Wednesday, December 27, 2006

San Antonio New World Wine & Food Festival

by Sharon Hudgins

The multicultural cuisine of modern San Antonio, Texas, has been strongly influenced by the city's Hispanic heritage, which dates back to the early 18th century. So "The Reign in Spain" was a natural choice as the theme for San Antonio's 2006 New World Wine & Food Festival, an annual event held for ten days in November.
Chefs from Spain, Mexico, and the United States prepared special dishes for the many luncheons, dinners, grazers, seminars, and tastings offered at the festival. And vintners from Texas to California, Chile, and several regions of Spain showcased their wines alongside the colorful foods.

The festival focused on both the Spanish influence on New World cuisines and trends in contemporary Spanish cooking. Chef Ernie Estrada of Francesca's at Sunset, at the Westin La Cantera Resort, designed a six-course menu featuring two versions of each dish (Spanish and New World) paired with six wines each from Miguel Torres vineyards in the Catalunya region of Spain and from Becker Vineyards in central Texas. Billed as "The Conquistador and the Cowboy," the meal offered comparative dishes such as "Spanish Paella" (with clams, mussels, chorizo, calamari, lobster essence, and osetra caviar) and "Tejas Style Paella" (with striped bass, wild quail, bratwurst, blackened bell peppers, Fuji apples, and apricots).

Janet Mendel—author of Cooking from the Heart of Spain, My Kitchen in Spain, and other classic Spanish cookbooks—collaborated with Chef Shane Bruns at Oro Restaurant and Bar in the Emily Morgan Hotel to produce a menu offering a first course of "Scallop & Lobster Sandwich" with roasted butternut squash purée and preserved lemon beurre fondue, followed later in the meal by monkfish wrapped in Spanish serrano ham, with fava bean and quince ragout and wilted mustard greens.
And at Las Canarias restaurant in the Omni La Mansion del Rio hotel, chefs Jesus Ramiro and Mickey McPhail teamed up to make an especially memorable Spanish goat cheese ice cream garnished with caramel sauce and pine nuts, two popular Spanish flavors.
Flashing his long knife at several of the festival events was Florencio Sanchidrían, "The Offical Ham Slicer for the King of Spain." Looking more like a pirate on a Spanish galleon than a contemporary culinary professional, Sanchidrían demonstrated his technique for cutting paper-thin slices of Spain's renowned jamón serrano, dry-cured ham produced in several regions of Spain (and now increasingly available at specialty food stores in the United States). Sanchidrían certainly knows his craft: he holds the world's record for cutting the longest continuous piece of serrano ham (more than 40 feet of flesh).
The innovative cooking of today's Spanish and American chefs was especially apparent in the preparation of tapas, those "little bites" of food whose popularity has spread from Spain across the globe. Traditional tapas bars serve such tidbits as cubes of Spanish manchego cheese marinated in olive oil, thin slices of pink serrano ham, tiny casseroles of mushrooms sautéed with garlic, and wedges of thick potato omelets known as tortillas in Spain.

But at San Antonio's wine-and-food festival, several chefs took traditional tapas to another level. Spanish chef Javier Núñez "deconstructed" those popular potato omelets into shooters of liquid egg topped with potato "foam" and turned simple ham-and-tomato sandwiches inside out, with crunchy slices of Spanish serrano ham enclosing a filling of puréed bread, tomatoes, and olive oil.
"These are examples of modern tapas that Spain has come up with," said Gerry Dawes, an expert on Spanish foods and wines, at a seminar on "Transcendent Tapas" in San Antonio.
"The flavors aren't really different," said Dawes, "but there's a different way of presenting them."
At the same seminar Jason Dady, chef at The Lodge Restaurant of Castle Hills and at Bin 555 Restaurant and Wine Bar, presented his own take on Spanish tostadas, open-faced sandwiches made from slices of toasted bread brushed with olive oil and topped with a variety of ingredients. Once you've tasted his chocolate-and-chorizo tostadas, spiced with vanilla-scented sea salt, you'll wonder why you never thought of this felicitous combination yourself!


Chocolate-Chorizo Tostadas

Country-style (chewy-textured) French bread, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
Nutella (chocolate-hazelnut spread)
Vanilla-bean-flavored fleur de sel (or other fleur de sel) sea salt
Spanish chorizo sausage, cut crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices (not Mexican soft chorizo sausage)

Toast the bread slices on both sides and let them cool. Lightly brush one side of each bread slice with olive oil, then spread a thin layer of Nutella on top (like spreading mayonnaise on sandwich bread). Sprinkle a small amount (a pinch or two) of sea salt evenly over the Nutella, then place two or three slices of chorizo in a single layer on top. Serve at room temperature, as an appetizer or snack, accompanied by a robust Spanish red wine from the Rioja region.
NOTE: Make vanilla-scented fleur de sel sea salt by finely crushing a vanilla bean and combining it with the salt in a tightly covered glass container. Let the mixture stand for several days for the flavors to meld.

Source: Jason Dady, The Lodge Restaurant of Castle Hills (San Antonio) and Bin 555 Restaurant and Wine Bar (Dallas and San Antonio)
Sharon Hudgins is a food writer who has lived in Spain and is the author of an award-winning cookbook about the regional cuisines of Spain.

©2006 Sharon Hudgins

2516 High Pointe Blvd.
McKinney, TX 75071
Tel/Fax: (972)-548-4866

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Growing concern about food in the Netherlands

Due to a number of factors the nature and future of food is becoming more and more of a concern for the Dutch. In the month of November two films were released, We Feed the World, by the Austrian director Erwin Wagenhofer, and Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. Both are documentaries that give a frightening look on our future. Wagenhofer focuses directly on food, but Gore’s more general message happened to coincide with the news that the seas might well be empty of fish fifty years from now (and Holland beneath the waves of those seas).

The Dutch IACP members are in the midst of this, trying to inform themselves constantly and so be able to inform their readers. Like elsewhere in the world the problem of obesitas is growing rapidly. Truths about food shift every few months, and the large food industries seem to have a tight grip on the public information institutions, proof of which was the nominations of several kinds of lower fat snacks like French fries, mayonnaise and cake for the Annual Good Food Prize by the official Dutch Food Information Centre, say opponents. “Low fat fries and mayonnaise are still fat and should not be promoted in such a way,” they argue.

In the elections for the Tweede Kamer, the Dutch House of Representatives, the new Party for the Animals got two seats (out of a 150). This is clearly part of a movement that doubts the regular production of food and particularly wants to reform the meat production and a more respectful attitude toward animals mend for slaughter.
Sales of biological and health foods have risen surprisingly the last year, after a couple of years of stagnation. This may also be due to the recent economic growth and risen consumer confidence. However, like in Britain, demand of biological produce is now exceeding supply, which may result in higher prices that would make the price difference with regular foodstuffs even larger, something nobody is looking forward to, and that includes the producers that have a long term view.

Onno Kleyn
IACP Member, Netherlands

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Homemade Brew

Special to The Japan Times
Umeshu is one of a variety of kajitsushu (fruit liqueurs). The recipe for classic umeshu is simply green apricots (not plums), rock sugar and white liquor (a simple shochu) that has been left to steep for several months.

