Because Gut Feelings is an incredibly mature and sophisticated food blog.

Makoto Azuma needs to go porno, American Apparel is so lacking in minerals and vegetables, and Vice Magazine can suck our daikon.

Tune in next week when we say "poos and wees", - it's gonna be hilarious.

Now That's Bloggy

I'm sure it's nothing new.

But this morning, I met Bloggy for the first time, in a restaurant review in the New York Times. (The restaurant is all about 'connectivity' because you have to be invited to come and partake in the slaughter of a boar, which is so unbelievably bloggy don't you think?)

Bloggy is an adjective. Cute, isn't he?

I was all, like,"Now I'll be blogged. Blog gone it. What the blog is going on here? Shiver me bloggers" etc.

Waiter, this fricasée of duck's innards doesn't taste too fresh... I'm afraid it's a gone a bit stale, and, well,
...... bloggy.


Once, coffee in Thailand often meant Nescafé's, and still does in most of the countryside.

But in the past few years, modern cafés are mushrooming in the city of Chiang Mai, especially around Nimanhamin Road, near Chiang Mai University.

They actually seem to have a lot of branches in Bangkok and even have outlets in Phuket and Pattaya, but in Chiang Mai iberry is one of the newest cafés in the city.

They have a huge yellow dog... and a big Mao Zedong-looking sculpture in their front yard:

The huge yellow dog actually has a human face:

I had a scoop of nutella ice cream (49 baht):
They also have free wireless internet. And nice sofas. Great.

There is also a funny-faced friendly dog:
Is it a French bulldog? or some mix of Boston terrier and bull dog?

Although I still like to support the Chiang Mai local Wawee Coffee (be careful, the website has sounds) for their yummier coffee drinks (for me) and Doi Chang Coffee for their good cause, iberry is a good place to get nice ice cream, alright lattés, and free wireless internet.
Oh Yes, mushrooms.

I've been eating a lot of those too.
I've also been eating a lot of bamboo shoots.
'Tis a rainy season!

Hoo mok het (mushroom steamed in bamboo leaves with condiments) and neem het (mushroom sausage... sticky rice is mixed in and cooked in banana leaves as well):
I brought muu deang (red pork) from the city.
I try to bring one protein dish when I drive out to the farm.

Kaeng het (mushroom soup) and lots of lots of steamed bamboo shoots (and of course, lots of lots of sticky rice):

Yam het, young banana bud salad with canned mackerel in tomato sauce (another protein food I tend to bring from the city), chargrilled peegaa (very funky giant pod that grows on trees) and home-made banana chips:

This is the peegaa tree:
Very funky.
I don't know yet what it is exactly, probably one of the Inga species...

Other than the protein stuff I brought, they are all from the woods and around the house (oh, and except cooking oil and condiments such as salt, nampla and gapi).

Once you start eating really local, pretty soon you'd realize you keep eating the same thing again and again and again, like we eat mushrooms and mushrooms and bamboos and mushrooms and bamboos and mushrooms during the rainy season.

Why not? It kind of makes it simple. Not much of "what to eat today" dilemma one tends to get in the city with too many choices.

Thai Food Bastardisation

All noodle stands close on Mondays in Bangkok for the purpose of street cleaning and repairs which often leaves me in a dilemma. What to eat? I love noodles and can eat them happily everyday and I usually do. But on Mondays I am left to my own devices. It was on Monday the 11th of August that I devised this exceptionally yummy bastardisation of tom kha hed and kanom jeen. Usually served cold or rather at room temperature I had mine hot because I couldn't be bother waiting for them to cool down.

I took one packet of tom yum ingredients available at all Thai food supermarkets. It contains a knob of galangal, 3 stalks of young tender lemon grass, saw tooth corriander, chilis, lime, kaffir lime leaves and shallots. Slice and tear as appropriate and add chilis as desired


One pack of tom ka paste.

I used lobo

Cup of coconut milk (canned, the way it was meant to be)


Fish Sauce (optional)

Rice noodles dried or fresh, (not vermicelli made from bean starch)

Assortment of herbs including dill, mint, thai basil

Mushrooms, oyster, shitake, black cloud, etc

tablespoon of sugar

Bring noodle water to the boil and cook rice noodles

In a small-ish sauce pan bring can of coconut milk to the boil with tom yum fresh ingredients and packet. Add water if needed. I added about a cup. Add mushrooms. Season with sugar and fish sauce to taste. Cool (or not)

Ladle soup over noodles.

Serve with the following condiments fish sauce, fresh herbs, pickled chinese vegetable (optional), green beans, boiled eggs, bitter melon sliced and raw green beans and bean sprouts.

It was yummy, and I later emailed Hock about it to tell him to make this bastardisation for his menu...turns out he had already thought of the same thing and was writing a more funked up recipe for it......he's my twin food soul and together we signfy the death of all that is good and "authentic" in Thai food...he he he he he

kanom jeen/tom ka hed


A few years back, when I lived in North America, every once in a while I would get random cravings for Asian food.

I am usually not a big fan of fish roe, but once, I really wanted to eat ikura gunkan.

Gunkan is a style of sushi you'd wrap nori around sushi rice and spoon in the topping. Commonly done with roe's such as ikura (salmon roe), uni (sea urchin roe), etc.

I went to one of those upscale deli's and bought two overpriced pieces of ikura gunkan. That was only two mouthfuls.

Unsatisfied, a few days later, I went to an Asian grocery store and bought some ikura, prepared sushi rice with lovely genuine nori my forks sent from Japan, and made myself big six pieces of ikura gunkan.

It was lovely. I should have done that before giving the deli a chance.

Making sushi rice was in a snap, because there is such a thing as sushinoko (by the way the product description's Japangrish is worth a peep):
(this image is from the manufacturer Tamanoi's website)

It is dried ready-to-mix vinegar powder. Just add a spoonful or two to a bowl of just-cooked short-grain janonica rice, and voila!

