Month: June 2015

A Week in the Mountains

If you can’t quite read what it says on the back of Roberto’s onesie, it translates to “I love my bees.” Also, he doesn’t wear gloves. He estimates that he is stung 500 times per year. And just like that, my last study trip (or stage, as I like to call it when I’m feeling fancy) is in the books. At times in Calabria, Lazio and Spain, cruising around in a coach bus with my 24 classmates prompted mildly stressful memories of elementary school field trips. But in the case of Berlin and Valli Orobiche (a mountainous region near Bergamo and Milan), we traveled in mini packs of 8 people, which was just the right size to be able to ask questions and get the feel of each place. The trip began with a visit to the Carlsberg Brewery where we had a nice combination of brewing 101, booze and marketing know-how regarding the evolution of the branding of Birrificio Andrea Poretti. The brewery is sort of nestled on the side of a mountain and they …

June 2015: Part Two

A few weeks ago, I bought some fava beans at the market and didn’t quite know what to do with them. Enter the Saveur Summer Produce Guide. Happy Saturday and welcome to this week’s edition of “What I’ve Been Reading,” I’m Katherine Harris. Oh wait, this isn’t a podcast. So let’s proceed. After a few weeks of skimming this book for a few minutes at a time, I finally made it through “A Bone to Pick,” a compilation of NYT Op-Ed Contributor and recent Berkeley transplant Mark Bittman’s columns from the last 4 years. The short-ish pieces are organized thematically, grouping together issues like meat consumption and “well, what do we do now?” This book is not going to knock your socks off, but if you’re looking for digestible, mini lessons on things like why factory farms are bad or why farmers’ markets are good, this is the book for you. It’s sort of like Food Issues 101–something that will form the foundation for future research rather than an end-all-be-all kind of work. McSweeney’s Internet Tendency …

One Linden Leaf Roll, Please

Our contribution to the class foraging dinner: quinoa, almonds, cranberries and red pepper wrapped in leaves from a linden tree. I’m in the home stretch with classes here at UNISG. With internship and housing plans locked up in NYC, I’m looking forward to being back on my home turf. Still, a tornado of a professor blew through Aula Dominici yesterday and knocked me out of my lack-of-coffee-induced daydream. His name is Andrea Pieroni. This guy is just a breath of fresh air. Yes, he had some PowerPoint slides, but he stood in front of the elevated desk reserved for professors (in other words, not tinkering with his computer) and gesticulated around wildly for 3 hours. He talked about how sustainable gastronomy isn’t just about sitting around, drinking espresso every 1.5 hours and theorizing (which we do a lot of). It’s about going OUT–in his case, to do field research, but in our case, to meet people, to taste things and to communicate about it. I have to admit, I didn’t think I would be so intrigued by a …

June 2015: Part One

Ok obviously I did not take this photo, so don’t hurt me. Here is the caption that accompanied the piece (hold your horses, I will discuss below): “Centuries after the first wheel of Emmentaler rolled into the Alps, scientists are still learning about how Swiss cheese is made.” My caption would be: “Where is the missing fourth?!!” My staycation has come and gone and I made it through quite a long week with some new thoughts on the horizon regarding potential thesis topics. I’m thinking something regarding the millions and zillions of $$$ being dumped into funding food/drink startups (which I initially thought was oh-so-wonderful, but now I’m not so sure) and if we can really “hack” our way to a sustainable food system. Stay tuned. I’ve also been reading quite a bit (as usual). I am telling myself now, at noon on this well-caffeinated Saturday, that every Saturday I will do a roundup of what I’ve been swiping through on my iPad that week, just so you, out there in the internet void, can potentially bookmark …

