The hottest new culinary trends now include both the very old to the newest of the new. Just consider, for example, the newest dietary trend – the caveman diet. Yes, that’s right, the caveman diet.
Called the “Paleo Diet” by academics such as Loren Cordain of Colorado Sate Univeristy, it focuses on a return to the 10,000 year old diet of Stone Age hunters and gatherers. As a result, it is heavy on meat, restrictive of most modern grains and devoid of processed or cultivated foods.
Initial reports suggest the diet can assist in alleviating such modern health issues as obesity, Tyoe-2 diabetes and an assortment of coronary problems. But there’s just one problem – you have to have the physical activity level of a caveman to burn off the accumulated calories from so much protein.
Ouch! In our far more sedentary modern lifestyle, few of us have the time to equal the effort of a bison hunt via exercising at the gym.
In addition, few individuals from the Paleolithic era lived past 30 years of age. Maybe the short lifespan made eating all that very rare meat and gathered berries bareable.
Also making a return from the past is better butter. For a long time the best butter came, like so many things culinary, from la belle France where it is revered like fine wine and cheese with its own AOC classification, based on region and butterfat content.
Sadly, America has suffered through margarine and over-commercialized butter with reduced butterfat and added salt and water. The result was higher profits for the manufacturers and poorer pastries for the consumer.
If you doubt this is a serious matter on the food front, just consider that embattled US dairy farmers staged a “Margarine War” in a valiant effort to limit the sale of the butter substitute. They gladly prosecuted and sent any bootleggers of fake butter that they encountered to jail!
But it’s the French who literally declared war on margarine. During World War I French soldiers were so enraged at supple officers, who forwarded margarine instead of real butter to the front lines, they loaded it into their 75mm howitzer cannons and shot it over to the Germans! (The famed 75 Champagne Cocktail was created in Paris to honor those very guns and was a favorite of the young American reporter Ernest Hemingway).
America, however, can now take heart. With the rise of artisan cheese has come the availability of better butters, many matching the famed butters on France in butterfat (83% and above) and flavor.
Hurray and congratulations to these fine producers. All is not lost. But take heart, if you long for the modern. Jean-Louis Hecht, a baker from northeast France has invented and installed a 24-hour automated baguette dispenser.
Yes, yes, it does allow access to “fresh” bread during the evening, over a holiday or when many of France’s 33,000 bakeries take their August vacation. But is this really what we want? Bread from a machine, not a bakery – a place traditionally filled with the heavenly smell of all that’s best?
Perhaps absolutely ancient and equally so hip modern, are extremes too far. Humanity has struggled for endless centuries to reach enjoyable cuisine. Let’s not throw away the best for over simplification or excessive modernization.
Here’s to cheese, bread, butter and all at makes life enjoyable!
Your Culinary World copyright Ana Kinkaid/Peter Schlagel 2011