For generations, the drink has been made at home. If you are curious (and patient), why not give it a go?

Homemade kajitsushu
Making umeshu, one of the more popular kajitsushu, from scratch is very simple. Take 1 kg of green apricots that you have washed thoroughly. With a toothpick, carefully dislodge the stem from the top of the apricot. In a large glass container, mix the apricots with 500 grams of rock sugar. To that add 1.8 liters of white liquor or shochu.

Place in a cool area and allow to rest for three months. At this point you can drink it, but it will be light in flavor. It is best to wait a minimum of a year, which will give the umeshu more depth. Click here to see the entire article.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Calling for Barbecue Recipes around the World

Rick Browne, author of Barbecue America, is writing a new cookbook entitled Barbecue Planet and would love to include one or two grilling or barbecue recipes from IACP members or chefs they might know.

If you or someone you know lives in one of the following countries and is interested in submitting recipes for Rick's upcoming cookbook, please send the information to

Attention residents or natives of: Finland, Denmark, Sweden, St. Marteen, Anguilla, South Africa, Italy, Spain, Greece, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Uruguay, Scotland, Ireland, Argentina, Hong Kong, Germany, Jamaica, Korea, Mexico, Tahiti, Fiji, Thailand, Israel, New Zealand & Australia.

Rick is looking for entree (main dish) and side dish recipes that are prepared on a BBQ or on the grill.

You will receive full credit in the book when it's published in the spring of 2008 and also a complimentary copy of the book.

Please send recipes ASAP as the end of the submission period is very near, also include exactly how you wish to be credited in the book, and a mailing address so Rick can send you your copy when Barbecue Planet is published.

You can read about Rick Browne's TV series on public TV and his other cookbooks, as well as see recipes from 4 years of the show, by going to

Dinner on the Diner – The Trans-Siberan Express

IACP member Sharon Hudgins has returned to the United States after working as the Resident Expert for National Geographic Expeditions on an 18-day tour across Russia and Mongolia—6,000 miles on the Trans-Siberian Railroad, from Vladivostok to Ulaan Bataar to Moscow. The tour visited many of the places she described in her award-winning book, The Other Side of Russia: A Slice of Life in Siberia and the Russian Far East. Read more about her adventures here:

After working for eight days in Russia on a food article I was writing for Saveur magazine, I boarded a chartered Trans-Siberian train in Vladivostok, in Russia's Far East, along with 70 other passengers from the United States and 35 Russian crew members. We were embarking on the longest continuous railroad journey in the world, across the largest country on the planet, on the iron road that was the greatest engineering achievement of its time—the Trans-Siberian Railroad, built between 1891 and 1916.

For the next 15 days we ate most of our meals on the train, in two dining cars that each seated 36 people at tables covered with white linens and set with stemmed wine glasses and vases of fresh flowers. In both dining cars a staff of one chef, two sous-chefs, and a dishwasher (a person, not a machine) worked together in a galley smaller than my bathroom at home to prepare excellent multi-course meals accompanied by very good imported wines, Russian vodka, and dry champagne. All the meals were served by two friendly waiters adroit at balancing plates of food and pouring drinks while the train swayed back and forth along rough stretches of track.

The table d'hôte menu included red and black caviar, buckwheat bliny, smoked salmon, an enticing array of cold salads, freshly baked breads, a variety of traditional Russian soups, and main dishes such as beef Stroganov and Siberian pelmeni (meat-filled pasta, like tortelloni). Before and after dinner, many of us gathered in the comfortable lounge car for mixed drinks, glasses of wine, or mugs of cold Russian beer, on tap, as we listened to piano and guitar concerts by two Russian musicians who rode the rails with us. The food on the train was so good that many of the passengers asked for the dining-car recipes at the end of the trip.

My job for National Geographic Expeditions was to give lectures on the train as we traveled through the Russian countryside, from the Pacific coast in the Russian Far East, across Siberia, into Mongolia, back to Siberia, over the Ural Mountains, and onward to Moscow. Since this was a shared tour with Smithsonian Travel, their group's lecturer was on board, too—a professor of Russian history from the University of North Carolina/Chapel Hill. Both of us presented our lectures in the dining cars when they weren't being used for meals.

I gave lectures on the History of the Trans-Siberian Railroad, the Settlement of Siberia, the Buriat-Mongolians (history, foods, customs), Contemporary Urban Life in Russia, and Russian Holidays and Festivals. We had no blackboards, easels, projected slides, PowerPoint, or other visual aids. But I thought it was really cool to be lecturing about the Buriat-Mongolians as the train was rolling through the Buriat Republic, or to be talking about urban life in Russia as we passed through cities and towns. (The cities are changing rapidly, with economic development very evident, although the log houses in rural villages look just like those in 19th-century paintings, except for the big satellite dishes in their yards.) Instead of using standard visual aids, I could just point out the train windows and tell the tour group to look at the scenes going by. Those were the most fun "illustrated lectures" I've ever given. What an exotic venue for a classroom! (However, the challenge was to speak coherently, for an hour at a time, while standing in the aisle of a dining car and maintaining my balance as the train swerved around curves, lurched over bumpy stretches of track, and blacked out the "classroom" as it passed through long tunnels. I quickly learned to carry a flashlight so I could read my notes.)

We also had a full schedule of activities at stops along the railroad route. I treasure my memories of the guided city tours in Irkutsk, Yekaterinburg, Kazan, and Moscow; the visits to historical and ethnographic museums; a communal dinner at an Old Believer village south of Ulan-Ude; several folk music performances (including two "throat-singing" groups in Mongolia and Siberia's Sayan Mountains); boat trips on the Golden Horn Bay at Vladivostok, on legendary Lake Baikal, and on the Volga River at Kazan; a private classical music concert and champagne reception (by candlelight) at a historic house-museum in Irkutsk; a barbecue on the shore of Lake Baikal; the meals we ate at several very good regional restaurants; and a private vodka-and-caviar reception at St. Basil's Cathedral on Red Square. (Red Square was closed that evening, for security reasons, but we got special permission to be there, because of our event at St. Basil's. It was amazing—and a bit eerie—to have Red Square all to ourselves!)

The excursion to Mongolia was fascinating, too. Ulaan Baatar is an interesting and vibrant city, with an excellent historical museum and a colorful Buddhist temple complex. We also traveled to a national park and visited a nomadic Mongolian family in their yurt (where we tasted some of the homemade milk products that I wrote about in my book). In Mongolia I bought several hand-carved wooden ceremonial milk spoons, decorated with the images of the animals that produce the milk, which are used for making offerings and performing other rituals. The perfect souvenirs for someone interested in Mongolian foods!

After the tour ended, my husband and I stayed in Moscow for another week to visit the museums and scope out the food markets. We also discovered the Red October chocolate factory outlet store and another large shop that sells 100 different kinds of honey from all over the Russian Federation. Jars of honey and bags of chocolate confections added even more weight to our luggage already filled with pine-nut products (vodka, liqueur, chocolates, edible oil) that I'd carried all the way across the country by train from the Russian Far East.

I'm looking forward to working for National Geographic Expeditions again on their next Trans-Siberian Railroad tour, scheduled for July 12 – 28, 2007. For more information see (Click on Trips, Rail Journeys, then Trans-Siberia Rail Journey. For more information on Sharon Hudgins, click on the Experts tab.)

