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Exploring the World of Spice and Smoke
Tags >> food trends

Charleston Pepper SunIn an article posted on The Atlantic’s website last week, Gary Paul Nabhan, co-author of Chasing Chiles: Hot Spots Along the Pepper Trail, addressed the relationship between farming in the Southwest and climate change—both food production and food security have been cast into question with the growing scarcity of water and unpredictable growing seasons and weather patterns, such as drought.

Nabhan points out that with water capacity near its limit for cities and rural agricultural areas, “food security in the Southwest depends upon the security of water supplies being delivered to irrigable land. That capacity, we can now see, has been severely impaired by urban growth in the Sunbelt since World War II, and is likely to be further impacted by the vagaries of weather shifts.”

The burden of addressing such trends, says Nabhan, falls on both the consumer and farmer, and while individual responses may not be enough to reverse the trends. Sustainable agriculture and good farming practices may be the best way to counter the growing threat of food security in the region.

In Chasing Chiles, Nabhan, along with co-authors Kurt Michael Friese and Kraig Kraft, set out to discover the history and potential of America’s heirloom chile varieties. Their journey reveals the chile pepper’s dynamic role in understanding climate change and the future of food production.

So how can food producers and eaters in the Southwest improve their “foodprints?”

“Eat and farm as if the earth matters, as we should have been doing all along,” says Nabhan in Chasing Chiles. “Regardless of how quickly we can implement the specific fixes proposed to mitigate climate change, we all need to reduce our carbon [footprint] and adapt to change in ways that keep the earth’s bounty as diverse, as delicious, and as resilient as possible.”

As an orchard keeper and chile grower, Nabhan has committed to do his share to curve the growing trend of climate change by conserving water between rainfalls, growing regional-appropriate crops, such as drought and heat-tolerant heirlooms, and soil-building.

For the rest of us, Nabhan, Friese, and Kraft have these suggestions in Chasing Chiles:

  1. Explore, celebrate, and consume what diversity can be found locally.
  2. Farmers’ knowledge and problem-solving skills are assets for coping with and adapting to climate change.
  3. Eaters (chefs and consumers) need to vote with their forks, wallets, and ballots in support of more diverse and regionally self-sufficient food systems.
  4. Climate change is best dealt with as one of many compounding factors, not as an environmental impact apart from all others.
  5. Empower local food communities to be “co-designers” of local solutions to global change, and then to creatively transmit their solutions to other communities.

If nothing else, says Nabhan, “I get down on my knees and put my hands into the earth.”

Read more about the history of chiles in America, and their tenuous relationship with biodiversity and climate change in Chasing Chiles, available at Amazon. Click here to read the full article from The Atlantic.


Sources:

“Farming in the Time of Climate Catastrophe,” by Gary Paul Nabhan, www.TheAtlantic.com

Chasing Chiles: Hot Spots Along the Pepper Trail, by Kurt Michael Friese, Kraig Kraft & Gary Paul Nabhan, © 2011 Chelsea Green Publishing


Dave with Flaming HabaneroThe 23rd annual show, beloved by foodies in the Southwest and elsewhere, takes place at the lovely Sandia Resort and Casino at the Tramway exit of I-25 north of Albuquerque.  For the fifth year in a row, the show is sold out of exhibitor space.  This year, we have a record number of trade buyers attending, and will feature the following highlights.

 

 


Burn! Masthead


The launch of Burn! digital monthly magazine.
  Get your free first copy at the Burn! booth, number 417.

Disc-It UnitThe Great Disc-It Giveaway.  Nevin of Disc-It made 3 fiery foods themed Disc-Its, and you can register at their booths, 107 & 109.

Pace LogoThe Pace Chef's Challenge, featuring three Albuquerque chefs vying for the "best dish made with a Pace brand of salsa."  It happens at 2 pm each day in the rotunda area at the east end of the main lobby.



Eat More Heat LogoEat More Heat Live.  Broadcasting live from the show on Stickam.com during show hours Saturday and Sunday.  Next the the El Pinto booth in the main lobby.

