Category Archives: Food

Letter From Home Part 4: The Disappearing English Pub

“The traditional English pub has all but disappeared.” Sighed a long-time friend, “Now they’re all about gourmet food with TV star chefs!”  She added, grudgingly. To prove her point we had lunch in a Tudor-timbered hostelry, with part of its structure dating back to the 16th century. Instead of squeezing in between regulars crowding the bar, attempting to catch the attention of the bar person, we were guided to a table by a fabulously slim young lady of Eastern European extraction, dressed in the obligatory black. We were handed beautifully designed menus offering gastronomic delights that could have been at odds with the surroundings until you got to the section headed Pudding. There, in their ubiquitous glory were the three words that confirm you are still in a pub in England…Sticky Toffee Pudding! This could start a long debate but, at some point in the last century, dessert in England became known as pudding. And here is where it becomes rather complicated, on almost every menu everywhere in England, under the pudding items will always be Sticky Toffee Pudding. You could be in the most snotty of haute cuisine establishments or chowing down in a workman’s caff, yet no matter the price range or the snob appeal, Sticky Toffee Pudding will be there. Of course, the name is a misnomer for the American diner, as it’s neither pudding in the American sense, or really that sticky as far as sticky goes. It may taste of toffee, sort of. But, that would depend on your idea of toffee. The reason Sticky Toffee Pudding is on every menu is most likely to do with the English obsession with connecting to our roots, as daft as that is. The menu at this pub, now proudly called a gastropub was, despite all the possible pretensions, most appealing. Two of our party went for the Bouillabaisse, one opted for the Trout a la Maison, while I went down-market with the curiously-named Posh Fish Finger Sandwich. After the meal my friend and aspiring authority on English pubs, suggested we go to a real pub that hadn’t been gentrified yet. “This is where you can still get a proper pint from a vast selection on tap and a bag of crisps if you happen to feel hungry.” She advised with a bit of know-it-all-attitude. The One Eyed Cat in Ripon, Yorkshire, did indeed have a splendid and varied selection of draughts beers on tap and yes, crisps were available along with pork rinds and pickled eggs for those in need of something to sop up the ale. There was a cozy fireplace with an actual fire, despite this being the middle of summer. A few customers sat silently glancing from their beer to whoever should venture through the front door. The jukebox played Jolene and a sign above it read, “Don’t bang the front!” Which I found disturbing and funny at the same time. “This one will probably be another gastropub the next time you visit.” Groaned my friend. I couldn’t help thinking that perhaps I had been away too long. The appeal of the traditional English pub had in effect all but disappeared from my memory.

For the month of June and part of July, Life Elsewhere. host, Norman B has been revisiting England, his home country. Part of his journey has included interviews which will appear at later dates on the program.

Life Elsewhere is available at iTunes

Sundays 12 noon ET at The Source WMNF HD3  
Mondays 5.00pm PT & Wednesdays 2.00pm PT at NWCZ Radio
Thursdays 6.00pm ET at Internet Radio Network
Fridays at 9.00pm GMT on Cornucopia Radio

If you miss any editions of Life Elsewhere, go here then go to the Listen On Demand panel, choose the date of a show and click play.

Life Elsewhere Music airs:
Mondays at 6.00pm & Wednesdays at 3.00pm Pacific Time on NWCZ Radio
Fridays at 10.00am Eastern Time on IRN
Cornucopia Radio airs Life Elsewhere Music throughout each week

You can hear all the volumes over at Mixcloud

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Letter From Home – Part 1: Fish & Chips

