Sunday, September 30, 2012

Designer Desserts

As I was reading one of my favorite blogs, I came across this little article. It's talking about Laduree using Lanvin and creating pink bubblegum macaroons!
I completely thought of Kelsey and her little designer desserts. Look how pretty they are!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Miss Representation

Hey Guys,
Here's a photo I saw on Miss Representation's facebook. It reminded me of our discussion in class with Robyn Lawley and Ralph Lauren.
I posted a link to the trailer for the documentary.
(They actually show an old Ralph Lauren photo that's been intensely photo shopped)
It summarizes the main points in about eight minutes.
You should check it out!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Upon Finishing A Cook's Tour

I felt a little strange. The second half of the book didn’t fill me with the urge to travel so much as it made me a little confused. I think Tony Bourdain lost me around Tokyo, or maybe it was England when he begins elaborating on the life of a chef. I had been enthused at first by his bad attitude, his smoking, the drinking and the danger, and in the second half I was more critical of it. How much of his, “nothing to lose” attitude was real or constructed? He was always careful to mention what could go wrong in everr situation. When I watched a few clips of the show on YouTube, I picked Cambodia and Russia, the two that fascinated me most. I don’t think it’s the food so much as the place though. As Bourdain explains though I think that they are intertwined enough.
In the show you can see his mannerisms, as Kelsey Baak mentioned in class, and see how they apply within the book. He is on the little boat in Cambodia cracking jokes about Gilligan’s island while the cameraman shoots up close scary men that invade their boat. I like being able to see this, but I enjoy the book more, because I feel like his adventurous self is balanced out with honesty, if only a little.
It is however interesting to read the book, and then go watch clips of it. I enjoyed seeing what matched up in my head and what didn’t. The tiny fried birds in Cambodia looked exactly like they did in the TV show. I didn’t know whether to be disturbed that I could imagine the tiny crunch of bird bones, or pleased with my imagination.
            But, back to my original point. By the end of the story I had enough of Bourdain’s bad attitude, his hating on vegetarians, his constant notation of ‘whores’ and ‘beautiful women’ throughout the narrative. What I had trouble reconciling with was, isn’t Bourdain as privileged as these vegetarians that eat bland vegetables and sit in their house that he spend a whole chapter complaining about? After all, just because he has seen the plight of the world doesn’t make him any better if he’s just seen it for his benefit.
I am reminded when he pays the boy that has driven him around all night $2 extra, and yet he mocks people that sit in their house and send a few dollars to help the reconstruction of the rain forest. Is this not similar?
            His constant attention to women also leaves me a little confused. I begin thinking things like, “where is Nancy,” and, “why did she not come with him.” Throughout the story she is only mentioned when he needs to call her to remind her of something, at least for the most part. There are exceptions, such as the beginning and the end of the book where he seems genuine about his wife, and to her. Because of this, I end up being conflicted.
            In the end though, there is still something in me that wants to eat a cobra’s heart, even though I am absolutely terrified of snakes. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Reading Response Three

A Cook’s Tour by Anthony Bourdain could most definitely be considered rapid fire of food. I found myself flung across continents into all equally bizarre situations with bizarre and new foods. As each page turned a new scent, or a taste lingered for a moment in front of me before being completely lost. I would consider myself a new food fanatic, but I can’t even imagine savoring something as new as lamb’s testicles. I’m just not that brave. Something I do wish is for the time to savor each section of this book; there is just so much to be said! Furthermore, with each story Bourdain told, a memory of mine is triggered, and I find myself traveling on my own cook’s tour.  There are two that stand out the most to me, one is my own travels, and the other is of my boyfriend, Jordan. I will tell you the least serious first.

            My best friend in the world happened to live in Sydney, Australia. So, when said best friend said, “Hey Kate, I’m going to be only 7,000 miles away in Paris,” I went. My mom, her friend Becky, and I flew into London Heathrow only for the two of them to dump me on the Eurostar with my friend Grace. Long story short, she and I ended up in Paris, alone, trying to find her godmother’s apartment in Montmartre. An Australian trying to speak French is even more horrible than an American. Trust me.
Finally, so tired we felt drunk, we ended up on a stone street somewhere in the 18th in front of her godmother, Christine’s, apartment. Christine was originally from England, but had French down to a science, and she made us speak it. When we went out for dinner she made us do the ordering, wine, cheese, and escargot. She was laughing, because we were going to eat snail for the first time. There is a video somewhere in Australia of this occurrence, and I hope Grace can find it so I can post it on here. She and I were half laughing, half disgusted, chewing on snail that tastes mostly like garlic. That’s about as food and travel brave as I get.

On the other hand, the story of the pig, the lamb, the malaria drugs, and the stars reminds me of my boyfriend’s various “tours” of the Middle East. Jordan did three tours with the Marines, two to Iraq, one to Afghanistan. I was constantly reminded of the colorful stories that Jordan shared with me while reading this book.
One, when Jordan was in Iraq he spent time living with Iraqi soldiers while helping them with construction. Jordan said he witnessed the ceremony of killing a goat. They gave the goat his last drink of water, and then there was blood everywhere, they slit the goat’s throat. He describes it in this way that makes it seem so purposeful, perfect in a way. I’m not even sure I know how to describe it.
Secondly, the malaria drugs that Bourdain was taking were definitely the cause for his crazy dreams. Jordan tells me that in Afghanistan they would save malaria drugs for when they wanted to have ridiculous dreams, on purpose. So, there’s that.
Lastly, Jordan says the only redeeming quality of Iraq is that the night sky (like Bourdain describes in Morocco) he says it is absolutely magnificent in the desert. These are places I wish I could experience, if things were different.

