Look Out Foodies–Nathan Myhrvold Is Coming For You

Oh Nathan Myhrvold. Classic geek overachiever! Not content with making meelyuns at Microsoft, he recently solved a little problem we like to call global climate change:

Myhrvold appeared on CNN‘s Fareed Zakaria GPS and discussed his idea to eliminate global warming/climate change using geoengineering. It involves using hoses suspended 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) from the Earth into the atmosphere via helium balloons. The hoses would be placed near the North Pole and the South Pole and emit sulfur dioxide, which is known to scatter light. Myhrvold estimated that such a configuration could “easily dim the sun by one percent, and even do it in a way that wouldn’t be visible.”

It’s kind of like giving the Earth a pair of atmospheric sunglasses!

But there’s no money in solving global warming. For his next trick, Myhrvold would like to take $625 from every sous-vide loving molecular foodie who likes to use words like “colloidal” and “vacuum compression.” They don’t call them $25-dollar words for nothing, which is why Myhrvold’s forthcoming book Modernist Cuisine is going to cost so darn much. He has worked hard on it! From the New York Times:

He has spent three years in a laboratory in Bellevue, Wash., testing and adapting the increasingly complex cooking techniques emerging at restaurants like El Bulli, the Fat Duck and WD-50. Where other cookbook writers use whisks and graters, Dr. Myhrvold, who amassed hundreds of millions of dollars at Microsoft, wields vacuum sealers, colloid mills and rotary evaporators, and ingredients like agar and methylcellulose.

The aesthetic of nerdy excess even applies to the book’s form, as the Times notes:

[N]ot even Dr. Myhrvold, who started his own publishing company for this book, has seen a final copy.More than 65,000 lines of text and 3,500 photographs and illustrations are being checked (the ink alone for each copy weighs four pounds). The book’s custom-designed box-within-a-box container, meant to protect the heavy volumes during shipping, failed a series of drop tests and is being re-engineered.

Never let it be said that Mr. Myhrvold does not know his audience. Scott Heimendinger, aka The Seattle Food Geek, told the Times: “I have not been this excited for anything since the release of the second ‘Star Wars’ movie.”

And never let it be said you can’t get more for less—Amazon has already marked Modernist Cuisine down to $500. Maybe they put it through a sous vide.

Next He’ll Want Us To Make Our Own GORP or Something

a hippie schoolbus

Run if you see them coming, or throw raisins at them.

Crazypants man Mark Bittman wants you to make your own granola bars! As someone who grew up in California in the 70s let me tell you: I know from hippies. And even hippies go to the health food store (ok, co-op) and buy their granola bars, as nature intended. Here’s another thing: You need to have a strong first line of defense for this stuff. When we first moved to CA in 1969, my mom found out our next-door-neighbor lady made her own yogurt and we almost moved again.

LiveBlogging from Greenbrier Foodwriters Symposium

Good Lord, not us. That’s a Huffington Post headline that encapsulates everything wrong about food culture and bloggings in just five words. Here are some compelling nuggets that were blogged! live!

OK! We’re back from a great lunch of 3 kinds of BBQ, and (get this) a milk shake bar – yum. Now we’re are enjoying a screening of Symposium attendee Roger Sherman’s film, The Restaurateur

“It’s really important for us as writers to encourage our readers to COOK!” Dorothy says, and Elissa notes that we can get people to go to the farmers market, but it doesn’t matter if they don’t know what to do with the 5 pounds of beets they bring home. Fer Crissakes Williams-Sonoma s selling home foamers to people who can’t roast a beet. [Ed:Can’t roast a beet! Fer Crissakes!!]

Elissa points out that sadly we can’t all live in Berkeley. How do people who don’t have the access that they have in the “People’s Republic of Berkeley” eat with seasons, locally and healthfully?

And we wrap for lunch here… more in an hour or two…..

I love that last bit. “How can we help the less fortunate? Let’s have lunch!” Also, it’s worth noting that while he noted each and every break for lunch, he neglected to indicate, oh, the passage of time or the fact that different panels happened on different days, leading the LIVEBLOG to present the vision of foodies in some kind of timeless orbit, eating lunch over and over again.

Just Don’t Order a “Tall One”

frame from Lord of the Rings movie with hobbits

Or a “Halfling and Half,” when you belly up to the bar at Hobbit House, the world’s only–no wait there are two–hobbit themed bar, staffed entirely by what the website describes as “the smallest waiters in the world.”  Founded by a Peace Corps volunteer (I KNOW) in the ’70s (ALSO), there is one Hobbit House in Manila and one in Boracay, both decorated with “swords,lights,plant tables,paintings and decors that evoke Middle Earth.”

H0w many jokers do you think have walked in there with “NOT PENNY’S BOAT” written on their hand? I know I would.

That’s What She Said

Part of a righteous post by Zuzu on Feministe that pertains to a lot of the issues we talk about here:

[W]henever we start focusing on the health of the individual, we erase the systemic problems that contribute to health issues. This is a perfect example of the personal being political.

Institutions love to shift the burden onto the individual, because it means the institution doesn’t have to examine its own behavior or its own contribution to a problem. Let’s look at bullying. States and schools love to have zero-tolerance policies so they can look like they’re being tough on bullying — but then when bullying incidents happen, they just don’t define it as bullying, and suggest that the victim change his or her behavior. Problem solved!

Then we have childhood obesity prevention programs. Sure, they sound good, but ultimately, they put the burden on the kid to change while leaving intact many, many things that contribute to the problem. This may include fat-laden agricultural surplus products that find their way into the school lunches; vending machines and bake sales used for fundraising because taxpayer funds are unavailable; cutbacks in physical education and extracurricular sports; lack of safe spaces to walk or exercise; lack of sidewalks; corn subsidies that result in high-fructose corn syrup showing up in everything; high housing prices that lead to long parental commutes and thus a reliance on takeout over freshly-prepared foods; food deserts; aggressive marketing by fast-food outlets; food-assistance programs that are designed to dump agricultural surplus rather than provide good nutrition; agricultural subsidies that mean that vegetables are more expensive than cheap fatty meats; lack of access to affordable preventive health care; lack of education about nutrition; and on and on.

An awful lot for a little kid to carry on his or her shoulders, don’t you think?

And it’s not just kids that get this kind of treatment, it’s adults as well. How dare you be fat at me, Ms. Medicaid Recipient? Maybe they should cut your food stamps off if you’re going to be so fat! That the face of poverty is widely considered to be black, female and fat — today’s version of the Welfare Queen in her Cadillac — just makes the problem more intractable.

But it’s a fight worth having, and it’s a fight that feminists [and foodies—ed.] should be waging. So instead of scoffing next time you see someone criticizing the use of the BMI as an indicator of individual health, try listening, and considering. You might just see that the problem is bigger than you realize — and it might even hit home for you.


They Must Not Know About Whole Foods In Denver

If Martinez wants each member of her household to have one peach, it’ll cost her about $3.

If she chooses Kraft macaroni and cheese, she can get 18 servings — with 400 calories and 580 milligrams of sodium in each — for the same price.

From a great piece on how farm subsidies (also–can we not just call them money subsidies?) affect access to food.