Thoughts on Eating Out

My unconventional, super foodie 22nd birthday cake from Flour + Water: zucchini flower cake with burrata ice cream. Today marked the end of a somewhat lackluster few days of considering food identity with a Belgian historian. There was a little nugget in the last class: an “exam” where we could write anything we wanted about eating out. It could be a fake restaurant review. It could be a firsthand account of that time a waiter kicked you out (no, that’s never happened to me). It could be a haiku about Open Table. For whatever reason, the image of this cake popped into my mind, so I decided to write about celebrating birthdays in restaurants. I think my argument could be extended to any number of special occasions, including graduation parties or anniversaries, but I wanted to KISS (keep it simple, stupid) given that my non-blue blue book only had 4 pages in it. I love eating out. I do. I grew to love it during a semester abroad in Buenos Aires where I lived with a vegan …

Please Bring a Dish Representing Your Country

A very typical Californian meal consisting of avocado, a grain salad, some Acme bread and some cheese…gotcha! This meal was from Les Halles de Lyon! If I hear a version of this request one more time, I might…I don’t know…combust… This week we have a class called “Social History of Food” which unfortunately is quite boring. The professor has good intentions and is probably well-respected in his field, but I don’t really care about many female dishwashers from the Netherlands there were working in restaurants in Brussels in 1840. I’m sorry. A glimmer of hope in the 6 hours of lecture we have endured so far was the theme of food identity and if it’s possible to have dishes that are representative of a country (in his case, Belgium) or even a region (Europe). Now, this being an international university and all (even though I would say the breakdown is mostly Italians, Americans and “other”), this question comes up quite often. At the ever-popular “Street Food Sessions” held at the Gastronomic Society, students from India, China, Argentina and Mexico have had …

A One Year Check-In

A wonderful selection of enlightening texts on meat and German food history at a deli in Berlin that unfortunately I do not remember the name of! There’s hope for me yet, guys. If Taylor of Good Food Jobs says there is, then there is. Please read this article. It will explain a lot about where I am and what I’ve been doing in this town with a lot of 80 year old people and veal sausage. You (really, I mean I) could look at what I’ve done or not done in the last year since graduating with a degree in International and Global Studies and raise an eyebrow (or two). After deciding that a life in the State Department just wasn’t for me (this revelation came a few years ago, but still I found transitions to democracies in countries like Argentina and Chile strangely fascinating), I landed an Outreach & Communications internship at Good Food Awards–appropriately enough through Good Food Jobs. Side note: I am all over that website. It is such a wonderful resource for getting a …

June 2015: Part One

Well, maybe this isn’t your idea of summer beach reads, but this selection very much reflects some of my current interests: writing, responsible meat consumption and the curious country that is Italy. Four years at a liberal arts college trained me to be a (very) speedy reader. While I no longer settle down with a big mug of coffee (fat chance finding one in Italy) to accompany 150 PDF pages about American foreign policy during the Cold War, I can cruise through a Kindle book (however many pages that actually is in the real world) in a few hours. My staycation so far has given me the opportunity to polish off four (yes, seriously) books. Here are some thoughts on what I’ve been reading as of late, in no particular order other than how I managed to sandwich the screenshot images together. Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott A stream-of-consciousness, hilarious, but also very sincere book about writing and life that has been sitting on my nightstand for a few months in the hope that I would pick it up rather than reading …

Thoughts on Tech

“The Future of Food” at EXPO Milano 2015. If you missed my scathing review, look here. Full disclosure: I grew up in Silicon Valley, a half hour drive away in an ECO-engine-equipped mid-sized SUV from the HQs of Facebook, Pinterest, Tesla… you name it. I have slender Apple products. I just upgraded to Gmail Inbox to keep all of my emails streamlined. I’m frustrated when WiFi connections are bad. I love reading blogs like Food + Tech Connect and Fast Company. But the more I see gadgets and apps that are supposedly going to save the world (especially our food system), the more I wonder, shouldn’t we really be thinking about analog solutions too? Let’s revisit the picture at the top of this post. When I saw the title of this exhibit hall, I was intrigued as to what would lie inside. Basically it’s a grocery store, equipped with energy-draining fluorescent lights and waist-level refrigerated drawers. The concept is to be able to select a product and view its carbon footprint, origin and nutritional information (which you can already read on the …