© Sharon Hudgins
IACP Member
Photography by Sharon Hudgins

Friday, December 01, 2006

Two cookbooks for two good causes

From the aromatic kitchens of ACE Bakery comes the latest collection of mouth-watering recipes for bread and all the delicious things that go with it. More From ACE Bakery is peppered with anecdotal cook’s tips,practical bits of food history and ingredient facts. The book features over 100 sensational recipes from delicious everyday fare to spectacular creations for family dinners and entertaining.

Linda Haynes is the co-founder of ACE Bakery in Toronto, Canada, with her husband Marin Connell. It is one of North America’s leading artisan bakeries, creating hand-made, European style rustic breads. Community involvement is an essential part of ACE’s philosophy. The company donates a percentage of its net profits to charitable organizations, with a focus on food and nutrition programs that assist low-income members of the community, financing culinary scholarships, and supporting organic farming initiatives. All royalties from the sale of More From ACE Bakery are donated to organizations that support women and children in crisis. ACE Bakery breads are available at locations across Canada, the Midwest and East coast of the U.S.A and the Bahamas.

Photo credit: Doug Bradshaw

Patricia McCausland-Gallo will release the Spanish version of her book "Secrets of Colombian Cooking" on December 7, in Barranquilla, Colombia. The book will sell for 38,000 Pesos and all the profits will go to "Nutrir" Foundation, a group working to feed the undernourished children of Barranquilla. The book will also be available for sale in Panama. Patricia McCausland is also the author of "Pasión por el Café" which will be released in 2007. She has Bachelor´s Degree in Food Science and Nutrition from the University of Louisiana, is a pastry chef, food writer, and cooking teacher. Pachi lives in Panama with her husband and three daughters. For more information visit Creative Culinary Works.

Patricia and Linda are members of IACP.

Monday, November 27, 2006

IACP Food Photographers & Stylists - 2007 Photo Contest


IACP Food Photographers & Stylists invite you to create an artful image of a culinary basic, your interpretation of an essential of cookery, beautiful enough to be fine art. Get those creative juices flowing and start planning now for another exciting photo contest and exhibition. Open to all IACP members.

Go to for more information. "Hold My Space! Forms" due by Dec.15 are available on the IACP website; complete information and "Entry Forms" will be available on the website after Dec. 1.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Conferencia Anual del IACP - Chicago, 2007

Conferencia Anual del IACP 2007

Fundamentos Culinarios: Cultivando Nuestras Raices Profesionales

Asociación Internacional de Profesionales de la Culinaria
29va Conferencia Anual Internacional
11 - 14 de abril 2007, Chicago, USA

Con todos los avances tecnológicos del siglo XXI, es más importante que nunca el examinar nuestras raices culinarias. Cómo nuestras raíces influencian nuestros caminos? Qué elementos de nuestras vidas – política y cultura, la economía y el ambiente – han afectado nuestras decisiones en el pasado, y cuáles son las más primordiales ahora? Existen tradiciones que debemos luchar por conservar? Hay algunas que podemos dejar desaparecer?

Acompáñenos en la 29va conferencia anual de la Asociación Internacional de Profesionales de la Culinaria. Este año exploraremos nuestros fundamentos personales y profesionales. Cuestionaremos, discutiremos, pensaremos y aprenderemos en la compañía de algunos de los grandes líderes artesanos y pensantes en el mundo, mientras nos preparamos para darle forma al mundo de la culinaria para las futuras generaciones.


Jueves 12 de abril
El negocio de los Alimentos – los orgánicos como principal corriente

El consumidor está más consciente que nunca de la importancia de los alimentos orgánicos. Esta industria de 15 billones de dólares representa tasas anuales de crecimiento de doble dígito mientras que cadenas de supermercados importantes como Wal-Mart están atacando este segmento con mucha fuerza. ¿Pero será que los orgánicos van a permanecer como un canal principal de alimentación? ¿Será que los orgánicos podrán mantener su identidad como la elección “alterna” y “saludable” en el medio de un supermercado? ¿Y será que los consumidores continuarán comprando un alimento que en general es más costoso? Estos son los desafíos que las compañias que invierten en este nuevo segmento están enfrentando. El panel de invitados de esta sesión hablará sobre sus experiencias en el mercado y ofrecerá ideas acerca del camino a seguir, mirando los orgánicos como una tendencia del consumidor así como la moda del momento para las grandes firmas.

Samuel Fromartz, moderador, autor de Organics Inc.
Michael Ableman, Centro de Agricultura Urbana en Fairview Gardens, California
Jim Adams, Director de Mercadeo de Chipotle Mexican Grill
Howard Brandeisky, Vicepresidente de iniciativas estratégicas, Kraft Foods de Norte América

Viernes 13 de abril
Gastronomía Molecular

Para Monsieur Hervé This, la Gastronomía Molecular es una ciencia mientras que la Cocina Molecular es un arte. En esta sesión plenaria se revelará esta distinción con tres ejemplos. Mr This demostrará cómo un infinito número de ingredientes pueden ser combinados en mezclas tan revolucionarias como la mayonesa, y cómo una invención llamada “pianocktail” puede automáticamente crear estos productos una vez que la computadora sea programada con una fórmula. Seguidamente, conducirá un análisis del arte culinario, mostrando el infinito número de formas en cómo los alimentos pueden combinarse en el espacio y en particular cómo esto puede llevar a la creación de carnes y vegetales artificiales. Finalmente, Mr This demostrará innovaciones únicas de cómo las técnicas culinarias pueden ser reinventadas. Están aplicaciones científicas serán explicadas por medio de ilustraciones y experimentos realizados frente a la audiencia.

Hervé This, Director Científico de la Fundación para la Ciencia y Cultura de los Alimentos de la Academia de Ciencias de Francia; Director de INRA (Grupo de Gastronomía Molecular), Collège de France, Paris, Francia; Director del UMR 214 Laboratorio de Química Analítica del Instituto Nacional de Agronomía Paris-Grignon.

Sábado 14 de abril
De las Diásporas a la Dieta Moderna: El modo en que los cambios culturales alrededor del mundo han afectado la disponibilidad y uso de ingredientes autóctonos.

La población mundial está en constante cambio, y aunque muchos inmigrantes buscan una mejor vida en otros paises, inevitablemente regresan a sus raices; muchas veces la única manera en que pueden mantener vivo su pasado es a través de la comida. Sin embargo, no siempre ha sido fácil recrear las tradiciones culinarias. Hace diez años, el trabajo de encontrar ingredientes auténticos no valía la pena. Las entregas inmediatas, la agricultura artesanal y la fuerte demanda por una cocina étnica auténtica han aumentado la disponibilidad de ingredientes para cocineros profesionales y aficionados. Esta nueva disponibilidad ha permitido que se mantengan vivas las tradiciones del pasado. Pero estamos verdaderamente honrando el pasado mientras estamos constantemente en búsqueda de todo lo que sea nuevo? Esta sesión tratará el tema de cómo las migraciones han afectado la cocina tradicional. Nuestro panel discutirá los dilemas que enfrentan hoy en día los cocineros profesionales y aficionados, las compañías de alimentos y consumidores.

