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jlafler's Profile

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Lungomare review (Oakland)

The porchetta was delicious: rich, but not greasy. The farro was a nice contrast in texture and helped balance the richness of the meat.

But the celery root salad was probably my favorite thing. Thank you for sharing it with me!

Mar 25, 2013
jlafler in San Francisco Bay Area

gold coffee filter

I generally just discard the first fluid ounce that drips through; if there's any sludge, most of it's in there.

May 21, 2012
jlafler in Cookware

Socola truffles at Piazza's in Palo Alto

4.5 oz boxes (12 pc) are on sale for $7.50. I have no idea why the steep discount (usual price is $26), except that the "best by" date is today.

Jul 23, 2011
jlafler in San Francisco Bay Area

once more into the breach

After a search through my email, I find that I did receive it -- I must have just missed it at the time.

Although I completely disagree with the reason that the post was removed (the explanation describes it as "just chat" about "how cute people's children are," which I think is not accurate), and I still have some basic objections to the way Chowhound boards are moderated, I appreciate the response.

Jun 30, 2011
jlafler in Site Talk

once more into the breach

Seriously, saying that you had no way to look into it would have been fine. Saying you'll look into it and never getting back is not.

Jun 30, 2011
jlafler in Site Talk

Eating potato products makes you ... (wait for it) ... FAT!

Well, as I said above, I'm generally skeptical of nutritional studies based on self-reporting. But double-blinded studies are really only possible with things like drugs, for which you can control with a placebo -- the equivalent in this case would be to feed one group of people potatoes, and the other group something that looked, smelled, and tasted exactly like a potato, but wasn't a potato. In other words, impossible.

There are all sorts of factors that make nutrition studies difficult, especially long-term studies: accurately assessing what people are eating is hard to do outside of a laboratory; controlling for all the possible cofactors is virtually impossible. The only really good model for a long-term nutritional study that I know of is gathering data on an isolated population of people eating a consistent diet, and then looking at what happens to them when that diet is changed. And here you run into problems because changes in diet of generally occur at the same time as other social and cultural changes; also, an isolated population will have a lot less genetic variation than the general population.

Jun 29, 2011
jlafler in Food Media & News

Eating potato products makes you ... (wait for it) ... FAT!

Which will never happen, because you can't do long-term nutritional studies like that.

Jun 28, 2011
jlafler in Food Media & News

Do you stereotype a Chef based on his/her kitchen tools?

The actual expression is "the proof of the pudding is in the eating" -- and I'm only being pedantic about this because it seems so appropriate in context.

Jun 25, 2011
jlafler in General Topics

Do you stereotype a Chef based on his/her kitchen tools?

Yes. A small number of well-chosen tools is a good indicator of competence in the kitchen.

Jun 24, 2011
jlafler in General Topics

Eating potato products makes you ... (wait for it) ... FAT!

"We have known for how many decades that smoking causes cancer. And yet people continue to light up. We have a generation of kids that grew up in an era when smoking was not popular and who have non-smoking parents, yet they still start smoking and get hooked."

True. But at one time, this was not common knowledge. It seems obvious now, but people used to scoff at the idea that smoking was unhealthy. And though it's true that some young people still start smoking and get hooked, rates of smoking have consistently declined in the US over the past 40 years. Not only are fewer people smoking, but those who do smoke are going through fewer packs than people did a generation ago.

I haven't looked at the methodology of this potato-consumption study, and I'm generally skeptical of nutritional studies based on self-report. However, although the investigators presumably started with a specific hypothesis, they didn't know whether the data would support it. That's the whole point of doing science -- to find evidence that supports or refutes your hypothesis. This particular study may be "pointing out the obvious," but sometimes things that are obvious common knowledge turn out to be untrue.

Jun 23, 2011
jlafler in Food Media & News

do you get crabby when hungry?

I generally wait to start drinking until I'm done chopping. Seems prudent....

Jun 15, 2011
jlafler in Not About Food

Do you stereotype a Chef based on his/her kitchen tools?

Yeah, me too.

Jun 11, 2011
jlafler in General Topics

Do you stereotype a Chef based on his/her kitchen tools?

Depends on what you mean by "stereotype." It's often possible to make conclusions about what type of cooking a chef is doing by looking at their tools. Whether the product will be any good is another matter.

I tend to look look askance at home cooks who have a lot of specialized gadgets in their kitchens -- unless I know that they really do use them. Over the years I have seen a lot of kitchens that are clearly designed for appearance rather than function. It seems like such a waste to have all that fancy equipment and acres of shiny granite when it's clear that little or no cooking ever takes place there.

Jun 11, 2011
jlafler in General Topics

Speaking of weird food/health news: Salt is healthy!

Mine's generally around there -- I think the highest it's ever been was around 90. Sometimes my HDL is higher than my LDL.

No credit to me; I inherited this (and my low-normal blood pressure) from my father.

May 20, 2011
jlafler in Food Media & News

Speaking of weird food/health news: Salt is healthy!

I was a vegetarian for many years, also, and I have often encountered the attitudes you're talking about (aka "Bourdain Syndrome"). I got to the point where I didn't use the word vegetarian because it seemed to set people off -- they would immediately become defensive about eating meat. If I had to talk about it, I'd say "I don't eat meat," but only if I had to talk about it. I remember once a pizza party where there was a vegetarian pizza, and I started to ask people not to eat up the entire pizza, but to leave some for me since I was a vegetarian, and everybody reacted as though I'd claimed the pizza for myself. I only tried to say something about it because meat-eaters will often eat up the vegetarian offerings at a party or potluck without thinking about the fact that some people are eating *only* those dishes.

