Food Politics

4 Feb

Food can be a tricky subject. It not only brings ups the glorious taste and flavors, but the issue of hunger or how the food got to the table in the first place. These are issues that while eating, a lot of people don’t think about. I for one can say I am one of them. I don’t think about how the cow, chicken or pic was treated when I eat. As long as the food tastes good, I never think much of anything else. I was always oblivious about these food politics until now. I have heard of free rang, and organic or even grass fed animals, but tended to look over these options because of prices.

We live in a world that is working a million miles a minute. We want things to be fast and cheap.  After reading and discussing the issues of how animals are treated and fed, I have made the conscious efforts to spread the word and change the way I shop for food.

I recommend that everyone look into how animals are treated before they are presented on our tables. Is five dollars more for a free-range chicken worth knowing that the animal was handled with care?  Is organic actually better? Do you know that is being fed to the animals you consume? Would you change how you eat if you knew these animals were living inhuman lives?

These are just a few of the hundreds of questions that have me changing the way I eat.  Food politics are just as tricky of a subject as religion when people start discussing it.  This is a subject I will continue to research to ensure I make the best choices for myself.

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Where would you want your chicken to come from? Just something to think about.

Berkeley Trip

31 Jan

Out of all the field trips that I attended, this Berkeley trip was one that I will actually be able to experience on a regular basis, making this trip the most interesting. On the other field trips, I was fascinated not only by the food, but the culture and area that surrounded me. While in Berkeley, because I know the area and grew up here, I was really able to focus on the food that was being presented. Along with the food we ate at each place, a beautiful story came with it. This was my favorite part. I felt like I could taste everyone’s different passions in their dishes.

Out of all the destinations, two were thee that I just have to share with everyone. The first is a place called Soop. We had the pleasure of tasting the Thai Red Lentil Soop. The bowl was filled with magic that could cure a cold. It was hot with a thick consistency that could coat a scratch throat. The coconut milk created a sweet flavor that lingered in the back of my mouth, all while staying very fresh from the cilantro. These two were the perfect pair that created a vibrant punch I now find myself craving.

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My second favorite was Love At First Bite. This place offered a taste that more then satisfied my sweet tooth. I love cupcakes, so when I new I was going to be harder on this location because I have a deep love for treat I like to indulged in. I was more then surprised with my first bite. The moist cake was balanced with an icing that melted into a sweet nothing. I was forced to ask what was used to make cake so moist. I thought for sure she had used an applesauce.  These cupcakes were by far, are the best cupcakes I have ever had. I even bought 2 cupcakes to go. The small bites were just a tease for me. I fully indulged in this craving and loved every bite!

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Mama Quintana

31 Jan

Interview with my mother, Sandy Quintana.

What did I hate eating when I was younger? How did you deal with that?

You were a good eater. I tried to get you to eat tuna but that never worked so I never gave it to you. You still don’t like fish. You also never liked milk, so I had to give you OJ with calcium to help supplement

What did I love eating?

You loved pizza, pasta, eggs, and pancakes. You would eat anything if I put ranch dressing on it. Classic!

Did you cook different things before you were married than after?

I didn’t cook as such before I was even married. Being married made me want to cook.

What is your favorite meal to make?

My favorite meal to make is baked chicken or frittata. I also enjoy making veggie soup. It is the best in the winter.

What were my table manners like as a kid?

You were a slob! Ahaha no you were pretty good. But your twin sister was the one I had issues with. She would reach across and snatch food right off you high chair.

What did your parents cook?

Classic Italian meals, always. We always had meat with veggies. Everything was always cooked differently so we never got bored.

Why did you cook more than (other parent/person)?

I only worked 3 days a week so I had the time to cook. Your father always worked.

Is there a special food that reminds you of me?

Baked brie. You make that the best backed brie, and of course, can’t forget apple pie.

Did you cook for me or for yourself? (Like ?Luxury,? where the mom cooks for her kids and doesn’t cook her favorite meals anymore)

I had to change. I wanted to make sure you guys ate and your father and I learned to adapt. But that was only when you were younger. Later I started to cook things I liked and you liked them as well.

Did you have any kitchen disasters?

Yes. We had a huge fire in the back yard. We tried to cook bacon on the BBQ because the oven was keeping the French toast warm, and a huge grease fire broke out! Very scary.

What do you hope I’ll cook when I have my own family?

I hope you cook more vegetables then I gave you. I also wish I would of tried to give you more fish. I hope you are able to cook for your kids rather then use the microwave as your best friend.

If you could have any meal (the ultimate meal) what would it be?

My ultimate meal is my cousins home made lasagna with homemade thin pasta and béchamel sauce. I’d kill to have that one more time. I don’t know if I ever will be able to go back to Italy to have it.

Do you enjoy cooking, or do you do it because you have to?

I do it because I have to. It really isn’t my favorite thing to do. I have learned to like it more, but I hate the mess and the time it takes.

Chopped-Quintana Style

28 Jan

Shark? Did I just read shark as one of my ingredients? If you have ever seen the show chopped, you know how hard it is to come up with a recipe using three random ingredients. I was presented this challenge and was so excited to do it! I love the show and thought it was a great idea.

As I walked out of the door of my classroom with excitement to get my ingredients, I put my hand in the hat and had my lucky three. The first read pesto. This was awesome because I make a great homemade basil pesto. The second read leeks. Having cooked with leeks before, I wasn’t worried about coming up with a meal just yet.  As I opened the last paper, I saw the last thing I ever accepted, shark.  I don’t eat or cook fish so seeing this item didn’t put the biggest smile on my face.  After the initial shock of realizing I was going to have to cook shark, I started to brainstorm.

