FLOG: The Foodiness Blog

Episode: 113

So, this cricket walks into a bar…


Today, on an all-new Let’s Get Real…So, this cricket walks into a bar…

I’ve dealt with my share of roaches and mice and other vermin over the years, but twenty years ago, when I bought my (mercifully) cheap loft in Brooklyn, I seemed to have found my vermin-free paradise. My theory was that the angry-faced, scary-surly Romanian super who I thought hated me (turned out I just wasn’t tipping enough to get a “like” from him) was keeping the bugs and critters out simply by being his surly, stern Eastern European self. I figured he basically bullied and terrorized them into staying away.

I was so scared of him I thought the vermin were, too. I saw nary a roach for 17 years. One or two big so-called “waterbugs” would scuttle through each summer, but I’d quickly dispatch it with the heel of my chef’s clog.

Then something changed, and suddenly we got buggy. I’m pretty sure it was some construction in the building that caused it because suddenly, we had roaches. Big ones, baby ones, weird-looking ones of a species I’d never seen, it was classic NYC all over again. So we got the exterminator in, since despite my fear and loathing of all things chemical, sometimes you gotta call in the big guns. And now, instead of scuttling, running, hiding roaches, we have staggering, upside-down flailing, dying roaches. It’s pretty. It looks like the civil war battlefield scene from the end of “Gone With The Wind”, acted out by insects. A cast of thousands…of roaches.

Now, as a chef, and person who makes her living screaming at (ok, exhorting) people to eat real food, the irony of killing and discarding these potential sources of protein who were freely roaming my kitchen, like tiny wild-raised game animals, or miniature grazing pastured cattle just there for the harvesting, was not lost on me. I know all sorts of insects are eaten around the world, and they are a valuable and sustainable source of protein for bazillions of people…just not us.

80% of the world regularly eats over 1,600 species of insect. But We Americans, we don’t do bugs.

Oh, we’ll stuff our chubby faces with unlimited farmed shrimp at the buffet, or pay $17 (!) for a tiny lobster roll from a food truck, or spend sweaty summer nights hitting crabs with a mallet and picking out annoyingly small bits of meat and shell (why I love soft-shell crabs, btw) but those are all ok, because they come from the sea. If it crawls across the ocean floor, we call it a delicacy. If it crawls across your kitchen floor, we smash it with a shoe. We discriminate based on evolution; as merely possessing the ability to breathe underwater designates a creepy-crawly thing with a hard shell and buggy eyes and multiple legs a tasty, epicurean delight. Land breathers, we step on you…but not always.

So on this show, come along with me to Ohio, to the Roots Conference at the Chef’s Garden, where I ate all kinds of vegetables, all kinds of underused proteins, and one kind of bug.

Episode: 112

Introducing…Blurred Lines flavored yogurt! Brought to you by Foodiness™, Inc. with additional lyrics by Robin Thicke.


One night a few weeks ago I was at some event where I had a few too many drinks, then came home, turned on the tv, and fell asleep. When I woke up the next morning, I noticed that I had drunkenly put a note into my phone to remind my future sober self about an ad I’d seen that hazy night for an iconic, brazenly balls-out Foodiness product. Luckily, in my intoxicated state I’d had the wherewithal to make the note, because in the morning I saw it and had no memory of seeing the ad. Don’t judge, we’ve all been there.

The product, was “Hershey’s Mix-Ins YOGURT”. Yes, hyper-sweetened, industrially produced crappy yogurt with a little cup of tiny candy bars to mix in or dip in, to make your yogurt into just a cup of candy. Now I’ve talked about Trix yogurt before, and Yo-crunch which has little crunchy cookie bits and stuff to add in, but this is really a new low in foodiness, a new frontier, a new BLURRED LINE that we’ve crossed (if you listen to the episode you’ll get the blurred line reference, I’m such a tease…just like the girl in that song apparently is too!). A line that’s become so blurred, that it’s almost totally invisible. It’s the Foodiness equivalent of the 49th parallel. Since now that Canada has crazy gunmen just like us, the line between candy and yogurt is gone too. We may as well just let the Canadians take over, or maybe the North Koreans. Either way, we’re dead

Episode: 111

Smell This


So when you walk into a warehouse store, or a supermarket, what do you first smell? Does it smell like a place full of food? Like an open air market in Rome or Istanbul or Hanoi, or like a spice store or a salumeria, or a cheese store or a fruit store? Do you smell anything edible? Maybe the rotisserie chickens, but not until you get to the back. Nothing smells like food in our food stores. They smell like A/C and floor buffer wax and freezer case air and a hundred different chemical cleaning products and DVD rental boxes and clearance lawn chairs…but not food.

If the places that are purportedly selling us food, don’t smell like food, then how do we know that we’re buying food? How do we trust our senses, especially our most primal one? Well, we don’t, that’s the Foodiness scam. to trick you into buying processed and packaged, while telling you it’s real and whole and better. Because if the smell is gone, then the possibility of decay and rot and putrefaction is gone. And that’s what our noses are really for, to tell us if our food is ripe and delicious or old and dangerously rotting, or poisonous, or moldy. So if we eliminate the smells, we eliminate obsolescence, and we can live forever in an air-conditioned, sanitized, shiny bright world of dino-nuggets and cotton-candy-oreo-flavored coffee creamers.

So I’d like to do a scientific study where I send people shopping in today’s supermarkets and warehouse stores, blindfolded, and then see how they navigate and shop based solely on smell. I guess it’s how blind people shop, I’ve never really thought about that until right now. They must need someone to go with them to read all the packages and boxes so they don’t accidentally buy the pumpkin-spiced flavored carpet shampoo instead of the pumpkin spiced flavored low-fat cream cheese spread. I wonder if they have service dogs who can read all the labels for them, I mean a dog’s nose is a thousand times more sensitive than our noses, but I doubt that even a bloodhound could sniff out any real food in a Walmart Supercenter.

Then I’d take the blindfolded people to a farmer’s market on a warm August afternoon, and let them wander around smelling the ripe peaches and the bunches of basil and the dirt clinging to the carrots, then to the live animal butcher near me, to smell the chicken blood and the goat poop. Ok, that might be too much for some. But I wonder what would happen? Would people suddenly revert back to their basic human selves? Go mad from the smell of an oozing nectarine and a just-caught flounder on crushed ice? Or would they freak out because the smells were so “unnatural”, as ridiculous as that sounds. Have we gone that far down the Foodiness rabbit hole? I hope not, but every time I set foot into Stop-n-shop or Shop-rite or A&P or a Publix, I have my fears and doubts…

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