Culinary no-no #764

THERE ARE THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF FOOD BLOGS, BUT ONLY ONE CULINARY NO-NO!


You probably know what I’m about to tell you, but I’m doing it anyway because every story has to start somehow.

The Super Bowl matchup is set, with the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs set to battle in Glendale, Arizona on Sunday, February 12.

Super Bowl 57 or Super Bowl LVII will be held at the State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, at 6:30PM ET. State Farm Stadium is home to the Arizona Cardinals and has hosted the NFL’s championship game twice already – in 2008 and 2015.

The Chiefs are in the Super Bowl for the third time in four years, as head coach Andy Reid and superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes bid for their second Lombardi trophy together.

The Eagles, meanwhile, will play in the Super Bowl for the fourth time in the team’s history and the first time since 2018, where they beat the Patriots.

What about the food?

The good news

According to WPVI-TV in Philadelphia, your party for Super Bowl LVII could cost you less than last year because while at-home food prices overall are up 11.8 percent, some party staples are down.

Supply for chicken is coming back to normal. Avocado prices have plummeted more than 27 percent. so score one for guacamole! Chicken prices are down 22 percent, a pound of party wings dropping from about $3.55 per pound last year to $2.19 per pound this year.

USA TODAY reports while hamburger prices are slightly elevated from last year, they have fallen below their peak in July. Frying up some bacon to top those burgers will cost less this year. Sirloin steak prices have also dropped almost $1 per pound since last December. 

But you will get sacked when it comes to other items.

The bad news

Again, from WPVI-TV: hog dogs and potato skins.

Dogs have spiked 18 percent, while potato prices are up nearly 22 percent.

Prices on potato chips have risen about 22 percent. Be ready to pay about $6.28 for a 16-ounce bag.

Chocolate chip cookies are also up about 22 percent year to year.

Buying beverages will have an effect on your budget. Soda is up 25 percent from last year and beer is up 11 percent.

The TV station suggests making your Super Bowl Party BYOB. The Fischers would never do that, even though USA TODAY reports wine is up 4 percent, while spirits are up 2 percent.

Food safety

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has plenty of advice.

The biggest Super Bowl party boo-boo

On Thursday the Frito-Lay Super Bowl Snack Index 2023 was released. This survey was conducted between January 12th and January 17th, 2023, among a national sample of 2,000 nationally representative US adults ages 18+. 

Half of the country believes running out of snacks is worse than their team losing the Super Bowl. Fansided.com recommends buying two bags of snacks as opposed to just one to avoid embarassment.

Want more Super Bowl food mistakes?

From a Culinary no-no posted in 2014:

Pope Francis waves to faithful from his pope-mobile as he arrives for his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

I’ve always wanted to somehow incorporate the Pope into a Culinary no-no. Granted, this will be somewhat of a stretch, but here goes.

Did you hear what the Pontiff had to say in a statement last week?

“The Internet…This is something truly good, a gift from God.”

No, Pope Francis wasn’t talking about cuisine. His commendation for the Internet was its ability to create encounters for people and bring them into solidarity.

He’s right, however, in a general sense. The World Wide Web provides vast information and enjoyment, answers to all kinds of questions. And that includes countless ideas on what and what not to do on the biggest party day of the year. 


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Needless to say, that would be your Super Bowl Sunday. 





Consult the Internet as I did and you can easily be bombarded with recipes and advice on the perfect or ultimate Super Bowl party fare. Some say do this while others say don’t do that. Let’s examine some ideas I found followed by my thoughts in bold.

We used to think that Super Bowl Sunday was a day that had no rules — an all-out food free-for-all. It’s a day to celebrate excess, dip chicken wings into dip, make sandwiches out of pizza, order subs longer than your body and wash it all down with beer. But it turns out there are a few things not to bring/serve.
Of course!

Chips are a requirement. Kale is exactly the opposite.
Keep kale out.

Peanuts, pretzels, and chips are practically mandatory on game day.
Bingo.

Serve a Variety of Salsa. One person’s “Mild” is another’s “Holy Crap That’s Hot!”
Great advice.  Chili is another wildly popular Super Bowl dish. But how to prepare? How about a mild version with a few bottles of various hot sauces on the side for guests to choose.

Tiny, fancy foods are for other parties. This party is for big, messy, overblown foods. Smoked salmon toasts need not apply.
Again, I concur. I’ve never been to a Super Bowl party yet where hot hors d’oeuvres were passed around by a woman in black and white uniform. But if I ever would attend such an affair, I’d want her to find me, often.

A Super Bowl party is an occasion for beer. Whiskey. Rum and Coke, if you must. Gin and tonic if it’s absolutely necessary. Mojitos? GET OUT OF HERE.
The writer of the above failed to mention an old fashioned. Wonder what reaction that would bring.  Personally, I think a nicely stocked bar full of many cocktail options is a nice option.

Fake meat. Look, be a vegetarian, but this is the one day you can’t make the rest of us eat this stuff.
Can I hear an AMEN!

Mimosas.Have we not made it clear that this is a beer day? In fact, no wine.
Wine and all its popularity is a must, reds and whites.

Beer may be synonymous with football (we blame the beer ads that play during every commercial break), but it isn’t everyone’s first choice. Make orange-ginger margaritas or passion fruit mojitos by the pitcher and be sure to have a few bottles of red wine on hand.
See what I’m talkin’ about.

