Monday, October 18, 2010

The Good FISH rule: A cheat sheet for simplifying sustainable seafood issues

Photo of farmed Manilla clams by Clare Barboza

This is for those of you who struggle with the complex world of sustainable seafood.

The Good FISH rule:

F: farmed fish: is not all bad (closed-containment, land-based fish farms are far superior to ocean based farms, such as how salmon is farmed. An exception to this would be farmed shellfish (clams, oysters, mussels) which is an excellent choice because no antibiotics are added to the water, no wild fish food is needed to feed them and they filter feed, cleaning the oceans. Many farmed fish (trout, arctic char, catfish, tilapia, barrimundi) don't require a lot of wild fish food to be taken from the oceans to feed them, unlike farmed salmon. If you want to make a bigger impact with your buying power, refuse to eat farmed salmon.

I: investigate: ask questions at your restaurants and fish counters and support good corporate decision making and chefs and fishmongers doing the right thing: PCC, Safeway (really!), Target and Whole Foods lead the pack in supporting sustainable seafood. Costco was ranked 14th worst according to Greenpeace. You have more power than you think you have - it's contained in your questions and your wallet - use them.

S: smaller: eat less fish, 1/4 pound per person per meal of finfish is plenty - simply put, there are too many people who are demanding to eat too much fish, we need to give the oceans a break and besides, we're supposed to eat more vegetables anyway; eat fish lower on the food chain (they are literally smaller - think sardines, mackerel, anchovies) to reduce your mercury exposure and preserve the ocean's ecological balance.

and lastly:

H: home: if you live in America, eat seafood from US waters or farmed here - we have better laws and environmental standards when compared to fish caught/grown elsewhere. 

Check out Casson Trenor's 4S rule to help you with navigating sustainable sushi buying decisions and a big tip of the keyboard to him for inspiring me to come up with my own version of sustainable seafood rules.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I fucking love Paris (Part 2)

This place is so old, the molds on the cheese graced Napolean's table.

(And so we continue our Paris story where we left off yesterday...)

If we accept that Cheese is a religion and you believe that I was headed to Mecca, my fromage haj would have culminated the moment I inhaled the cheesy funk on the threshold of Barthelemy. We purchased that most stinky and oozy of French cheeses, Epoisses, from gray haired ladies in white lab coats who descend and ascend the urban cheese cellar stairs through a door - in the floor.

Double click on this photo and notice the Costco-sized jars of Nutella in the window, the processed chocolate-hazelnut manna from heaven upon which French society rests.

This was taken at a day market in the town of Versailles - we fell in love with the attention to beauty and detail in the display and I had to control my sadistic urge to fling my hands through all the boxes and make an American curry blend.

What? Why are you staring at me? Oh my fucking god I'm walking through WALLS!

View from Montmartre.

Where we took many of our lunches - the avocat vinaigrette was so good I had it 2 days in a row along with lovely cheese plates, wine and wonderful, kind service in the heart of the Marais. Excellent people watching opportunities - we especially recommend playing "that's your boyfriend/girlfriend".

The French (or Parisians) are obsessed with chickens, specifically, and little figurines doing funny things like playing the tuba.

The French are also apparently interested in the Queen. You can't tell from the still photo, but the Queens had live-action wrist-waving capabilities.

So nice I posted it twice.

The best tartelette de pomme I've ever had was at Poilane, a famous boulangerie.

Au revoir mon ami (is it rude to cook a poetically dead pigeon you scavenge from outside the photography museum?)

The French are skinny and French pigeons are kind of chunky. Americans are kind of chunky (that's an understatement) and our pigeons are lean. Parisians walk an awful lot and they walk to their favorite boulangeries to pick up their favorite baguettes. They are loyal patrons. They walk all over Paris eating their croissant and baguette, flaky bits of bread cascading from their lips into the mouths of waiting pigeons who fatten themselves on the buttery flakes (not good for a bird's tender heart) and then croak from heart disease right at my feet. Meanwhile, the Parisians lose weight from the long walk.

But what of the obese Americans? In general, the bread and pastry of America is flakeless, we get into our cars to buy our intact loaves, nary a flake or crumb to fatten the meat of our city birds. We gain weight driving home eating our sticky bread. American pastry chefs - we need more flaky, buttery pastries and we must insist that your patrons walk to get them!

Friendly butcher man. Friendly butcher man wearing a tie. Probably a $150 tie, at that.

At the Bastille's Sunday open market we had them shuck a dozen for us - we sat on a park bench and ate breakfast, just. like. that. At a different market we were handed free samples of foie gras terrine on toast point with a glass of Muscat de Beaumes de Venise. I can't make this shit up: Paris is Disneyland for gastronomes.

Oh Earl Van Poucke... I don't know you and perhaps someone was just using your box but if you grew that lettuce I'd like to take a moment to thank you.

French toast.

Scooter French toast. (After the raging all night Blanche Nuit festival where Paris throws open its galleries and museums for free till dawn, we came upon a row of scooters that did not fare so well during the festivities.)

Stalking old French people.

Stalking French restaurants.

Not that I'm proud of Coke's world domination, but American companies have clearly infiltrated France's interior like a Roquefort mold going straight to the heart of France's youth and consist of McDonald's (why on earth you'd want to eat there when in France or anywhere is just crazy), KFC, Subway, Starbucks and that bottle of Wishbone French Dressing being sold for 8 euros at the fancy food store.

Chicken nuggets. French artisan butchers try to compete with McDoo.