I stopped eating sushinoko when for a while I was eating very macrobiotically correct and omitting instant food and refined sugar from my diet.

Before then, though, it was one of those things I'd stock up so I can easily please the crowd by bringing sushi rolls to parties.

One day I had a phone call from a post office at freaking 5am in the morning, and they demanded that I report to their office, because there was a suspicious package sent from Japan addressed to me.

It was a half dozen sushinoko pouches my forks sent to me, and because they also included some plastic laundry hangers (you know how families send some strange things to forks overseas), one of the sushinoko pouches broke.

The result is a mysterious package from Japan gushing out sour-smelling white powder, which freaked out all the postal workers at the time where anthrax threat was still remembered in the country.

Immigrant Dumpling

orange trash

Today, since I had got myself in a teensy bit of trouble with the immigration department, me & Erik went over to the Auslanderamt. Speaking of the 1950s, this building is typical of Cologne's post-war architecture - at first glance nondescript and beige, but then you start to notice some pretty cool details like big portholes and original lighting fixtures. For some reason, both the entrance by the elevator and the 1st floor immigration department hallway were paved with orange juice and milk cartons. So I was glad I wasn't on acid.




After submitting some papers and promising to bring more, we thought we would have lunch at a big Brauhaus by the Dom cathedral, Früh. That's the Cologne coat of arms above the door. Who that friendly gentleman is in stone relief, I am not sure. He probably worked at the immigration department.



The sausage & cheese salad above was served with a side-dish of yummy bratkartoffeln pan-fried potatoes. The salad, too, looks like something from the 1950s - from one of those cookbooks that has pictures of stuff preserved in aspic, and weird joints of meat with frilly paper sockettes on them, and trifle.

Anyway, it was much yummier than it looks: thin strips of some nameless yellow cheese, really good pickled gherkin, and fleischwurst, which is sort of a cross between luncheon sausage and paté and kids eat it a lot here. I'm not usually a big fan of dill but it added a lot to this salad. Dill, I'm giving you another chance.

I ordered a liver dumpling which came in the usual nice clear broth, sprinkled with a tiny bit of fresh parsley, with a crisp on the outside soft on the inside rye roll.

It was good but the one I had at the Viktuellienmarkt in Munich was better. The Früh version was just a fraction more liver-tasting.

I wonder if I'll have to identify different types of dumpling as part of my integration course.

The server was a joker as is usual at the Brauhaus, and when a businessman next to us asked for an assortment of vegetarian things like plain noodles, the server looked at him with a mixture of disbelief and amusement. He gestured at a few vege dishes on the menu and gently chided, "is that really going to fill you up?"

After lunch we emerged into the warm light of a fading summer, on the small square in front of Früh where a guillotine once stood.

I like every other English speaking media aware person on the planet am currently obsessed with Mad Men. Yes the story line is good, intriguing, but Hock and I are more obsessed with the props, the wardrobes and the food, and gasp, the glassware.

Mid-century furniture has been hip for sometime now, with eames chairs and the like fetching in the thousands, yet to make a serious come back is 1950s food.

But I'm doing my bit.

I made for the first time in my life today, a proper caesar salad. I ate today for the first time in my life a proper caesar salad and I'm glad to report it was delightful, moorish and easy. In fact it's so satisfyingly simple it's hard to imagine that this was the greatest salad of its time, but like most things its simplicity is key to its greatness.

I found the recipe here at a site simply called "No anchovies in caesar", a single web page with an excerpt and recipe from Julia Child's Kitchen book, which explains why the kerfuffle.

One of my early remembrances of restaurant life was going to Tijuana in 1925 or 1926 with my parents, who were wildly excited that they should finally lunch at Caesar's restaurant. Tijuana, just south of the Mexican border from San Diego, was flourishing then, in the prohibition era. People came down from the Los Angeles area in droves to eat in the restaurants; they drank forbidden beer and cocktails as they toured the bars of the town; they strolled in the flowered patio of Agua Caliente listening to the marimba band, and they gambled wickedly at the casino. Word spread about Tijuana and the good life, and about Caesar Cardini's restaurant, and about Caesar's salad.

My parents, of course, ordered the salad. Caesar himself rolled the big cart up to the table, tossed the romaine in a great wooden bowl, and I wish I could say I remember his every move, but I don't. The only thing I see again clearly is the eggs. I can see him break 2 eggs over that romaine and roll them in, the greens going all creamy as the eggs flowed over them. Two eggs in a salad? Two one-minute coddled eggs? And garlic-flavored croutons, and grated Parmesan cheese? It was a sensation from coast to coast, and there were even rumblings of its success in Europe.

How could a mere salad cause such emotion? But, one remembers, that was way back in 1924, when Caesar Cardini invented it, and it was only in the early twenties that refrigerated transcontinental transportation came into being. Before then, when produce was out of season in the rest of the country, there was no greenery to be had. Before then, too, salads were considered rather exotic, definitely foreign, probably Bolshevist, and, anyway, food only for sissies.

I transported all the ingredients to the table and made it a la Julia's instructions. Hock reprimanded my poor salad tossing technique. I nearly forgot to take a photo. We nearly licked our plates clean.


The gayest pizza

For a while now I've been compiling the best google queries that send intertube surfers to our humble site....and aside from the endless "fucking cunts" and "pussy" related queries (I suppose there will be more now), there are from time to time some amusing ones

The title of this post is my favourite one from today.

And it's a good question, what duss they eats?

If you know the answer to this and any of the other questions below, either leave a comment or if a GF member, edit this post with your answer or start a new post with the answer if long.

