3 Things We Learned This Year

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Since it’s the end of the year, and the internet is filled with “best-of” lists, I thought we should look back on our year here on Good Food.  I asked the Good Food team (including myself, Evan and our segment producers Gillian, Laryl and Candace) to put together a list the three things that stuck with them this year. Let us know what segments you loved, hated and everything in between.


1) I learned that being a member of the LA Opera Orchestra during Wagner’s Ring Cycle isn’t a walk in the park.  Real stamina is required to maintain focus for all those hours of performance time.  How each member gets prepared to eat and drink is a dance as intricate as is the music they are playing. (Check out my visit backstage at the LA Opera.)

2) Wow, salt – Who knew that it was yet another culinary rabbit hole to follow into Wonderland?  I learned that kosher salt is a super industrial product that I should put behind me in favor of a myriad of more nuanced flavored and textured alternatives. (Interview with Mark Bitterman, author of Salted, coming soon to Good Food.)

3) Water – in LA you turn on the tap and it pours into your glass.  Yet, in a conversation with Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author Tina Rosenberg I learned what a Burden Thirst is to women of developing countries. For too many a trip to the river can mean hours of navigating dangerous countryside, often rape and even death.  (Coming soon to Good Food)


1) Good beer can be really, really good.  As many listeners know, Evan doesn’t drink wine.  Beer is her drink of choice.  So when Evan and I went to Australia earlier this year, we focused our trip more on beer than wine (although I do love wine).  We had the opportunity to taste some amazing beer while we were there.  One of the most memorable experiences for me was visiting Mountain Goat Brewery in Melbourne. The pour their beer through a “Randle” which is a vessel filled with hops.  The result is a super hoppy – and delicious – beer.  (Check out Evan’s interviews with Christina Perozzi at The Hot Knivez).

2) I learned that I love apples.  Seems kind of obvious, right?  After growing up on McIntosh apples and bananas, I’ve pretty much eschewed fruit in my adult life (with some exceptions).  After going apple picking with Delilah Snell and making amazing applesauce with my Stayman Winesaps (and an applesauce cake), I’m a convert.  Plus, there are so many varieties at the Farmers Market that I know I’ll never get bored.  (Check out Evan’s conversation with apple expert Frank Browning.)

3) Vanna White likes to can.  In fact, I was so inspired after taping Evan’s interview with her backstage at Wheel of Fortune, that I put up a bunch of tomato sauce myself.  Canning, and other old-timey preserving methods, are all the rage so Evan and I took lessons from Delilah (see apple picking above).  Once you get the hang of it (and follow the instructions closely), it’s so much fun – and productive!


1) I learned to think twice about the olive oil I use.  Dan Flynn of UC Davis told us that a shocking number of bottles labeled Extra Virgin Olive Oil on super market shelves are not up to snuff.  With that in mind I took a road-trip to We Olive in Long Beach and tasted over 20 California olive oils before selecting the right ones to give as Christmas gifts.  Their “Olio Nuovo” is amazing.

2) I learned that liquid nitrogen is a great party trick.  Alright, well I might not try it at my house, but when Eddie Lin and I attended A Razor, A Shiny Knife’s Two Perspectives dinner, the evening’s host Michael Cirrino used liquid nitrogen to freeze blackberries which he then smashed into tiny beads – a play on caviar.  I’ve never seen a crowd more transfixed.

3) I learned about the wonders of tagine cooking.  Prior to the Couscous Festival, Evan and I took a trip to Pasadena where chef Farid Zadi performed a cooking demo in which he prepared a mixed seafood tagine.  Not only did the food sing, but the pots are beautiful – definitely on my 2010 Christmas list.


1)  I learned that eating a fistful size of carbs and protein (think ½ peanut butter sandwich) both 1 hour before and 15 minutes after exercise gives us the most energy during the workout and also reduces loss of glucose after.  I’ve started doing this and noticed a big difference in my energy levels during and after exercise.  Thank you to Leslie Bonci, author of “Sport Nutrition for Coaches,” who shared these tips in her Good Food interview.

2)  I learned that when we dispose of fats, oils and grease in our kitchen sinks and garbage disposals (something we’ve all grown up doing), we are not only potentially clogging our own home drains, but also the sewer lines, the storm drains and ultimately polluting our oceans.  Doug Walters, Senior Environmental Engineer with LA City’s Bureau of Sanitation, informed us it is much safer to dispose of cooled household fats with the garbage. (Coming soon to Good Food, an interview with Department of Sanitation engineer, Doug Walters.)

3)  Conversely, I learned that rendering plants (factories that render animal fat for use in manufacturing) may seem really unpleasant at first glance but they are actually providing the most logical and environmentally acceptable approach for recycling animal products and inedible material into usable commodities.  In turn, this reduces the amount of waste deposited into our landfills and reduces our carbon footprint: less CO2 generated into the air. (See Evan’s conversation with Dr. David Meeker of the National Renderers Association on Good Food.)


1) Boiling water is not as easy as it looks.  Kenji Lopez-Alt walked us through the stages of the vapor pressure of a liquid becoming greater than or equal to the surrounding atmospheric pressure.  Or more simply, boiling water.  High school chemistry would have been so much more interesting (and fattening) if conducted in the kitchen.  New Year’s Resolution – more food science.

2) No tail or scale?  No, thank you.  When eating animal products, I plan on sticking to anything with a tail or scale.  I’ve always considered myself an adventurous eater but I don’t plan on eating anything that comes out of my own body anytime soon.  Sara Pereira, placenta encapsulation specialist, introduced us to the medical benefits of afterbirth consumption while Eddie Lin gave new meaning to Steak Diane.  Eddie, you’re a far better (and hungrier) man than I.

3) My Good Food Word of the Year – Huitlacoche.  The New York Times recently published its 2010 Words of the Year.  Along with vuvuzela and refudiate, I can add huitlacoche to the list.  I started the year naïve to the deliciousness of corn fungus but after tasting Evan and Jimmy Shaw’s lasagna with huitlacoche, sweet corn and a chipotle béchamel at Loteria Grill’s subscription drive dinner, I’m an official corn smut.  (And Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo talked with Evan about them on Good Food.)