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News to Chew | 2008 | October

News to Chew

Taking a bite out of the world of food and food news
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Archive for October, 2008

A Burrito With Extra Beans: Chipotle Breaks Wind on Energy Efficient Store

October 14, 2008 By: admin Category: Food News

Known for its log-sized burritos and eco-friendly approach to fast-food, Chipotle Mexican Grill has figured out how to harness the very wind that their food induces in their customers. Earlier this month, the Denver-based purveyor of tasty, fast-casual fresh Mexican food announced it will soon be opening its first partially wind-powered store.

The freestanding, eco-friendly restaurant, set to open this fall in Gurnee, Ill., features a six-kilowatt wind turbine that will generate 10 percent of the store’s electrical power. Gurnee is located north of Chicago, well known as the Windy City. It is assumed said wind makes the Chipotle Gurnee location an ideal site.

Not so well known is the residual effect that eating at a Chipotle might provide dividends to the chain. The way I see it, you order one of their big ass burritos (steak or carnitas, preferably), loaded with rice, beans, salsa, cheese or sour cream, and romaine lettuce, wrapped in a ginormous flour tortilla, wolfed down in 10 minutes because that’s all the time you have for lunch, and washed down with a beer, and you’re bound to get some natural fermentation going pretty quickly.

Multiply that by your busy lunchtime crowd, and you’ve got a veritable Santa Ana wind condition going, if you get my drift. Gather your satisfied customers in a common area, encourage their inner Le Petomane to release, pointing downwind towards the turbine, and their you have it – an extra 10 percent of the restaurant’s electrical power. Throw in some satisfied belching and you could generate another 5 percent of wind power.

Ah, harnessing the power of farting. It brings new meaning to energy efficient fast-food.

(Cue up Christopher Cross’ cheesy 1980 classic “Ride Like the Wind”)

Just some news to chew on.

He’s Got Balls: Chef Publishes First Testicle Cookbook

October 07, 2008 By: admin Category: Food News

It tastes like chicken, right? I’ve never tasted testicles of any sort (insert sarcastic remark here), but I imagine that’s the answer you’d get by someone who has popped a bull ball into their mouth. Or maybe not.

Balls. Nuts. Bollocks. Marbles. Knap sacks. Nads. Cojones – however you refer to them, testicles are considered highly edibles parts of many a male animal (insert lewd remark here). To paraphrase Euell Gibbons, “Many parts are edible.” And don’t think only those weird foreign cultures are the ones gobbling up plates of sauteed or fried testicles. Ever hear of Rocky Mountain oysters? Nice way for cowboys to admit they snack on the nuts of the very cattle they herd.

But never mind the bollocks, why the sudden taste for testicles? Well it seems that our inner nut sack craving has yet to be tapped and Serbian chef Ljubomir Erovic is out to, er, expose us to the wonders of testicle dining, as I recently discovered recently on Slashfood.

The Testicle Cookbook – Cooking with Balls (YUDU press) is being touted as the first recipe collection of its kind. Wow, go figure, huh? Cooking with Balls is a multimedia cookbook (it’s actually an online e-book) complete with how-to videos on cooking testicles. You’ll find a number of tongue tickling recipes including Testicle Pizza, Testicle Goulash and Testicles in White Wine. Mmmmm, yummy.

In an article in the Telegraph UK, Erovic said testicles are rich in testosterone and are believed to be a powerful aphrodisiac in China as well as his homeland of Serbia. Testicles? Aphrodisiac? In China? Well, that’s not exactly a surprise – in China, it seems like any peculiar animal part is an aphrodisiac (the more endangered, the more potent), and if you’re going to eat an animal’s penis to get aroused, may as well wash it down with some balls, yes?

As the book points out, the variety of testicles suitable for cooking are limitless – stallions, ostriches, bulls, pigs and turkeys – if it’s a male, chances are you can find some testicles thereabouts. But there is a bit of technique involved.

“Wash testicles thoroughly for 30-45 minutes,” begins the recipe for testicles pie. “Once softened, mince them in a mincer.”

A “very sharp knife” is needed for traditional style testicles, which get boiled, cut up and deep fried in hot oil.

Who knows? Maybe, in short time, we’ll be seeing Turkey McNutgets and Bully Balls on the value menu at your favorite fast food joint. We do love our deep fried protein. Beef or chicken? Why limit your taste buds?

“The tastiest testicles in my opinion probably come from bulls, stallions or ostriches, although other people have their own favourites. All testicles can be eaten – except human, of course. The best for aphrodisiac properties are sheep and stallion testicles,” Erovic, 45, said.

