Food (Section) Fight! is my weekly look at The Washington Post's Food section and The New York Times' Dining section with my verdict on which section had the better content for the week.
1) "The Snail Wrangler," by Jeff Gordinier. If the thought of eating snails turns you off, read Gordinier's story anyway, for it's an interesting look at California snail farmer Mary Stewart, whose product is prized by chefs like Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller.
2) "In Myanmar, True Comfort in the Food," by Julia Moskin. Burmese food plays like fifth or sixth fiddle when it comes to the popularity of eastern Asian cuisine in the U.S., dominated as it is by, in this order: Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese and Korean. I wager most major cities have restaurants that serve all of those, but there probably aren't a lot of places serving Burmese cuisine, which sounds like an intriguing mix of Chinese, southeast Asian and Indian flavors.
3) "A Gratifying Adventure in Group Cooking," How to Cook Everything column by Mark Bittman. Bittman apparently was recently auctioned off, and the winners received an afternoon of cooking with him at their home. Not a bad prize at all. Bittman details his afternoon cooking in someone else's apartment. Although he seems to chide them a bit for lack of equipment (no blender, for example), he nonetheless seemed to have enjoyed whipping up a really great meal (I looked up the recipe for his Chocolate-Tofu Pudding, which I'd like to try).
4) "From the White House, Beer We Can Believe In," Beers of the Times column by Eric Asimov. The Washington Post wrote about this a long time ago, but nonetheless, I enjoyed Asimov's column exploring the infamous White House honey ale, which included getting Brooklyn Brewery to recreate it. Sounds really good.
5) "A Pasta Salad That Keeps Its Cool," A Good Appetite column by Melissa Clark. Clark astutely points out that there are two schools of pasta salad in the U.S.: the good kind with olive oil and fresh vegetables and the bad kind with too much mayo. She gives a nice example of the former: Penne with Roasted Eggplant, Chile and Mint.
6) "A New Best Friend for Pad Thai," Hungry City column by Ligaya Mishan. Portland, Ore.-based Thai chef Andy Ricker, known on the east coast for his Brooklyn outpost Pok Pok Ny, has converted his former Manhattan joint, Pok Pok Wing to Pok Pok Phat Thai, which specializes in authentic pad Thai.
1) "We have our parts to play," part 2 of 3 of Pig to Table Project by Tamar Haspel. Thirteen weeks ago, The Washington Post began a three-part series about the experience of a writer raising her own pigs for slaughter. I swooned for the story then and found today's second installment just as interesting. Haspel highlights a lot of important ethical and cultural considerations with regard to how we eat. Judging from the comments in today's Free Range on Food chat, it's generating a lot of strong opinions--both for and against what she's doing--which is great. My personal opinion is that to live as omnivores in some sort of ignorant bliss about where our meat comes from is misguided. Because we can get butchered, bled and packaged cuts of meat at the store that already resemble food more than an animal means that we've become very disconnected from the food chain we are part of. Haspel's story is an important reminder of what we're really eating, something we shouldn't take for granted.
2) "Cook quinoa a little longer, and it's swell," Cooking for One column by Joe Yonan. Yonan tackles the über-trendy grain, which he admits he doesn't really like that much (frankly, I've found it a bit dull myself). Teaming up with quinoa-cooking specialist Wendy Polisi, he explores ways to make the grain (really a seed) shine, including a delicious-sounding recipe for Black Bean, Quinoa and Spinach Stew.
3) "If only they sold this jerky at 7-Eleven," The Immigrant's Table column by Tim Carman. I'm not a big beef jerky fan, but after reading Carman's latest column on foreign foods in America, I was hungry for some. He takes a look at Vietnamese-style beef jerky, which sounds way more interesting and tasty than a Slim Jim. He even includes a few recipes.
4) "An artist's design, but interpretation disappoints," First Bite column by Tom Sietsema. Has anyone else noticed that Sietsema seems particularly disappointed in where he eats these days? That trend continues with his look at The National Gallery's Garden Cafe, which now features a buffet created by Restaurant Eve Chef Cathal Armstrong as a tie-in to a new exhibit on furniture (Sietsema, like me, seems to be scratching his head on how they made that connection).
The Washington Post. I did find more stories of interest in the New York Times, even breaking my 5-story limit because I really wanted to include Ricker's new Pad Thai joint. But more often than not, quality wins over quantity, and I really enjoyed all of the Post's front-page stories, particularly the second installment of the pig-raising series, which I think is really impressive food journalism.
The Washington Post: 21
The New York Times: 19