1. immantrasse japanese food? (K-Jam answer: let me guess, you are a tourist and last night you drank yourself comatose in the Altstadt in Düsseldorf and are trying to remember a tip you got from a hot Tunisian chick. The street you are after is Immermanstrasse, and you should try Takumi's ramen. It's great when you're drunk.)
2. teo chew triads?
3. bad gut feeling about boyfriend? (Maytel answer: consult a friend, not google)
4. souvide side effects?
5. where to eat durians?
6. minimalist vege burger?(K-Jam answer: hah! I've web searched 'minimalist pancakes' or 'minimalist blue cheese' before too. There's a link to Mark 'the Minimalist' Bittman's vege burger recipe on a post that ends with a picture of a giant hallucinogenic horror film meat patty. Not so minimalist.)
7. gangsta muffin recipes?
8. what people have feeling about food ?
9. homer simpson recipes?
10. pooh soup cambodia?
11. cambodian recipe with cat?
12. how to eat chinese pussy ?
12. wagyu lamington?
12. national nerd day?
13. the realm of hataitai? (Maytel answer: contrary to popular belief Hataitai is not a kingdom)
14. government wants to kill you?
15. chicken feelings?
16. white noodle coming out of cat's anus?
17. what attachment would you use to chop onions on food processor?
18. national dish bhutan?
19. gut feeling on rouletter?
20. tofu doughtnut?
21. How to cook fried spiders? (Maytel answer: fry them)
22. nutrition mayonnaise?
23. about cambodian chicken?

What to eat?

Let them eat.....



horse milk?

or grow




actually just carry on doing what you did before

if you can remember what that was

And it makes me wonder why is everyone debating on the issue of food technology and production and not on the issue of systems of distribution and redistribution? The current global food crisis has many makings not just technological ones.
Gayest cake

We had our first unofficial gay marriage at work the other night.

I made the cake.

A gay cake.

South Beauty

So, before the Olympics ends, I thought I'd slide in a more than predictable restaurant recommendation for Beijing, to add to your Steingarten recommendations

It was nearly five years ago that I was in Beijing (on my honeymoon after being married in Yokohama with Kjam in attendance), but the memory of this meal still lingers

After a tough day climbing, around 36 turrets of the great wall.....(things to do before you die: climb great wall - tick) we managed to drag our sorry tired legs out for the evening and headed to South Beauty inside the World Trade Centre for dinner

South Beauty is an upmarket chain restaurant serving Sichuan food. And though I've never been to Sichuan and cannot therefore attest to its "authenticity", it was by my humble standards, a damn good meal.

We ordered the selection of cold appetisers, the spicy crab, the south beauty tofu and the Number One South Beauty Dish

The appetisers and crab were good, but not mind blowing.


The tofu, on the other hand, was amazing. A chef appeared at our table and made fresh tofu, then a waitress doled it into little bowls and added savoury toppings. It was warm and creamy, and although memory fails me as to what exactly the toppings were I remember they were salty and sharp and balanced with the tofu perfectly.




The number one dish emerged as a bowl of seasoned oil into which a piping hot mineral stone is placed

This sends hot oil spitting all over the place....which is where the table cloth comes in handy


Then thinly sliced veal is added and cooked briefly, fished out once the oil splatter dies down. Yes it is oily, but not in an over bearing way and when eaten with the tofu, balanced things out well again.


although there are many places on my "to go and eat list" in the world, Beijing eats are hard to beat in my book.

Bag-in-Box Attraction

Source: New York Times

I remember, growing up in New Zealand, that most parents who were into wine would have a box of chardonnay or savvie handy in the fridge. For some reason my nurse aunt and doctor uncle spring to mind. Feathered bleach blonde hair. Noisy afternoon drinking on an outside deck made of greying timber. The ladies had those silver metal & elastic arm adornments for holding up their shirt sleeves in a fashionable scrunch. On special days they'd do your hair in a french braid. We would blow up the plastic innersleeve bladders from the boxed wine and use them as floaties when we went swimming.
No, not really.
But people weren't shy of cask wine in the '80s. Oh, those halcyon days.

Article in New York Times:

"ITALY’S Agriculture Ministry announced this month that some wines that receive the government’s quality assurance label may now be sold in boxes. That’s right, Italian wine is going green, and for some connoisseurs, the sky might as well be falling.

But the sky isn’t falling. Wine in a box makes sense environmentally and economically. Indeed, vintners in the United States would be wise to embrace the trend that is slowly gaining acceptance worldwide.

Wine in a box has been around for more than 30 years — though with varying quality. The Australians were among the first to popularize it. And hardly a fridge in the south of France, especially this time of year, is complete without a box of rosé."

From Wikipedia:

"The wine cask (or wine box) was invented by Tom Angove of Angove's, a winemaker from Renmark, South Australia, and patented by the company on April 20, 1965.

In 1967 C.H. Malpas and Penfolds Wines patented a plastic, air-tight tap welded into a metallised bladder, making storage much more convenient for consumers. All modern wine casks now utilise some sort of plastic tap, which is exposed by tearing away a perforated panel on the box.
The chief advantage to bag-in-a-box packaging is that it prevents oxidation of the wine during dispensing. After opening, wine in a bottle is oxidized by air in the bottle which has displaced the wine poured; wine in a bag is not touched by air and thus not subject to oxidation until it is dispensed. Cask wine is not subject to cork taint or spoilage due to slow consumption after opening.
After the wine is drunk and the bag is empty, the bag may be removed from the box and blown up through the tap valve like a balloon. The inflated bag makes a convenient pillow.
However, the bag is not hermetically sealed and has an unopened shelf life shorter than bottled wine. Most casks will have a best-before date stamped. [2] As a result, it is not intended for cellaring and should be drunk within the prescribed period.
Bag in a box packaging is also preferred by producers of more economical wines because it is less expensive than glass bottles. Unlike bag-in-box packaging of other liquids, wine is not under pressure so it is perfectly safe to remove the bladder from the box. A bag of wine, once removed from the box, will float on water; this allows quick cooling of a white wine by immersion in an ice bath."