All testicles can be eaten – except human, of course. Doesn’t that go without saying?

Just some news to chew on.

Diet Coke: 0 Calories, 0 Pregnancies

October 04, 2008 By: admin Category: Food News

Some of the foods we eat might offer other, improbable benefits or uses. And those discoveries eventually become news and award-worthy. So, bear with me while I get to the point of this all.

Few would say the consumption of Diet Coke offers any real benefits. Sure, to soft drink addicts, it allows us to indulge without packing on any calories (never mind that we often couple that serving of Diet Coke with a large tub of popcorn – extra butter – or a plate of cheesy nachos or french fries), and we get a caffeine kick to boot. And it tastes a helluva lot better than Tab, its predecessor in the diet soda realm before it debuted in 1982.

But we humans are weird – our curiosity seems to make us want to see if something is good for anything else, just for the heck of it. Why in the world would someone figure out that WD-40 – a fantastic product to fix squeaky doors – would make a great fish attractant if you sprayed it on your bait? So, it’s not so big a surprise that there would be someone who, while drinking a can of Diet Coke, begins to wonder what the carbonated soda would be good for than mixing with rum?

But Diet Coke as a contraceptive? Boston University Professor Deborah Anderson had heard the urban legends about the contraceptive effectiveness of Coca-Cola products for years. In 1985, she and her colleagues decided to put the soft drink to the test.

Not in actual postcoital settings – no, that would be weird, right? But in a laboratory setting, the professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Boston University’s School of Medicine and her colleagues found that not only was Coca-Cola a spermicide, but that Diet Coke for some reason worked best. Their study appeared in the prestgious New England Journal of Medicine in 1985.

Here is what some of that study noted:

Postcoital douching with household substances was a popular form of contraception at the beginning of this century, and Coca-Cola is still said to be used in developing countries for this purpose.
and

There has recently been controversy over the attributes of old-formula (’Classic’) Coke and those of “New Coke.’ We therefore compared the effect of various modern formulations of Coca-Cola on sperm motility…All samples of Coca-Cola markedly reduced sperm motility, whereas [a saltwater control solution] had no spermicidal effect.

And they concluded:

The effectiveness of Coca-Cola as a spermicidal agent in vaginal douching has been attributed to its acidic pH.

Apparently Diet Coke was the most effective of all the Coke products. Perhaps cane sugar or high-fructose corn syrup is no match for aspartame when it comes to killing sperm. Who knows?

So, why is this 23-year-old study back in the news? Well, because Anderson and her brethren were recently honored among this year’s winners of the Ig Nobel prize, the annual award given by the Annals of Improbable Research magazine to oddball but often surprisingly practical scientific achievements.

The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative — and spur people’s interest in science, medicine, and technology.

The gala ceremony was held Oct. 2 in Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre, 1200 splendidly eccentric spectators watch the winners step forward to accept their Prizes. These are physically handed out by genuinely bemused genuine Nobel Laureates.

The 2008 ceremony also honored a British psychologist who found foods (such as potato chips) that sound better taste better; a group of researchers who discovered exotic dancers make more money when they are at peak fertility; and a pair of Brazilian archaeologists who determined armadillos can change the course of history.

Oh, sure, you might think that some of these studies are frivolous. Maybe they are, when compared to embryonnic stem cell research. But a lot of this, after we chuckle a bit, is good stuff to know.

Women, it’s good for you to know that keeping a supply of Diet Coke in the frig could good, last-resort birth control – especially after a night of too many lemon drop shots. And men, if you’re going to be irresponsible and not carry a condom while plying women with lemon drop shots, be man enough to pick up a six-pack of Diet Coke before going back for an evening of unbridled lust.

Not Diet Pepsi, not Sprite, not Mellow Yellow. But Diet Coke.

Just a little news to chew on.

Tastes Like Mother’s Milk: PETA Wants Ben & Jerry’s to Use Breast Milk in Ice Cream

October 03, 2008 By: admin Category: Food News, Now, that's really stupid

You know, some things are just too weird that they must be true, and this one ranks right up there. You might say it’s one succulent story – rich, creamy and mammarable. And we can thank the whack jobs at PETA for their pendulous concerns.

You see, last week, in their concern for the treatment, oops, ethical treatment of animals, the organization that wants to set all pets and zoo animals free announced their latest brilliant idea: PETA wants world-famous Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream to tap nursing moms, rather than cows, for the milk used in its ice cream.

