As much as I bleed red, white, and blue, I tend be be a little hypocritical when it comes to the subject of food.
With major exceptions (like BBQ), I tend to be, if not disdainful, at least dismissive of what I consider “traditional American food.”
But first, let me define that phrase (as I see it)…
American’s (an obvious generalization), have an obsession with taking things that are complicated, and simplifying them. And we’re very, very good at that, and it’s a GOOD thing…usually.
The problem comes in when we apply that mentality to food.
It’s that “how can we make it easier” mindset that leads to ideas like “Hmmm…people like spaghetti, people like meatballs…let’s use a bunch of preservatives to create a shelf-stable version, add a bunch of sugar (to feed THAT addiction), stuff it into a can, and make it cheap so folks can microwave and serve it as quickly as possible.”
Oh, and let’s put a Italian-looking chef on the label, to legitimize our evil greed.
Jesus doesn’t want us to do that.
Also, let’s face it…there’s not a lot of food that, from a historical standpoint, can really be classified as “American” (at least not “North” American), as they are either a mass market-simplified version of a recipe that originated elsewhere, or they’ve been Americanized with each passing generation until they bear only a superficial resemblance to the dish that an immigrant brought to our shores originally.
Spaghetti & Meatballs (which are two separate dishes)
Pizza (though this is improving)
Corned Beef & Cabbage
90% of “Chinese” Food
Taco’s and other “Mexican” food
For a great example, watch the “risotto scene” in the movie Big Night.
Many of these foods come from the first waves of immigrants to hit these shores: Italians, Irish, Mexicans, Africans*, Chinese, etc.
(Obviously calling early African-American’s “immigrants” is a gross misinterpretation of history, but given the huge influence that those cultures have had on how and what we eat, I felt they needed to be included to this list).
I’m not talking about just ingredients. I’m talking about using local, regional foods (the backbone of any great food culture) but to use them in combinations, and flavors, and presentations that are honest interpretations of the culture they supposedly represent.
The good news is, more recent ethic groups that have made major migrations…the Vietnamese and other SE Asian groups, Japanese, Middle Eastern, etc., remain much more “unadulterated” by Americanization, largely do to the social shrinking of our planet, and more open and adventurous mindsets that have developed because of it.
At the same time, an unpopular as the concept may be in certain circles, the effect of war (especially WWII, Korea, and Vietnam) has had a HUGE influence on our acceptance of “traditional” foods and cooking techniques.
Korean food, especially, had avoided any reinterpretation of itself, mostly due to the fact that Korean’s in general, just plain refuse to change their recipes, and don’t particularly seem to give a crap is Americans will accept or buy it. I salute this!
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the value of “gateway” foods in introducing people to new cuisines (the California roll being, arguably, the best example), but I think these foods need to be recognized for what they are…training wheels, and training wheels are great as long at their NEEDED, but the goal is to eventually take them OFF.
Let’s face it…you don’t see a lot of training wheels in the Tour de France. 😉
The problem comes in when people refuse to graduate to the real thing, and the gateway becomes an acceptable REPLACEMENT for the original, and becomes our definition of the real thing.
I’m brave enough to admit it…
I enjoy a Taco Bell soft taco on occasion, but I understand that it’s an AMERICAN TACO (as does my 10 year old daughter), and don’t accept it as being either as good as, or a replacement for the “real thing”. (For the sake of disclosure…I am a hopelessly addicted street-taco junkie, lol, even the ones with “scary” ingredients!)
But, if Taco Bell eventually leads you to a good taco truck (as it has for many people), then I say God Bless ’em!
But, back to my point…
The reason I tend to be dismissive of “American” food is, in some part that I feel it’s often a disservice to it’s original version, and is an “enabler” that allows people to not experiences the REAL, and amazing, food of other cultures, or worse, dismiss it because it “doesn’t taste right”.
MOSTLY, though, it’s because it just doesn’t taste as good.
In a marketing-driven attempt to please as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, most of these foods end up over-salted, under-seasoned, poorly cooked, bland, and boring.
I’m not advocating food snobbery, I eat and enjoy many of these foods (well, not canned pasta…ever) and, for me, the point of food is enjoyment and experience.
If you love it, EAT it!
Just don’t make it something it’s not…and don’t settle for what’s easy.