At the same time, there are some holier-than-thou vegetarians and vegans out there, so it's not just that the defensive meat-eaters are imagining that vegetarians are judging them and trying to "convert" them -- some are.

My point was not that we should talk/think about this stuff all the time, but rather that it's easy for people to get into the mindset that their own ethical choices are somehow without compromise (unlike other people's). And I have met vegans who never seem to have considered the harm done to animals by agriculture.

May 19, 2011
jlafler in Food Media & News

Speaking of weird food/health news: Salt is healthy!

Nothing we do is completely "ethical."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Yup, there are always trade-offs.

For example, I wish that more vegans would acknowledge that agriculture kills animals, too, both directly (e.g. getting chewed up by farm equipment or killed as pests) and indirectly (e.g. through habitat loss/destruction, pollution of waterways, etc.) and yes, these are true even of organic farming. There's no such thing as a free lunch, ethically speaking.

May 19, 2011
jlafler in Food Media & News

Speaking of weird food/health news: Salt is healthy!

Try being diabetic. If people know you're diabetic they'll constantly comment on what you're buying/eating. I hate it. People will tell me what to eat, or ask what I'm "allowed" to eat. (Answer: I'm an adult, I decide what I'm going to eat.) And people have all sorts of crazy ideas about what diabetics are "allowed." They assume that I want things that are artificially sweetened -- no, I don't! Aside from a *very* occasional diet soda, I don't use artificial sweeteners. There are very few things that are absolute no-nos; most of the things you eat I can incorporate into my diet. It's just a matter of balance.

When I was first diagnosed I talked about it all the time, but now I very rarely tell people unless it comes up directly.

May 19, 2011
jlafler in Food Media & News

Fructose is toxic - your thoughts?

Lightbulb moment. It has occurred to me that part of the problem is exactly what you think "calories in/calories out" means.

May 18, 2011
jlafler in Food Media & News

Speaking of weird food/health news: Salt is healthy!

Well, there are a few differences. :-) But on the biochemical level all life is very similar, and on the level of basic function all animals are pretty similar.

May 18, 2011
jlafler in Food Media & News

Curious, do you bag single veggies in the store or not?

I have some little mesh bags for produce, too, but I'm not as good about remembering to bring them when I go shopping as I am about my big canvas bags.

May 16, 2011
jlafler in Not About Food

Speaking of weird food/health news: Salt is healthy!

First they get a little more active (the happy, raucous stage), then they start reeling around, and eventually they pass out.

There's also a device called an inebriometer. It's a vertical tube with little slanted baffles that the flies can stand on (when they're sober). The investigators fill it with ethanol vapor and as the flies get drunk, they lose their coordination and fall off the baffles. (In other words: they drink, they get drunk, they fall down.) It's used for things like assessing different genetic strains and their response to alcohol.

May 16, 2011
jlafler in Food Media & News

Speaking of weird food/health news: Salt is healthy!

That's true, although you can get them drunk.

May 16, 2011
jlafler in Food Media & News

Curious, do you bag single veggies in the store or not?

You know the microbes (mostly bacteria) in and on your body outnumber your own body's cells by a factor of 10-20.

May 14, 2011
jlafler in Not About Food

Curious, do you bag single veggies in the store or not?

+1

I also bag things like green beans, because there's no other way to keep them together.

May 13, 2011
jlafler in Not About Food

Speaking of weird food/health news: Salt is healthy!

I figured that was probably what you meant.

Correlation in nutrition studies is an especially knotty problem, because it's almost impossible to do a nutrition study, especially a long-term study, that truly controls all the relevant variables. As lab animals, humans are very unsuitable: we live too long, reproduce too slowly and infrequently, behave unpredictably, and have a tendency to lie and otherwise conceal our behavior. I prefer Drosophila.

May 13, 2011
jlafler in Food Media & News

Speaking of weird food/health news: Salt is healthy!

Correlation is a clinical finding. But conclusions about causation that are based on correlation may or may not be valid.

May 12, 2011
jlafler in Food Media & News

Have you ever slaughtered an animal? Would you?

Our cats would play with the mice, rats, and birds they catch for hours, if we let them.

Luckily, they are too old and slow to catch anything these days.

May 05, 2011
jlafler in Not About Food

Have you ever slaughtered an animal? Would you?

This is true, but there is still a learning curve.

May 05, 2011
jlafler in Not About Food

Have you ever slaughtered an animal? Would you?

There's a little Catch-22 here, though -- if the slaughtering is only done by a person with experience, how does anybody become experienced? This is a big ethical conundrum in medicine, actually: the surgeon with the one with the most experience at a particular type of surgery is generally the best; but if less experienced surgeons never get the chance to practice, they will never become experienced. The question, then, is "who/what do they practice on?"

May 05, 2011
jlafler in Not About Food

Fructose is toxic - your thoughts?

"The choice to consume food in excess quantities is our problem. Or is it even a problem? Food addiction should not be a survivable trait, so it should select itself out if we allow it."

It's not that simple when you're talking about complex behavioral traits. See my reply to Servorg above.

May 01, 2011
jlafler in Food Media & News