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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Not Spam!

Just because someone eats a vegan diet, doesn't mean they don't want comfort food and "meat". That is where The Herbivorous Butcher comes in. I have been hearing about them, and founders, sister and brother Aubrey and Kale Walch for several years now. I read about their breakout at a Minneapolis farmers market and cheered on their appearance on Diners Drive-Ins and Dives.

And now they are here to chat with me about McDonald's, real faux meat and eating vegan in Scotland on "Not Spam!", Episode 25 of Something About Food?

Siblings Aubry and Kale Walch are the owners of The Herbivorous Butcher, America's first vegan butcher shop, in northeast Minneapolis. Their plant-based meats and cheeses appeal to vegans and non-vegans alike, and range from Ribeye Steak to Pastrami to Smoked Gouda to Brie.

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I ordered up a bunch of their "meat-free meat" and "cheese-free cheese". It was all I wanted and more. I can see why the Korean BBQ "ribs" are a big seller. It's the pastrami though, that really won me over.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Sum It Up Sunday-Cup Yours!

I have become someone that ten years ago I would not have recognized. I'm talking about tea. I drink at least four cups a day, and in the past I would have thought that was crazy!
Now a cuppa, maybe a good book and often some toast and I have myself a perfect afternoon.

It all started in Vancouver BC a few days after I finished my first 24 Hour Run in Colorado. My body was so wiped out it couldn't regulate the temperature, and stupidly I had decided to travel to the Pacific NW in October. Fall? When it starts raining.

At the time I was managing the Specialty Department for a "BigNaturals" store, so I knew all about tea; I just didn't like the flavor. Fruit-filled or spiced aromas would emanate from the cup, and the flavor was just weak to me. Then I found Genmaicha, a Japanese beverage consisting of green tea combined with roasted popped brown rice. The toasted rice makes for a more robust flavor that my taste buds liked.

So began my tea journey, especially when I am traveling.  Tea in many countries is the main beverage. New Zealand, Ireland, and England are the first to come to mind. Mint tea in Morocco was so much better than I thought it would be, as it was made with strong black tea and fresh mint. It was refreshing in a way a mint tea bag just isn't.
I mentioned the toast, and if you know me, you know it's an obsession of mine. Why? Because it is the perfect food! No matter what you eat you can find a bread you can toast and top with whatever strikes your fancy. A cuppa on the side for dunking or sipping, I mean, come on! It feels indulgent and comforting all at the same time.

This cup here, on my right, was a Spice Tea in Zanzibar. Quite possibly the best chai spice I've ever had. It was spicy and gingery and just full of flavor.

My all-time favorite tea culture... oh who am I kidding, my all time favorite culture period, is Turkish. And the tea culture there is a big part of that love. They are the number one consumer of tea in the world, above Morocco and Ireland!

Their small glasses on these little plates are served everywhere, and cost next to nothing. One young man I met said he drinks over 30 a day!I'm on the hunt for a Turkish Tea set, which has a special two-piece teapot so that I can drink this tea all the live long day.

The books I read when I'm settling into my tea ritual change with my mood, where I happen to be and the assorted titles I find at used book shops, thrift stores, free libraries, and trade shelves in hostels. I don't care where I find them, I'm just going to read them. 

Chai right off the street in India could not have been better. The man making it, that was all he did. Small glasses of piping hot, spice filled tea that burnt so good.  

This was the very first cup of tea I had outside of the North American Continent in Wellington NZ. And yes I do remember where I had most of these.   Look, more toast....

Here is my all time favorite tea strainer, because it fits every cup, ever... 

The tea on the left ended up on the boobs on the right because I don't always remember where my mouth is...                                   

I won't bore you with all the books, avocado toast et al...

I will say that Pu'er,  a variety of Chinese fermented tea, the aforementioned Genmaicha, and Turkish tea (├žay) are my morning ritual teas because if I have too much caffeine after noon I'm blitzed by evening and can't sleep.

For those afternoons I find a strong ginger tea from an Asian Market, for after lunch. Apple Spice Tea and Bengal Spice Tea from Celestial Seasonings are where it is at for me the late afternoon, right now.

(Did I mention I worked for Celestial Seasonings for a few months about 22 years ago? Guess what my job title was...has to do with tea and what tea comes in...)

Someday I hope you'll join me for a cuppa with toast and we'll discuss literature and maybe, just maybe, that job I had.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Good Food News-Coop Community

Fast Company shares a positive story about West Oakland community members that opened their own grocery store to bring healthy food to their neighborhood. In 2009, they launched Mandela Foods Cooperative, a health food store with a small but Whole Foods-like produce section.

Despite the high failure rates of new businesses, the store has survived. This year, it will expand into a new retail space more than twice as large. The foundation of the store’s success,  they say, is the community’s support for it, and the commitment of the coop’s worker-owners to keep it going.