1001 CoverBook Signings.
  I'll be signing copies of my three latest books in the Rio Grande Books booth (315), each day at 3pm.

The doors open to the general public at 4 pm Friday.  See you at the show!  Complete show information is here.


 

Wine
Time:
Earlier This Week
Location:
A Poorly Stocked Wine Store in Todos Santos, Baja California Sur
The Players: Bill and Roberta, Dave and Mary Jane, Numerous American Retirees, and One 30-Something Yuppie Store Owner Undoubtedly from the American California

“This is one of Baja’s best wines,” he said, indicating a dark red bottle. “Can I pour you a glass?”
“How much?” I asked.
“Eight dollars.”
“For a case?” I teased him.
“A glass,” he countered.
“At that price, it must be good,” I replied.
“You’ll love it,” he said. “It’s an artesanal wine.”
“What does that mean in the land of beer and tacos?”
“Small batches. Hand-crafted by dedicated wine people who know their terroir.”
“Sure,” I said. He poured for Roberta and me. I sipped.
“Notes of blackberry,” he announced. “A subtle balance of intensity and spirit.”
Jug wine, I thought, this is even inferior jug wine, but kept silent.
“What do you think?”
I glanced at Roberta, who was trying to keep from laughing while she sipped the same thing.
“What do you think?” he repeated.
Three-Buck Chuck is ten times better entered my mind. Roberta shrugged and winked, waiting for me to cut this pretentious ass into small ribbons of sour grapes. I took a smaller sip just to be sure. Mary Jane looked over, expecting me to ask the guy if this was the first red wine he had ever tasted.
“Wonderful, isn’t it?”
I almost said, If Thunderbird ever made a red wine, I would buy it instead for two bucks a bottle. At least I didn’t spit it out all over his counter,
He waited for me to rave about it. Instead, I stared at him for a long five seconds, gently set the nearly full glass in front of him, turned, and walked out of his shop without a word. Roberta, Bill, and Mary Jane followed me, grinning.
“Let’s go home and have some real wine,” Roberta suggested, looking to see if I was angry.
“Great idea,” I said, smiling, and we all walked to the car.
I sure have matured in my old age, I thought. Don Rickles slowly revolved in his grave.


The Digital Cookbook Revolution

Posted by: Kelli Bergthold

Tagged in: TV , games , food trends , entertainment , business trends , books

Online Recipes

Can’t decide what to make for dinner tonight? Having trouble with your pizza dough technique? Gone are the days of rifling through a library of cookbooks to find the best tiramisu recipe or the perfectly sized meal for a party of one. The next generation of food documentation is here, and it’s streaming online 24/7.

Last December, YouTube announced the most popular cooking videos of 2010. Among them, viewers can learn what goes into a jalapeño POP burger and how to carve a potato ball in a potato box.

Scarlett Lindeman from the Atlantic explains it best in her recent article:

“[E]ven the most well-stocked library cannot undermine the speed and expanse of the Internet. Cooks curious about a particular technique can click through YouTube archives as if turning the pages of a well-thumbed French Laundry cookbook. I know many who do and then pass them around via e-mail and Facebook. Cutline Communications, a consumer technology PR company, has noted that ‘more Americans are turning to YouTube to learn how to prepare all kinds of foods.’”

Embedded videos from sites such as YouTube aren’t the only forms of new cooking media. Throwing its weight into the arena are video games dedicated to the art of cooking. Games like the popular Diner Dash and Iron Chef America: Supreme Cuisine, are teaching tech-savvy cooks how to filet a fish and julienne an onion from the comfort of their game consoles. Smartphones have also joined the fray, and you can now access thousands of recipes from your iPhone or Android mobile device.

While there’s something inherently charming about a thirty-year-old edition of Mastering The Art of French Cooking, or a well-used, sauce-splattered edition of 1,001 Best Hot and Spicy Recipes, digital media is on its way to making the art of cooking accessible to anyone, anywhere, anytime.