Offset the comfort foods with a veggie platter. You’ll be surprised how many hands reach for carrot and celery sticks.
With all the fussin’ over the main items, this can easily be forgotten. Don’t.

When the news hit the blogs that 1.77 million pounds of Velveeta cheese was recalled — not because it was bad, but because the packaging failed to mention that the product contained soy, putting everyone with a soy allergy at risk — the “hot take” that all of the bloggers reporting the story mentioned was the fact that everyone’s Super Bowl parties were going to be ruined. There was a big “cheese shortage” in America now, after all. “How can you throw a legitimate party without having access to the Velveeta cheesy goodness?” was the popular angle. An angle which, frankly, doesn’t make any sense: A great Super Bowl party is not the one with the ubiquitous globular rubbery processed clumpy cheese block.
Two thumbs up.

Veggies don’t go over too well at Super Bowl parties unless they’re (a) deep-fried; (b) covered in ranch dressing; (c) dunked in melted cheese; or (d) all of the above. So, make a point to reserve at least half of your plate for some greens. Not only will you fail to get the post-game lethargy from the mid-game carb-loading, you’ll also get a nice feeling of superiority.
50% of my plate for veggies? Are you crazy?

There’s a fine line between festive and tacky. Steer clear of football-shaped cakes, streamers in the team colors, and turning the table into a miniature football field.
Wrong! Isn’t that all part of the frenzy?

Get some … flags, helmets, bobble headed dolls, jerseys, footballs. Break out that silly sombrero chip and dip bowl, paper napkins in team colors. However you want to focus your decoration, make it fun, go crazy and make it football.
Now that’s a party atmosphere!

The list of possibilities is endless if you click on that gift from God. But one expert I looked into doesn’t prepare of the above suggestions.


If someone wants to host a Super Bowl party what would you, Chef Puck, recommend they serve?

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“I would make a buffet table — a great meatloaf, slice it and have a mushroom sauce with it. Mac and cheese, which is really easy to do, a romaine salad, maybe some roasted vegetables. If you have the money it’s easy to make roasted pork or beef rack, which you can slice. Also mashed potatoes are always easy to do.”
Wolfgang Puck who has catered for the Oscar and Grammy parties.

Plenty of Culinary no-nos, for sure, but they are far outnumbered by the delicious ways to plan and pull off a terrific Super Bowl party.

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ICYMI, Culinary no-no #763: Mortadella

Culinary no-no #763

THERE ARE THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF FOOD BLOGS, BUT ONLY ONE CULINARY NO-NO!

Our family is pondering taking a Walt Disney World vacation later this year. Yes we know all about ‘woke’ Disney. We read the papers. But we’ve never been exposed to any crap and have always had a great time down there. So Mouse House here we come.

A definite stop on our itinerary will be Disney Springs, a massive dining, shopping and entertainment destination on Disney property that boasts an array of amazing restaurants. One of them is Wine Bar George that features more than 140 wines from around the world, all of which are available by the ounce, glass, or bottle.

On the menu: The Big Board, a chef’s selection of six artisanal cheeses and five crafter meats with accompaniments. Serves two or more, $61.

No culinary no-no there per se.

However, may I suggest that I don’t see any mortadella on that board.

Morta-what?

Mortadella is an emulsified Italian sausage with origins in Bologna, Italy. It’s composed of cured pork with least 15% pork fat cubes, whole or chopped pistachios, and spiced with black pepper and myrtle berries. The extra fat content gives mortadella its signature white “polka dot” look.

Mortadella could very well be the Rodney Dangerfield of cold cuts, but that might be changing.

According to the LA Times:

Slices of mortadella “are popping up on sandwiches, on charcuterie plates in Los Angeles, but it’s hard to view any food item depicted in ancient Roman carvings as a flash in the pan. The Italian deli meat that traces its roots to Bologna and as far back as the Etruscans isn’t new, but of late it’s been gaining the kind of star power that salami and prosciutto have hogged for too long.”

More from the newspaper:

In 1998, it received its own Protected Geographical Indication — meaning its ingredients and methods must adhere to a strict set of criteria to be considered authentically regional. L.A. chefs and diners have taken note of the appeal of mortadella.

To Felix and Mother Wolf chef Evan Funke, mortadella’s time was long overdue. “I f—ing love mortadella,” he says. “I think it’s great that L.A. is having a moment, but Mortadella is the moment, always has been. I think it’s one of the most underrated salumi to come out of anywhere in the world; it’s underutilized, underappreciated, super versatile, and I think it’s the best, so I love that it’s getting a little bit of traction.”

I just polished off some mortadella from our nearby Sendik’s. Very tasty, but Funke would not have approved.

Once, while training with Alessandra Spisni at the School of Sfoglia Bolognese Traditional Cuisine, Funke saw her vendor send mortadella studded with pistachios; the chef-instructor immediately called upon all the saints in heaven and cursed her vendor. She was so mad, Funke says, she immediately sent it back and said, “This is not mortadella, it has pistachios in it. That’s Sicilian.”

I’m not fussy. I put mortadella on a Kaiser roll with some American Cheese and mustard knowing full well an Italian might spit in my face.