I keep seeing this video comparing what American’s eat, to the “healthy” lifestyles in Europe, implying that if only we yanks would follow Europe’s healthy eating habits, we would be as skinny and healthy as THEY are…and, frankly, it ticks me off.
In fact, I’m calling BS!
This might have been true of “Europe” (and the rest of the world) 20 years ago, but things have changed, the average European diet is no longer significantly healthier, or “better”, than ours, and the rest of the planet needs to stop pointing their chubby fingers at US, and start dealing with the problem in their OWN kitchens!
What we ARE guilty of, here in the US, is accepting every piece of BS idiocy that pops up on our Facebook pages as though they were written in stone by the finger of God, and then mindlessly sharing this “fake news” without any effort to confirm it, because we’re too damn lazy to look it up ourselves.
Now, I’m sure Aunt Marge is a very smart, caring, nice person…that doesn’t make her an expert on world healthcare (or any other of a number of subjects.) And hitting the SHARE button certainly doesn’t make YOU one either.
While the world (and US Media) loves to tout about America being “the fattest nation in the world“, the fact is…that’s a baldfaced LIE.
The World Health Organization (WHO), in a 2015 study and world ranking of obesity (NOT “overweight”, “Obese”), listed the US at #12 in the world. As far as overweight, we drop to #22.
Don’t rush out to DQ to celebrate that, btw…12 is still bad.
But, it’s NOT #1, as we keep hearing…which means we’re receiving, accepting, (and worse), perpetuating false information! (Very likely on a wide range of subjects…)
Who profits from the spread of that false information?
Media ~ The website’s, newspapers, programs, and papers that are being PAID to convince us that we deserve all of that unhealthy crap, and then getting paid AGAIN, to tell us how to fix all of the consequences of stuffing that crap into our gaping maws.
Big Pharma ~ It’s being forecasted that American’s will spend over 3.5 BILLION dollars, on prescription drugs alone, in 2018. Do you really think these “drug cartels” are interested in curing their cash cow?
US Annual Spending (and this is just the “prescription” drugs)… in BILLIONS:
Healthcare: You thought the drug number’s were steep? In 2016 we Americans spent 3,337.2 BILLION on healthcare, and is estimated to rise 5.3 percent a year between now and 2024.
If you think for a minute that any of these groups is going to trade their profits for the sake of our health…you need a firmer grasp on how capitalism works. 😉
Here are the Wordwide FACTS:
Italy’s rate of childhood obesity has now reached one in three.
In France, fast food swiped 54 per cent of the food market last year for a turnover of 34 billion euros (£29 billion)
According to a recent report by the British Parliament, more than 50 percent of British children will be obese by 2020.
In Wales, residents of the Welsh capital spend £86.80 every month (£1,041 a year) on takeaways and fast food.
Paradoxically, India has high rates of both obesity and undernourishment. According to the World Bank, the number of malnourished children is double that of sub-Saharan Africa; at the same time, India ranks third in the world for obesity.
The UK’s reported purchases in the category “chips” (French fries – frozen and not frozen)” were three times higher in 2014 than in 1974.
The European Association for the Study of Obesity states: “there will be over 20 million overweight children (of which 5 million will be obese) within a decade, despite a decline in the European population of children.”
Obesity rates among children and youth in Canada have nearly tripled in the last 30 years.
With a 32.8 percent adult obesity rate in 2013, Mexico inched past the 31.8 percent obesity rate in the United States, according to a study released by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization.
Barry Popkin, an obesity expert at the University of North Carolina, attributes much of the spike in Mexican obesity to increased consumption of cheap sugary drinks and mass-marketed snack food.
As of 2015, 2 in 3 adults (63.4%) were overweight or obese, as were 1 in 4 children.
Twenty-two percent of Aussies in 2012 had cardiovascular disease.
280 Australians develop diabetes every single day.
Germany has incidence of overweight and obese adults as a percentage of the total population at 54.8% as in comparison with France at 60.7%, Spain at 60.9% or the United Kingdom at 63.4%.
A survey in 2007 had Germany listed as the country with “the highest proportion of overweight children in Europe.” However, despite dropping in the rankings, the number of truly obese children have doubled in the past decade.
Obesity rates across the continent are projected to increase to 50% by 2030 and 60% by 2050.
