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Enquirer Weekend editor Julie Gaw tends to order the same dish every time she eats at a restaurant, but periodically ventures out to discover something new and fabulous. After living in China, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Thailand for more than 8 years, she craves tasty Asian food. E-mail her at jgaw@enquirer.com.


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Communities reporter Rachel Richardson is on a mission to prove vegetarians eat more than lettuce. She shares both her graduate work on American food culture and food-related news.. E-mail her at rrichardson@enquirer.com.

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Friday, November 30, 2007

food discoveries

In the U.S., most of us are pretty far removed from our food. Meat comes in neat, plastic-wrapped styrofoam packages, bread is presliced in a bag, milk comes in a big paper carton.
It's only in the past few years that I've started thinking about where my food comes from. (Don't worry, I'm not climbing on a soapbox here. No organic/ethical/sustainable discussion ahead.)
The other night I was at a potluck dinner for a YP group. One of the guys asked me how to make soup.
"What kind of soup?" I asked back.
"Any soup," he said.
I summed up making chicken soup, thinking he was just asking to see whether I knew how.
It turned out that he didn't realize there was such a thing as stock or broth. He thought you just somehow turned vegetables into soup. He couldn't comprehend how the vegetables could produce so much liquid. So we started discussing broth and how to make it. Soon, a bunch of us were talking about foods whose origins we never understood.
Some really interesting questions were posed about the origins of flour, sugar, boullion cubes, etc. I recently read "Twinkie, Deconstructed," so I understand the basics.
My confession was, by far, the funniest (saddest?) bit of food ignorance.
In high school, we learned about fast- and slow-twitch muscles and our teacher pointed out that that's why we have dark and light meat. My jaw dropped.
"So, you mean, muscle is meat?" I asked, immediately regretting having opened my mouth.
He laughed -- and so did many members of the class. (I grew up a "townie" in a farm town.) I thought there was a special part of the animal called "flesh" that produced meat. I thought it was a special organ. I had never once in my 15 1/2 years thought about where my food came from. (Coincidentally, it was shortly after that when I first decided to try vegetarianism for unrelated reasons.)
Is there some food whose origins you ponder? I've told you mine. What about yours? Go ahead, mock me. It's OK. I've since learned. :)


5 Comments:

at 3:57 PM Anonymous nicejewishgirl said...

As a child, my grandparent's house was down the street from a vacant lot. To my three year old ears I thought people were referring to it as the "bacon" lot. I wasn't all that familiar with pork products, but it seemed perfectly logical that bacon should come from the weed-filled, empty lot on the corner.

 
at 1:55 PM Blogger Stepf said...

that's so funny! I love how children ponder the origins of food, babies, or anything they don't understand. :)

 
at 1:54 PM Blogger WestEnder said...

When I was 4 or 5 I asked my dad how Hitler died as we pulled into a gas station. I must have misheard him, because I thought he said "he drank suicide."

For years I thought suicide was a poisonous liquid like gasoline.

 
at 1:13 PM Blogger Rachel said...

I'm actually rather fascinated by mass production of foods. Fortunately, the Food Network features a series called Unwrapped, where they go behind-the-scenes to show you how popular foods are really made. Some of the technology used in mass producing these foods is astonishing.

 
at 4:13 PM Blogger Stepf said...

that show is great, Rachel. I like to watch it, but the foods mostly repulse me.

 
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