Fish ’n’ chips are still big in England. I guess the seemingly never-ending fondness for a dish that can be cruelly unpleasant if not prepared properly, came as a surprise to me. So many changes have taken place since I left England all those years ago for a career in the US of A. Yet, good ol’ fish ’n’ chips are still proudly available everywhere, throughout the length and breadth of England, found on bustling high streets and in tiny hamlets. Those same typical English high streets and picturesque villages are now also festooned with cool coffee shops, hip bars, gourmand restaurants and the ubiquitous gastropubs. And, each one of these establishments will try to squeeze tables and chairs outside onto the already overcrowded sidewalks in a manner once considered fine on the Continent, but hardly the thing to do in staid old England. So who devours those enormous mountains of battered fish ’n’ chips and avoids posing languidly on spindly bistro chairs? Could these be the same people who hate menus from foreign cuisines, including Croque-monsieurs, baguette sandwiches, and coffee in all its many exotic forms enough to vote for the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union? Brexit has been the number one constant topic of conversation wherever I go. Everyone has an opinion and almost universally that opinion is punctuated with outrage. In London, the standard take is, “There have to be ill-informed idiots somewhere in the country, but they certainly didn’t live next door to me!” While the consensus of opinion when I get out of the city is sadly resigned to, “We knew our neighbors were ignorant!”

For the month of June and part of July, Life Elsewhere. host, Norman B has been revisiting England, his home country. Part of his journey has included interviews which will appear at later dates on the program.

Life Elsewhere is available at iTunes

Sundays 12 noon ET at The Source WMNF HD3  
Mondays 5.00pm PT & Wednesdays 2.00pm PT at NWCZ Radio
Thursdays 6.00pm ET at Internet Radio Network
Fridays at 9.00pm GMT on Cornucopia Radio

If you miss any editions of Life Elsewhere, go here then go to the Listen On Demand panel, choose the date of a show and click play.

Life Elsewhere Music airs:
Mondays at 6.00pm & Wednesdays at 3.00pm Pacific Time on NWCZ Radio
Fridays at 10.00am Eastern Time on IRN
Cornucopia Radio airs Life Elsewhere Music throughout each week

You can hear all the volumes over at Mixcloud

Make a Donation Button

American Catch. Whisk(e)y Distilled. Cork Dork.

                          

The U.S. has access to 94,000 miles of coastline, and nearly half the population lives less than ten miles from the sea. Yet 91 percent of the seafood Americans eat comes from abroad. In contrast, a third of all the fish and shellfish we catch are sold to foreign countries. What is keeping us from eating from our local waters? Norman B interviews New York Times best-selling author Paul Greenberg who’s new book  American Catch: The Fight for Our Local Seafood examines the logic-defying problem with American seafood consumption. Greenberg deftly explores three quintessential American seafoods: The New York oyster, the Gulf shrimp, and the Alaskan sockeye salmon. We may believe that we are what we eat, but Greenberg argues that we do not eat what we truly are. We are an ocean nation, the author says, yet we eat a minimal amount of seafood in comparison to meat and poultry. Study after study has touted the benefits of a diet rich in omega-3s from fish, and we have access to a wealth of nutritious, local food options, but we opt out.

Whisk(e)y is in the midst of a huge renaissance. Ten years ago, the United States housed sixty-nine craft distillers; today, there are more than four hundred. Exports of Scotch whisky grew 12 percent just last year. Sales are skyrocketing, and specialty bars are popping up around the country, from New York City to Chicago to Houston. Whisk(e)y expert Heather Greeneauthor of Whisk(e)y Distilled: A Populist Guide to the Water of Life will explain to Norman B, (who admits to being a novice) the mysteries of Whisk(e)y, the crucial importance of “nosing” Whisk(e)y and the spelling.

Professional journalist and amateur drinker Bianca Bosker didn’t know much about wine until she discovered an alternate universe where taste reigns supreme, a world of elite sommeliers who dedicate their lives to the pursuit of flavor. Astounded by their fervor and seemingly superhuman sensory powers, she set out to uncover what drove their obsession and whether she, too, could become a “cork dork.She visits underground tasting groups, exclusive New York City restaurants, California mass-market wine factories, and even a neuroscientist’s fMRI machine as she attempts to answer the most nagging question of all: What’s the big deal about wine? Bianca Bosker joins Norman B to talk about her new book Cork Dork – A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste.