            I don’t know how Bourdain finds himself in some of these situations, but I know that I am envious. I would even let someone film me in order to go these places. Yes, I am aware of the soul selling that he describes would not always be enjoyable. But, to run around Russia, get hammered in Vietnam, or go on a new version of a bar/tapas crawl in San Sebastian would be completely worth the hassle. We should see if we can get some money from the school to go on a similar trip. What do you guys think?


I Want To Eat This Right Now.

Choose Your Own Adventure: Peru

          My choose your own adventure is something linked closely with home for me, or rather for my younger sister, Grace Belew. Grace is a senior at Marshall High School, (the high school I also graduated from) and this past summer she organized and traveled to Peru with The Andean Alliance for Sustainable Development, along with a few of her classmates to help the village of Choquecancha build a greenhouse. Aaron Ebner, a young man from Marshall is the creator of the AASD, which is how Marshall became involved.
The need for greenhouses in the mountains is incredible, because many of the people in the village are suffering from malnutrition, as it is so difficult to grow produce at such elevations in the Andes. I’ve attached a video as well as a link to the Team Peru blog to give some insight into what the project is all about. I recommend typing “food” into the search component on the blog to learn about the sustainable agriculture in the sacred valley.            
According to my sister, her trip to Peru was legendary, and she can’t wait to go back. While they were there they teamed up with graduate students from Monterey Institute of International Studies to work on the project. I am incredibly touched by the photos, (see the Flickr link on the blog, they’re incredible) and my sister’s experience. I hope you will all see this as a different way that food and travel can intersect. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Here's the recipe I mentioned in class. You should try it. Definitely. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Reading Response Two

          I am the girl who had a mother that made banana bread and put notes into her lunch, and because of this background I felt uneasy at times throughout the first part of Bich Minh Nguyen’s, Stealing Buddha’s Dinner. However, due to my past experiences of growing up in primarily white Marshall, MI I felt as if this experience placed me within her story. As the memoir progressed I could see the complexities in the ways Bich was torn between Vietnam and East Grand Rapids. Her struggles growing up appeared colossal compared to the problems of my youth. Although my mother wouldn’t buy me Hollister brand jeans or Victoria Secret Bras like the other girls my age, I was not culture torn. I was not completely an outsider.
I was the girl with banana bread in my lunch. The kind my mother made was the kind that I made again just this last week to remind me of home and to save me from breakfast at Kalamazoo College’s Cafeteria, and because of this memory I have associated with the banana bread I can’t help but feel guilty that Bich feels split between foods. When she thinks of home will be it a complex blend of noodles, beef, and 7Up? Will there be crushed Pringles at the bottom of the spicy Vietnamese food?                               This story makes me think back to my childhood in a different way. When I was five years old I had a friend from Argentina. He and his mother lived in the apartments on the outside of town and the furniture was sparse in their house. At the time I don’t remember if I noted how differently he and I grew up. They spoke Spanish with each other, and I can remember listening wide-eyed as his mother would speak to him.
It is strange to me that the only thing I can remember about my friend is that when I would go over to his house his mom would let us have dulce de leche ice cream. I was dazzled by the exoticness of the name and the way the words rolled off my tongue. Come to find out years later you can buy it at the grocery store like any other kind of ice cream, but there is still this lingering memory of different, but at the same time friends. I now wonder if my friend felt the same way about me as Bich does with her neighbors. I lost touch with my friend after kindergarten when he and his mother moved. I think I may go pick up some dulce de leche ice cream sometime soon. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Reading Response One

Upon reading, “The Reporter’s Kitchen,” by Jane Kramer I began to evaluate my own life through the foods I have eaten, the people I have eaten with as well as the places I have eaten. She begins by comparing her kitchen to a sort of keeper for her memory, “The memory I ‘see’ is a kind of kitchen. Where the thoughts and character I bring home go straight into a stockpot on my big stove.” This quote supports one of the most important themes throughout her reflection. The kitchen is the stronghold of her memory, and although memory is not all she sees in food (she watches as it helps her writing, represents different cultures, etc.) the aspect of food as memory is the most striking observation within the text to me.
I begin to think of my own stockpot of memories that make me into the person that I am today, but for me it is not so much a stock; it is my mom’s Italian salad dressing. Growing up my mom made her own dressing and while this doesn’t sound like such a feat, up until that age I had only ever seen most of my friends’ mothers squeeze things out of bottles onto their lettuce. She blended these oils and spices together letting me smell the garlic while holding the whisk.
This is the way I see my memory. Occasionally, memories resurface and sometimes they’re blended so far together I can’t separate their distinct flavors. It is interesting that within her article she also discusses the repressing of certain food and the memories that those tastes represent.  She forgets about the cauliflower soup that was served as a terrorist’s bomb exploded. Even in different situations, for these same reasons I begin to taste bacon on my tongue even though breakfast passed hours ago. The idea of repressing food memories quickly reminds me of the breakfast for dinner meals we had for weeks in a row when my dad wouldn’t come home during my parents’ divorce. It is almost as if someone is cooking pancakes in the suite next to me. It is the same way when I think of hazelnut coffee with two spoons of sugar, and I am reminded of an old house on Minor Street in Kalamazoo where I tried to cope with my boyfriend deploying to Afghanistan. I have since started drinking my coffee black.
Aside from memory I find it interesting how she compares good writing to good cooking. I see the measured out steps, and the importance of pacing. Even as I sit here now I am eating semi-sweet chocolate chips pacing out each bite between sentences. Kramer writes, “Dishes like these become invocations, little rituals you invent for yourself, in the hope that your life and your work will eventually taste the same.” This I wonder about, as you are reading this do you taste the semi-sweet chocolate chips? Is it strange that there is a double-edged sword in remembering as well as there is in tasting food?