Who wrote this! "The inflated bag makes a convenient pillow." Very cute, Wikipedia, very cute. Spoken like a true drunkard.

Rockin' the Stammtisch

wulf puttz

I wish one of us had had a proper camera that night at Brauhaus Putz. I love how my colleague Wulf looks like a weather-beaten politico who just spent 23 hours in the war room, and is now enjoying a well deserved fag with some raw mince.

Maybe some Republicans think Germany is full of people like this: who wear Obama t-shirts and smoke Players P&S while eating raw mince & onion on crisp white buns.

On the subject of smoking & eating, I was just reading an article from February last year about the latent smoking ban in Germany. It quotes Claudia Picht, whose organic café Metzgerei Schmitz was an extreme anomaly last year with its self-imposed smoking ban. She was quoted as saying "I don't see the non-smoking principle of my café as a prohibition, but as a special offer to those people who want some fresh air." Aw.
"They keep telling the barkeepers that a smoking ban would decrease their rates. I think people have to be very courageous to say: 'I will do it anyway! I will turn my bar into a non-smoking place.' And then they find out that drinking coffee can also be wonderful without a cigarette!'"

Meanwhile the old guard of non-organic sausage-loving Germans is represented by Meinolf Saure, the owner of the monolithic Brauhaus Früh. He is quoted as saying "I cannot support a general ban, for a bar without smoke would be nothing." But he admits that he is also happy about the non-smoking areas. "We have established them on every level of our bar and they are a huge success."

The jury is still out on whether eating a raw mince mettwurst brötchen without a cigarette can also be wonderful.

Ironically, my workmate Wulf took up smoking again when he was in North America. The smoking ban in Toronto meant that people would go outside for a chat and a fag, and since he is so tall he found this an easier way to converse than trying to shout down at people in the noisy club.

As New Years approached last year, I was less excited about clinking glasses of 'sekt' bubbly than I was about the promised moratorium on smoking, about to be introduced in clubs. Most eating and drinking venues in Germany are not air-conditioned. The ban felt long overdue - other European countries with a strong penchant for smoking had banned it in public spaces, what felt like ages ago (Italy, Ireland, England, even France). Not without protest. A Parisian cafe-owner, Olivier Colombe, was quoted in the Independant last December as saying "Long dinners with several bottles of wine and lots of discussion are going to be difficult".
It sounds like he needs to sit down for a delicious cup of coffee with the über-upbeat Claudia Picht.

Just before New Years, the governors of North Rhein Westphalia decided that they would push the start of the ban back so that the fine Kölle folk could smoke it up during the traditional carnival season. Then, when I thought the ban would finally trudge into effect on July 1st, a loop-hole was discovered to allow smaller venues who don't have room for a 'non-smoking' area to become members' smoking clubs.

The Federal Constitutional Court ruled on July 30th in favour of plaintiffs who said the constitutional rights to property and to exercise one’s profession were at stake, easing smoking bans for at least 60,000 one-room establishments. It's a convenient loop hole that has been jumped on enthusiastically by all the local discotheques (which are, by the way, not necessarily all that small).

The Economist wrote on the 24th of July that "The German Hotel and Restaurant Association says smoking bans have cost small bars and restaurants 30% of their revenues. That shakes a pillar of social life: the Stammtisch, a regulars’ table at the corner bar where fellowship is forged. If people cannot smoke at Köpi, says its bartender, “we would lose our regulars”.

Anti-smoking campaigners have long found Germany a hard case. Last year the Swiss Cancer League ranked the tobacco-fighting zeal of 30 European countries, and placed Germany 27th. The new smoking bans might improve its ranking, but they are riddled with 130 exemptions, complains Martina Pötschke-Langer, of the German Cancer Research Centre."

130 exemptions is quite an achievement in my opinion. That's something worth bragging about. I'm amazed at the number of loopholes that the normally fastidious Germans have allowed to permeate this veritable legislative sieve. And 'strict' is clearly a matter of interpretation.

Five days ago, bloomberg.com published the following confusing news item. The court begins by upholding the law with no members' club exceptions in straight-laced Bavaria, but then sidles around it by claiming that smoking in beer tents (which also serve a number of Bavarian food delicacies) can be allowed until the end of the year because it is of a temporary nature.

"The Bavarian law is in line with a July 30 ruling that permits smoking bans as long as they don't allow for exceptions, the Karlsruhe-based Constitutional Court said today. Allowing smoking in beer tents until the end of this year doesn't breach rules because the exemption is of a temporary nature, it said. The Bavarian state law, one of the strictest in Germany, doesn't apply to clubs with a restricted membership because they aren't open to the public."

Say whut? Isn't saying something is allowed simply because it's temporary, the very definition of an exception?

Bavaria, sorry mate, I don't think you are as strict as you are cracked up to be.

Most people I've asked still don't think the tobacco lobby is especially strong here: they think all this poking loop-holes in the fabric of the law is down to the strength of the German Hotel and Restaurant Association (DEHOGA). The DEHOGA insists that as long as the consumption of tobacco is not generally forbidden it should remain a personal decision whether or not to smoke in a bar.

But some, like Claudia Picht, are pretty sure the tobacco lobby is meeting up with the DEHOGA in some war rooms of their own.

The Economist commented that it is hard to prove, although cigarette ladies are a fixture at political parties’ conventions. "Germany has conducted no large-scale campaign on the dangers of passive smoking, says Dr Pötschke-Langer. Despite boosting taxes recently, cigarettes are still cheaper than in Britain and Ireland. The share of the adult population that smokes has dropped from more than half in 1950 to around a third, but smoking rates remain among the highest in Europe."


Ice Cream & Techno



Cologne's yearly c/o Pop festival began this week, and I celebrated the opening day by eating a c/o Pop ice cream cone from the organic ice cream truck which sometimes appears on Brüsselerplatz. Some would have you believe the cute two-tone van is there every fine afternoon, but I think it depends which dimension you're currently inhabiting.