So where’s the no-no this week? Let’s return to the LA Times:

Cocktail bar Thunderbolt even recently experimented with crafting a cocktail employing the deli meat, creating an old-fashioned that featured mortadella-washed bourbon (4th from the bottom).

According to Thunderbolt’s website the cocktail is no longer on the menu. Probably wise.

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ICYMI: Culinary no-no #762, Costco




Culinary no-no #762

THERE ARE THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF FOOD BLOGS, BUT ONLY ONE CULINARY NO-NO!

We don’t shop at Costco.

I don’t shop at Costco because my wife Jennifer does 99.37% of the shopping.

Jennifer doesn’t shop at Costco because the nearest store is about seven miles away. Why go to Costco when Sendik’s and Pick ‘n’ Save are both mere minutes away?

IF we did shop at Costco’s for sure we’d buy their rotisserie chicken.


From social media:

Costco’s rotisserie chickens are a phenomenon. Sold under the franchise’s brand name, Kirkland Signature, the whole chickens are super-tasty, super-popular, and super-cheap. At just $5, in fact, they can be less expensive than a whole uncooked bird. 

Costco consistently ranks the highest in a long line of rotisserie chicken taste tests. Taste of Home ranked Costco’s “super juicy and flavorful” rotisserie chicken tops, while Costco also won top honors from Eat This, Not That!

I found the chicken at the back of the store. I immediately saw people standing around the shelves waiting for the next batch of birds to hit the shelves. It only took me a few moments to realize that right in front of me was the most competitive rotisserie-bird hand-off I’d ever seen. The Facebook fan page’s photo shows shelves full of of golden-brown chickens waiting to be scooped up. In real life, Costco customers didn’t even give employees a chance to set them down. Almost like clockwork, as soon as an employee put down a chicken, someone would grab it. Some more aggressive shoppers were positioned in front of the display, ready to grab the bird as soon as it came off the spit.

 At just $4.99 per bird, it’s hard to imagine finding a tastier and easier meal than this.

Not so fast!


David Chang is an American restaurateur, author, podcaster, television personality, and the founder of the Momofuku restaurant group.

Chang recently caused quite a ruckus when he publicly burnt Costco’s prized poultry.

“I think the Costco chicken is the worst rotisserie chicken,” Change said on his latest podcast program.

“They’re not good. They’re not seasoned.

“There’s something about all the nitrates and all the crap they pump into the chicken that makes the chicken breast even more disgusting the next day when it’s cold. It’s gotta taste good cold.”

Chang made fun of the crowds of shoppers waiting for hot chickens to be stocked under the heat lamps. 

“It’s like a Gold Rush jailbreak,” he said. “It’s like they’re doing commodity trading in Chicago. I was like, ‘What is going on?'”

But David…they’re so…cheap.

“Eighty billion chickens are processed in the world. I think every year 40 billion of them are because of Costco. I mean, it is $4.99 or $5.99. If I were a weightlifter on Atkins, I would just be buying that nonstop. I bought a brisket – $49. The prime brisket. It should be $149. If you bought that at Whole Foods, it would be 150 bucks.”

Costco, as you might expect, had its defenders.

“(David Chang) Please tell us more about your $15 appetizer that’s just grilled shisto [sic] peppers. Please don’t hate on Costco chicken. Feeds many families and it’s still good the day after,” user @Kenneth38063999 tweeted.

“The Costco Rotisserie is among the better versions out there – extremely tasty and cooked healthily!” @AlexRichRevue added.

And why are they so doggone cheap?

But throughout the year of inflation — and for 11 years before that — one poultry product has remained at the same bargain-basement price: Costco’s $4.99 rotisserie chicken.

The roasted birds have been hailed as an economic lifeline — most rotisserie chickens will run you $6 to $10 — but the chicken isn’t cheap because of corporate benevolence. In 2015, Costco it was able to maintain its low price because the company considers the rotisserie chicken a “loss leader.” That means its purpose isn’t to bring in profits, but rather to bring in customers to buy more of the wholesale retailer’s bulk toilet paper and five-packs of deodorant. And it works. The item is so popular among Costco members that it has its own Facebook fan page with 19,000 followers.

But there’s another reason the birds have remained so affordable. In 2019, Costco made an unprecedented move to source its chicken at even lower margins: It set up its own feed mill, hatchery, and slaughter plant in Nebraska, and contracted nearby farmers to raise over 100 million birds each year, all under the name Lincoln Premium Poultry (LPP). It could be saving the company up to 35 cents per bird.

—Vox, July 22, 2022

“Very few people simply buy the chicken and leave,” said John Longo, a professor at Rutgers Business School. They probably shop for other items that provide higher profit margins.”

Adjusted for inflation, Costco should be selling its chickens for $8.31. But over the past 20+ years, the retailer has only raised its prices one time — a brief, $1 increase during the 2008 financial crisis. In 2009, it knocked its rotisserie chickens back down to $4.99, where they’ve stayed ever since.

Despite higher labor costs, higher freight costs, higher transportation demand, along with the container shortage and port delays, Costco has indicated it will continue to refuse to increase the price of their rotisserie chickens.

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ICYMI, Culinary no-no #761: Wine

Culinary no-no #761

THERE ARE THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF FOOD BLOGS, BUT ONLY ONE CULINARY NO-NO!