See the full collection of top cooking videos on The Huffington Post.


 

GMO Salmon from Aqua Bounty
Genetically engineered salmon (top) compared to natural salmon.

A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel will decide Monday, September 27 whether the first genetically engineered food animal proposed for public consumption will be safe to eat and safe for the environment. The fish in question is a salmon that can grow at twice the normal rate, making the journey from inland fish farm to the table twice as fast.

The salmon’s maker, Aqua Bounty Technologies, Inc., based out of Massachusetts, has said the gene inserted has not mutated over multiple generations of fish and does not harm to the animals. Based on recent taste test, Aqua Bounty claims the fish is similar in almost every way to natural salmon and tastes the same.

Aqua Bounty Chief Executive Officer Ronald Stotish told the FDA's panel that the fish could provide the "healthy kind of diet that Americans are used to.” Overfishing and increased demand have put a strain on many fish species in recent decades. Industrialization in the Northeast has seriously impacted the Atlantic salmon’s habitat, and most Atlantic salmon now comes from inland fish farms. Aqua Bounty has said it will sell its salmon eggs to fish farms in Canada and Panama, and eventually in the U.S., if the FDA panel grants approval.

How the public will react is not yet clear. Critics have voiced concerns over the amount of time allowed for testing the salmon, as well as concerns over how to label genetically engineered animals in supermarkets. Current FDA rules require special labels for altered food when there is a vast difference between natural and genetically modified food (most genetically engineered crops are not labeled).

Genetically engineered vegetables such as corn, rice, and peppers have been sold in markets since the early 1990’s.

Read more about the controversy surrounding genetically engineered salmon here.


ThrowdownRippin’ Red Wing Sauce, the newest product from Rizzotti Foods, LLC will be going head to head with the one and only DEFCON Sauces! The gauntlet was thrown in a thread on peppersandmore.com in August, and both Rippin’ Red Wing Sauce and DEFCON have accepted the challenge.

“It is an honor and pleasure to challenge the mighty DEFCON sauces. We have nothing but respect and admiration for John Dilley and his products,” said Rizotti Foods owner John Rizzotti.Rippin Red Hot Wing Sauce

Hosted by Peppers and More, the contest will feature a blind taste test using tasters who have never tried either of the two sauces. The sauces will be judged on a list of four criteria, rating the food with a 1 to 5 number system, 5 being the best:

  1. How well does the sauce cling/stick to wings? 1-2-3-4-5
  2. Aroma? 1-2-3-4-5
  3. Color of sauce 1-2-3-4-5
  4. Overall taste? 1-2-3-4-5Defcon Sauces

To find out more about the Throwdown, visit www.scottrobertsweb.com, or read the original thread on www.peppersandmore.com!

Learn more about the challengers: DEFCON Sauces and Rippin' Red Wing Sauces.


Deep Fried BeerMany wondered which deep fried concoctions would snag the Big Tex Choice awards for Most Creative and Best Taste at the 2010 State Fair of Texas; this year’s winner for “most creative” fried food is something every football-loving, beer-guzzling guy dreams of—Fried Beer. It’s really a deep fried pretzel pocket filled with Guinness, but the process doesn’t burn off the alcohol, so the recipe is strictly 21 and over.

“I was lazy,” said inventor Mark Zable of his motives for frying up a pocket of battered beer. Zable, who runs a Belgium waffle stand at the fair, has been a Big Tex Choice finalist twice before.

The Big Tex Choice award for Best Taste went to Texas Fried Frito Pie from the boys over at Bert’s Burgers & Fries stand. It’s a combination of Texas chili, sharp cheddar cheese and Frito corn chips lightly battered and deep fried, and according to its creator, it takes tastes back to the Golden Age of Fair Food.

Other entries included Deep Fried S'mores Pop Tarts, Fried Chocolate, Deep Fried Frozen Margaritas, Fried Lemonade, Fernie’s Fried Club Salad and Fried Texas Caviar.

Want more fried State Fair delicacies? Click here!


