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Insights, tips, and restaurant reports from CHOW editors and Chowhound.

Romance, eGullet style

What happens when two food-obsessed eGullet members fall in love? They spend a week eating their way through Seattle, they prepare dinner for friends, they even challenge each other to an Iron Chef–style cook-off. And they blog the whole thing.

Follow the adventures of Lorna and Henry as they sample so much food and high-quality chocolate, it might just make your head spin. From an impressive potluck with eGullet friends, to a sentimental trip to Salumi and a visit to a truly amazing private cookbook collection, the week unfolds as a food lover’s delight.

The depth of knowledge between the pair is astounding, and they both have delightfully strong opinions. The only real question—besides who won the Iron Chef title—is how they manage to stay so trim after such prodigious eating.

This blog is not for the meek of stomach, so be forewarned. The rest of you may just find yourself signing up for eGullet afterward, looking to start a little foodie romance of your own.

Hooray for Superficially Attractive Female TV Chefs!

Details is “sizing up the most fetching domestic goddesses currently on the small screen,” and damned if they’re not contributing to the destruction of Western culture in the process.

The piece is called “Sexpots in the Kitchen,” a title that deserves points not only for being pleasantly blunt, but also for cleverly working “pot,” a cooking implement, into the headline. “Sexpans in the Kitchen” or “Sexspatulas in the Kitchen” would have been a reach—it’s clear that Details hit the sweet spot with this one.

The general drift of the piece can be picked up here:

You can trace the fantasy back to the covertly hot housewives we grew up watching in TV reruns. Take Elizabeth Montgomery in Bewitched. Not only did Samantha look smokin’ in a polka-dot tunic, but all she had to do was twitch her button nose and the whole darn house was spotless.

Actually, you can probably trace the fantasy further back than that, to the halcyon days of the 14th century, when a good percentage of women everywhere served as food- and baby-making domestic slaves.

The article also glosses over the underlying contemporary context of the emerging “domestic diva” phenomenon. And that’s the damage that tartification has done to other, parallel pursuits, such as television news, moviemaking, and Law & Order. It’s a veritable epidemic of sexy. A sexidemic, if you will.

This isn’t to say that Rachael Ray or Sandra Lee can’t cook, but who knows how many wildly more qualified—funnier, more learned, more legitimately skilled in the cooking arts—women don’t and will never have TV shows because pure pulchritude is becoming the coin of the land.

Not that she didn’t have a certain emu-like majesty, but Julia Child wouldn’t stand a Popsicle’s chance in the sixth layer of hell in this day and age, and that’s a darn shame.

Make Your Own Soda Pop

How to brew homemade ginger beer and root beer. READ MORE

Your Sassafras Has Been Neutered

Your Sassafras Has Been Neutered

Sassafras contains safrole, a believed carcinogen -- so it's unlikely that you'll find any in your root beer. READ MORE

They’re Just Like Us!

Can you get any room service you desire? Well, if you’re Jay-Z and you want red M&Ms (and only red M&Ms), the answer is an emphatic “yes!”

Every month, the UK’s Observer brilliantly queries hotels and restaurants about celebrity requests like this one, and depending upon the responses, you can get a sense of how far the hospitality industry will bend over backwards to meet their needs (and how well certain stars rate).

One chef offered to fly in crab for Elle Macpherson when questioned about cooking something off the menu for the model, and when three restaurants were asked if Russell Crowe could dine gratis, two of the eateries were willing to cough up a free meal.

There must be the occasional “Do you know who I AM?” moments as well, however. As the Observer proved back in April with a round of fake phone calls seeking last-minute reservations to hot London eateries, even Madonna wouldn’t be able to score a last-minute reservation at the much-lauded The Fat Duck.

Art of the Shock-tail

Art of the Shock-tail

Bacon-infused vodka martinis, rum and steak sauce -- has it really come to this? READ MORE

In Forbes, Veritas

Forbes has posted a clever online slide show about how to order wine for a business dinner.

They could have skipped the word “business”; it’s a pretty good primer for anyone looking to make the right connection between vino and victual. The trick with one of these features is always calibrating the level of expertise. Too high, and nobody but Robert Parker knows what you’re talking about. Too low, and even casual foodies will post sneering comments. Forbes hit the sweet spot.

From “don’t start too big” to “be direct” (about budget constraints) to the depressingly useful “go for the lowest common denominator,” the slides are a respectable blend of gut wisdom and informed expertise.

Only one real complaint: Forbes slide shows always seem to move at roughly 17 slides per second.

Wrong on So Many Levels

Granted, eating bugs is getting closer and closer to the mainstream every day. But a new promotion at several Six Flags theme parks, including those in Denver and Illinois, is offering line-jumping privileges to anyone who eats a live Madagascar hissing cockroach.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is understandably upset. Nothing against PETA, but maybe the organization might have better luck protesting the exploitation of animals that some people actually like.

Are we empowering our kids with this message (conquer your food aversions and you will go far) or sending a creepy message (do what it takes to get ahead of the other guy)? You decide.

Got Goiter?

Got Goiter?

Americans are eating more fancy salt-- like kosher salt, sea salt, and fleur de sel -- that don't contain iodine, and less table salt, like Morton's, which is typically fortified with iodine. READ MORE

Snack Attack at 20,000 Feet

Would you pay $3 for this? American Airlines, perhaps making lemonade from the lemons of stricter regulations about carry-on luggage, has announced that it’s currently conducting a one-week tryout for a new program to sell snacks and bottled water to passengers. Hooray! Now we don’t have to wait until the plane lands at the airport to satisfy our craving for overpriced junk food —we can buy it right on the flight.

American won’t be phasing out its beverage service or existing food options, just testing the new snacks.

Of course, being able to purchase Otis Spunkmeyer cookies, potato chips, and bottles of water may be a boon to passengers who have had their H2O and carry-on picnic confiscated by security.

If you’re flying American this week, make sure to buy a Twix for me.