Results tagged America from David Lebovitz

Food: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000, at the Smithsonian Museum

Smithsonian Museum

Unfortunately, book tours offer little – if any – free time. Sometimes you want to check out places that are miles away from your hotel, which are hopeless causes (although not always). But since publishers and venues are flying you around, they’re not footing the bill for a leisurely evening with friends, or with copious time to explore the city. (And I don’t blame them.) So you value every precious second you have. Your best bet is to remain within a close radius of your hotel. If you’re fortunate, you can race to a Japanese restaurant, cafe, or doughnut shop. Other times, you’re happy to lie in a nice bed and watch “The View.”

Smithsonian Museum

For the most part, the weather on my tour was spectacular. And while I can’t take credit for that, still, people thanked me for bringing sunny skies with me, wherever I went. In Seattle, I hit the city during one of the rare thirty days of sunshine (out of 365 days.) But not always. Heading to Miami, just as we were poised to take off on the runway, our plane turned around and headed back to the gate to get more fuel because a hurricane warning in Florida, which might force us to land elsewhere. (We ended up arriving okay, but we circled high above the Miami airport for a couple of hours, waiting for it to reopen.) Yet the next day in Miami, the skies were spectacular.

And for my last city and stop of the tour, I had the pleasure of sitting on a green, grassy lawn at the Washington, D.C. farmers’ market, in the nation’s capital, signing books and chatting to shoppers, who were loading up their baskets with bunches of asparagus, strawberries, and radishes as well as first-of-the-season tomatoes and excellent cheeses.

Since I miraculously ended up with a rare, free afternoon the following day, I hoofed it over to the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian, to check out Food: Transforming the American Table, 1950-2000.

The exhibit highlights how American eating and shopping habits have changed during those five decades, and the museum compiled this retrospective to show the progression and evolution of the changes leading up to what shows up at the American table.

Smithsonian Museum

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Patric Chocolate

New chocolate-makers are springing up across America, in the most unlikeliest of places. Like Missouri.

Who’d a thunk it?

Patric Chocolate

Using good ‘ol American ingenuity, a little over a year ago, Alan McClure started grinding up beans and molding them into lithe bars of very dark, and very sleek, bittersweet chocolate.

His company, Patric chocolate, makes bars that are “micro-produced,” and he’s got two in his line-up, both using cacao from Madagascar.

When I asked Alan what attracted him to the cacao from that region, he said “Since the bars are made from cacao that come from one single estate, and since the family there has owned it for quite some time, they really have been able to exert an extremely high level of control on the quality and consistency of the fermentation and drying, which is actually quite rare in the cacao world.”

Alan proclaims that this isn’t pure “criollo” chocolate, a much-touted term for a varietal that almost all chocolate experts say no longer exists in its pure form. (Some chocolate-makers are claiming to the contrary.) Right now, the all the beans for Patric’s bars are from a plantation in the Sambirano Valley.

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Taza Chocolate

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I’ve been a little lax in my duties around here reporting on chocolate. In my defense, I’ve been sidetracked by bacon, seaweed, and kimchi. But man cannot live by chocolate alone.

Even in Paris.

Speaking of chocolate, when I was doing research for my chocolate book, it was challenging to find people to talk about what they do. I met with one representative from a big chocolate company who said he would only talk to me, and let me visit, if I only wrote about their company in the book. (Uh…sure!)

When I was writing my ice cream book, I called a gelato chain here in Paris, asking if I could come in and see how they make their ice cream to include them in the book. After much hemming and hawing, I never heard back.

It’s always after the book comes out, you become a popular fellow. I seem to be always behind the curve on these things.

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Healthy Hershey’s

I don’t like to stir things up too much around here. Last time I did that, I got my ass kicked in the comments. Truth be told, I’m a people-person and try to see the good in everything and everybody no matter what.

Heck, I’m even listening to Up With People! as I’m typing right now…

I don’t like to trash people or companies in general. But sometimes, every once in a while, someone needs to get their pee-pee smacked.

And in this case, it’s Hershey’s.

hersheyhealthychocolate

Normally I make it a point to eat the best-quality chocolate I can since the good stuff has the same amount of calories as the bad stuff. Because I live in Paris, depending on how you feel about it, I don’t eat much Hershey’s chocolate. But when you have a blog, no matter where you like, you get ‘sales pitches’ from pr folks wanting to send you products to that they hope you’ll mention favorably on your blog. I like to try new American products and since I don’t live where they’re easily found, I let the ones that sound interesting come my way.

But one French company insisted (repeatedly, against my better judgment) on sending me a food basket of goodies a while back.

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Patriotic Pie

Happy Fourth of July!

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