Steve Dolinsky, moderador, Reportero Gastronómico, ABC 7 News, (Chicago)
Rick Bayless, chef/propietario de Frontera Grill y Topolobampo, Chicago
Claudia Roden, escritora gastronómica y autora
Vikram Vij, chef/propietario de Vij´s y Rangoli, Vancouver, BC, Canadá

Spanish translation courtesy of Elena Hernandez & Alida Castro, Panama
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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Kids in the Kitchen goes Global

We’re calling for your great photos of kids for a KIDS IN THE KITCHEN photography presentation at the Chicago IACP Conference 2007. Cooking teachers, food photographers, food stylists, parents, chefs, Kids in the Kitchen committee participants—all members are invited to submit photos of children eating around the world for a digital photo essay to be presented during one of the general sessions at the conference (without sound or narration.)

We are looking for photos that portray both sides of the eating equation (healthy vs. junk food, food from the garden vs. food from a package, families eating together vs. kids eating alone). Specifications: Photos can be black/white or color and must be submitted electronically. Horizontal shots at 10 - 11 inches should be at least 72 dpi. Vertical shots at 9 inches should be at least 72 dpi. Jpegs are preferred. We will present these images in a PowerPoint format. Please include COPYRIGHT information for all photos. Credit: All photographers will be recognized on a final credit page of the presentation and in a conference hand-out accompanying the presentation. RELEASE FORMS: If you submit photos of children from a cooking class, make sure you have parental permission (it could be blanket permission). It is the responsibility of the photo submitter to ensure the proper copyrights and permissions to submit photography as their own work. You may submit work that has been previously published with permission from your publisher or rights-owner. SUBMISSION Deadline: February 22, 2007. Send email with photo attachments to Your photo will be receipt-confirmed and logged with your credit info. Selection Process: Photos will be vetted and selected by members of the IACP Kids in the Kitchen committee and members of the IACP Photographers and Food Stylists section. If your photo is selected for presentation, you will be notified by March 30, 2007.

If you have questions, please contact Rebecca Penovich, Kids in the Kitchen committee, or (301) 588-3060.

Rebecca Penovich Art of the Table
pr & culinary promotion

Photo by: Jason Rust

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Karen Cathey Elected Chairman of AIWF

IACP member Karen Cathey has been elected Chairman of the American Institute of Wine and Food. Ms. Cathey, who founded the National Capital Area Chapter of The AIWF in 1990, served twice as its chapter chairman and is chairman emerita of the chapter. She also served on the national board of directors for several years as chapter council chairman and vice chairman.

The American Institute of Wine & Food (AIWF) is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1981 by Julia Child, Robert Mondavi, Richard Graff, and Robert Huttenback, to enhance quality of life through education about what we eat and drink. Today, The AIWF has 29 chapters in the United States, with over 5,000 members who are restaurateurs, food industry professionals, food educators, nutritionists, chefs, wine professionals, and dedicated food and wine enthusiasts.

Karen Cathey is president of Bon Vivant, a firm that specializes in food marketing.

Congratulations and Best wishes Karen!

Friday, November 10, 2006

News from the Netherlands

The Dutch IACP members have been working hard! This autumn three of our 14 IACP-members have published books and we are very proud. The books are very, very different and are all focused on the quality of food.

José van Mil, together with her staff, (a.o. Nadia Zerouali another IACP member!) produced a fantastic 2007 calendar. She did an incredible job. The calendar gives a 5 ingredient recipe on a weekly basis that fits with the seasons and a shopping list. Every week you also will find a suggestion for making cooking more fun or easier (knife sharpening, what to do with left over mussels, what to do with capers, etc.). And finally, Jose gives daily cooking advice for a course. This advice just helps you to think about your evening meal or lunch in a different way and inspires you before going to the grocery store. She does write extraordinary detail and if you know her (she has been to the Annual Conference several times), you immediately recognize her style of talking. It is a unique Christmas gift for next year.

Yolanda van der Jagt presented her first book, Lekker Hollands, at the culinary fair Kuntshal Kookt in Rotterdam. Her book is about the beautiful produce of our country. Jamie Oliver, with whom she worked at the River Café in London, tells in his brief preface about her passion for seasonal ingredients. As soon as you have the book in your hands, your mouth starts watering. You want to start shopping in the countryside immediately, calling friends to come over for dinner, or running home to cook. The very accessible recipes are good, they give information and are easy to prepare. Yolanda not only shows the readers her recipes, she also tells you about taste, tasting while cooking, recognizing the produce and enjoying food. Yolanda worked at Chez Panisse in Berkeley and learned a lot from Alice Waters. Jamie Oliver ends his preface in the book with the sentence ‘On top of all this she can also keep up with all the boys when drinking at the pub – nice one!’

The last book, or books are from Onno Kleyn. Kleyn ' s columns and Kleyns Basics. Well, I don’t need to translate these titles. Onno writes a column in the leading Dutch morning paper, De Volkskrant. And finally a selection is made of these ‘reading-recipes’. Het writes about produce, his travels abroad, his kitchen experiences and so on with a dry sense of humor. Every column ends with a simple, tasteful recipe. So we all can throw away our clippings and enjoy the book.

The other book about his basic theories is about cooking eggs, making mashed potatoes, salt, herbs, preparing mussels and so on, is a real book of reference to have at hand in your kitchen.

So now you understand why we are proud of these IACP members. And although I can imagine you don’t read Dutch, you have to believe me that in this small country (1/3 of Kentucky!), we continue to make sure our produce will grow beautifully and taste fantastic.

Nelleke van Lindonk

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Peruvian food, the hottest trend

Ceviche, tiraditos, anticuchos, causa, cau cau, arroz chaufa, seco de chivo...are just some of the popular dishes of Peru. Lima has been recently named the gastronomical capital of Latin America and this has been accomplished thanks in great part to the government´s support in promoting Peruvian food outside of the country´s frontiers. Local chefs headed by the ultra popular Gaston Acurio and owner together with wife-partner Astrid have managed to create a "food empire" in and outside of Peru. Their upscale restaurant Astrid & Gaston opened 12 years ago in Lima and now has branches in Santiago de Chile, Quito, Bogotá, Caracas, and before the end of this year will open in Panama. Chefs Mario Navarrete of Raza in Montreal and Emanuel Piqueras of Mixtura in Seattle have been recognized for their excellence and their restaurants featured in newspapers and magazines in North America.

The Associated Press has written a very interesting article about Peruvian food that you can read here.

To read my coverage (in Spanish) of the Salon Internacional de la Gastronomia that took place last weekend in Caracas, Venezuela and featuring special guest chefs from Peru, including Gaston Acurio, click here and here.

Here´s another great interview in English.

Elena Hernandez
International Chair, IACP

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Help!! Research on Semitas

For the last year or so, I have been trying to track down the story of the Mexican bread known as semitas (or cemitas). My interest was sparked because it is widely asserted that on US-Mexico border semitas means semitic bread. There, it is said, its origin can be traced to the crypto-Jews who settled in the area in the seventeenth century fleeing the Spanish authorities.

