for your consideration, david lynch cooking quinoa

ok, well, i guess preparing food is something that most folks do, david lynch included. somehow something normal like boiling water and cooking grain in it seems strange when you’re expecting a blue velvet cake, whatever that is. my expectation for a lynch recipe would be something like this…

anyway, by far my favorite comment on this video closely reflects how i feel about the internet in general.

i just bought some quinoa today and was hoping david lynch might have an instructional video on youtube on this very subject.

new LCSH: cookery is now cooking

cookery is out and cooking is in.
and i almost missed it. if it hadn’t been for a stellar post on Gherkins&Tomatoes, well, i shudder to think how long it would’ve been until i found out about the decision by the Acquisitions and Bibliographic Access Directorate Policy and Standards Division of the Library of Congress to replace the subject heading cookery with cooking.

seriously though, changes in this list (above) show how our classification schemes change to facilitate search and discovery and also to reflect social values. pretty interesting stuff.

Announcement by ABA Policy & Standards division [link]
Authorities & Vocabularies (Library of Congress): Cooking [link]
Library of Congress Subject Headings Weekly List 22 (June 2, 2010) [link]

butter churn bicycle thank you note

image by sokref1

Dear Tim Eads,

Thank you for making a bicycle that churns butter and generates electricity to power a toaster so that the operator’s labor results in a delicious snack. There is delicious irony <sic> in the dynamics of this piece; the heart benefits from cardiovascular exercise while producing butter – high in saturated fats and linked to coronary heart disease!  For me though, just knowing that this work exists warms my heart.

It’s super cool that you did your MFA at Cranbrook. I’m a fan of your fellow graduates, Ray and Charles Eames, particularly their work with molded plywood and the movie Powers of Ten. That movie helps me understand perspective of scale and space, which are parts of my every day experience that one tends to take for granted. I think your piece is similar in that butter is a bit magic for most consumers. Your piece, a legitimate waste of time allows people to participate in creating electricity, powering a home appliance, and making a food staple; three things that are both common and a little mysterious. I think that your recontextualized explanation of such aspects of lived experience enhances appreciation of the commonplace and replenishes one’s capacity to wonder. Thanks.



Food in the Library

The piece is called “a legitimate waste of time” and displayed at FLUXspace gallery through May 2010. For a really super writeup of the show, see The Art Blog post “churn baby churn”.

inspiration: 15 years of instant ramen reviews

Toshio Yamamoto’s website is 15 years old. He’s maintained a website about the food he eats longer than I’ve done almost anything, other than playing the violin and breathing. I was going to post about the site itself, but Boing Boing did a nice job of that. I was going to post about the newspaper article I read about the Boing Boing post about the website, a commentary on how people get information. I was going to post about database technology and databases about food (I still want to do this). But I think I’ll just make a brief note of thanks. So here, as a tribute to the passion and hardwork underlying the longevity of, is a Food in the Library thank you note, 90’s internet style.

YouTube [link] #61 – Most Subscribed (All Time) – Directors – Japan, Total Upload Views: 6,328,360

Boing Boing post about site [link]

Boing Boing post about the man [link]

Toshio Yamamoto’s website:

America by Food. Local museums. the Smithsonian’s traveling exhibit. Zeitgeist.

I have a list of culinary exhibits on the web that have been put together by various cultural institutions. For example, the Smithsonian has an exhibit called Key Ingredients: America by Food. It’s both an online and physical exhibit, and as one of the Museums on Main Street projects, it involves partnership between State Humanities Councils, the Smithsonian and Rural Museums. Rad, yes?
this is ludicrous
Anyway, I thought of it today because of the ripples through the blogosphere created by a NY Times piece called Exploring Tokyo Through Its Ramen Shops. (doesn’t take much to make me nostalgic for Tokyo, but this piece really made me pine for Japan and all the ramen I have yet to eat there.) Anyway, I liked the article because it reminded me of an idea I feel strongly about, which is that eating can really help you get to know a place and its people.

