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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Good Food News-Syrian Bakers

On the website Civil Eats there is an article about the ways that Syrian refugees in Norway, Toronto, and Phoenix are struggling to make a living abroad with their native culinary skills and traditions.

With the backdrop of the long, complex Syrian wheat crisis, these immigrants are trying to keep their traditional bread and pastry recipes alive, often without permanent kitchens or physical baking spaces.

Classes and intergenerational baking lessons are helping “give them a sense of family when they are far away from home.” It's a sweet way to share their culture with the next generation and the new neighbors in their adoptive lands.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A Flavorful Stigma

Kimberly Jung is many things: an Afghanistan Veteran, a Harvard Business School graduate, and a tiramisu aficionado (with her own tiramisu hack!). Along with two of her fellow veterans, she is also a cofounder of Rumi, a spice company committed to empowering Afghan women and bolstering that country’s economy.

I am very much a fan of her mission and passion. Our chat covers her time in the service, growing up in LA's Chinatown and of course where to find the world's premiere saffron. Savior "A Flavorful Stigma" on Episode 20,of Something About Food?

Kimberly Jung is the CEO and co-founder of Rumi. While serving in the US military, Kim was an Engineer Officer who led a route clearance platoon in the Wardak and Ghazni provinces of Afghanistan in 2010-2011. She also served with provincial reconstruction teams as a female engagement team member to help empower Afghan village women. She earned her bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from the U.S. Military Academy in 2008 and holds a Professional Engineering license in Mechanical Engineering from the State of California. She graduated with her MBA from Harvard Business School in 2015. Kim volunteers her time with Girl Scouts, youth volleyball, and Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.

Rumi sources the world’s premier saffron. Their delicate, fragrant saffron graces the tables and kitchens of The French Laundry, Daniel, Le Bernardin, Bouley, and the Culinary Institute of America. The co-founders are former Army officers who served combat tours in Afghanistan. After leaving the military, they felt that they still had unfinished business to support Afghanistan and its people. They founded Rumi Spice to work directly with Afghan farmers to import exceptionally high-quality saffron. In Afghanistan, they've hired 1952 Afghan women, run three processing facilities, and have over 90 farmers in their network. They make up 3.6% of Afghanistan’s total foreign direct investment in agriculture. Visit their website and read recent articles about Rumi in the New York Times, CNBC, and Food & Wine.

A few of these dumplings were mentioned in our conversation.

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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Sum It Up Sunday-A Portion of It

I adore an Indian Buffet. You don't even know. It gives me a chance to try things I might not be willing to shell out the $$ for to try as a stand-alone dish. And it literally feeds into my binge eating disorder.

Let me explain what that means for me. When I get stressed out in any way, good, bad or weird, I want to eat. Actually, not just want; there is a need, a force that compels me to eat. I don't always even want what I'm eating, I just do it as an instinctive response that I developed unconsciously from when I was around 11.

That was when my dad left for the final time, puberty hit and I had no coping mechanisms for this perfect storm. I didn't think there was anyone to talk to, anyone who would listen to the sadness, anger, and fear that were roiling inside of me.

After collecting my paper route money, I would stop off  at a small store to buy packaged brownies, Cheetos and a Sprite, which I then shoved down my face before I headed home to give the rest of the money I earned to my mother to help pay for milk for the family.

There were also the baggies of cake decorating supplies, sprinkles, chocolate chips and coconut, hidden in my sock drawer for me to shove into my face when someone in the family erupted in anger because we didn't know how to process the craziness that was thrust into our lives.

That bingeing carried on into college, where pizza and wings were a Buffalo tradition, and I used that to my advantage. My drinking, binge drinking, became almost professional.

So you see, bingeing was something I didn't know how to stop.

I've spent years working on it. Sobriety was the first step, 13 years ago. Now I don't have food around me that will trigger a binge: no chocolate, no cookies, no chips, not even crackers.

Now I'm working on portion control-  I go into a restaurant with the plan that I will cut my meal in half and take rest home. I even look up the menu ahead of time to see what will work for me.