True confession: During the recent Christmas season I may have committed a Culinary no-no.

Worse yet, it may actaully have been not one but 24.

As usual, the no-no is coming. But first, some background from a previous blog:

My lovely wife Jennifer is not a wine snob. But she loves wine.


I’ve blogged that Jennifer is a definite connoisseur, oenophile, slave to the grape.

She even owns this Christine Alexander top:


Jennifer’s female friends also have a unanimous admiration for wine. They get absolutely gleeful on Facebook when they share memes and what not about their favorite adult beverage.

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Jennifer is no highbrow.  However, she can just by tasting determine which bottle purchased at Sendik’s was $10.99 as opposed to the one at $21.99.

—Culinary no-no #732, April 10, 2022

Knowing full well the above information and that, as I’ve been told, “happy wife, happy life,” this past November I snuck off to one of my all-time favorite shopping destinations. Aldi. LOL.

And I had to get there ASAP. Aldi first pioneered the Wine Advent calendar concept back in 2018.  The product sells out almost immediately every year. Others have caught on. Numerous other retailers also sell their own versions.

Let’s see what Aldi offered in 2022:

The Holiday Magic Wine Advent Calendar included twenty-four 187-mL plastic bottles inside, including 1 bottle each of:

  • “Candlelit Memories” Red Blend, 13%, France
  • “Celebrate Friends” Merlot, 14%, Republic of North Macedonia
  • “Cozy Fire” Chardonnay, 13.5%, Spain
  • “Dancing Lights” 70% Trebbiano/30% Chardonnay, 12%, Italy
  • “Dreams of Summer” Rosé, 11%, Italy
  • “Frigid Frolic” Shiraz, 12%, South Africa
  • “Handle With Care” Cabernet Sauvignon, 13.5%, Bulgaria
  • “Handmade Ornaments” Macabeo, 12.5%, Spain
  • “Hibernate With Me” Red Blend, 12.5%, Italy
  • “Holly Jolly” Sweet Red, 12%, Italy
  • “It’s Cold Outside” Merlot, 12%, Italy
  • “Lovely Branches” Merlot, 13.5%, Bulgaria
  • “Peaceful Forest” Cabernet Sauvignon, 13%, Italy
  • “Singing Snowman” White Blend, 12.5%, Hungary
  • “Snow Fun” Vino Rosato, 12%, Italy
  • “Snowy Slopes” Red Blend, 12%, Spain
  • “Snowy Song” Riesling, 12%, Republic of North Macedonia
  • “Special Delivery” Red Wine, 13%, France
  • “Through The Forest” Pinot Gris, 13%, Hungary
  • “Warm Friend” Red Blend, 12%, France
  • “Winter Adventure” White Blend, 12.5%, Portugal
  • “Winter Getaway” Red Blend, 12.5%, Portugal
  • “Winter Vacation” Chenin Blanc, 12%, South Africa
  • “Wintertime Wonders” Grenache, 14.5%, Spain


Jennifer received an early Christmas present, 24 of them, and was very, very pleased. As far as I know, she rather enjoyed all two dozen of those tiny servings.

Being the magnamious hubby that I am Jennifer also opened, not a calendar per se, but a box of assortments from QVC produced by Vintage Wine Estates, a family of wineries and wines located throughout Napa, Sonoma, California’s Central Coast, Oregon and Washington State.

About those calendars, Lettie Teague would have turned up her nose. She may have said asked how could you do this to that wonderful wife of yours Kevin?

Teague is the Wine Columnist for the Wall Street Journalist. And she’s no fan of what Aldi and others put on their shelves every Christmas.

“All the bad wine in the world seems to have been packaged into tiny bottles destined for these grown-up friendly takes on the traditional dispensary of toys and treats, one for each of the24 days leading up to the Christmas holiday,” writes Teague.

“Like so many wine lovers I was seduced by the cute packaging, the little door to be opened each night to reveal a different red, white, or sparkler, only to be disappointed each time.

“I’ve had unspeakable red wines, bitter white wines and some truly terrible sparkling wines packaged in a festive disguise.”


Teague concludes she hopes wine calendars disappear in 2023. Her dogs did get a pet food calendar, the only one she’ll purchase later this year.

That’s her choice. But I can assure you on this topic, Teague’s review means nothing in the Fischer household.

CULINARY NO-NO BONUSES

From CBS News…


School Nutrition Directors Report Devastating Effect of Inflation, Regulation, Supply Chain Kinks, Staff Shortages

ICYMI last week, Culinary no-no #760



Culinary no-no #760

In the past I’ve written about the large number of bozos who are complete jerks to their servers in restaurants. I have no patience for those idiots.

If they behave that way away from home imagine what they must be like at say someone else’s dinner party.

Etiquette experts and therapists recently weighed in on what dinner hosts can do when guests act inappropriately:

The guest who makes rude or inappropriate comments.

Creating a warm and convivial environment for guests is part of your job as the host, and if one person is threatening that, it’s impolite not to address the situation.

Take this tip on discretion from Jodi R.R. Smith, an etiquette consultant and author of three books on modern manners based in Boston: “If a host is concerned about confronting a rude guest, the host can do so without embarrassing the guest by asking the guest to ‘help in the kitchen’ and having the conversation away from prying ears.”