Egypt and Ghana also experienced a significant increase in obesity over the past 25 years — from 34% to 39% (13% increase) in Egypt and 8% to 22% in Ghana (65% increase). The increase in obesity doubled in Kenya, Benin, Niger, Rwanda, Ivory Coast and Uganda, while Zambia, Burkina Faso, Mali, Malawi and Tanzania experienced a three-fold increase.
Intercountry comparable overweight and obesity estimates from 2008 show that 62.0% of the adult population (> 20 years old) in Spain were overweight and 26.6% were obese.
If trends continued, the mainland is expected to have 48.5 million overweight children in 2025, more than the population of Spain.
That compared with a projected 17.3 million overweight children in India and 16.7 million in the United States.
China is eighth on a list of 20 countries with the fastest increases in the prevalence of overweight children, with Vietnam, Azerbaijan and Serbia being the top three as of 2013.
The European Journal of Preventive Cardiology recently published a report that found the prevalence of overweight boys in China jumped from 0.74 per cent in 1985 to 16.35 per cent in 2014; and from 1.45 per cent to 13.91 per cent for girls.
In Nauru, the Cook Islands and Palau, more than 30 percent of children and teenagers were obese in 2016.
In Polynesia and Micronesia, the Middle East, North Africa, and the Caribbean, more than 1 in 5 children are obese.
It is clear, statistically, the we ALL have an obesity crisis, all due to the same external factors, world-wide:
The significant decrease in learning about and practicing “Home Cooking” and related activities, over multiple generations.
The expansion and availability of “Fast Food”
The expansion and availability of “Junk Food”
An increasingly sedentary lifestyle, largely due to an addiction to technology.
None of that, however, changes the fact that we, as Americans, are eating outselves to death right along with the rest of the world.
We have a GLOBAL problem, and we need to find a solution better than…”well, at least we’re not as fat as them!”
It is not the government’s responsibility, it’s not Healthcare’s responsibility, it’s OURS…YOU and ME, to stop letting the media (who are getting paid to do so) tell us what we crave or “how much easier our lives can be”, or that “we deserve a break today!”
Our children DESERVE to not be taking Diabetes medication at 14, our grandchildren DESERVE to have living grandparents, our nation DESERVES to not be bankrupting our schools and our social-security system to pay for the consequences of our laziness!
1. LEARN how to plan, shop for, and cook real food! (and I’m not talking about sitting on the couch sucking down Doritos while watching “Iron Chef!”
2. UNPLUG! Turn off the TV, the video games, the iPad, the $%#$% CELL-PHONE… exercise more than your eyeballs and thumbs.
3. Get off the COUCH! You don’t need a new gym, or the latest video, or a bunch of equipment! God gave you everything you need to get healthier…they’re called LEGS.
Just because we can’t see them anymore, doesn’t mean they’re not there.
For God’s sake…JUST GO FOR A WALK!
4. PRIORITIZE! No matter how “busy” we all think we are, each of us has 24 hours in our day. Choose how you spend them wisely (Do you REALLY need to binge-watch Sopranos, AGAIN?)
You CAN do it! Believe me, I know. This is me in 1997, when I topped out at 387lbs.
5. MODEL IT! The most important thing we can do to improve our children’s lives isn’t getting them into the best college, or paying for their popularity…it’s making sure they KEEP LIVING! SHOW them. TEACH them. Create healthy, fun family activities so that 20 years from now, you’re kids memories of you won’t just be the back of your iPhone.
This isn’t about looking good in a pair of jeans, or who goes to the coolest gym, or even feeling better, day to day, so we can just plain enjoy life more!
This is about the survival of our species.
So, please don’t try to sum it up in a meme…especially if you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.
I waited awhile on this one, both to gather my facts, and cool my head.
I don’t post things like this often, as I prefer to focus on the positive (and the food!), but at the same time I believe, as I state below, that “those who are silent, are understood to consent.”
…and I hate bullies.
To whom is may concern:
As a chef, food blogger, and cookbook author, I have been a die-hard Traeger fan for many years. I love the product (especially my Tex) and have dedicated many blog posts to the recipes I cook, and share, on it.
I wanted to write and let you know why I’m now looking at other manufacturers.
As a professional in the food industry, I spend a great deal of time on social media; marketing my work, researching and sharing new recipes, and just talking with folks about grilling and smoking.
As someone who uses social media, and especially Facebook, on a daily basis, I need to let you know that this is, by far, the worst group I’ve ever been a part of.