The cone cost one euro (about 30 cents more expensive than your average non-organic ice cream cone): Demi and Erik told me when they were kids a cone went for 50 pfennig (about 20 cents). The range of flavours this guy offers is pretty dope: the mango-mint was good and I'm looking forward to trying the Hollunder-blossom and yoghurt flavour, and the cassis flavour. The milk & spelt-cookies one could be good too.
And I'm not even such a big fan of ice cream. This is actually the first time in living memory that I have bought one. Kein scheiss.


I remember some years ago buying a Cologne techno compilation, that featured a red & white tiled modernist drinks cart on the cover. Supposedly some guy would set it up in random places and sell alcoholic beverages. At that time I thought it was a pretty cool idea, but since I moved here I have never seen the cart and none of my work mates has ever heard of it.

Supposedly coffee carts are against the law here, and Demi & Erik were also laughing at the idea of someone trying to put an uncovered food vendor stall under a tree or lamp post or anywhere a bird might shed unhygienic effluence.

And yet apparently it is possible to get around the current smoking 'ban' in corner bars and clubs simply by having someone sitting outside the door with a 'smoking club' list which everyone who wants to go inside has to sign and become a temporary 'member' of.

The hygiene and health laws in Germany can be very strict, but apparently the rights of 'kneipe' owners are still more important than the lung-health of hospitality workers.

Bear that in mind if somebody approaches you with a clipboard outside one of the c/o Pop venues.

The Food Book to End All Food Books?

There's been a small discussion over at the Last Appetite about the dearth of good food writing in the mainstream media, from which this excellent quote emerged

Steingarten in Vogue reminds me a little of running “quality” articles in Playboy magazine.

Phil Lees, 2008

Serious talk of food seems now to be relegated to a seemingly endless list of single commodity food analyses which Nalika once described as "crude"

Their basic premise is to illustrate wider economic, social, political and environmental issues through analysing one type of food. And it seems increasingly to be the stock and trade of many an academic these days seeking to escape their dusty old offices to seek fame and fortune on book signing tours for serious "foodies"

I began a list of these a while ago, and I'm sure that the list is incomplete, but here are some (are there anymore that you can think of?)

- the banana book “Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World”

- the oyster book “The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell"

- the cod book “Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World”

- the sushi book “The Sushi Economy: Globalization and the Making of a Modern Delicacy”

- the coffee book ” The coffee paradox: Global markets, commodity trade and the elusive promise of development ”

- the rice book “Rice and Man”

- the potato book "The Potato: How the Humble Spud Rescued the Western World"

- The salt book "Salt: A World History"

- The spice book "Spice: The History of a Temptation"

- the chocolate book "The True History of Chocolate"

- the corn book "Corn and Capitalism: How a Botanical Bastard Grew to Global Dominance"

- the vanilla book "Vanilla : The Cultural History of the World's Favorite Flavor and Fragrance"

- and a forthcoming is a book on the matsutake mushroom

As I said in the comments page of Last Appetite, it sometimes makes me want to yell “argghhhh…we get it food is symbolic of wider economic, political, social and environmental issues”. But the point is that food writing varies from the sublimely silly and superfluous to the deeply analytical and enlightening. Personally I like a bit of sugar with my fibre, junk food for my brain if you will.

But now comes a new type of food book, in line with Patel's Stuffed and Starved these new food books do not focus on one type of food and the limited insight that they may afford of a vastly complex system, they are not seeking to make you feel more enlightened about your everyday commodities but rather explain to you why we're all fucked.

The book ,The End of Food by Paul Roberts explains that while industrial food may be in crisis, its still making the best out of a bad situation.

A reviewer says

Reading through the recent food-politics bookshelf, it's too easy to take away an "industrial food bad, local food good" attitude. But how many modern-day locavores would readily embrace the life of, say, a 19th-century prairie farmer, tending to livestock, grain crops, and a vegetable patch without electricity or machine power? Shopping at farmers markets and joining CSAs -- activities I wholeheartedly support -- present a necessary challenge to a global food system gone mad, but are unlikely to prove sufficient for transforming it. To mount a real challenge, we'll need a clear-eyed grounding in the history and economics of food production, in addition to locavore zeal. And that's were Roberts makes an important contribution.....Robert's historical frame drives home a key point that his predecessors didn't quite nail down: In many ways, modern food production is an attractive response to centuries of chronic food insecurity. Who wants to spend nearly all of one's income on food, and rely on sugared tea as a key source of calories, as did the 19th-century British working class? Who wants to spend hours a day preparing food as peasant women did, not by choice but for survival? By the dawn of the 20th century, people quite understandably longed for food security and freedom from drudgery. The modern food system -- for all of the new problems it created -- largely met those desires, at least in the United States and Europe. The locavore movement will eventually have to confront them head on.

Yes, who indeed wants to live like a peasant? (aside from you Phil and Hock who's apparent dream is to spend all of their waking hours cold smoking meats and makin bacon)

Basically, the point is that yes modern food is deeply problematic but if we get rid of it human kind will undoubtedly face starvation....the end of food, and all those mindlessly indulgent food writers and bloggers and the equally useless academics that go along with it.

Egg and Spoon

I always preferred Wendy's

This from the consumerist
Since doing my fieldwork back in 2005-2006, I have ever more mused on the idea that many people, academics included, over estimate the dominance of modern food and supermarkets. This is of course subject to much debate and could be the topic of the PhD thesis in itself.

That's what excited me about meeting Nalika at a PhD conference a couple years back on agrarian change. I had read her PhD proposal, which was aimed at studying such change, through consumption patterns in Thailand. Most people tend to study such change from the production end, not the consumption end. Although she has since changed her research topic, we obviously both maintain a special interest in the subject of food consumption.