Yup, that’s right. PETA wants our friends at Ben & Jerry’s – who are quite ethical, from what I gather – to substitute cow’s milk with breast milk. Uh huh.

Here’s what the Associate Press reported:

“If Ben and Jerry’s replaced the cow’s milk in its ice cream with breast milk, your customers – and cows – would reap the benefits,” wrote Tracy Reiman, executive vice president of the animal rights advocacy group.
Ashley Byrne, a campaign coordinator for PETA, acknowledged the implausibility of substituting breast milk for cow’s milk, but said it’s no stranger than humans consuming the milk of another species.
“We’re aware this idea is somewhat absurd, and that putting it into practice is a stretch. At the time same, it’s pretty absurd for us to be drinking the milk of cows,” she said.

To the surprise of no one, except maybe PETA, the idea got a cool reception Thursday from Ben & Jerry’s officials, the company’s customers and even La Leche League International, the world’s oldest breast-feeding support organization.

But let’s suspend disbelief for a second and pretend that this is a great idea. There would be some logistical hurdles to overcome – at least production-wise.

According to AP, it takes about 12 pounds – or 1½ gallons of milk – to make a gallon of ice cream. Ben & Jerry’s, which gets its milk exclusively from Vermont cows, won’t say how much milk it uses or how much ice cream it sells.

Now I’m no math wiz but my estimation is that it’s gonna take a helluva lot of lactating mothers – breasts heaving and pumps in hand – to come up with the volume needed to churn out those delectable treats we love so much.

Now, licking an ice cream cone is one of our most pleasurable and sensual experiences, but in the context of a cone of luscious mounds of creamy ice cream made from human breast milk – well, Sigmund Freud would have a field day with that imagery. And to most of us, it’s just plain creepy.

On the other hand, breast milk Ben & Jerry’s ice cream would spawn a slew of imaginative flavor names. How about some Nipplepolitan? Or 36 Double D Dipped Chocolate? Or Booble Gum Gummy Bear?

Got any ideas of your own? And what do you think about PETA’s suggestion? Just some news to suck, er, chew on.

Paul Newman – “Cool Hand Luke” – Dies at Age 83

October 01, 2008 By: admin Category: Food News

It might seem odd that my first blog post on News to Chew would be about a legendary actor, but in the context of it all, perhaps it is more than fitting. Paul Newman died on Sept. 26 after a long battle with cancer. He was 83, and he left a legacy of films and characters that will stand up with the best of them.

Bogart, Gable, Tracy, Stewart, Brando, De Niro – his place among them all is unquestioned and his skills as an actor remained with him to the very end.Newman is my favorite actor of all time. Sure, he was damn handsome – women swooned at those legendary blue eyes. But us men cheered the manly, charming and offbeat note he brought to his memorable film characters.

As the L.A. Times notes:
Stunningly handsome, Newman maintained his superstar status while keeping his distance from its corrupting influences through nearly 100 Broadway, television and movie roles. As an actor and director, he evolved into Hollywood’s elder statesman, admired off screen for his quiet generosity, unconventional business sense, race car daring, political activism and enduring marriage to actress Joanne Woodward.

Annoyed by the public’s fascination with his resemblance to a Roman statue and his Windex-blue eyes, Newman often chose offbeat character roles. In the 1960s, he helped define the American anti-hero and became identified with the charming misfits, cads and con men in film classics such as “The Hustler,” “Hud,” “The Sting” and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”

But for me, the epitome of the Newman anti-hero character was his portrayal of Luke Jackson in the 1967 classic, Cool Hand Luke. The beautiful loser who rebels against authority – but who eventually succumbs to it – was punctuated by his classic scene where he takes on his fellow prisoners’ bet that he can’t eat 50 hard-boiled eggs (”My boy says he can eat fifty eggs, he can eat fifty eggs” – see the food connection now?). It’s one of those movie moments that sums up one man’s compulsion to do something just to prove he could – and Newman pulls it off brilliantly.

But Paul Newman was more than a cool actor – he was a class act. Public but private, a star but accessible, but never fodder for the tabloids. His Newman’s Own line of food (see? another food reference) became a huge success on a lark. Nonetheless, he donated all of the profits – not just a percentage – to charities, over $250 million to date.

Nobody can eat fifty eggs. Cool Hand Luke did – and only Paul Newman could make it look so delicious and satisfying.

God bless you, Mr. Newman. You will be missed.

Here’s the classic egg eating scene from Cool Hand Luke: