Lazy Man Lectures…What’s with the Q & A??
May 26, 2010

Bordain and Rippert on stage, with Reagan at the left....

OK, I told you I was attending the Anthony Bordain shindig Saturday night….he and Le Bernadin chef Eric Rippert were appearing at the Hippodrome for a “Foodie Experience“. Tickets were $50 a pop….that was just for the program btw, not including the tasting stations afterwards, which would have added a significant sum to the total for the evening(and rumor on the chef underground has it they blew off the tasting and jetted out)…my friend Elise from Chesapeake Foodie and I….opted out of the food part….we had a great dinner in the Brewer’s Art bar…killer pork belly on sweet potato biscuits…but I digress. 

Onstage at the Hipp…was a long sofa and a chair. Hmmmmm, that’s an interesting configuration…too much seating for two men, and I don’t think anyone’s taking a nap, so what gives? About fifteen minutes after the start time of 8pm, a guy strolls out, and introduces himself as Reagan of Mix 106.5 radio station….welcoming the crowd, ….I’ve done the intro act myself, so ok. He goes onto say that he has “been involved with this presentation from the beginning”… and then it became clear what was going on….Reagan was going to interview Bordain and Rippert onstage. Sigh(not a good sigh). A famous Band song comes to mind…”Take a load off Fannie, take a load for free“…. 

This is no knock on Reagan…I thought he did a pretty good job actually, so hat’s off, Reagan….but here’s the thing. It’s the lazy performer’s format. I experienced this for the first time when I went to hear author Michael Pollan(Omniviore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food) speak at Goucher College.  He came out onstage, sat down and announced he was here to answer your questions…no lecture, no here’s who I am and what I think….just… you got a question I’ll answer it, otherwise we’ll all just sit here in silence and contemplate our navels for an hour….sigh(again, bad sigh). Come on Pollan…anybody can sit and answer questions, it takes a little prep work, a little thought, a little….ummmm…work, to address a crowd who has come to hear you, though surely not much thought. He “speaks” a lot so surely there must be several set lectures on file in that brain. Here’s my complaint. Not only is it lazy…it skews the whole evening to being held hostage to whatever crazy, off topic question some knucklehead has. And that can be a lot. So you never get a good overview of his thoughts on things, just the answer to whatever question has been asked. And only answering questions assumes a GREAT deal of knowledge on the part of every audience member. Guess what? They’re not all BIG FANS. Some just have kinda heard of you and would like to hear your thoughts. At least it was free. 

So the same complaint somewhat held true for the Bordain/Rippert Foodie experience. It was an Q&A interview format, followed by more Q&A by audience members! Oh the joy! It’s a cheap and much too easy format(ok not cheap, $50 a ticket x 1800 people=90 grand, thank you very much). Anyone can sit and answer questions…and sure they did it in an entertaining fashion. And Reagan covered the bases, but come on, famous people.  Do the prep work..give me my $50 worth…or maybe …just let us know in advance that this is what I’m gonna get. Oh, one amusing note….Bordain was admonishing workers in the kitchen to “have respect for your chef…just show up for work on time”. I’d agree…but add you might have the same respect for your audience and show up on stage at 8, not 8:15.  Any questions?? Anyone??

The Food Revolution Continues….
April 13, 2010

Go more meat..wheeeeeee!!!

I thought this supermarket ad in the newspaper was amusing…celebrate Earth Day by buying even more meat! Yeah, except that if you really want to do the Earth a favor, it would be consuming LESS meat, not more(a 2006 U.N. report found the meat industry creates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined) . I’ve made efforts in that direction, avoiding meat for a couple of nights a week. I might do black bean soup with avocado on top, or something like that. I really enjoy it, but it’s a whole different mindset not planning a meal around the protein…know what I mean?

Tonight I’m going to hear Michael Pollan speak at Goucher College( full disclosure… I got the invite from my Chesapeake Foodie friend Elise who got the tickets…I didn’t even know he was in town, duh)…He’s written In Defense of Food, and other books, about the science and art of simply eating well…he believes that the health care crisis we have on our hands is due in no small part to what and how we eat. Here, here…so he has now written Food Rules.  It’s a book of simple everyday rules about how to eat better…and it all ties in with Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution..(I just signed his petition today, here’s a link! Nothing crazy really….eat  real food, not too much of it, more plants than meat. How hard is that? Hey, it’s not, but it takes thought and planning. Pollan says this about Food Rules…” I set out to collect and formulate some straightforward, memorable, everyday rules for eating, a set of personal policies that would, taken together or even separately, nudge people onto a healthier and happier path.”

I was telling my baby sister about the Jamie Oliver tv show trying to get schools to serve healthier, real food to their kids, and with the resistance he’s met. She is a kindergarten teacher at a rural private school in Alabama….and was surprised that the only milk they offer is whole milk. Not 2%, Not 1% or skim, but good ole full fat milk…which NO kid needs to be drinking, and some kind of sugary fruit drink…ditto. “Oh, that’s all they’ll drink“, or “They don’t like low fat milk“….hogwash, I say. Sure they will, if that’s what you put out. Or start with 2%, and them switch to 1%, and then maybe make the switch to skim. Her pleas fell on deaf ears for a while….then they put out lower fat milk, but have now switched back to whole. Sigh. What is it in this country…such nutritional ignorance… that we poison our kids with foods and drinks they shouldn’t have?? What? Where a serving a French fries count as a vegetable? Laughable. Disgraceful. I like French fries too but they’re a treat, not served on the lunch line every day. This is not new by the way, but much worse today. When I was a kid, I complained to my Mom about not liking the hotdog buns(mmm, healthy) served one day a week at school. She asked why, and I told her they were greasy. So she went to school where the lunch ladies explained they had all this free butter from the government and they had to use to somehow, so they put it on the hotdogs buns. “Hey, lets add a couple of hundred calories to all these kids hotgdogs! Grab the butter, lots of it!” They stopped, btw, afte she complained. And shouldn’t we parents be doing more of that? Finding out what schools serve(like sodas-come on!), and making our voices heard.

So I’ll be anxious to hear what Mr. Pollan has to say tonight…he’ll be preaching to the choir of course. Most of us there are already converts to good eating. Still, I’d like to learn more about the whole issue. And maybe you too will think about removing meat from the table a night or two a week…for your health and for the planet.

Oh, and here are a couple of his rules for you to think about…..#36 Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk. #19 If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t. And here’s my fav: #39 Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself. As he says, once you start cooking those fries yourself….you won’t eat them as often! What used to be treats like pastries and cakes and fries are now cheap, readily available everyday foods….and that’s just not good for us.