It may surprise Americans but that's actually a dead chicken. You know, the same dead chicken sitting on that meat department mini pad wrapped in plastic you see at Safeway.

"Ah, zzzzh, zzzzzh, veloute!, zzzzzh, boeuf a la bourguignonne!, zzhhhjjjj, merde!"

From far left, Epoisses, Selles-sur-Cher and goat Tomme or Stinky, Fuzzy and Funky in the American dialect.

Now I know I'm a breast woman, but just take a moment, check out these birds and try to guess what type of fowl this is? Have you guessed? Would you believe quail? You know quail - those very tiny things you feel guilty eating because they're the runway models of the flightless birds, beautiful plumage, all bones, no meat, and not the smartest bird in the bunch. I bought 4 of these plump lookers from our Parisian neighbor aka "our" butcher next door to our rented apartment.

Quail. The butcher took the heads off, disemboweled them, cleaned them, used a blow torch on the skin to singe off any hairs and then trussed them up like little presents. I love our butcher.

I loved how April coordinated her Frenchie scarf with the dumpster in the background. She's that good.

Adieu Paris. Once we've made enough money from whoring out April, we'll be back. Au revoir!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I fucking love Paris (Part 1)

Even the goddamn clothespins in Paris window displays are charming.

Oh I know - it's an awfully ineloquent way to express my love, unless resorting to common vulgarities is your bread and butter, but after having communicated my disdain for Vegas with similar base language ("I fucking hate Vegas") I needed karmic epithet balance. Furthermore, a verbal punch to one up all you Paris lovers was in order for you can't hardly swing a baguette without knocking into some rube's drippy praises for the city of light.

Walk with me through my photographic lovebomb to Paris, god fucking bless her.

April got me a real camera for my birthday so expect gratuitous fauxfarty art shots.

Oh, perfect timing - here's one of those gratuitous international door shots right now!

Au Petit Versailles du Marais

Let's start with breakfast or petite dejeuner as the French say, or if you're our very hip, very hot server you say "petit daaaaazhhhhh" because you're busy and hot. We stayed in the vibrant, dynamic Marais where queers and jews and queer jews and jew queers and old and young and the young old go to play, shop, drink and eat falafal. The cafe sign (above) could have read "Our Pain Chocolat is so Good It Will Make You Weep and Tear Your Clothes with Grief and You will Sit Shiva that You Don't Live Here." I'm sure I could have a throwdown with all you Paris lovers out there, but I contend that the pain chocolat at Au Petit Versailles was by leaps and bounds the best I've ever tasted. I actually shushed April so she could better hear the crackly explosion of the millions of layers, the top caramelized so perfectly I could taste the baker's suntan from the Riviera, the richness of chocolate, warm and melty like a, uh, (insert consistent metaphor here).

A moment of silence here.... above:
BEHOLD! the clothes-ripping pain chocolat (and some shitty coffee).

In some of the open markets in Paris, we'd see vendors cooking out of these
Donner Party-sized pans. Parents: watch your children.

Cured meat foodporn shot for my friends Matt Wright and Larry Liang,
two men who know their way around, uh, a sausage.

In Paris, death is more interesting.

We spent a morning walking through the Pere Lachaise Cemetary where Jim Morrison, Gertrude Stein, Edith Piaf, and Oscar Wilde are buried, among others. I did absolutely nothing to this photo (perhaps I should have, being still very much a beginner) but I loved the lighting, the creepy glow and the angles. Hard to tell here but the white crypt on the left was tilted away from the middle crypt at almost the same angle. April quipped that the deceased must not have liked each other's company very much.

I love how it appears that smoke is coming through the crypt which gives it extra creepy points in my book.

Rust is pretty.

Not exactly sure what Labor, Probus, Fides and Eterna mean but
I'm fairly certain it means you're bug food if your name appears on the plaque.

Don't you just love the way foreign emo types walk through cemetaries snapping shots of old crypts?

Artsyfartsy pic #239 subtitled "Becky, goddammit, I'm ready to go!"


This made us completely stop dead in our tracks. Dead in our tracks with camera poised. Apparently not everything is tasteful in the city of lights. Please, if there is a God, do not let this man be American.

Some people are really scared of clowns. I'm not. I'm posting this because I'm a giver.

People with clown fears often have doll fears.

Must have been one hell of a rager at the Pyramids last night,
Sphinx ain't feeling too hot today.

You know what I think about when I see this pic of a typical Parisian street?
I think: how many people do I have to sleep with to pay for my Paris once a year habit?

It's not everyday you are walking down the street when a truck opens its back door
and offloads whole sides of various animals for the local butcher.

Bonjour Monsieur.

So for those of you who've never been to Paris, it is absolutely true what you hear about Parisians and their small dogs. Parisian dogs prance leashless through the streets casting their petite poops absolutely everywhere (much of it remains just as it landed, a form of Parisian street "art" if you will while the rest of it becomes a form of performance art or interpretative dance when shoe meets le petit poo-poo). Parisian dogs sit quietly at cafes. They do not bark, they speak in hushed tones. They discuss baguettes, cheese, and the incredible gravity defying poo cairn that black poodle left on the corner. Photographed above is a classic example of the Parisian dog, caught in a pensive moment at his perch at the tabac counter (tobacco stand/convenience store cafe). The dogs are just as particular as the French; not rude, per se - but decidedly cautious and not superficially friendly like a good ol' American dog sluttily licking anyone's hand. You have to earn your wags in Paris, both canine and human.

(to be continued, tomorrow...)


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