|Pasta e Fagioli Soup, from a recipe by Marcella Hazan, who died Sunday at age 89.|
New York Times: “Marcella Hazan, 1924-2013: Changed the Way Americans Cook Italian Food,” by Kim Severson.
I cannot recall when I first became aware of Marcella Hazan, but I’ve since learned how pervasive her influence is on Americans’ cooking of Italian dishes. In the last year, having familiarized myself with her Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking cookbook, from which I made Bolognese Lasagna and Pasta e Fagioli soup, I’ve grown to appreciate her techniques and bold flavors. So I was sad to learn the esteemed cookbook author died in her home on Sunday. Severson deftly summarizes Hazan’s life story, from her Italian origins through her early days in New York when she started cooking, onto her later years as a successful cookbook writer (with much assistance from her husband, as she never learned to write in English).
I also recommend checking out the Washington Post’s article by Tim Carman about Hazan’s influence on D.C. chefs, who are adding dishes to their menus this week in tribute to her.
Forbes: “Barilla Earns Gay Boycott, Learns Taking Sides Is Bad For Business,” by Laura Heller.
Italian pasta-maker Barilla pulled a “spaghetti-uh-oh” last week when its chairman, Guido Barilla, made anti-gay remarks during an Italian radio broadcast, claiming Barilla would never make an advertising spot depicting a family headed by a same-sex couple. The story has been widely reported. I liked Heller’s in particular because she explores the potential business implications of the misstep, citing statistics about the buying power of LGBT Americans. Also worth reading is Slate’s story by Lorenza Antonucci, which explores how the story impacts LGBT Italians. In the past, I’ve championed Barilla pasta on my site, but Mr. Barilla suggested that gays that don’t like what he’s said can eat another pasta. Done. No More Barilla on Cook In / Dine Out.
Washington Post: “D.C. chefs making cauliflower a star,” by David Hagedorn.
For whatever reason, I’ve had a hankering to try some new cauliflower dishes lately. Perhaps subconsciously I was picking up on the trend that David Hagedorn also observed: cauliflower is the new Brussels sprouts. He writes about how D.C. chefs like Victor Albisu (Del Campo), Mike Isabella (Graffiato/Kapnos) and Nick Stefanelli (Bibiana) are embracing the vegetable and using it in new and interesting ways. I’m particularly intrigued by the idea of using grated cauliflower in place of rice in risotto, a technique employed by Aaron McCloud (Cedar) and Bart Vandaele (B Too). Cauliflower risotto is among the several delicious recipes Hagedorn included with the article.
New York Times – The Taco Issue
Like tacos? I certainly do, and I was impressed by the Times' haul of Taco-themed stories in this week's Dining section, including:
- “Critic's Notebook: Making a Stand-Up Meal of the Sit-Down Taco,” by Pete Wells. New York is awash in restaurant tacos, but unfortunately few that are really great.
- “Masa Offers the Kernels of a Culture,” by Julia Moskin gives a nice overview of the corn flour that forms the basis of corn tortillas and many other Mexican foods.
- “City Kitchen: The Unstuffy Taco,” by David Tanis offers several taco recipes.
- “The Softness, the Crunch, the Nostalgia of the Fish Taco,” by Jeff Gordinier.
- “Go Deeper into Mexico with Mezcal,” by Florence Fabricant explores tequila’s smoky cousin and offers several cocktail recipes.
- “What's in It: That Nacho Dorito Taste,” by Michael Moss chronicles the allure of the best-selling snack chip. From the accompanying interactive graphic I learned that Nacho Cheese Doritos really do contain real cheese (romano).
NPR: “Birch For Breakfast? Meet Maple Syrup's Long-Lost Cousins,” by Nevin Martell.
When it comes to tree syrups, maple is really the only game in town. Ever wonder why? Martell explores the potential market for other syrups, including those made from birch and black walnut trees. Cost is an obvious reason: a gallon of maple syrup is produced from 34 gallons of maple sap, but it takes over 100 gallons of birch syrup to produce the same quantity of syrup. But these alternative tree syrups sound interesting, especially smoky-woodsy hickory syrup.