Over the course of my membership to that group, I have seen countless new members constantly mocked and ridiculed for asking basic grilling questions, expressing product concerns, or mentioning any other brand that they use.
Name-calling, harassment, and bullying are the norm, and the number of people banned from the group for a first “offense” (questions, concerns, etc.,) is an almost daily occurrence, and unlike anything I’ve ever seen on a Facebook group, either as a member or an admin.
The admin(s) are completely unresponsive to any requests for explanations of why posts or members are banned, or why these behaviors from specific members is tolerated, seeming to rely on a small group of “Good Ol’ Boys” to enforce or justify their decisions. Whether this is a deliberate tactic, or simply an inability to enforce rule, I don’t know, but it’s the reality.
There are, in fact, groups comprised specifically of people who have left, or been banned from, that group:
The fact that these groups, combined, have more than 3,000 members, as opposed to just 260 in Traeger Grill Owners, should be very telling.
The fact that they are both popular, thriving groups, while focusing on the positive, reaching out and helping new and prospective owners, and just generally enjoying the product and each other, should be very telling to Traeger Grill Owners.
Yet, it is still one of the first group that is shown, on a Facebook group search for “Traeger.” Likely because of a very high join rate, and NOT based on average membership.
As a business, Traeger needs to ask itself:
If so many people have left that group to join these others, how many more, especially first time Traeger users (the core of any business’s marketing efforts) and those considering purchasing your products, have just given up on the brand, entirely.
After a lifetime as a professional chef, I have a pretty thick skin…many others, however, do not.
Nonetheless, after two years of this, I finally gave up and left the group (before being banned, myself). I only wish I had done so earlier.
This group is hurting your business, however unfairly, and pushing people away from your product. Other brands, and their users, are actually using the negative experiences of the Traeger Grill Owners page to encourage people to choose or switch to their product
And it’s working.
I don’t know if Traeger, as a company, has any control or influence over this group, but if you do, I suggest that you use it, quickly. I’m not the only one that has left this group with a bad taste for Traeger in their mouths…and I’m not the only one with a platform to share my experience.
I’m not looking for an apology, or anything else, from your company, and I have not given up on you, and I’m not writing from any vindictiveness of spirit, but truly believe that “those who are silent, are understood to consent.”
Please make sure that this message is relayed up the corporate ladder to those who need to know what’s going on.
Thank you very much for your time and consideration,
This is a tough question for me, as I tend to like everything, and my tastes tend to go far deeper into the pool than most. (Gimme a fried cricket over a potato chip, all day long! 😉 )
Also, I am by nature predisposed to dislike “contempt prior to investigation” and, as I teach the kids, I prefer to categorize foods by “things I haven’t had prepared in a way I like…YET”, as opposed to label things “I don’t like.”
In other words, I may “eat with my eyes first”, but I refuse to pass judgement until my tastebuds have weighed in!
As far as things that most people seem to like, that I haven’t discovered a love for (yet), I guess I’d have to go with any fresh fruit combined with chocolate.
I’ve tried many, many versions, and, while I’ll eat my weight in white chocolate covered pretzels, I just can’t seem to get a taste for berries, bananas, or any other fruit dipped in chocolate (but, by all means, feel free to try to change my mind!)
How about you, what do YOU say no to, when everyone else seems to be scarfing it down?
I’m writing this letter to the young man who stutters, or has an acne problem, or is just smaller than everyone else. To the young lady who never seems to know what to say, or may be carrying a few extra pounds, or who’s skin is a different color than everyone else in class.
You may not believe it, but once upon a time, I was the littlest kid in class. An only child with a sick mom, a sever speech impediment, coke-bottle glasses, and a thrift-store wardrobe…in other words, I was an easy target.
You know what I’m talking about.
Bullies made my life a nightmare from the 3rd grade, through most of high-school. With no real friends or defenders, it was a frightening, lonely way to grow up, and I still carry some of those scars, on my skin and on my heart, forty years later, and I always will.
So will you.
Bullies suck, and so does being bullied.
You don’t deserve it, you didn’t ask for it, and it’s not happening because there’s anything wrong with YOU. You are amazing. You are beautiful, and there is not another living soul on earth who is like you. That makes you a treasure beyond price.
Maybe your parents don’t understand, maybe your teachers and coaches were never bullied, and can’t relate, but you’re not alone.
