, restaurants, and retailers directly from fishermen, bypassing wholesalers in order to increase freshness:

This boat-to-table initiative is part of Trace and Trust, a program that Mr. Arnold; Christopher Brown, the head of the Rhode Island Commercial Fishermen’s Association; and Bob Westcott, another local fisherman, started this year to make fishing more lucrative and shopping more reliable. By cutting out the wholesaler, Trace and Trust lets fishermen get a bigger cut of what chefs and stores pay, and lets restaurants and retailers know they are buying the freshest fish possible. (Consumers can go to its Web site,, to find participating stores and chefs, and to trace a fish’s identification tag back to the boat or fisherman who caught it.)

The term originates from the early 1990s, when it was used to describe new initiatives by the Food and Drug Adminsitration aimed at monitoring the seafood industry to prevent food poising.



Mcpath Mc·Path (noun): A footpath that leads to McDonald's.

The UK town of Bridgend in south Wales is weighing a proposal to create a half-mile footpath -- dubbed the McPath -- that would link a school with a local branch of McDonald's.

Naturally, the proposed trail of fries has generated a fair amount of controversy. According to the Guardian:

The children seem keen but the champions of health eating are less so. For a local authority is considering building a half-mile footway that will link a school with a McDonald's restaurant used by scores of pupils every day.

Inevitably nicknamed McPath, the link between the school and the burger bar could cost up to £100,000.

Supporters say it will create a safe route to the McDonald's and also to a residential area. Critics, however, believe it could prompt more pupils to shun healthy school meals in favour of burgers, chips and fizzy drinks.


vir·tu·al wa·ter

Virtualwatervir·tu·al wa·ter (noun): Also known as embedded water, the water that is used in the production of a good or service.

The Guardian recently published an article on the amount of embedded water that is essentially lost in all of the food that goes to waste in the UK.

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