It’s typically not a surprise when your disruptive guest (we all have one in our family or friend group) begins their soliloquy on “women these days” or all their other inappropriate opinions, so head off these remarks before your event.

“Take time before your event to talk to them about your expectations of their behavior during the event,” Juulia Karlstedt, an accredited counselor specializing in anxiety management in Edinburgh, suggested. “Be clear about the consequences of engaging in inappropriate or combative conversation. And if they do engage in the behavior during the event, follow through on those consequences. Pull the guest aside, keep your tone neutral, and hold the boundary you set.”

In the moment, try changing the topic of conversation to diffuse any conflict, ignore the remark and choose a more neutral topic. Smith suggested this script: “Let’s leave that for the politicians to argue.”

To minimize the chance of awkward conversations or one rude person dominating, hosts should prepare conversation starters or parlor games to keep the night fun and festive, Smith suggested.

“As a guest, you should arrive at the event with some interesting tidbits and stories to share,” Smith said. “When someone asks ‘What’s new?’ you should have an answer at the ready. ‘Oh nothing’ or ‘same old’ is a conversation killer.”

The guest who won’t leave.


″Growing up, my best friend’s grandfather would go upstairs to put on his pajamas, slippers and robe. Then he would call down from the top of the stairs, ‘Thank you all for coming! It is time for me to sleep and you to go home.’ This worked well for a lovely and avuncular gentleman, but won’t work for most hosts,” Smith said.

If changing into your jammies is a step too far for you, winding-down activities like tidying up, stopping the music and turning on the lights is a great way to signal to guests that the party has ended. Guests who don’t (or won’t) take the hint may need a more direct approach.

Try this script from Tina Alvarado, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Seattle: “Gosh, it’s so late, I’m getting sleepy. I’m going to have to call it a night,” or “I’ve had such a great time with you tonight, but it’s time for you all to head home. I’m really looking forward to the next time we do this. Let me walk you out.”When sending out invites, consider letting guests know your event’s start and end time to prevent misunderstandings.

The Huffington Post, December 19, 2022

So the host has some options. What responsibilities do guests have, especially when it comes to the lost art of manners?

Sandy Lindsey is an award-winning writer and was recently published in The Epoch Times:

Arrive on Time

The first rule of good culinary manners has nothing to do with food. Your hosts have gone through a lot of time and effort to create a memorable, enjoyable meal, but if they have to delay serving it until you decide to show up, it can ruin it for everyone else. You’ll also miss out on mingling with the other guests; once seated for the meal, it’s not always easy to talk to everyone.

Arrive no more than 15 minutes early, and leave only after the meal has been completed; leave no sooner than 15 minutes after the meal is done. Send a written “thank you” note within two days after the event.

Fine Dining 101

If you find yourself confused by the array of utensils at a formal dinner, watch to see what your hosts use. If you’re dining at a restaurant, see what utensils others are using. If in doubt, start with the fork and knife placed at the outside, such as the smaller fork for salads, and work your way in with each successive course.

Pass food to the right, helping yourself to a small portion—youcan have seconds after everyone has been served—and never reach across the table to load food onto your plate or grab a dinner roll, even if it’s “right there.”

Napkin Knowledge

When you take a seat, place your napkin in your lap, folded in half with the fold against your waist. Resist the urge to unfurl it with a dramatic snap of the wrist. Use it by delicately pressing against your lips to address any errant food bits or sloshed drinks.

If you must leave the table for any reason, place the napkin on your chair or to the left of the plate to let the waiter know you’ll be returning. At the completion of all courses of the meal, when the hosts place their napkins on the table, do the same.

Continental or American?

We’re not talking about cars, but rather two styles of using forks and knives. Neither is wrong; it’s simply good manners to follow the lead of your hosts. The American style has you using a knife to cut the food with your right hand, then taking the fork in your right hand to eat. In Continental style, cutting is done with the right hand, and the fork remains in your left hand to hold it and to then eat it.

Watch your hosts to see if they hold their fork with the tines “up” as they eat or if they hold it with the tines curved down to hold and eat their food.

Be Helpful and Fun

When dining at the host’s home, offer to assist with any last-minute tasks such as arranging chairs or setting the table. Prior to eating, while everyone is mingling, step in and help if a drink or a plate of hors d’oeuvres is spilled.

Dinner conversations don’t have to be stilted and dry; while ribald humor is never appropriate, people have more fun when they’re laughing, so feel free to put your wit on display. Note that this isn’t the same as monopolizing the conversation—get the conversation going, then sit back and enjoy it. After the meal, as the guests are leaving, offer to help clear the table, wash dishes, or take out the trash.

International Eats

Now that you’ve mastered the many forks on the table; here’s some additional trivia if you’re going to travel to other countries.

Thai Technique

In Thailand, you never put a fork in your mouth. A fork is used to manipulate food onto the spoon, which is your primary eating utensil, and must be held in the right hand. No utensils are used for sticky rice, which is a hand food that is balled up before eating.

Mexican Manners

Step away from the cutlery in Mexico when eating tacos. Tacos are a “hands on”—two hands for a firm grip—meal. If you’re concerned about drips, that’s what the napkin in your lap is for. To use a fork and knife, unless the taco has completely come apart, is pretentious.