The writer did some smart research by talking to the right people for the place he wanted to know, the experts, i.e. ramen nerds. I think Mr. Gross, who writes the Frugal Traveler blog for the Times, searched the web for English speaking ramen bloggers, and gathered what he needed for his article while hanging out with these folks at their favorite ramen spots. It’s a wonderful piece. Solid multimedia, a great link dump at the end, nice passionate writing, etc. I’ve also really enjoyed reading the blogs of the folks who lent Mr. Gross their knowledge for this article.

Exhibits that talk about the social and historical meaning of food in a time and place, like Key Ingredients by Food, are like this times article in that they use food to help people better know a place. There are more of these exhibits than even I would have thought. Stuff at historical societies, community centers, small museums. And I continue to be amazed at just how many such exhibits are called Food for Thought.

To His Coy Mistress is Apparently Not About Food

I was reading Andrew Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress, and I thought it would be funny to post that poem in its entirety, with no exposition, because of the line “my vegetable love”. But that awesome line is only one of about 4 dozen in the poem, and none of the rest lend themselves to such specific and hilarious misinterpretation. However, in searching for the image below, the internet once again delivered me further delights.

Author and professor Albert Rolls wrote a great explication entitled Andrew Marvell’s Sweet Vegetable Love. Great title, right? Rolls says we should look to Aristotle and to former hobo and renowned literary critic JV Cunningham to understand vegetable love. This is far, far beyond what I intended when I set out to write this glib post, but these things happen when you get the impulse to visit your badly neglected blog at 3am after an unusually fine meal and five cups of coffee.

But why doesn’t Marvell use the word “natural” rather than “vegetable”? He wants, I would argue, to allude not simply to natural love but also to the doctrine of the three souls and to draw out the green connotations that Cunningham reduces to an absurdity with his image of “an expansive cabbage.” [link]

Not sure whether I forgot or never learned about Aristotle’s notion of three souls, but thanks to Google Book Search I have Harvard Medical School’s copy of Science from 1891, which contains a nice little relevant passage. Check out the scan; how handsome is that?

…coming now to his generalizations it was true philosophical insight which enabled Aristotle to perceive in organic nature an ascending complexity of organization from the vegetable kindom up to man. [link]

While looking for the Aristotle bit, I came across an essay on the Epicurean concept of love. I had to know who posted such an extensive treatise to the Yahoo Groups International Stoic Forum, so I searched the author’s name, Jan E. Garrett. This led me to an interview of Jane E. Garrett on the blog Ms. Garrett may or may not have written the post on Epicurean love, but she definitely wrote a book containing several hundred mid 20th century recipes from the Lawrence Journal World, which is of course right up my alley. [link]

The time is 3:44am and the caffeine is running strong. To quote my friend Dan Schultz, who was last seen somewhere in Southeast Asia, I’m hanging on by a very thin thread. I think I’ll go read some more poetry.

USDA Pomology is to Pictures of Fruit What Audubon is to Bird Pictures

Pomological watercolors. That’s what the handout says. I picked it up at the National Agricultural Library table at the FLICC Job Fair this summer. In the late 19th & early 20th centuries, the newly formed Pomology Division of the USDA hired artists to help document fruits bearing species from the American Flora. Now a collection of those images is available to you and me, for free, online. They’re incredibly gorgeous.

Also, bonus, I belieeeeve American intellectual property law does not lock down these images. They’re in the public domain, having been created prior to 1923. Nice, right?

BTW, the job fair was fantastic and you should try to go if you’re interested in Federal Libraries, Archives, etc. In the mean time, just join the Careers in Federal Libraries Google Group.

Marcia Wood’s article on the collection: Agricultural Research Magazine, September 2000 – Vol. 48, No. 9

Exhibit page: USDA Pomological Watercolor Collection:

Page w/ image links: Medium Res JPG [some links broken, will attempt to notify relevant staff to request fix & high res images]

science of speed eating and the natural history of the chicken

watched two fun documentaries.

