A revolutionary bread-making technique, and two new foodie blogs
“Edible Media” takes an occasional look at interesting or deplorable food journalism on the web.
This edition of Edible Media will round up several choice morsels.
Mark Bittman, the great cookbook writer and author of the indispensable weekly column “The Minimalist” in the NYT, has a provocative one this week on breadmaking.
Bittman reports that Jim Lahey, owner of Manhattan’s terrific Sullivan Street Bakery, has taught him a new method for making bread that delivers professional-quality bread with no kneading or special equipment necessary. The result sends Bittman on a decidedly non-minimalist rhetorical jag. The bread is “incredible, a fine-bakery quality, European-style boule that is produced more easily than by any other technique I’ve used, and will blow your mind.”
There’s even a sustainability angle: the technique “may yet change the industry. Mr. Lahey is experimenting with using it on a large scale, but although it requires far less electricity than conventional baking, it takes a lot of space and time.”
I will be trying this at home; I’ll report back.
A great new food-science blog
Among hard-core food nerds, Harold McGee is something of a deity. The pain I feel for not having read his On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen calls to mind Woody Allen’s Zelig, whose shame at never having read Moby Dick caused his personality to implode.
But I have read McGee’s impressive new blog. In clear, engaging prose, McGee cuts through the dense jargon of the studies that are always being released on nutrition and he demystifies various kitchen processes. (Bittman cites him in the above-linked bread article.)
McGee supports small-scale sustainable ag, but his conclusions don’t always bring comfort. For one, he claims it’s a myth that grass-feed beef is a significant source of Omega-3 fatty acids (it has much more than corn-fed beef, but 20 times almost none is still almost none).
But then, he also concludes that organically grown food has more beneficial phytochemicals than conventional, because organic plants grow under more stress, and phytochemical production is plants’ defense mechanism.
(He also cites evidence that Syrah wine grapes grown on a French vineyard and doused with pesticides also got a phytochemical boost for the same reason: the pesticides stressed the plants.)
Another big-shot food writer launches a blog
Ruhlman chronicles and rubs shoulders with the world’s most celebrated chefs. Read his blog to keep up with the doings of the likes of Thomas Keller and Ferran Adria. But Ruhlman is also down with local food and sustainable ag, and he clearly knows his way around the kitchen.
To appreciate how circular and cozy the food world can be, note how in this post Ruhlman casually mentions a book project he’s working on with Keller and the above-mentioned McGee.