The idea of peer review is typically associated with science. My brother feared a mythological villain known as “The Third Reviewer” more than any childhood bogeyman. The food world is no stranger to reviews either. Frankly, science you have it easy.
In the food world, true peer review, where chefs are reviewing the work of other chefs, is usually reserved for culinary competitions and reality shows. Instead, we have professional reviewers. These are food journalists, akin to science journalists. They are professionals at reviewing and can vary widely in ability. They may or may not have expertise in the actual creation of restaurant food. They generally have spent a lot of time in and around restaurants. They are not exactly peers, but we try to be very nice to them lest you wind up in Guy Fieri’s shoes.
What scientists generally don’t have is the “everyone else that sits down and orders a plate of food” review. If you are like me, you do a little review in your head every time you sit down at a restaurant to eat. That internalized review might even get shared with your friends and family; but the advent of sites like Yelp have made it possible to broadcast those little reviews to the world.
Peer review of articles and grants can make or break a scientific career. Professional restaurant reviews can make or break a restaurant. So can those amateur, Internet reviews. Continue reading
Mmmmmm Chocolate by Tim Sackton (CC BY-SA)
Last weekend, I participated in Portland’s annual ChocolateFest. If you’ve never been to a chocolate festival and you like delicious things, I would recommend checking one out sometime. The Portland ChocolateFest, which I have been told is one of the largest in the country, is what I imagine a farmers’ market would look like if Willy Wonka put on farmers’ markets. As you might suppose, ChocolateFest is flush with sweet treats, confections, and rich sugary goodness, which is why I decided to highlight the other side of chocolate in my cooking demonstrations. The following recipes (along with the usual scientific and culinary snidbits), presented to both the denizens of this year’s ChocolateFest and the loyal patrons of this pub, are what I like to call The Meat Lover’s Guide to Chocolate. Continue reading
My father is a very clever man. Long ago, as a Christmas Eve was coming to a close and we were preparing to plate up our milk and cookie offering to Santa, my dad stopped us with a suggestion. Arguing that, because our name was near the end of the alphabet, we were going to be one of the last houses Santa visited. Therefore, the jolly old elf would be very cold and tired of milk. Instead, we should leave him some bourbon to warm him up. It didn’t take long for our young minds to realize that a warmed up and happy Santa was much more likely to leave us better loot. As it happened, Dad had some of Santa’s favorite bourbon (parents know these things), which by amazing coincidence was also my dad’s favorite. I would hazard to say that this was the creation of our family’s traditional Christmas drink: alcohol.
In the spirit (or spirits) of my family’s holiday tradition, this post is going to celebrate my personal favorite Christmasy holiday drink: eggnog. Continue reading
Last Thanksgiving, I decided that I wanted a heritage turkey. Reading about the selective breeding1 and the bland tasting meat of commercial turkeys compared to wild and heritage turkeys. So, I asked The Fiancé. Prices may vary, but they are such that it is wise to ask your significant other for permission prior to purchase. She said, “yes” because she rocks.
When Thanksgiving morning arrived and my turkey had not, I worried. I called the farmer to ask when I should expect it. She told me, with concern in her voice, that the turkey had already been delivered – FOUR DAYS AGO. Like a condemned man, I went to my apartment building’s front office to ask if they had forgotten any packages for me. I knew my fears were confirmed as I opened the office door – I COULD SMELL IT.
The office smelled like spoiled meat. When the office worker found the package she proclaimed, “I got this a few days ago, I must have forgotten to give you a notice.” In what I think was a steady voice, I said, “That’s my Thanksgiving turkey.” Without missing a beat she replied, “We were wondering what that smell was.” To cap off the comedy2, the management office’s remedy was that they would buy me a new turkey – FOUR DAYS AFTER THANKSGIVING! I told them where they could stuff their turkey.
As a result, I found myself shopping for turkey on Thanksgiving day, without time to thaw a full turkey and cook it before dinner with my future mother-in-law. Clearly, the only thing to do was to make THE BEST TURKEY EVER. Continue reading