What I specifically liked about Nalika's proposal is that it challenged the assumption that the world of food contains two diametrically opposed organisational forms in terms of food marketing: large global food chains dominated by multinationals and small farmers and/ or food artisans struggling to survive and on the forefront of traditional/alternative food networks. Instead it recognised that Thai people, like so many of us source food from a variety of places including supermarkets, local stalls, fresh markets, 7 elevens, friends gardens (except apparently those living in "food desserts" a terrifically horrifying thought indeed). This idea was reinforced to me later in a book I read when the author noted that many of these debates over economy and trade are necessarily misleading for the sake of argument. The author emphasised how except for on the very margins of human existence do people only source their goods and services from one place only. Extreme autarky and/or food desserts are the outlying ends of most people's consumption experience. There is multiplicity in most economies as their are in most people's daily consumption.

But from my own perspective and surroundings in the urban hub of a middle income newly industrialising country, the idea that there are only small local farmers/ artisans vs large multinational food giants, to a large extent misses the middle. A lot of people who live and toil in Bangkok, both rich and poor buy, eat and source their daily food at hawkers stalls.


Tasty, spicy bowls of noodles, are decent, healthy, and cheap and is what feeds the urban masses. There's also grilled fish, meat sticks, salads, coffee hawkers, fresh fruit hawkers and even road side bars for variety. Produce from these stalls appears to be sourced from a range of places, including wet markets and supermarkets. A common assumption by many a falang is that these stalls are run solely by the people who man them, as some sort of extension of their home economy...some are in fact run as a sideline family business out of the front of homes or as an additional money maker. But if you've ever tried to make a bowl of noodles at home, you soon realise that its a lot of effort for a solitary bowl

I made pho bo the other day, 24 hour long process of making the stock, brining it to the boil, tipping off the first boil, then boiling again with spices over 24 hours to get the flavour. Making these noodles, I fast realised that noodles are one of those dishes that is pre-disposed to large scale production, maybe not industrial because there is a point at which I'm sure noodle production gets too large and looses flavour but at least medium to large. Plus at the price point that exists here in Bangkok, 25 baht per bowl, you need to sell a lot of noodles for it to make sense as a business proposition.

Recently, Hock noticed one of our local noodle stalls setting up for the day. A large brand new pick up truck drove up to their spot and delivered the ingredients for the day. This particular stall sells kanom jeen. They then drove on to do more deliveries to other stalls. It seems certain that this operator has several road side branches, operating on a fairly large scale. The stand is open from early in the morning to late at night and there appears to be shift workers.


Franchised noodle branches in Thailand appear to have reached its greatest heights in "chai see" (four men). Four Men noodle stands are ubiquitous in and outside of Bangkok. They are everywhere announced by a big yellow sign, bowl of noodles with a number 4 above them. These are not the best noodles but as Aong said, "if you're hungry, you'll eat them"

The tendency towards franchises and branches has of course counter resistance. Many restaurants now declare "mai mee sakha", "don't have any branches". An announcement made with pride that is meant to inspire loyalty and acceptance of slightly higher prices. Where once the Thai government's "good clean food" sign signalled that the stall wouldn't make you sick, the current new wave of food convention appears to be self-regulated, not government regulated and elicits market competitiveness through conflating small scale production with quality and care. Which, when you think about it is the opposite of previous government perceptions of smaller vendors that inspired the "clean food" seal of government approval in the first place.


I'm yet to understand the dynamics of the hawker economy fully. On Sukhumvit Soi 11, which is close to my house I notice that hawkers change rather frequently, or they change their carts. Recent construction on the street has seen a lot more Isaan food turn up, to cater to the mainly Isaan construction workers. Some carts are manned by the same hawkers who seem to be able to swap carts around from noodles, to grilled meat with great ease. Most carts are overseen by the soi police. Most soi's have their own local patrols, aside from extracting bribes, I'm not sure exactly what their role is, but Hock seems to think that Masta Grilla moved on due to police harassment.

Master grilla seems to have moved on indefinitely and so has my mushroom soup guy only to be replaced by mushroom soup lady who moves between soi 11 and 19. Mushroom soup appears to be a new addition to the hawker stands. There was a great chicken noodle soup on the street a while back but the lady swapped to sweetened coffee. Maybe I'm reading too much into it but I like to see the hawker stalls near my street as a sort of signifier of the dynamic changes taking place in Bangkok.

With all this flexibility at hand, the ability to change carts according to the ever shifting migrant population, changing tastes and food preferences, whilst remaining cheap and accessible and also able to take advantage of economies of scale, it will be from, my understanding, a long time before Thailand sees the cannibalisation of its hawker markets by large multinationals, supermarkets and fast food outlets. For now they appear to co-exist quite well.
The plot thickens like Gong Bao sauce with Kingsfords 'expressly for food' cornstarch!

There have been a few interesting Gut Feelings discussions of late on personal eating choices vs societal implications.

As Maytel pointed out, there are so many different sets of circumstances under which, say, a Walmart may open, it's very difficult to say definitively if it will be a good or bad thing.

England is still fizzing with rage over Jamie Oliver's school dinner campaign, and omnivores get ever more obsessed with the origins of their food, calculating how much energy they expend per footstep to reach their seed store to buy a tomato plant. Meanwhile, as we noted in April, a study in the USA showed that vouchers that permit low-income women to shop at a local farmers’ market increased fruit and vegetable consumption in poor families.
it feels like the developed world is caught in a massive tangle of environmental and social/governmental concerns versus free will concerning what one puts in one's mouth.

Here is a fascinating article about how Los Angeles has imposed a one year ban on new fast food franchises in Southern LA.

Are we at a dietary tipping point? People's dietary choices being controlled by well-to-do city planners!! The coining of the term 'food desert'!!
Are healthy choices a type of imperialism, or is fast food a type of social ill that should be legislated against? It seems clear that in certain senses & situations people are not capable of making choices that are good for themselves.
But is this food-equivalent of Giuliani's draconian nightlife laws going to make LA people healthier and happier?
And is it a big deal if a few pupusa vendors are sacrificed along the way?

