Thursday, February 18, 2010

Preservation Supplement to LA Times Food Section 2/18/10

This week's LA Times Food Section's cover story this week is on a very important issue: local food politics (Food Politics in L.A.: Hungry for Change).

One of the most interesting things about food politics is that so much of what is important and what can be done, can be done and should be done at the local level. Although there are national policies that are important (*cough*more federal funds for school food*cough*), much more can be done on the local level, taking into account the local foodshed. Many of the issues involve access to better food, whether through better markets in poor neighborhoods, more support for food banks, farmers' markets and community gardens, or restricting access to edible-food-like products such as fast food moratoriums and banning soda machines in schools.

Most of these issues are best dealt with at the local level. Much more can be said, and should be ... I'll touch on these topics as I blog.

Of course, I have a pet project of mine: a community canning center. Such a canning center would support local food banks, community gardens and farmers' markets. It could be used by entrepreneurs and local restaurants. I want local restaurants to rely more on the local foodshed, and one way they can do this is to do some food preservation themselves. A community canning center would have the space and specialized equipment that might not be feasible for a restaurant. It would also be an education space, for adults and school children and a base of operations for a Master Food Preserver program.

I could go on, but that is my pet project for local food politics. If you're interested in helping, let me know.

Yesterday, at the Wednesday Santa Monica Farmers' Market, I met David Karp, aka the fruit detective. His "Market Watch" column highlights what's best in the farmers markets (Fennel Showing Up at Farmers Markets). This week he highlights fennel (preserve it pickled or pressure canned in a soup), mandarins (preserve it in marmalade, segments canned in syrup, or dried), and wild chanterelles (preserve through drying).

Wow, this week both reviews feature restaurants that make and use preserved foods.

"The Find" heads to San Gabriel for the cuisine of Liuzhou at Happy Kitchen (A Happy Union of Chinese Flavors). Liuzhou cuisine not only includes pickles and smoked goods, but the signature dish of Happy Kitchen is luosifen, a snail-broth soup that includes preserved cabbage. Preserved cabbage and soup ... a classic combination in many cuisines.

S. Irene Virbila is 3-star impressed with the Lazy Ox Canteen near Little Tokyo and, after reading her review, I'm impressed too (Magic in the Air at Lazy Ox). According to the review, Chef Josef Centeno is putting out incredible small plates, with many specialties - many featuring preserved foods. "He pickles...He cures. And God knows what else....He even makes his own stoneground mustard." There is housemade sriracha and quince mostarda.

I can't wait to try it ... sounds like a perfect place to stop before heading to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

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