I came up with a dinner in which if I were a fish eater, I’d devourer. Grilled shark on a bed of pasta toped with a basil leek pesto was on the menu. I marinated the shark in a lemon olive oil, and seasoned with salt and pepper. I then steamed it in foil on the BBQ. Once it steamed for 10 minutes, I placed it on the BBQ to get a nice flavor. The pasta was a simple bow tie with sautéed spinach, leeks, and garlic oil. The dish was toped with a basil leek pesto.

I had my father try the dish first. He described the shark as flakey, moist, and salty with a light onion back taste from the leek pesto. He loved it, and said it was great with the simple pasta. When I asked him what he thinks the fish would taste good with if I were to make it again, he replied “ A sweet and mango chutney would be great with this fish to balance the saltiness. I’d also like to see the fish paired with rice. I’d definitely eat this meal again.”

I had a great experience doing this. My family enjoyed it as well. We are planning on having chopped nights at the house. Each week the person picked has to make a meal using the ingredients the rest of the family pick. It’s going to be great.

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Japan Town, San Francisco

20 Jan

Japan Town is what I like to call a little gem located in San Francisco where life is lived at a different pace.  The sense of community here is beautiful. Walking down the street, seeing the people wave to each other, or stopping to see how each other are as you pass them on the street made me wish I had this at home. It reminded me of the community we have at St. Mary’s College.  It makes the food taste and looks better because you can feel the love that was put in every dish with every bite.

With what felt like a 1mile radius from the heart of Japan town, I tasted traditional Japanese savories and sweets, along with a taste from India, and some new home made creations.  On this trip, I had three places that I really enjoyed. My favorite places were Yakiniq Café, Benkyodo, and Dosa.

Yakiniq Café was the first stop on our tour. I was welcomed by a sweet potato latte that warmed my soul. The taste of thanksgiving consumed me and I was back on my couch with my family waiting for the turkey to be cut. Sweet potato puree mixed with steaming frothy milk made for the perfect morning treat.

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Another favorite place was Benkyodo. All different flavors of Mochi’s greeted us at the door. Traditionally, these treats are filled with a red bean paste. I chose the mochi that wasn’t filled at all.  This gummy textured sweet was a taste I truly enjoyed. Not too sweet, this mochi hit my sweet tooth just right.

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Last but definitely not least, Dosa was our last stop. This restaurant was the perfect way to end the day. As we headed up the stairs, we were treated like luxury.  The tables were set for queens and kings. Each place setting had a dish called Masala Dosa and Chutney. The spices of this dish were beyond amazing. A sweet fiery heat was one that I had never tasted before. This restaurant opened my eyes up to Indian food.  I cant wait to explore more of these flavors!

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Kitchen Disaster

20 Jan

I love to cook, but man I hate to clean up the mess I create when I do. I like to think I have come up with a system that has limited the mess as long as everything goes according to my plan. While I like to be very organized in the kitchen and in life, I can tend to be somewhat forgetful, which in this case, came back to bite me.

Growing up, my go to meal was an egg-salad sandwich.  Simple 4 ingredients of egg, mayo, and salt and pepper make this dish a one-bowl wonder when it comes to clean up. One day after a long day of 8th grade math and history, I came home craving the salty egg spread on a toasted piece of sourdough bread. As the water continued to boil, I popped 3 large eggs in the water.

As I kick my feet up and wait for my tasty treat to finish, I feel my eyes get heavy, and before I know it, I am knocked out in fetal position on the coach. While my kitchen cabinets get a steam facial, all the water evaporates until there is nothing but the porcelain surface of the eggshell flush against the teflon pan.

BANG! BANG! BANG!  3 hard-boiled egg bullets splattered all over the kitchen awake me. My mom run down the stairs to see the gross mess looks at me and says, “Have fun cleaning that”. All I wanted was a nice after school snack, but I got a lot more then that.

The Mission District

13 Jan

I had the most amazing time on my class field trip to the mission district! When we arrived to the area in San Francisco, it was as if I was transported to a concrete jungle in New York City filled with people out and about, food from every part of the world, and graffiti art. It was intriguingly beautiful. On this food tour, we went to 7 food locations, and 1 ally filled with murals on the homes of the residencies. Out of the 8 total places that our classes visited, there is one spot that I must share.
My favorite is actually the first place that this tour lead me to. The restaurant is called Local Mission Eatery. The second I opened the door to this restaurant, the smell of warm butter takes over, putting a big smile on my face, and widened eyes to see what exactly I going on in that kitchen. That smell of butter made me more than curious. This location has a family like atmosphere that makes you want to pull up a seat in front of the open kitchen and get the inside scoop from the chief who is more then willing to talk to its customers as he cooks. That is awesome! So many times I order food and wonder, “how did the chef do that?” or “what exactly is that ingredient I can’t place my tongue on?”
At the Local Mission Eatery, your all five senses are in for a treat. As we took a seat the bar, I couldn’t help but peek over the edge to see what the chef was making. As the chef went on to explain what he had prepared for the class, I knew that is as a place I was coming back to. He went on to say that he made us a twist on grilled cheese. Fresh baked bread from their bakery was toasted on an open fire grill that was filled with local made wagon wheel cheese, homemade apple butter, and caramelized onions. I was in heaven. The apple butter made the onions sweet which complemented the gooey cheese.
This flavor combination only made me want more. I am excited to share this restaurant to all my friends and family. I will definitely be making a trip back to the mission district to get that fabulous grilled cheese. For an amazing food adventure, I recommend taking a trip to the Mission District in San Francisco California.
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