Monday, September 7, 2009

Albondigas!

We made a fantastically tasty dish on Saturday last week: Albondigas with ancho chili-tomato sauce. Albondigas are Mexican meatballs, and these had not only ground turkey in them but also lots of corn, onion, pinto beans, garlic, parsley, egg, and flour. You don't fry the meatballs, you boil them in a tasty sauce made from dried ancho chilies, tomatoes, and lots of spices. That way the sauce flavors the meatballs and vice versa. It was incredibly good! We made extra meatballs, so now we have enough for a second dinner. We served it with basmati rice with zucchini and sweet peppers and a few green beans. Perfect dinner, thanks PP! (link to recipe here)

PP and I have been reading Michael Pollan's long article in New York Times about the evolution of cooking during the last decades, starting with the TV dinners of the 1950s to the fast food and 'halv- and helfabrikat' (prepared foods) of today. There are some amazing facts in it, such as the AVERAGE time people use to clean up after dinner: 4 min. 13% of all dinner cooking is done by men (that is about 3 days a month). When you buy food in the store, 80% of the cost does not go to the farmer but to other companies. Michael Pollan argues that we no longer cook or really know how to cook, but we love to watch cooking shows on TV instead. Our family doesn't fit into these statistics, since we cook all the time, doesn't watch the shows, and try to buy as much as possible directly from farmers (moist and fresh!). I feel sad for the children and adults that live on fastfood burgers, frozen french fries, and instant noodle soup all the time. And here in the US, that seem to be most people, unfortunately. I don't agree with all Michael Pollan has to say, but it is worth reading. He misses the fact that local food and home cooking has had an enormous upswing recently and that many people are becoming more aware of the origin of their food and how to cook from scratch. I think blogs and politics have a lot do with this. Here is the article.

Some excerpts:
"Those corporations have been trying to persuade Americans to let them do the cooking since long before large numbers of women entered the work force. After World War II, the food industry labored mightily to sell American women on all the processed-food wonders it had invented to feed the troops: canned meals, freeze-dried foods, dehydrated potatoes, powdered orange juice and coffee, instant everything. As Laura Shapiro recounts in “Something From the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America,” the food industry strived to “persuade millions of Americans to develop a lasting taste for meals that were a lot like field rations.” The same process of peacetime conversion that industrialized our farming, giving us synthetic fertilizers made from munitions and new pesticides developed from nerve gas, also industrialized our eating."

"Earlier this year, Richard Wrangham, a Harvard anthropologist, published a fascinating book called “Catching Fire,” in which he argues that it was the discovery of cooking by our early ancestors — not tool-making or language or meat-eating — that made us human. By providing our primate forebears with a more energy-dense and easy-to-digest diet, cooked food altered the course of human evolution, allowing our brains to grow bigger (brains are notorious energy guzzlers) and our guts to shrink."

I am reading the Catching Fire book right now, book review will follow. Now, go and crack some eggs in a frying pan and feel like a hominid.

3 comments:

ben.herrera said...

I am glad you liked the albondigas. These are actually one of my favorite Mexican dishes ever. Thanks for the shoutout :)

LS said...

Hi Ben, Cool that you comment here on our blog. We LOVED them, but I think my husband changed the sauce recipe a little bit and we excluded the zucchini from the meat balls. We had the last ones for lunch today. We had an idea to cook the frozen extra ones in green chili sauce or something like it.

Sarah said...

That sounds like a fantastic dinner!