Gary Taubes once again has the front page of the New York Times with an article titled “Is Sugar Toxic?” This is a recurring theme in his work, that fat isn’t nearly as bad for you as researchers in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s claimed, and that starches are underappreciated for their ability to push people into unhealthy places. Understand, almost everything Gary says is followed closely by diabetics – perhaps not the researchers but diabetics themselves, because he seems to talk a diabetics own language.

It’s a general contention when diabetics get together on the Internet that most researchers are a few years behind what the garden variety diabetic already knows. It took decades for the conservative side of the medical profession to embrace individual blood sugar meters, for example. And groups of diabetics will laugh anyone silly who tries to talk about the dangers of saturated fat.

My feeling is he’s interesting, but that Michael Pollan touches on many of the same topics with a more nuanced and less dogmatic approach. My ought two? Read him, but keep your own council. Diabetics, as anyone with the disease does know, are as individual as snowflakes.

Sugar in greens

I ran into it first at New Orleans, the People’s Restaurant and it’s been a preoccupation ever since. It took a while to realize the sweetness was coming from the collard greens, because any greens I’ve had prior to that experience didn’t have a bit of sweet at all. And I paid attention to greens back in the day, because I first encountered them in school lunches, and really liked them, thinking they were a better spinach. It took a while for me to stop telling my mom about how much better the spinach was at school, compared to the spinach we got from the can.

I’ve asked people at work about sugar in greens and two ladies I know say their grandparents do it. Since we can find extant recipes of this practice, it’s hardly dead. My understanding was the Southern way was to add some meat and fat (fatback, bacon, ham hocks, turkey neck bones, etc) to the greens while cooking, and now we have this interesting variant.

Recipes where collard greens are sweetened (or readers suggested sweetening) can be found here, here, here, here, here and here.

Is Hot Wok gone for good?

Chow Down Atlanta’s recent review of Blue Fin Sushi (a resurrected Sakana Ya) has me wondering about the fate of one other restaurant in Friday’s Plaza on Peachtree Industrial. Does anyone know what is going to happen to the people who ran/cooked for Hot Wok? This was a Chinese eatery that served Chinese food in a style than Indians prefer, a product of the fusion of cuisines when Chinese live in India. Are they going to relocate as well?

It was unique enough that out of town guests would ask us to take them there. They liked it quite a bit, as I recall.

Pizza (again)

Thanks is due to Bob Townsend, whose article on Hearth Pizza unearthed a great article by Alan Richman. The heart of this article is Alan’s take no prisoners attitude towards how pizza is made. It’s not rocket science that an overly wet, overly loaded crust is going to leave you with a floppy tie-it-in-knots pizza but some people just say it so much more forcefully:

I’ve eaten in Naples. From the ancient, brutally hot ovens emerge pies that most Americans wouldn’t recognize. The crust is charred and puffy in spots but tragically thin and pale beneath the toppings. The sauce is chiefly chopped tomatoes, sometimes fresh and sometimes canned, but almost always vivid and bright. (Those San Marzano tomatoes are as good as advertised.) The cheese is mozzarella, but the Italians are proudest when they can substitute fresh mozzarella from the milk of buffaloes and label their pies Margherita DOC. (It sounds like a wine thing, but it’s also a pizza thing.) In my opinion, buffalo mozzarella is pizza’s second-worst topping, exceeded only by whole anchovies—no hot, smelly fish on my pies, thank you. After that, those pizzaioli guys add oil, lots of it, and more liquid is precisely what tomato pies do not need.

This is what happens when a Neapolitan pie comes out of the oven, after it’s been cooked a remarkably short time: The nearly liquefied glob of buffalo mozzarella—now resembling a snowman melting on a warm March afternoon—has become runny. Water drains from the tomatoes. Oil joins the flood. All that excess liquid has to go somewhere, which is why the bottom crust turns to mush, not that it was ever particularly crispy.

Alan, for what it’s worth, has his own blog.

Indescribably delicious


This was an apple tart at Gourmandises. Every time I show up at this small bakery and restaurant, I end up impressed by the way Jennifer Allen and Christophe Houy handle themselves and their customers. True pros, and they are a pleasure to watch do business. If you have a day off, you could do far worse than heading out to Suwanee to visit this fine eatery.

Guam Boonie Peppers

I’ve been taking photos of my boonies, and this is one of my latest shots.


To note, the railing on which most of them sit is 35 inches high (an older photo, with a yardstick in the view)


If people can’t figure out that these simply aren’t Thai ornamental peppers, then they must be blind. Just to emphasize, let’s take a picture of a single leaf beside my hand.


How could this be a plant that is 12 to 18 inches high? How can the Wikipedia be so silly as to promote the notion that Marianas boonie peppers and the Thai ornamental are the same?

Michael Pollan

I, too, read in early August Michael Pollan’s article “Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch”. The thing that touched me most, though, was the quality of his writing. When he spoke of Julia Child’s voice, he just cracked me up.

…Julia’s voice was like nothing I ever heard before or would hear again until Monty Python came to America: vaguely European, breathy and singsongy, and weirdly suggestive of a man doing a falsetto impression of a woman.

How many of us have thought something like this, but couldn’t find a way to say it? And this isn’t the only time his sentences are wonderfully evocative. When speaking of the pleasure Julia Childs found in the kitchen he says:

Child was less interested in making it fast or easy than making it right, because cooking for her was so much more than a means to a meal. It was a gratifying, even ennobling sort of work, engaging both the mind and the muscles. You didn’t do it to please a husband or impress guests; you did it to please yourself. No one cooking on television today gives the impression that they enjoy the actual work quite as much as Julia Child did. In this, she strikes me as a more liberated figure than many of the women who have followed her on television.

and this kind of writing peppers the whole article.