You are SO not alone.
Your bullies are weak, and scared, and small. So small on the inside that the only thing that makes them feel good about themselves is to make someone else feel bad.
How sad is that?
But, you know what? There’s a gift in being bullied.
That can be hard to accept, believe me, I know.
But it’s true.
It can make you strong. It can make you brave. But most importantly, it can make you…kind.
And it’s not easy (but you’re used to things not being easy, aren’t you?)
You see, when you know what it feels like, the fear, the confusion, the betrayal, the pain…you can choose to let it make you bitter, to make you as small inside as the ones who hurt you, OR you can use it to guide how you treat others, how you speak to others in pain, how you protect and defend those weaker than you. How to choose compassion and mercy, over hate.
How you be exactly the kind of hero that you lay awake longing for.
Hate is easy, any small-minded weakling can hate. But love…love and kindness are the strongest powers in the universe, and when you have that strength, you cannot be beaten.
And because you know, you have greatness in you.
You are developing a strength that many will never attain, no matter how fast, or smart, or rich, or pretty. A strength of heart, and of mind.
You will be able to see things others don’t, do things other’s can’t.
And the world needs you…desperately. They need you more and more every day, because it’s people like you…like US…that have the power to make the world a better place…because we know.
So, this post is a little off-topic, but I’ll try to make it as relevant as I can.
Just got an iPad mini for my daughter and, after loading the Amazon Video app, discovered there is no way to organize purchased movies by category (mine vs. hers) or even by descriptive folders.
This is crazy!
I have a LOT of movies, many of them are PG-13 or R Rated, and I don’t want her scrolling through those, just to find the ones I buy for her! (and I buy her a LOT of movies, because she has me wrapped around her little finger…)
Since foodie-friendly movies often have scenes that “sizzle” (and I don’t mean on the grill), as well as include the native language of the kitchen, this is unacceptable to me.
The last thing I want my daughter shouting in the middle of the grocery store is, “IT WAS f****** MOLTEN!” 😉
Nor do I want her mother to beat me to death with a bag of frozen peas.
I read a thread on the Amazon Forum, which started on Aug 23, 2015, titled, “organizing video library” where dozens of paying customers have asked for this feature, and yet after almost 2 years there has not been a single response from Amazon!
This irked me…and I don’t like to be irked. Being a chef, you can probably guess that I don’t do “irked” well.
Now, I love Amazon, and it’s my #1 movie and TV show source of choice (I’m a long-time Prime member), but I know how business works. Profit = priority, lol, so in that light, I sent a message to the Bezoites, letting them know that I am (much to my disappointment) boycotting movie and television purchases from Amazon until this issue has been addressed, nor will I re-up my Prime Membership.
Drastic times call for drastic measure, and all that.
The point of all this personal angst, here on my ChefPerry page, is that I will be posting the link to this message on various related boards in hopes that other will send Amazon the same message (below) from their own accounts, and share it with others.
That’s right…I’m starting a “movement”…protests and rioting coming soon!
I feel so Micheal Moore! (but I’m hoping the nausea will pass before dinnertime…)
Anyhoo…here’s the text of my message to Amazon.com, along with screen shots to help folks post it.
(Note: this text has been edited to fit the word-count limits in Amazon’s message feature. If you add anything, it might not fit. Definitely feel free to personalize it, tho!)
Amazon.com: Help a parent out!
Just got an iPad for my daughter and, after loading the Amazon Video app, discovered there is no way to organize purchased movies by category (Mine vs. hers) or by folder. This is crazy! I have a LOT of movies, many of them are PG-13 or R Rated, and I don’t want her scrolling through those, just to find the ones I buy for her.
I read a thread on the Amazon Forum, which started on Aug 23, 2015, titled, “organizing video library” where dozens of paying customers have asked for this, and yet after almost 2 years there has not been a single response from Amazon!
I love Amazon, and you’re my #1 movie and TV show of source (I’m a long-time Prime member), but I know how business works. Profit = priority, lol, so in that light, I am (much to my disappointment) boycotting all movie and television purchases from Amazon until this issue has been addressed, nor will I re-up my Prime Membership.
Please don’t make me do that! 😉
HOW TO SEND THIS MESSAGE
Let’s make Amazon Video great again!
(Don’t make me make a whiny movie…)
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