The trail has led me to dictionaries, books, friends who are expert in the foods of North Africa, investigations in Mexican markets and on the web. I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that romantic as it is, the derivation of semitas from Semites (Jews) is false. Instead it seems more probable that it derives ultimately from the Greek word for seed (which also gave rise to the Spanish semilla or seed) and from there it passed to North Africa, Spain, and eventually the Americas.

Semitas, it seems, are the contemporary reminders of the fact that breads once sharply mapped on to social class. The rich ate fine white bread, the lower down the social scale you went the more of the seed was included until you reached semitas which were a coarse whole wheat roll.

Today, semitas are found all over Mexico and in many parts of Latin America. They are small, usually only slightly raised, may contain sugar, anise and nuts, or may have gone up the social scale to form the delicious white rolls (cemitas) of Puebla in Mexico.

If fellow IACP members have any information about semitas, I would really appreciate receiving it.

Rachel Laudan
visit Rachel´s website at or email her.

Guanajuato and Mexico City, Mexico

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Adam Seger

We are proud to announce that our fellow IACP colleague from Chicago, Adam Seger, CCP, has been honored as a finalist in an international mixology competition. Adam will also be our host at our International event during Chicago's IACP 2007 Annual Conference on Thursday, April 12.

Please take a moment and visit We are delighted that our colleague has been named one of the 'Top 20 Bartenders in the World' by Bols, The Amsterdam based spirits company founded in 1575 that has premium brands in 110 countries.

Please go to He is #2 on the list and you can rate your top 3 picks. The 10 mixologists from the top 20 list with the most on-line votes by November 15th will be flown to Amsterdam in December to compete for the 'Bols 200 Best Bartender in the World' to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the Cocktail.

Thank you in advance for your vote of confidence. Being the only mixologist from Chicago and one of 8 out of the top 20 from the US, this opportunity would also give the new Illinois USBG Chapter as well as Chicago's growing mixology scene the international exposure it deserves.

Adam Seger, CCP

General Manager, Nacional 27: Chicago's 3 Star Modern Latin Restaurant, Ceviche Bar and Salsa Club

Ambassador, Illinois Chapter, United States Bartenders Guild: Official US Affiliate of the International Bartenders Association

' Rising Star Bar Chef' Chicago 2006

'Chicago's King of Cocktails' New City Magazine

To read more about Adam Seger, visit Star Chefs

To listen to a podcast interview to Adam Seger conducted by Ken Rubin of, click here.

Monday, October 16, 2006

What to Drink with what you Eat

We´re very happy to be one of today´s hosts to the Virtual Book Tour of "What to drink with what you eat", IACP member Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page´s recently published book. What an original idea to be touring the internet and being featured in some of the top food and drink blogs/sites around!

After the success of Culinary Artistry, who is on my (and MANY cooks´) list of favorite books because of the flavor matching reference guide, Andrew and Karen have done the same in "What to drink with what you eat" by teaching us how to pair food with the perfect drink.

Here is what is being said about "What to drink with what you eat":

"The most comprehensive guide to matching food and drink ever compiled is offered by the James Beard Award-winning author team of Dornenburg and Page, with practical advice from the best wine stewards and chefs in America."

— Book Club

"Any good cook knows that the choice of wine (or beer!) can make or break the meal. Nothing could be more disappointing to a cook than having your efforts fall flat because of a misstep when it comes to pairing drink with food. In compiling the wisdom of wine and beverage experts, Karen and Andrew have done an amazing service for all lovers of good food."

— José Andrés, chef-restaurateur and winner of the 2003 James Beard Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic Award

"This book teaches you the principles of understanding how to find the perfect match for any meal. Whether you're drinking Champagne or beer, sake or port, this book makes finding the perfect match easy and fun."

— Roger Dagorn, master sommelier, and David Waltuck, chef-owner of Chanterelle (NYC), winner of the 1996 James Beard Outstanding Wine Service Award and the 2004 Outstanding Restaurant Award

"Andrew and Karen have created the most exciting and comprehensive guide to wine pairing that I have ever seen....You will be using it constantly to fulfill your own curiosity and to throw the best parties."

— Eric Ripert, chef-owner of Le Bernardin (NYC) and winner of the 2003 James Beard Outstanding Chef Award

"Dornenburg and Page, authors of BECOMING A CHEF and CULINARY ARTISTRY, demystify the challenge of food and beverage pairing in this exhaustive, accessible resource. Believing that the best matches create peak experiences, the authors consult with the world's most discriminating palates, who see food and drink as inseparable. With stories from such noted chefs as Daniel Boulud, Traci Des Jardins and Patrick O'Connell and a host of top sommeliers, this comprehensive collection provides a wealth of guidelines for pairings, not only by specific food, but by food type, time of day, characteristics, season and personal mood. From fast food to ethnic cuisine, they include unlikely entries such as Kentucky Fried Chicken (Pinot Noir, Gewürztraminer), oxtails (Barolo), moussaka (Retsina, Rioja), potato chips (beer, champagne) and saag paneer (Pinot Gris). While focusing primarily on wine, the authors include matches for a variety of other beverages, including tea, water, coffee, beer and spirits, and offer the pairings in reverse — what to serve if you've already selected your beverage. This encyclopedic collection is highly recommended for those who give serious thought to the flavor of each dish."

— Publishers Weekly

For all of us folks living outside of the USA, get your copy of this book through We have already ordered ours!

Elena Hernández
International Chair

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Toys for the Adventurous Cook

Not only have Spanish chefs revolutionized the food world with new cooking techiniques during the past few years, they have also ventured into inventing equipments for the kitchen. Here are a few examples, created by Paco Roncero, Javier Andrés, Sergio Torres and Joan Roca.

Pacojet gives chefs the chance to create an infinite number of ice creams and sorbets, both sweet and savoury. It is a food processor unique in its category which emulsions the food, i.e., it turns frozen foods into purée or cream with no need to defrost them. The results are outstanding: in a few seconds Pacojet produces a cream for spreading, a filling, a concentrate of soups or greens, a fruit ice cream or sorbet which conserves its natural aroma.
Pacojet can process food in quantities up to ten portions, and its containers are ideal for keeping the creams it produces in the freezer.

This thermostat can create a bain marie with a constant, identical temperature in the whole container. It can also control low temperature cooking, between 5° and 100° C. Because of its characteristics, the Roner is particularly useful for cooking products which have previously been vacuum packed —meat, fish, poultry, vegetables, terrines, patés, jams, preserves—, for pasteurising food prepared with traditional techniques and for thermal regeneration of vacuum packed finished preparations.

The Gastrovac is a compact appliance for cooking and impregnating in a vacuum. It is patented in over 160 countries and developed with the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia and the cooks Javier Andrés (La Sucursal Restaurant, Valencia) and Sergio Torres (El Rodat Restaurant, Jávea). It functions as follows: by creating an artificial low pressure, oxygen-free atmosphere, the Gastrovac considerably reduces cooking and frying temperatures, maintaining the texture, colour and nutrients of the food.
Moreover, the Gastrovac creates the “sponge effect”: when the atmospheric pressure is restored, the food absorbs the liquid around it, allowing infinite combinations of foods and flavours.