 

Check out the Events Calendar at the bottom of the Fiery Foods & BBQ homepage for fiery events taking place across the country. Use our handy events list to satisfy your craving for all things spicy! Here's a tasty sampling for the weekend of August 21-22:

• Mammoth Festival - Wine, Music, Food & Art, August 20 - August 22 in Mammoth Lakes, CA

• Diamond State BBQ Championship, Saturday, August 21 in Dover, DE
• Salsa Showdown, Saturday, August 21 in Holland, MI
• Taste of Los Alamos Fundraiser, Saturday, August 21 in Los Alamos, NM

Click here to see all upcoming events. Have an event to add to the menu? Contact us at fiery-foods@comcast.net.


 

Hatch ChilesIt’s that time of year here in New Mexico—the air will soon be ripe with the fragrant scent of roasting Hatch green chiles; mouths will water, and tongues will burn. The 2010 Hatch chile season was off to a rough start this year as the New Mexico harvest was delayed due to weather, but this week, chileheads across the country can start salivating as stores put up “Coming Soon” signs for the popular crop.

A message blares on the homepage of Hatch-Chile Express, “Praise God, the 2010 chile season has begun!” The company, along with other producers in the Hatch valley area, is gearing up to begin shipping Hatch chiles this week. The harvest is a quick affair, lasting several weeks from late July to early September. Known for their distinctive taste and quality, the chiles are grown in the Hatch valley in southern New Mexico. Widely held to be the crème-de-la-crème of the chile harvest, Hatch chiles are perfect for roasting and freezing for later. New Mexicans are known for buying 25-100 lb. bags to satisfy their taste buds throughout the year.

Roasting Hatch ChilesIf you’re located outside of New Mexico, you might have to wait a week or two for shipments to start appearing in local markets, but as many foodies know, the wait is worth it. Keep your eyes—and noses—peeled for this spicy favorite; they’re guaranteed to go fast!

Can’t get enough Hatch? Check out the Hatch Chile Festival this September!


By Jim McMahon

 

Paul PrudhommeAs one of America’s best-known chefs, Paul Prudhomme has been featured in dozens of prime-time television and cable programs, and has been the subject of many magazine articles. A best-selling author, he has written nine cookbooks and produced six cooking videos.  But Chef Paul is just as well known for his extensive line of Magic Seasoning Blends® – packaged dry spices, rubs, bottled sauces and marinades that can be found on major supermarket shelves throughout all 50 states of the U.S. and in 29 countries around the world.

Food-service and Food Processors

Located in the outskirts of New Orleans, Magic Seasoning Blends is also well known for its extensive line of distinctive seasoning products packaged for restaurants, institutional foodservice, food processors and co-packing operations, which combined represent 65 percent of the company’s total sales volume. Packaging ranges from one-quarter of an ounce to 50-pound bulk containers, with an emphasis on consistent quality.

Recipe R&D for Food Processors

Chef Paul and His SpicesOriginally set-up more than 25 years ago within the celebrity chef’s popular New Orleans restaurant – K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen, it has expanded over the years into a every productive research and development kitchen, staffed by several chefs under the personal direction of Chef Paul, and has rolled out more than 10,000 recipes for herb and spice blends, creating custom flavor profiles.

“What is really great about herbs and spices, is that when they are balanced there are so many directions that you can go,” explains the Chef. “When one of our clients says they want a certain kind of chicken flavor, we will come up with four or five original samples for them to try. Then they pick out the one they want and we adjust it to their particular taste.”

To meet the increasing demand for its products, Magic Seasoning BlendsNew manufacturing facility recently consolidated its two separate manufacturing and warehouse operations into a new 125,000 square-foot facility.

“There is absolutely no end to developing herbs and spices,” says Chef Paul.  “And my real passion is to make something that is healthy and exciting for our customers.”

For more information on Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Magic Seasoning Blends, Inc., visit their website at www.chefpaul.com.

Jim McMahon writes on technology in food processing. He can be reached at jim.mcmahon@zebracom.net.



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