Chopstick Concerns

Resist the temptation to stick your chopsticks upright in your rice. When not in use, lay them parallel to the table edge. Upright chopsticks in a bowl of rice is a funeral custom in most Asian cultures—in Shinto and Buddhist cultures specifically.


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ICYMI, Culinary no-no: The most popular of 2022

Culinary no-no #759

THERE ARE THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF FOOD BLOGS, BUT ONLY ONE CULINARY NO-NO!


They all have something in common.

Cranberry Brie Bites

Stuffed Mushrooms

Pigs in a Blanket

Ham & Cheese Sliders

Deviled Eggs

Cocktail Meatballs

Town and Country writes they are just some of the appetizers that will make for the best holiday dinner ever.

So what’s wrong with them?

You’ve got to ask noted  English food writer, journalist, and television cook Nigella Lawson.

The 62-year old told podcats hosts Emily Maitlis and Jon Sopel this week it is “madness” to serve starters with Christmas dinner.

Why?

They ruin what a feast the main meal is. Lawson believes eating too much during Christmas get-together can leave people a “bloated wreck” rather than happily full and warm.

“I don’t know why people do starters for Christmas lunch. I never have – that seems a madness. But I also think there is a way in which for so many people it does become a sort of obscene overindulgence. So people are not eating because it is pleasurable; they’re eating because, somehow, people feel it is [pleasurable] when they should be eating non-stop.”

Another Lawson Christmas no-no: buying presents for people who don’t need them.

“You can give them a card to say I’ve donated in your name in lieu of a Christmas present, so you can feel like you’re doing something,” she suggested. “You want to celebrate being with your family in ways we haven’t been able to, but you don’t want it to tip into the obscene.”

As for me, I say eat hearty. It’s Christmas. Man does not live by prime rib alone. Please pass the shrimp cocktail.

CULINARY BONUSES

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ICYMI, Culinary no-no #758

Culinary no-no #758

THERE ARE THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF FOOD BLOGS, BUT ONLY ONE CULINARY NO-NO!

Recently the Fischer family attended First Stage Milwaukee’s production of “Rudolf.” After the evening show we headed for a bite to eat and ended up at Franklin’s Point After Pub & Grill. The hour was roughly 9:15 when we were seated.

I had perfectly prepared walleye pike paired with onion rings.

Jennifer dined on pot roast sliders (she’d eat pot roast on a Volkswagen bumper).

Kyla enjoyed half of her monstrous burger.

Service was great.

OK Kev. So what’s no-no? Nothing at all with the Point After.

Try the time of day.

We normally don’t eat that late and don’t make a habit of it. One health expert suggests that’s a very good idea.

Dr. Joseph Mercola is the founder of Mercola.com. An osteopathic physician, best-selling author, and recipient of multiple awards in the field of natural health. He writes:

Are Late Dinners Wrecking Your Health

(Iryna Inshyna/Shutterstock)

(Photo:Iryna Inshyna/Shutterstock)

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Fasting is an ancient health intervention embraced for its rejuvenating effects. In more recent years, researchers have demonstrated that less challenging forms of fasting, such as time-restricted eating (TRE), are just as effective as longer water fasts, helping your body repair cellular damage, reduce inflammation, improve brain function and much more
  • 90% of people eat across a span of 12 hours a day, and many across even longer timespans, which is a recipe for metabolic disaster. I believe this is part of why more than 93% of Americans are metabolically unfit
  • Most TRE regimens call for eating during four to eight hours of the day and fasting for the remaining 16 to 20 hours. The sweet-spot is probably six hours of eating and 18 hours of fasting
  • An often-overlooked caveat with regard to this timing is that you want to eat your last meal at least three hours or more before bedtime. This is important, as it helps protect your mitochondrial function
  • Cellular repair begins approximately six hours after you’ve ingested your last calories, so if you’re eating across 15 hours a day, your body only has three hours in which to repair itself. If you eat for only eight hours and fast the remaining 16, your body will have a solid 10 hours in repair mode

Fasting is an ancient health intervention embraced through the ages for its rejuvenating effects. In more recent years, researchers have demonstrated that less challenging forms of fasting, such as intermittent fasting and time-restricted eating (TRE), are just as effective as longer water fasts, helping your body repair cellular damage, reduce inflammation, improve brain function and much more.

According to Satchin Panda, Ph.D., who has conducted important research into the impact of meal timing on circadian rhythm, 90% of people eat across a span of 12 hours a day, and many across even longer timespans, which is a recipe for metabolic disaster.

I believe this is part of why more than 93% of Americans are metabolically unfit. In July 2022, the Journal of the American College of Cardiology posted an update on the metabolic fitness or flexibility of the American population. In 2016, approximately 88% were metabolically unfit. As of 2018, it’s over 93%.

Metabolic fitness includes things like blood glucose and blood sugar, blood pressure and weight. This means 14 out of 15 Americans could benefit from improving their metabolic health, and TRE is one of the easiest yet most powerful interventions for reducing insulin resistance, restoring metabolic flexibility and losing excess body fat.

How TRE Can Improve Your Health

For most people, TRE is the easiest to implement as you get to eat every day, albeit only within a certain window of time. Most TRE regimens call for eating during four to eight hours of the day and fasting for the remaining 16 to 20 hours. The sweet-spot is probably six hours of eating and 18 hours of fasting.