Life Elsewhere airs:
Sundays 12 noon ET at The Source WMNF HD3  

Mondays 5.00pm PT & Wednesdays 2.00pm PT at NWCZ Radio
Thursdays 6.00pm ET at Internet Radio Network

Life Elsewhere Music airs:
Wednesdays at 3.00pm Pacific Time on NWCZ Radio
Fridays at 10.00am Eastern Time on I R N

You can hear all the volumes over at Mixcloud

The Caricaturist & The Tastemaker

Illustration by Steve Brodner for The Nation

Illustration by Steve Brodner for The Nation

Caricature is a subcategory of illustration, it’s about finding the narrative elements within a portrait and making them clear as tools in making literal and figurative points. When done for publication, it is not merely about making big things bigger and small things smaller. It is storytelling. This involves knowledge about what is under the surface of a face and teasing it to the top. Caricature is not the destination. It is the journey. It’s the bike you ride.” The words of famed caricaturist, Steve Brodner, a popular guest on Life Elsewhere. This past week, we asked Steve to put his words to work by watching the most recent GOP debate in Las Vegas and report back with a caricaturist’s take on the characters at the podiums. Brodner took to the task gleefully and next day, ready for the interview, he was bubbling over with brilliant observations of the potential Presidential candidates. His unyielding descriptions of Trump and Cruz and Carson and the rest of the parade, confirm he has a seriously keen eye and biting sense of humor. Don’t miss caricaturist Steve Brodner’s beautifully nuanced and unforgettable depictions in the next edition of Life Elsewhere.

With the big seasonal Holiday less that a week away, Norman B wanted to discover new ideas for a Christmas dinner. So, we called upon David Sax, author of The Tastemakers. This is the man who set about learning “Why we’re crazy for cupcakes and fed up with fondue.” David offers advice with an amiable wit and he has a few surprising truths about what we eat, how we eat it, and why. Join us for the next edition of Life Elsewhere, as we make a meal out of Holiday dinners.

Sundays 12 noon ET at The Source WMNF HD3  
Mondays 7.00pm ET at WROM Radio
Mondays 5.00pm PT at NWCZ Radio

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A Human Instinct For War is the title of Norman B’s latest contribution to Trebuchet Magazine.

 

The Food & Drink Edition

                            

Next on Life Elsewhere, a program devoted to food and drink. Of course, we’ll venture into not so predictable territory. Michelle Ephraim and Caroline Bicks are longtime friends and fans of Shakespeare. They are both professors who teach the works of the Bard. Better still, the two academics like a cocktail. While the learned ladies were imbibing a couple of drinks, inspiration struck: Shakespeare-themed cocktails! The result is Shakespeare, Not Stirred: Cocktails for Your Everyday Dramas. In equal parts, it’s a funny and educational book. If you appreciate Shakespeare and a fine cocktail, make sure you don’t miss this interview.

Continuing on with our food and drink theme, Norman B talks with J. Ryan Stradal, the author of a book that has to qualify as one of the best reads of 2015, Kitchens of the Great Midwest. “This is a remarkable book!” Says Norman B, “As I reached the last couple of pages, I couldn’t help myself, tears meandered down my cheeks. From the very first page Stradal drew me into his complicated, yet seemingly simple story. A story that revolves around a passion for food and drink.” Setting his impressive book in the Midwest, with fine dining as a central theme, is a stroke of genius. J. Ryan Stradal grew up in Hastings, Minn, a place he lovingly references in one hilarious chapter. The cover and even the book’s title could mislead a prospective reader from discovering the wonderful story Stradal weaves. To accompany the fascinating interview, we’ve added a selection of food and drink themed music, including, Patrick WolfTanita TikaramCibo MattoThe KinksBob Marley.

A quick word about last week’s edition featuring Frank Jenkinson’s photo book on Killing Joke, we’ve received numerous enquiries on how to obtain a copy. You’ll find the direct link here.

Life Elsewhere airs:
Sundays 12 noon ET at The Source WMNF HD3  
Mondays 7.00pm ET at WROM Radio
Mondays 5.00pm PT at NWCZ Radio