For more cooking tools, visit International Cooking Concepts.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Tendencias Gastronomicas 2006

El 10 y 11 de octubre se llevará a cabo el evento entitulado "Tendencias Gastronómicas 2006" en Buenos Aires, Argentina. Contará con la participación de Sergio y Javier Torres de España creadores de Gastrovac, un aparato para empacar al vacío, Sumito Estevez de Venezuela, Christophe Carpentier y Daniel Greve de Chile y varios Chefs de Argentina. Algo que suena como muy interesante es que ofrecerán dos Videoconferencias desde España con Andoni Luis Aduriz del Mugaritz y Sole Graell quien presentará la nueva línea de productos de los hermanos Fernan y Albert Adriá. Para mayor información visite la página del evento en

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

October events in Mexico

The 21st edition of Abastur, the largest restaurant/hotel show in the country, will take place from October 4 - 6 in Mexico City. At the same time the Gran Concurso Culinario Latinoamericano Azteca "Copa Azteca" will be held. The winner will go on to represent Mexico at the next competition to determine the Latin American entry at the Bocuse d’ Or 2007. This program is coordinated by the Vatel Club of Mexico. Go to for more information.

The most exciting of all the gastronomic Ferias of Mexico City begins this week in the Milpa Alta delegación. The Feria Nacional del Mole starts Oct 1 and ends on Oct. 22. and centers on the town of San Pedro Actopan. This rural area winds its way south from Xochimilco and attracts about 400 thousand visitors in this month only. At the fair you can sample from an infinite variety of regional style moles (green,red,black,etc) but the specialty of San Pedro Actopan is the Almendrado or almond seasoned mole which boasts 26 ingredients. Among these are the chiles: Ancho, Pasilla, Mulato, and Moro which must be toasted and then ground separately. With as many varieties as nuts and spices the Actopan mole is characterized by a sweet and picante flavor, “que sabroso”. But a fair with just mole? Of course not -- you can buy mole to prepare yourself or sample at any of the 30 odd restaurant stands that line one area of the grounds as well as sample cheese, tamales, and an infinite number of beverages. Add to this the cultural activities, displays and entertainment and you could well spend the month!

From Oct. 3 - 12, historian Edmundo Escamilla and chef Yuri de Gotari will offer a cooking demonstration showing the culture, history and legends of the states of Tlaxcala, Campeche, Sonora, and Oaxaca. The venue will be in historic Coyoacan at the house of moviemaker and actor Emilio (El Indio) Fernandez known as the Casa Fuerte. The partners Escamilla and Gotari are renowned for combining diverse elements in order to better understand Mexican Cuisine. For further information on this and future courses go to La Bombilla. Tel. (52-55) 5211-3818.

Reported by:
Ruth Alegría
Mexico City

Top Shelf

Once a rough country spirit, shochu is now the most sought-after drink in Japan by Yukari Pratt.

A women`s book series known as The Sweet Potato Queens may be all the rage in the US, but here in Japan men and women are falling over themselves for the liquid version: sweet-potato shochu (imo jochu). What was once considered the poor man`s drink is now the hottest alcoholic beverage in the country, overtaking sales of nihonshu (sake). So if you haven`t given this traditional Japanese spirit a shot, now may be the time.
For one thing, shochu is locally produced, meaning you won`t pay the mark-ups of the importer, the distributor and finally the retail shop or restaurant. Being a distilled beverage, it can sit in your house and the flavor won`t change. And as with all food-related trends in Japan, shochu is good for you.
But what is really fueling the shochu boom? In short, Japanese believe it is less likely to cause a hangover. And that it can help shed pounds, a hypothesis I am still testing, with little success. Shochu is in fact low in calories, (35 calories per 2-ounce shot) and it encourages production of enzymes that break down blood clots (a preventative measure for heart attacks and strokes). One book encourages drinking shochu on Sunday evenings, claiming it will help you relax before starting a busy workweek. Oh, and my favorite reason: If you spill it, it won`t stain the tatami.
Shochu is produced throughout Japan, although much of it comes from Kyushu. Its alcohol content typically ranges from about 25 percent up to 45 percent, which is far higher than the averages for both wine (12-13 percent) and nihonshu (15-16 percent). If and when your tolerance is high enough, exploring the varied flavors becomes the fun part. Shochu is made with everything from the common sweet potato, rice and black sugar to the bizarre, such as konbu (a type of seaweed), milk, sesame seeds and green peppers. Sweet potato has a very heady bouquet. Rice can be simple and clean. Black sugar has a sweet amami to it, while awamori is a shochu from Okinawa made with Thai rice and a bit more aromatic than the typical rice shochu.
The authority on shochu, naturally, is Sho-Chu Authority, which has six stores, including one in Shiodome and another in Tokyo station near the Yaesu North Exit. Service is better at the Tokyo station branch, but for selection and variety, Shiodome may be the world`s best. You can also pick up pre-mixed chuhai drinks at your local conbini or supermarket, in the same section as the beer.
What should you eat with shochu? Much like food and wine pairing, if you like the shochu, it will go with almost anything you are having. The rice and barley varieties tend to be a bit more food-friendly than the aromatic sweet potato but all shochu lacks the acidity that both wine and nihonshu bring to the table.
Another benefit of drinking shochu is that it can be consumed in so many ways: straight, on the rocks, mixed with hot water or as a cocktail. The common chuhai in a can is shochu blended with a variety of mixers such as grapefruit juice or ume (plum). But plain shochu on the rocks is the best way to get a sense of aroma and taste.
When you`re ready to get on the shochu bandwagon, head straight to your local shochu bar and try a variety of flavors. Or if you want to get started at home, invite your friends and host a tasting party with any range of flavors or producers. As I wait for the Sweet Potato Queens to make their Japan debut, I for one will be bonding with the other sweet potato in my life, imo jochu.

Sho-Chu Authority
B2F Caretta Shiodome, 1-8-2 Higashi-Shinbashi, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5537-2105. Open daily 11am-9pm. Nearest stn: Shiodome.
1F Tokyo Station, 1-9-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku. Tel: 03-5208-5157. Open daily 10pm-9pm. Nearest stn: Tokyo.

Shochu legend

黒糖 kokuto (black sugar)
芋 imo (sweet potato)
米 kome (rice)
眉 mugi (barley)
泡盛 awamori (Okinawan shochu)
度 do (percentage of alcohol)

Photo credit: Tama Miyake Lung

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Blogging for your Business I & II

Fellow IACP members who blog may want to know about Denise Graveline´s forthcoming "blogging-for-your-business" workshops (both beginner and advanced) coming up in late October in Washington, DC.

Her own food blog, Vegetables for Breakfast, was recently named "small business blog of the day" by Pajama Market, an industry observer of entrepreneurial blogs. More and more food-related businesses are using blogs to promote their products and services, so if you are in the DC area, make sure to attend this event!

Here´s the program:

Blogging for Your Business I and II

A workshop presented by don’t get caught — creative communications consulting

Monday, October 23, 2006 OR Tuesday, October 24, 2006

PART I: 9:00 am to 12:30pm

PART II: 1:30 pm to 5:00 pm

Part I: With strategies, examples, and hands-on practice, this workshop helps you start (and make the case for) a blog, create content, use it to promote your business, build an audience, handle comments, and drive and measure traffic. Part II: More hands-on practice and strategies for improving your blog's visual appeal; adding links, sound and photos; promoting your blog to wider audiences; and more creative uses for business blogs.