"Jonathan Gold, the LA Weekly food critic who won a Pulitzer Prize last year, said he understands the spirit of the freeze, which is an urban planning measure meant to keep the neighborhood, South Los Angeles, from being swallowed up by drive-though fast food restaurants. (A separate measure by the city provides economic incentives for new grocery stores and restaurants with table service.)

Fast food chains, he said, are like jellyfish in the ocean: with too many in one area, nothing else can thrive.

But he worries that the law could keep out places of more culinary interest. South Los Angeles has the best barbecue in the city, he said, and it has a growing number of cooks from Mexico and Central America making lamb barbacoa and pupusas. “Anytime you try to ban something, there’s a lot of bycatch,” he said.

The moratorium’s definition of a fast food business is any stand-alone restaurant that dispenses food, to stay or to go, and that has “a limited menu, items prepared in advance or prepared or heated quickly, no table orders, and food served in disposable wrapping or containers.” It is up to the city’s director of planning to decide which places fit that definition.

The councilwoman behind the moratorium, Jan Perry, says its intent is not to crush food choices, but to encourage variety and give residents more nutritious options. Making healthy decisions about food is difficult when people have small incomes, the grocery store is five miles away and a $1 cheeseburger is right around the corner, she and supporters of the ban say.

The moratorium doesn’t mean that people who live within the affected 32-square-mile zone will be cut off from the pleasures of an inexpensive cheeseburger and hot fries. More than 45 percent of the 900 restaurants there — the highest concentration in the city — are fast food chains.

The idea is to bring new eating options to the city’s food deserts, the term now in vogue to describe poor neighborhoods whose residents have few places to buy fresh groceries.

“People do not understand what happens in a disenfranchised community,” said Councilwoman Perry, who represents neighborhoods in the area. “The fact remains, there are not a lot of food choices in South L.A.”

Since there is not much land left to develop in the area, the moratorium will allow city planners time to determine what kinds of businesses would be best in an area where rates of obesity and diseases related to it are disproportionately high.

“What we’re beginning to see is almost the monopolization of our dietary intake by a handful of corporations,” said David Zinczenko, editor in chief of Men’s Health magazine and the author of several diet books, including “Eat This, Not That! for Kids!” (Rodale, 2008).

“Add to that the financial reality of feeding ourselves today, where a single grapefruit from a corner fruit stand costs two or more times as much as a few Chicken McNuggets,” he said, “and I think you can begin to put together a case for governmental intervention.”

But not everyone agrees, including Joe R. Hicks, a radio talk show host who was the executive director of Los Angeles’s Human Relations Commission under Mayor Richard Riordan a decade ago. The two now work for a think tank that focuses on race relations.

“The crime in all of this is that people are sitting around meddling into the very minutiae of what people are putting in their mouths,” he said.

He argues that the ban assumes the 500,000 people who live in South Los Angeles are intellectually incapable of deciding what to eat.

“There is not a single public health crisis in the history of mankind that has been solved by handing out brochures,” said Harold Goldstein, executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy.

In South Los Angeles, the burgers continue to fry.

“There is a sentiment here that it is a little anti-American, but people forget government tells businesses where to go all the time,” said Eddie North-Hager, a blogger who runs a community bulletin board focused on his neighborhood, Leimert Park, which is about 90 percent black and within the ban area.

He says there are 10 McDonald’s restaurants within three miles of his home. “It seems like a lot,” he said, “and that’s just McDonald’s.”

Supermarkets for poverty reduction?

The quote of the day is interesting and reminds me of a blog debate I was following a couple weeks ago on whether or not supermarkets are good for poverty. Much maligned as evil corporate enterprises that cannabalise mom and pop stores and screw farmers down, supermarkets tend to eptomise all those things bad associated with progress...but is this really the case or are we yet again falling prey to belief in false binaries?

Personally when it comes to matters of "progress", development and poverty I tend to throw ideology out the window and drag in the pandora's box of empiricism.

So I found this quote interesting regarding superstores in developed countries

The expansion of superstores – like Wal-Mart and Target – has also played an important role in accounting for the inflation differentials between rich and poor. Superstores sell the same products as traditional shops at much lower prices. Today the poor do roughly twice as much of their buying of non-durable goods in these stores than the rich. So poor consumers have been the biggest beneficiaries of Wal-Mart coming to town.

And this one, from The International Food Policy Research Institute on the impact of supermarkets interesting too.

Supermarkets tend to charge consumers lower prices and offer more diverse products and higher quality than traditional retailers - these competitive advantages allow them to spread quickly...The food price savings accrue first to the middle class, but as supermarkets spread into the food markets of the urban poor and into rural towns, they have positive food security impacts on poor consumers.

Not that I remain convinced that supermarkets are all out great, but I do believe that their power and hegemony to exclude is often times vastly overstated.

Quote of the Day

“Civilisation is largely a matter of seeking food, while progress is that development which makes food more and more difficult to get.”

Lin Yutang is eminently quotable. Thanks to Coco for posting this on thementaldetox.blogspot.com (which should be required reading for every antipodean, by the way).
How appropriate. Over the weekend, Hock and I went to Bankara Ramen on Sukhumvit Soi 39, on a tip from Austin. And had their ramen with lots and lots of raw garlic.


It was tastey but a little pricey for a bowl of noodles by Bangkok standards. There was a queue of Japanese people obviously waiting for their fix of ramen, with lots and lots of garlic and scallions too.


I had read about Bankara in the Guru magazine, it is said to be the first ramen outlet of this particular chain outside of Japan....is Thailand being food colonised by Japan? With Thai-style sushi now turning up at night markets in outer lying provinces, is this the death of Thai food as we know it? Or the beginning of yet another era of bastardisation?