The Natural History of the Chicken
, from PBS & Nat’l Geographic’s Science of Speed Eating

i tend to like things that are titled “natural history of______”. not sure exactly why, but in this instance there were all sorts of diverting chicken related vignettes that spanned from agribusiness to small farms to household pets. yes, they interviewed the woman who brought one of her beloved brood back from the brink of death using mouth to beak.

science of speed eating was very interesting, largely because of the portrayal of the topic and the resulting audience reaction. i wish i had a screenshot of the hulu comments (vitriolic, even for the internet), but the video is no longer on hulu. why? i’d be guessing. anyway, the film follows a nice regular family guy training to become a competitive eater, as well as veteran gurgitator Tim Janus.

so, doctors from the departments of radiology and gastroenterology at upenn did some diagnostics on Janus’ bread basket, using a young doctor whose family used to call him the garbage disposal, as a control. basically, dr. metz hopes he might glean insights to help dyspepsia sufferers from the study of competitive eaters.

now, i’m a fan of competitive eating. i’ve cheered on competitors July 4th at Coney Island. i know lots of strange and wonderful stats. and matter of fact, i recently took 3rd in a german food eating competition. but science of speed eating seemed to want to conclude that elite competitive eaters were mysteries to science, somehow able to do the inexplicable without repercussions. it’s true that the good doctors seemed legitimately amazed, which is hilariously reflected in the paper that dr. metz and his colleagues published in the American Journal of Roentgenology, Competitive Speed Eating: Truth and Consequences. however, the documentary didn’t really convey the full range of the doctors’ dispositions, which i’d describe as amazed, interested, concerned and cautionary.

aaaaaanyway, i enjoyed both movies. sort of a nice middle ground between food movies (yay, dessert!) and food lectures (it’s a single celled protein combined with synthetic aminos, vitamins, and minerals. everything the body needs).

Free Library of Philadelphia : Intro to Canning Lecture

Ya, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society is giving a talk on home canning at the Tacony branch of the Philadelphia Free Library on Wednesday, September 2nd at 6:30 pm. So I have a suggestion for you. Spend the evening in Northeast Philly.

View Evening in Tacony in a larger map
Possible Agenda:

  • Stop at Jack’s Place on Hegerman Ave. for a sandwich that will feed you and three friends.
  • Go to the library and learn about canning.
  • Get another sandwich, this time a cheesesteak from Frusco’s.
  • Head down the street to see why the Grey Lodge makes Esquire’s Best Bars in America list.
  • Getting hungry again?! BBQ at Sweet Lucy’s. BYOB!

Those of you who are vintage saw buffs are likely familiar with the area because of Disston’s Keystone Saw Works, once the worlds largest manufacturer of saws. But there’s more than industry to Tacony, friends, so go forth and eat!

Taking a Cue From NCSU

Managing food in the library is always a potential challenge, but it is a commitment that students have asked the Libraries to make, and so far it has not been a problem.” Okay NCSU, so, launching a creamery in your library run by your food science program has been a successful (as well as awesome) move. But for me, managing food in the library has definitely been a bit of a problem. Not for lack of inspiration.

snow removal by plow king

Example. This past winter Ankeny Iowa used garlic salt to melt snow and ice from their roadways. True story. Ankeny based spice giant Tone Brothers donated 18,000 lbs. of garlic salt to use on 400 miles of road. Magnificent. Also, makes me want to write a piece on corporate ownership hierarchies in the food industry.
And this past weekend, I ate a variety of seafood delights, a perfect opportunity to write about books on foraging like Stalking the Blue Eyed Scallop.

There’s so much to write about. Serious culinary history stuff and wonderfully frivolous stuff. My challenge with this blog is the same I am always presented by menus; I want everything.