National Press Club, Eric Friedheim Library classroom, 529 14th Street, NW, 13th Floor, Washington, DC
Please note that neither the National Press Club nor its library is a sponsor of this event.

Cost: $150, or $110 for National Press Club members. Major credit and debit cards accepted. Workshops are limited to no more than 15 participants. Registration includes coffee and light refreshments.

What Previous Attendees Say: Terrific seminar…very hands-on…informative, easy to follow and helpful...thorough and fast-moving. Whether you are a new or experienced blogger, you’ll be posting items throughout the session. If you don’t have a blog now, you will have started one in this session.

About the Instructor:
Denise Graveline is president of don’t get caught—creative communications consulting. A former magazine writer and editor and longtime senior communicator for major nonprofits – including AAAS and the American Chemical Society -- a federal agency and a national philanthropy, she is the current author of two blogs: don’t get caught news & info and Vegetables for Breakfast, recently named “small business blog of the day” by the Pajama Market blog, an industry observer.

To register, go to Don´t Get Caught.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Slow' re moving too fast

by Judy Witts, Under a Tuscan Stove,

Simon and Garfunkle were ahead of their time. Slow Food and Slow Travel are today’s trends.

Torino every other year hosts Slow Food’s Salone del Gusto,
a showcase for foods which risk disappearing or becoming illegal in the globalization of the world market. Gourmets risk becoming outlaws in search for quality. Culinary traditions and history are also spotlighted.
A sister program Terra Madre ( Mother Earth) is also held at the same time, opened to chefs, farmers and others actively involved in preserving these traditions.

Biodiversity is the theme and the products on the ARK to be saved are numerous. Each continent has their own area of the show to present their foods and it is a fabulous chance to lear, taste and speak to the producers.

Slow Food huge food pavilion is overwhelming. The last show I went to featured products from the national parks in Italy, one of the more surprising finds was Manna, an edible resin, rich in nutrients, perhaps the Manna from biblical times?

Presentations, dinners, tastings and the huge showcase make this a wonderful experience. Several of our own IACP members are involved in hosting dinners.

The show is held at Lingotto, the old FIAT factory, just outside the city and easily reached by train.

Terra Madre is being held at the same time. This is more for people in the industry, chefs, farmers, educators and is not open to the public. You must apply to attend.

The city of Torino has a offered a service of housing the delegates with families to help with the expenses, many of the participants come from third world countries.

Torino itself as a city is fabulous. I am planning a day doing a pastry and chocolate crawl. Home to Gianduja, the rich hazelnut chocolate candy and spread, pastries made so tiny you can eat a whole tray by yourselves. Bicherin a chocolate coffee drink. Brasato, Barolo and white truffles. Piemonte calls out to all food-lovers.

If you need to find a hotel in Torino, contact Robert.

If you are planning to attend, let me know, we can arrange a dinner or tour the markets in town!

Time flies so check out the site and come SLOW DOWN!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Easy Peasy, an Interview with Constance Briscoe

by Scott Givot

The food was then placed back down on the floor in front of me and Pauline left the room. I managed to turn on my side to eat. The potatoes were hot and the chicken did not taste too bad. I picked up a spoonful of gravy and poured it over my arm; the bloody blob melted and started to make its way down my arm. I poured another spoonful of gravy over it and then used the little finger of my left hand to make a bloody puddle on my arm. When all the blood was moist, I cut open a potato and used to clean my arm. Then I put the bloody potato on the carpet and ate my dinner.

-Constance Briscoe from her book, Ugly

This passage occurs when the author was of pre-adolescent age and following a row with her Mother ensued about her cooking. The author’s Mother, Carmen Briscoe, had abused her daughter throughout her entire childhood and even turned a blind eye following the sexual abuse by her step father. In this chapter she took up a kitchen knife and slashed her child’s arm.

It is but one icon to recall in the remarkable journey of a woman, who survived a treacherous and tormented path to adulthood. How it that this child has become so accomplished today and specifically one of Britain’s only black woman judges? Her account is narrarated with a particular naiveté and subtle humour. The ending to this first memoir bestows the reader with a sense of jubilation and admiration for Briscoe’s sheer pursuance and subsequent accomplishment of her dream.

Ugly was number one on London’s The Sunday Times bestseller list for roughly six months and is soon to be published in paperback. It is currently being sold in a multitude of languages throughout the world, including its launch in Norwegian last Friday. This is the context in which I came to interview Constance Briscoe. Our meeting was driven less by discussion of the storyline, although that was the source of my initial interest. It was, rather, a consequence of being touched by deep references to food memory and the weft patterned in the fabric of her life.

We met the evening of her arrival at the British Embassy in Oslo How could a woman, who had only been named “ugly”, emulate such exquisite qualities so pleasurable to the beholder? When asked, she is quick to explain the assistance of a talented friend, who just happens to be a plastic surgeon. Still there is something more. Constance Briscoe has a voice, which is child like and a tone that reflects simple wisdom and honesty. She has the face of someone who has endured great pain and has processed her experiences into transformation.

How does she manage to smile after enduring such challenges? That was my experience. I didn’t know anything else…that’s ALL, she explained.

We agreed to meet the next morning in the breakfast room at her hotel. I convinced her to have a bit to eat, when she informed me that she never has anything but five cups of English breakfast tea, black and with no sugar for her first meal. She reluctantly accepted a glass of orange juice and small fruit plate consisting of two slices of pineapple, two slices of honeydew melon and one orange segment, which I offered to her. Why didn’t she care for more, as I proceeded to eat smoked salmon, cheese, a soft cooked egg and flatbread? Because...I’ve never had breakfast. My first meal of the day was always school dinner... I couldn’t wait to leave the house and always attempted to avoid a meeting with my Mother at the cost of sacrificing the breakfast meal.

At what time did you lose your food virginity?
She paused for at least three minutes. Interesting question... I have to think about that… I told her to take her time and fiddled with my pen. Finally she responded with deliberation. Brown sponge pudding and pink custard…because it works. I used to receive this for my school meal. You see, when the pudding is baked, it rises and pin holes form at the top. The custard has pinholes at the bottom. Put them together and…IT WORKS! Then as if thawing from the deep freeze of recollection, the fruit that I enjoyed was the pomegranate. First you cut it in half and then you take your time to take each seed out. It’s the adventure. When I have enough seeds collected to the side of my plate, I eat them.

Suddenly she took off. My favourite food is an anchovy. Why? Just is...and my favourite biscuit is a “Jammy Dodger”! It got me out of a lot of trouble as a child. You separate the two biscuits with jam and custard, which provides three opportunities to eat the biscuit. She proceeded to draw an illustration on a paper serviette. The first drawing was a circle (the bottom layer), the second was a circle of equal dimension, with a hole in the centre (the top layer) and the third was a small blob which represented the jelly in the hole. This she would scoop out and eat at the end. Meanwhile the custard, which held the two halves together, could be licked off the biscuits if she so desired. The tea lady in the barristers’ chambers stocks “Jammy Dodgers” now and I have one every day. So do all the barristers.