They may open more locations in Vallejo and East Oakland, which also lack convenient access to healthy food. Now that’s a community that takes care of each other!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Post Up

Rich Cho is a man in love with food and searching it out wherever he may be. His travels around the US have given him amazing insight into the underrated food cities, which he shares on his blog Big Time Bites.  He chats with me about it on "Post Up", Episode 24 of Something About Food?

Whether it's a hot dog, tuna tartare with his daughters, or seafood in Europe, he is in the know!

Rich Cho is a basketball executive who most recently served as the general manager of the NBA Charlotte Hornets after joining the franchise in June of 2011.  As the organization’s lead basketball operations executive, Cho managed and oversaw all player personnel matters, including professional and collegiate scouting, draft preparations, player acquisitions, salary cap management, training camp, preseason scheduling and the team’s athletic training, equipment and conditioning programs.

A native of Burma who immigrated to the United States with his family in 1968 when he was three years old, Cho became the first Asian-American general manager in American major league sports when he served as General Manager of the Portland Trail Blazers in 2010-11.

An avid explorer of restaurants and cuisine, Cho founded an interactive food blog site called Bigtime Bites to bring basketball fans and food lovers across the country together. Cho also enjoys staying active by playing basketball, tennis, ping-pong, and softball in his spare time.  During the 2017 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, Cho won the NBA Summer League Table Tennis Challenge Benefiting Hoops for St. Jude for the second time (previously won in 2013).  Cho and his wife, Julie, have two daughters, Miranda and Annika.

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Rich is a tartare fiend, as evidenced by this pic he took of a favorite dish on his blog.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Sum It Up Sunday-Home Is Where?


and Fruita, CO and Aztec, NM

and La Roche-sur-Yon, France...

... are cities and towns that have little to do with one another, and yet I've connected with all of them. House/Pet sitting has given me the chance to travel and stay in areas I wanted to explore. For the past 3 years, ever since I sold my condo, I've technically been homeless. Family and friends have generously opened their homes to me for stays from a few days to up to a month.
In an effort to not wear out my welcome, I've also used a couple of websites in order to find folks who are looking for someone to watch over their pets and homes, and I trade that watchfulness for a place to stay and a new area to explore.

This vagabond existence is purposeful, although I know it may not seem like it. When I came back to the US from my year-long Round the World Journey, I started writing a book about it and started the Something About Food? podcast in order to carry on the food conversation. Neither of those endeavors has brought me riches untold...yet...

Until they do, I'll keep wandering about, getting time with sweet cats, dogs, goats and chickens and a roof over my head in interesting places.

That book I wrote is actually finished now and has been for several months. I went the usual publishing route, sending query letters to literary agents and publishers, with only rejection letters to show for it. So self-publishing is now the way to go. This next week I'll be getting in touch with CreateSpace and starting that process.

Stay tuned, and you'll be reading about the 19 countries, 3 donkeys and one pair of lost plaid Chuck Taylors soon enough!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Good Food News-Black Farmers Sowing Seeds

This NPR story relates how people of color are becoming farmers for reasons that go beyond merely growing food to sell. Healthy eating, diversity, and sustainable farming practices so that healthy food becomes accessible to those who can't afford it all provided the impetus for two of the farmers featured.

What blew me away in the story was this blaring statistic: "Farming is more than 90 percent white — the second-whitest job in the United States, according to 2016 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics."

The farmers hope to encourage more of diversity among their ranks by hiring interns, focusing on women, people of color and others from underrepresented communities.

For one of the farmers, her "customers who can afford to pay more essentially help support those who don't have the budget. She says her low-income clients get a full box of vegetables each week no matter what."

Another farmer says "It's not just about our happy damn chickens. This is about: How do we fix this system?".

Sowing the seeds of change is a beautiful way to grow.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Safari So Good

I met Hagai Zvulun when I was a part of one of his Serengeti safaris. After only a few minutes in the car together I realized that this guy gets it. He enjoys food as much as do, and his love for Tanzania and the Serengeti experiences was infectious. I knew we had to chat more.

Uniting over chocolate, toum and the wonders of the Wildebeest migration were all part of the "mostly vegan" conversation here in Episode 23, "Safari So Good".

Hagai Zvulun, the founder and co-owner of Matembezi, was born in Ethiopia to an anthropologist father and spent his early years there. An avid naturalist, he returned to Africa in 1992 and back-packed extensively, exploring the wilderness areas of Eastern, Central, and Southern Africa. In 1994 he began guiding wildlife safaris and natural history tours while traveling further through Africa, the Mascarenes and further afield in Asia and South America, seeking the best wildlife experiences. In 2001 Hagai made the choice to start his own safari operation in Tanzania, his personal Eden. You can find them on Facebook here.

Hagai spends his free time exploring, birding and scuba diving in Africa and the Western Indian Ocean basin. Hagai holds B.F.A. in photography from the Bezalel Academy of arts in Jerusalem and is a member of the Interpretive Guides Society. He lives with his wife and daughters in a village outside of Arusha.

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Just a cheetah hanging out on the safari I took with Hagai in the Serengeti, you know, as one does...