Haven't seen any Thai-style ramen turning up at street vendors, but its early days yet

Anyway, I still recommend Bankara and would go again. Don't do what I did and put five cloves on garlic in your soup and spend the rest of the day breathing death. Hock also warns against getting funky and ordering the ramen with creamy soup. Just keep it real and go with the original soup or miso. The "sauce applying" looked good, the menu is vaguely amusing on a japanglish tip.


Ra Men Bankara, Sukhumvit 39 (Inside the small arcade called ‘The Manor’ which is on the right hand side about 300 metre from the Sukhumvit entrance. Parking available in the premises. Daily 11am-11pm. T: 02-662-5162-3.

Ramen tabetai

... by Yano Akiko.

Simply one of the best food songs I know.

Ramen tabetai (I want to eat ramen)
Hitori de tabetai (I want to eat it by myself)
Atsui no tabetai (I want to eat the hot one)

Ramen tabetai (I want to eat ramen)
Umai no tabetai (I want to eat the good one)
Imasugu tabetai (I want to eat it right now)

Cha-shu wa iranai (I don't need cha-shu pork)
Naruto mo iranai (I don't need naruto either)
Zeitaku iwanai (I am not picky)
Kedo (but)
Negi wa iretene (please put the scallions)
Ninniku mo irete (put garlic also)
Yamamori irete (put heaps of it)

Dances with Daikon

I can't stop laughing... wait until people start dancing with daikon radish puppets in a circle.

It is Tokyo University of Agriculture's cheerleading tradition since 1952.

In this performance below they use the real daikon's.

Restrained Vegetable Appreciation

erik hakusai

Wong bok bondage. By Makoto Azuma. NRW Forum, Düsseldorf, last weekend.

Ice Ice Baby


I firmly believe the best burgers in the world are to be found in good old New Zealand, at a chain called Burger Fuel. Their third-pounder with cheese (extra beetroot) is one of my definitions of heaven. I'm not usually one to top up my calorie intake with a shake and fries either, but at Burger Fuel this is mandatory: their malted shakes are the bomb and their kumara fries with garlic mayo are, in terms of dopeness, weapons of mass destruction.

So New York's Shake Shack (supposedly one of the city's best burger spots) has frozen custard in tomato, sweet corn or caramelised peach flavours. So what. Burger Fuel has coconut ice malted shakes!
Suck on that!

Note: coconut ice is a type of old-fashioned sweet, common in Commonwealth countries, especially at garage sales, school fairs, and in grandmothers' kitchens. Crumbly pink cubes composed of dessicated coconut, condensed milk and pink food colouring. Here is a recipe.

KFC and Pizza for Life

PORTLAND, Ore. — A New York man who pleaded guilty to murder in Oregon in exchange for buckets of fried chicken will get calzones and pizza to go with his life sentence.

Tremayne Durham, 33, of New York City, admitted last month that he fatally shot Adam Calbreath, 39, of Gresham, in June 2006. Durham wanted to sell ice cream and ordered an $18,000 truck from an Oregon company. He later changed his mind, but the company wouldn't provide a refund.

The would-be ice cream man came to Oregon and killed Calbreath, a former employee of the company, while looking for its owner, authorities said.

Durham agreed to plead guilty to murder _ but only if he could get a break from jail food. The judge agreed and granted Durham a feast of KFC chicken, Popeye's chicken, mashed potatoes, coleslaw, carrot cake and ice cream.

After Wednesday's sentencing, Durham was to get the rest of the deal _ calzones, lasagna, pizza and ice cream, his defense attorney confirmed. They will pay the tab.

Durham also got married Wednesday in a civil ceremony at the Portland courthouse. The wedding to Vanessa Davis, 48, also of New York City, was not part of the plea deal that will give Durham a chance for parole after 30 years.

Deputy District Attorney Josh Lamborn said Multnomah County Judge Eric Bergstrom made the right call in allowing the unusual plea agreement because it saved the expense of a trial and possible appeals.


Food sculptures on buildings

#1: Hersey Kiss in a Humpty-Dumpty position... near the Niagara Falls.

#2: Upside-down ice cream on cone in Cologne.

#3: The infamous "beer foam" on top of Asahi Beer headquarter building in Tokyo.

... or more popularly known as "unko biru (building)."
(unko means... well, excrement in Japanese).

We all made fun of this monument when it came out... it just looks like golden unko.

Believe it or not, it is designed by Philippe Stark.

We all wondered what came across the designer's mind... the legend is that it was originally meant to be installed upright, and was supposed be "flamme d'or," golden flame, but due to some building restriction laws it had to be installed horizontally.

If you take one of those tempura-frying restaurant boats on the Sumida river, you will cruise by this unko building.


sorry...I can't help it....i laughed so hard tears came out of my eyes

Mushroom Soup

The Catherine Tate Show: Janice & Ray

Bang Saen Reblogged

Although Austin beat me to the blog on Bang Saen, here is my version of events

The weekend before last me and Hock and Austin and Aong drove to bang saen to eat seafood on the beach

we planned to stop for a little while on the beach, eat a little bit and then go to another restaurant for dinner

tires for hire

so I ordered prawns grilled

and Aong ordered

Horse shoe crab egg salad
horse shoe crab egg yum

and then suddenly it escalated into a full blown meal

Tom yum
tom yum....

wing bean salad
wing bean


then we ordered a fish, some cocounts and some lotus seeds from passing vendor. I made lotus pod hats for Hock

We drunk some beer, except for Aong who isn't drinking for 3 months on account of her Buddhism....(we plan on detailing her debauchery when it ends in October)

And a cute dog came and hung out for our scraps
cute dog

and watched the sun set

then we drove to a local market and wandered around looking for dessert. A baby elephant molested Aong.

I bought a bag full of veges for 42 bht and a Thai style grill for making moo ping back in Australia one day


if you come to Thailand I can take you here.....but you may have to come quick

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