At the risk of feeling deeply penitent, I asked her what she would choose as her last meal on earth. I was not surprised with her answer, given her strict Catholic schooling as a child. Fish and chips. I’m assuming that it (her last day on earth) is a Friday and Catholics eat fish and chips on Fridays. Catholic school never served meat on Fridays. We had fish and chips. That represents the body of Christ. So...for my last supper I’d have 4-5 cups of tea to begin the day and finish off with pink custard and brown pudding. My life has always been a struggle to get food. It takes a long time to have a preference, when it is a struggle to get food in the first place. One can’t be fussy!”

At this moment she showed me some of her scars, including the burn from a cigarette, which her stepfather extinguished on her hand and the long gash mark from her Mother’s quick flash with the kitchen knife along the length of her left arm. I keep away from rice. (She was preparing rice when her stepfather, Eastman, burned her.) I have a problem with chicken because I cooked so many when I was growing up. (She was preparing a family chicken dinner when her Mother cut her.) When I DO eat chicken, I always check for feathers, because I had to pluck them all the time.

What other food memories do you have that make you feel good? Father was a superb cook. He made the best ever Jamaican food...fried plantain, fried snapper...and I would have a mango. We didn’t see him very often, but he’d always buy a fresh turkey at Christmas with the head still on. He showed us that when the eyes went grey, the turkey had been dead just a little while. My sisters and I had to pluck all the feathers. Sometimes when he came to visit, we got to eat a fresh coconut. That wasn’t too often. They were pretty messy.

What spices or herbs do you remember from your childhood family food? Let’s see...bay leaf was always used in rice and porridge. Thyme was added to soup. Mint was always used for meat because Mother grew it in the garden. I can also remember jerk chicken seasoning. It was made of thyme, crushed peppercorns, sage, parsley...and a lot of nutmeg was used too.

Do you have a garden now? Yes. We have a country home with a camomile lawn. We have an herb garden with sage, coriander, thyme, parsley...lots of different types. We also have an organic vegetable garden with broad beans, cauliflower, spinach, potatoes, onions, courgettes, tomatoes...

What about your children, Constance? Do they have interest in their Jamaican culinary heritage? What do they like to eat? I keep away from making all types of Jamaican food. We make it...maybe...once a year. They (the children) have modern tastes. Given a choice, my 16 year old daughter, Francesca, would eat steak! She also likes salmon, olives, cheese...and her favourite dish is hummus. My 19 year old son, Martin, has preferences based on his travel experience. I think it’s a fashion he’s going through. He would probably choose sushi as his favourite food, based on his recent seven month trip through the orient.

I thanked Constance for her time and also asked her what she and her partner, Tony would like for me to cook for them. Fish...because it’s Friday. No rice, please. What about a fresh wild mushroom risotto, I ventured. That’s ok. My kids complain that we make too much risotto, but I love it.

I left them at the entrance to the hotel and walked into the sunshine under a radiant blue sky, which Constance told me was her favourite colour…this particular blue. I recollected the challenges she faced ahead including the passing of her A-levels with good grades in order to qualify for a scholarship to the Law Department at Newcastle-upon-Tyne. When questioned as to whether or not she could accomplish this mammoth task, her response was quite simply, Easy-peasy.

Friday, September 15, 2006


This article first appeared in The Japan Times on September 15, 2006.

Yukarai Pratt meets Professor Theodore Bestor of Harvard University, author of "Tsukiji: The Fish Market at the Center of the World".

Bestor, a leading expert on Tsukiji outside of Japan, is in Tokyo to put the finishing touches on the translated Japanese version of his book, to be published by Kirakusha and scheduled to be on bookshelves in November.

Read the entire story here.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

9th Cous Cous Fest

San Vito’s big heart beats a little faster when the Cous Cous Fest guests stream into its streets and beach, bringing new life, once again, to the festival – this year in its 9th year and brandishing a new prize.
The Cous Cous Fest has just been awarded the Luigi Veronelli Prize – established by the publishing houses Class Editori and Veronelli Editore.

The international festival was defined by the awarding panel as “the most interesting, lively and quaint food and wine event, bringing side by side the many ways of making couscous and involving all the populations of the Mediterranean Basin, their cultures and traditions - in the name of integration and tolerance”.

This definition summarizes perfectly the authentic ‘DNA’ of an event designed to bring out the common cultural roots of the Mediterranean, united around a simple dish; a dish which has become much more than a simple culinary speciality – it has come to represent ritual, culture and sharing.

This year the theme running through the whole event is ‘Myths and Rituals’. More than a theme, it is, in truth, more of a ‘cultural river’ with many tributaries feeding into it – charged with significance and symbolism. The ethnic and cultural heritage of countries which share couscous as a common historical and culinary denominator, is vast.

To go to the festival´s website click here.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Xonocostle: IACP and Slow Food Mexican members meet

Xoconostle Mi Amor -Tuna Agria
With a slightly sour tang, xoconostle from the nahuatl language, is the oval fruit of a cactus . Found in the central region of Mexico its use varies from its addition in the famous Mole de Olla, stuffed with escamoles (black ant larvae), prepared in jams and jellies, refreshing “aguas”, flavoring pluque and as sweet dessert wine. In a land where everything has a use, this beautiful but spiny fruit has been used for mil-lennia. As part of Slow Foods commitment to preserving and supporting small arte-sanal growers our convivia was transported back in time to the Ex-Hacienda San Jose el Marquez located near the village of Santa Maria Amealco in the state Hi-dalgo.
Construction began in the 1600’s by Marques del Villar del Aguila on a land grant from the Spanish King Philip III on an estate of almost 114,000acres (46,000 hectares). In its long life it has served as monastery, home and military fortress but with the land reform and revolution ,the hacienda has been reduced to a scant 50 acres (about 20 hectares), half of which is planted with xoconostle.. With the Spanish conquest also began deforesta-tion, introduction of foreign plants and animals, scant rainfalls causing desertifica-tion, causing a crippling effect on the traditional farm economy of the region. The 3 acres of buildings are in various states of disrepair, note the roofless chapel, but still a plucky young couple, Yunuén Carrillo Quiroz and her husband Gabriel Cortés García, whose family has owned the land since the 1940’s, have dedicated themselves to preserving and reclaiming the land.

Yunuen and Carlos have placed their “Xoxoc” brand of products into the marketplace and now give employment to 20 workers as well as going out to other communities where they teach what they have learned. They graciously invited us to their home and prepared a traditional Hacienda fiesta for our group that included the famous Barbacoa de Hoyo of the state of Hidalgo. The recipe calls for a yearling lamb to be wrapped in “pencas de maguey” ,leaves of the maguey plant,with a large kettle to collect the resultant broth, buried in a pit over a fire that is then covered and left for several hours to slowly cook. This method of cooking more commonly known as Pib cooking harkens back to Mayan times. The meat and the resultant broth are fragant ,from the maguey leaves, and the meat incredibly ten-der and juicy. Below the menu for the day:

For information on Xoconostle and the products that are prepared go to
Or by e-mail &

For further information on IACP activities in Mexico contact Vice coordina-tor for Mexico Ruth T. Alegria at Come join us!