As explained by Steve Hendricks, author of “The Oldest Cure in the World: Adventures in the Art and Science of Fasting” in a Salon article:

“As researchers explored the mechanisms, they found that longer fasting periods gave the body time to make more repairs. Our bodies are constantly repairing and replacing damaged cellular parts — patching up faulty DNA, recycling worn-out organelles — which, if not taken care of, can result in disease.

But these repairs usually occur at a very low rate because the body is so busy doing all the other tasks that make up our lives, including the immense work of digesting our meals, processing the nutrients from those meals, and putting the nutrients to work in cells all over the body.

But when we stop eating for long enough, the body takes advantage of the break from all that heavy work, and our cells use the downtime to supercharge their repairs.”

Why Late-Night Dinners Sabotage Your Health

An often-overlooked caveat with regard to this timing is that you want to eat your last meal at least three hours or more before bedtime. This is important, as it helps protect your mitochondrial function, which in turn helps protect against any number of chronic ailments and diseases. But leaving only a two-hour gap is still on the riskier side. As explained by Hendricks:

“It’s a lot of work for the body to switch from its daytime mode of digesting and processing nutrients to its nighttime mode of making repairs, so the body doesn’t start those repairs in earnest until it’s absolutely sure we’re done eating.

About 6 hours after we eat or drink our last calories the repairs start, and they ratchet up slowly, hour by hour, until they reach a kind of repair overdrive after another 6 hours, which is to say 12 hours after our last consumed calorie.”

This means that if you’re eating across 15 hours a day, you’re only fasting nine hours at night, and since cellular repair doesn’t kick in for six hours, your body only has three hours in which to repair itself. Is it any wonder then that degeneration sets in?

“If you eat for only eight hours and fast the remaining 16, your body will have a solid 10 hours in repair mode. With that in mind, set your eating window early in the day so that your last meal is around 3 p.m.”

If you eat for only eight hours and fast the remaining 16, your body will have a solid 10 hours in repair mode. With that in mind, Hendricks recommends setting your eating window early in the day so that your last meal is around 3 p.m. Many who recommend TRE typically recommend simply skipping either skip breakfast or dinner, but skipping dinner would be the better choice.

Benefits of Making Dinner Your Smallest, Lightest Meal

Research also suggests making your earliest meal the largest and subsequent ones increasingly smaller allows your body to work better. As suggested by Hendricks, “Follow the adage ‘Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.’” The reason for this is because your circadian rhythm is hardwired to process food most efficiently early in the day. Hendricks explains:

“Take our body’s management of the hormone insulin, for example. Insulin’s job is to move glucose (the sugar from our meals) out of our arteries and into the cells that use the glucose for fuel. Cued to a circadian rhythm, our pancreases make a lot of insulin in the morning and early afternoon, but production wanes by mid-afternoon.

When we eat in the late afternoon or at night, there’s less insulin in our bloodstream, so glucose lingers longer in our arteries, where it dings up the arterial walls. Over time, the arteries can harden, putting us at risk of heart attacks, strokes, dementia, and other calamities.

This rhythm of insulin is so potent that you can feed prediabetics the same meal at 7 a.m. and again at 7 p.m., and although their blood sugar will hardly rise after the morning meal, after the evening meal the sugar lingers so long in their blood that some of them will test fully diabetic … Evidently, we just weren’t made to process nutrients late in the day.”

Same Principle Works for Poisons Too

A rather macabre illustration of this came out of a 2012 analysis of 15,000 people in Sri Lanka who had attempted suicide by drinking pesticide. Those who drank the poison in the evening died half as frequently as those who poisoned themselves in the morning.

The mechanism that helps explain this discrepancy is that the digestive tract absorbs poisons more rapidly and distributes them throughout the body more efficiently when consumed in the morning.

The same principle applies to chemotherapy. As noted by Hendricks, “Against some cancers, chemo can be up to five times less toxic to the patient and twice as effective against the cancer when delivered at the right hour.”

Early Supper May Aid Weight Loss Efforts

As reported by MedicalXpress, recent research has confirmed that eating earlier in the day provides added benefits, over and beyond the practice of only eating within a limited time window.

One study, published in the October 4, 2022, issue of Cell Metabolism, showed that even when everything else is equal, simply shifting the eating window by four hours, so that volunteers ate their meals later in the day (eating between 1 p.m. and 9 p.m. rather than 9 a.m. through 5 p.m.), doubled the likelihood of being hungry and increased fat accumulation. As noted in the abstract:

“In this randomized crossover trial that rigorously controlled for nutrient intake, physical activity and sleep, Vujovic et. al. found that late eating increased hunger, modified appetite-regulating hormones, decreased daytime energy expenditure, and altered adipose gene expression consistent with increased adipogenesis/decreased lipolysis. Together, these findings may explain the increased obesity risk in late eaters.”