This may seem obsessive. "Lighten up", some say, "Live a little!". But when I do think "I deserve this doughnut. I need this cheese-covered pizza", it can end up being more than one doughnut or slice of pizza.

My Normal, for right now, is continual watchfulness over my stress levels, my portions, and my health. For me, this works to keep me healthy in mind and body.

Hopefully, it will eventually become just another portion of a healthy life.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Good Food News-Houston Free Lunch

Here is a wonderful story from Saveur magazine about a Texas school district that is helping its students after Hurricane Harvey dumped a crippling 50 inches of rain on the region in August.
The Houston Independent School District announced that all of its students will eat three meals a day (breakfast, lunch, and supper) for free during the 2017-2018 school year. The district received approval from the US and TX  Departments of Agriculture, and  federal, state and district authorities are working as one to ensure everyone eats.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Poetry and Pupusas

Javier is a Salvadoran poet that I read about in a New Yorker magazine article. I was intrigued by his youth, his harrowing immigration story and his poetry that delves into those experiences.

He was very game to chat as he’s a food lover like you wouldn’t believe! We talk about his grandmother's cooking, Hawaiian restaurants, and karaoke love in “Poetry and Pupusas”, Episode 19 of Something About Food?.

Javier Zamora was born in El Salvador and migrated to this country at the age of nine. A Wallace Stegner fellow at Stanford, he is the winner of numerous awards and fellowships; his first poetry collection, Unaccompanied, was published in September by Copper Canyon Press.  You can find him on Instagram and Twitter @jzsalvipoet.

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This is not a plate of pupusas; it is, however, the salad I had in Cambodia that we chatted about. Go listen and find out all about it.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Sum It Up Sunday-2017

Well 2017, you have been one surprising year.

In January I marched in Washington with family and friends:

In the following months I also marched in Denver for our Muslim friends, Planned Parenthood and Science:

Finished writing my book about my Around the World Trip, and took lot's of recipe pics for it.

So many pictures...coming soon...

Started a podcast with a good buddy. And we've got over 17 episodes and 2000 downloads!

Visited with and was visited by friends and family:

Got some runs in:

And ate a whole ton of food.

And I can now say something I never ever thought I would say. Red Cabbage tastes pretty damn good when juiced. (Mixed with other fruits and veg, of course, I mean I haven't gone off into the total hippy deep end....yet...).

I absolutely moved forward in 2017. And as always, I'll keep working on my motto, Be Better.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Good Food News-Win Win

From the blog Good Black News comes heartwarming story about a lottery winner giving back.

Miguel Pilgram won a $52 million jackpot using quick-pick numbers in 2010, and is now using a part of it to develop Sistrunk Boulevard, a corridor that is called the “historical heartbeat of Fort Lauderdale’s oldest black community.” The 48-year-old Coral Springs resident and father of two is rolling out plans for restaurants, a Memphis Blues club, a performing arts center and much more. That’s a win win situation don’t ya think?

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Positively Cynical

Won Kim is a restaurateur and artist that I have been following for some time now. His mashup of Polish and Korean food and his artistic badassery showcase how you can be yourself without giving a shit about how it looks to anyone else.

It's not an edgy gimmick, its just Won being Won on “Positively Cynical”, Episode 18 of Something About Food?

A Chicago native by way of Seoul, South Korea, Won grew up eating his mother's Korean food. As part of a household where both parents worked, Won was responsible for making the rice for the family and being a kimchi assistant to his mother. These experiences and responsibilities gave him that appreciation for preparing and enjoying food that guide him today.

Art was Won's first passion but he always had an affinity for food and approached it with a sense of creativity and experimentation. He attended culinary school for a short period, but mainly learned on his feet by staging, doing pop-ups and helping friends in the industry with anything and everything food-related: he has hosted a series of beer dinners at Whole Foods Market, been a private chef for Tom Kehoe, and assisted with cooking whole pigs. These experiences led him to running Kimski - a Korean Polish street food restaurant in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago. Follow him on Instagram @kimskichicago

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