The Many Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

The full list of benefits associated with TRE and other intermittent fasting regimens is a long one. Without attempting to create an exhaustive list, here’s a sampling of what intermittent fasting can do for your health:

  • Promote insulin sensitivity, which is crucial for your health. Insulin resistance or poor insulin sensitivity contributes to nearly all chronic diseases
  • Promote leptin sensitivity and normalize ghrelin levels, also known as the “hunger hormone,” resulting in lowered hunger
  • Improve blood sugar management by increasing insulin-mediated glucose uptake rate
  • Lower triglyceride levels
  • Increase human growth hormone production (HGH) — Commonly referred to as “the fitness hormone,” HGH plays an important role in maintaining health, fitness and longevity, including promotion of muscle growth, and boosting fat loss by revving up your metabolism. Research shows fasting can raise HGH by as much as 1,300% in women and 2,000% in men.

The fact that it helps build muscle while simultaneously promoting fat loss explains why HGH helps you lose weight without sacrificing muscle mass, and why even athletes can benefit from intermittent fasting

  • Suppress inflammation and reduce oxidative damage
  • Upregulate autophagy and mitophagy, natural cleansing processes necessary for optimal cellular renewal and function
  • Boost fat burning and improve metabolic efficiency and body composition, including significant reductions in visceral fat and body weight in obese individuals 
  • Prevent or reverse Type 2 diabetes, as well as slow its progression
  • Improve immune function
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce your risk of heart disease — One study found those who fasted regularly had a 58% lower risk of coronary disease compared to those who never fasted
  • Reproduce some of the cardiovascular benefits associated with physical exercise
  • Boost mitochondrial energy efficiency and biosynthesis
  • Shift stem cells from a dormant state to a state of self-renewal
  • Reduce your risk of cancer
  • Increase longevity — There are a number of mechanisms contributing to this effect. Normalizing insulin sensitivity is a major one, but fasting also inhibits the mTOR pathway, which plays an important part in driving the aging process
  • Regenerate the pancreas and improve pancreatic function
  • Improve cognitive function, thanks to rising ketone levels
  • Protect against neurological diseases such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, thanks to the production of ketone bodies (byproducts of fatty acid breakdown, which are a healthy and preferred fuel for your brain) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF, which activates brain stem cells to convert into new neurons, and triggers numerous other chemicals that promote neural health)
  • Eliminate sugar cravings as your body adapts to burning fat instead of sugar

TRE Is an Ideal Health Strategy for Most But Not All People

Remember, 95% of the US is metabolically inflexible and insulin resistant. For them TRE is an amazingly powerful strategy to regain metabolic flexibility. However, I recently learned from Dr. Ray Peat’s work, that if you are in the 5% of the population that is metabolically flexible and not insulin resistant, then TRE could be counterproductive. I now have extended my eating window to 8 to 10 hours and occasionally 12 hours in the summer.

In closing, a large and growing body of medical research supports the use of intermittent fasting strategies such as TRE. As noted by Hendricks:

“Early time-restricted eating (eTRE), as the practice is known, has been declared safe in study after study, and scientists in the field now recommend nearly all adults eat in a narrowed window, starting an hour or two after waking and ideally closing 6 to 8 hours later, although windows up to 12 hours will deliver health benefits.

For those who wish to eat dinner at the normal time, scientists advise keeping it light and earlyish and stacking most of the day’s calories before mid-afternoon: breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper … Scientists also say adolescents can safely practice a TRE of about 12 hours, but the verdict is still out for younger children …”

CULINARY NO-NO BONUSES

How do you tell your family you don’t like their food?

Ever since a letter in a medical journal identified monosodium glutamate as the source behind unpleasant health effects dubbed “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome,” MSG has been tagged as an unwelcome addition to cooking. However, fans of MSG say there is no proof that it’s a hazard. National Public Radio correspondent Allison Aubrey investigates why MSG’s reputation can still be tough to swallow.

Culinary no-no #757

THERE ARE THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF FOOD BLOGS, BUT ONLY ONE CULINARY NO-NO!

During the 1990’s before our beautiful Kyla was born Jennifer and I visited Orlando theme parks including Universal.

At the time the most popular celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse had his own cooking TV show taped with a studio audience.

Emeril had several restaurants like the one at CityWalk in Universal Orlando.

So on our first trip to Universal Jennifer and I just had to go.

Note midway in the picture below to the far right there’s a staircase in the main dining room. It leads up to another dining area where we were seated.


Getting up those steps was no small feat given Jennifer’s mini-dress and heels.

We had a great time. The atmosphere was top notch, creating quite a buzz. Food and service: excellent.

Regular readers know that more often than not the no-no takes a while to surface. What could possibly be a problem?

The coffee.

What’s the hip phrase these days? No bueno.

Tasted like it was scooped right off the bottom of Lake Michigan. God awful. Not what we expected. And at times Jennifer prefers a good cup of Joe over me. She didn’t care for it.

It’s been about 30 years since and I’ve never had coffee anywhere near as dreadful as Emeril’s. Until now.

Last Sunday after church Jennifer and I needed a quick lunch/brunch stop before I had to be at MSOE to work two basketball games. We chose Fuel Cafe on S.5th Street.

Good service. Good food. But just like Emeril’s the coffee might not even be served to a guy on death row. And this time try twice as horrific as Emeril’s. Spoon stand up straight in the cup horrific.

Fuel Café really shouldn’t but it brags about its coffee. No one can accuse the joint of false advertising. Bitter battery acid.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting you stay away. Just go for tea, beer , wine, or a cocktail and hold the sludge in a cup.

BTW: Emeril no longer has any restaurants in Orlando.

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