The Jew And The Carrot

Finding Home at the Bottom of the Hummus Bowl

By Devra Ferst

A bowl of Israeli style hummus at an event hosted by EatWith, a platform for sharing home-cooked meals. / Courtesy of EatWith

I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn. Periodically I receive an email from “Brooklyn Hummus” with the message that the following day there will be either hummus, masabacha (chickpeas swimming in a rich tahini sauce) or both for sale. Orders must be placed before the day is over; the hummus can be procured anywhere along the 2 or 3 subway line from Prospect Heights in Brooklyn to Chelsea in Manhattan the next morning. The email is signed “Noam,” no last name.

Last summer I met Noam Bonnie, a 40-year-old Israeli expat software developer, outside Brooklyn’s Boro Hall. He unzipped a small cooler and handed me a white plastic bag filled with warm Tupperware containers of hummus and masabacha, as well as pita. He instructed me to eat the hummus soon and not to refrigerate it. I paid him in cash — $7 for each container — thanked him and slipped the goods into my canvas bag.

Devra Ferst

Bonnie has been selling his hummus like this for seven years. “Before I moved here I knew I was going to miss it,” he told me. Anticipating his longing for the dish, he learned to make hummus before he moved to New York, experimenting at home and talking to talented hummus cooks. Once Bonnie arrived in New York, his Israeli colleagues and friends quickly caught on to his skills and asked to purchase the dip. A side business was born.

Local Israelis were grateful for a taste of home. “The first time he arrived at my place, I cried,” Naama Shefi, another Israeli living in New York who works on various culinary projects, told me. Similar underground hummus operations have popped up in Berlin and New Jersey, feeding expats as well as those like me, who once called Israel home.

“In Israel, hummus is a religion,” Bonnie said. More than a bowl of ground chickpeas, it provides expats with a cultural and emotional connection to home. The dish holds a unique place in the Israeli imagination; there is an entire culture of customs, etiquette and traditions that surrounds it. “The experience of eating hummus is the ultimate freedom: You eat it with your hands, outside, and with your friends. It’s very spontaneous. All of these characteristics are so typically Israeli. So it’s not just the flavor that’s so hard to bring to life [outside Israel], but also the experience of eating it,” Shefi said.

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A Taste of Tel Aviv in New Orleans

By Sigal Samuel and Anne Cohen

Israeli-born chef Alon Shaya cooks an eggplant and okra dish in his New Orleans restaurant.

Nearly 300 years after Louis the XIV’s “Code Noir” ordered all Jews out of Louisiana, Israeli-born chef Alon Shaya set up shop in New Orleans.

Shaya’s restaurant, Domenica, opened as a traditional Italian restaurant in 2009. Slowly but surely, however, Israeli flavors started to seep into his menu. The result? Italian staples like slow-roasted goat shoulder and broccoli rabe find themselves folded into shakshuka.

“When you’re Israeli, food is a huge part of your culture,” Shaya said. “There’s no like ‘Oh, I’m not into that.’”

Born in Bat Yam, a coastal town in Israel, Shaya moved with his family to Philadelphia when he was 4 years old. As the head of a struggling immigrant family, his mother worked two jobs to make ends meet. As a result, Shaya would often cook dinner for the family. His meals started off simple: a microwaved potato with cheese. But on those rare special occasions when his Israeli grandparents would come to visit, the kitchen would fill with the comforting smells of roasting vegetables, infused with the flavors of his Savta’s Bulgarian ancestry.

“I fell in love with food because my grandmother would come from Israel every year,” Shaya explained. “I would never know when she was arriving so when I would open the door and smell peppers roasting on an open flame, it was like ‘Oh my God, Savta’s here!’ That started creating a connection between the smell of food and family.”

The next few years were tumultuous to say the least. By his own admission, Shaya was “a shitty little kid” who fell in with “the wrong crowd.” He was constantly getting kicked out of class. His salvation came in the form of a Home Economics teacher who would put him to work chopping onions when others teachers booted him out.

“She really was the turning point for me to get serious about something. She got me my first restaurant job, she drove me there, she checked up on me that I was showing up on time.”

After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, Shaya spent some time cooking at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and Antonio’s Ristorante in St. Louis.

He spent 2007 in Italy to soak up the techniques he would need to open Domenica.

With the restaurant established, he was surprised to find himself introducing Israeli dishes into his repertoire. He started small: a dish of tahini here, an Israeli bottle of wine there. The customers went wild.

“We were selling more Israeli wine here than anywhere in the state of Louisiana,” Shaya laughed.

Today, Shaya hosts Passover and Hannukah meals at the restaurant, serving dishes like zaa’tar buttermilk biscuits with babaganoush, latkes with a side of creole-cream-cheese-stuffed deviled eggs topped with salmon roe, and Sicilian sea-salt matzo with olives and rosemary. The Passover menu can draw in up to 400 people.

Shaya is the first to say that he’s “fallen head over heels” for New Orleans. His kitchen is well-stocked with locally sourced Southern ingredients — and he often blends them with Israeli flavors.

Though Shaya says there have been “many failed experiments,” his fire-roasted eggplant stuffed with okra and drizzled with tahini is not one of them. Each spoonful was a surprising fusion of Tel Aviv and the Big Easy. The chef pointed out that the eggplant and okra are grown in nearby farms — and to him, that’s important.

“Food doesn’t have to be fried chicken for it to be Southern,” Shaya explained. “It just has to be from the South.”

Alon Shaya shared his recipe for okra-stuffed coal-roasted eggplant with the Forward. Try it for yourself at home!

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The Gospel of Sungold Tomatoes

By Ben Harris

(JTA) - I will now share a cardinal truth of the life agrarian: If you give them tomatoes, all else is forgiven.

OK, the truth may only be trivial. It might not even be true. But some conviction along those lines must have lain behind my decision to plant 1,000 — yes, 1,000 — tomato plants this year. How this came to be is something that unfolded in typical fashion: I seeded a couple hundred plants in drill trays in early spring, looked at them after germination and — freaking out that they wouldn’t be nearly enough — ran to the computer to rush order more seeds that I plunged into soil immediately upon arrival, hoping they would catch up.

They did. In fact, I had hundreds extra, a predicament born partly of the local farmers market informing me after the second week I was no longer permitted to sell potted plants. Thus began a frantic effort to give away these suffering tomatoes, suffocating slowly in their pitifully inadequate four-inch pots. That endeavor was only partially successful. Earlier this week, a few dozen plants, some throwing pathetic little fruits in a last ditch attempt to pass on their genetic material, wound up in the compost pile. (It wasn’t necessarily a bad fate; there they were greeted by several hundred pounds of rotting carrots and cucumbers.)

The vast tomato planting also raised the question of where to store all those fruits between harvest and market. The answer presented itself in the form of a 14-foot box truck that hadn’t moved in months from its parking spot at the auction house across the street. Its owner was more than willing to me let me stash the truck in the shade and use the box as a ripening area, but the engine wouldn’t start when we tried to jump it. So my neighbor — a man I will write more of later, as he has quickly become as indispensable to our success this season as Fred — threw a chain under the body and towed the thing over to the farm.

All this chaos led last week to a milestone of sorts: The first appearance of tomatoes in our CSA boxes. To me, this is the real beginning of summer, the moment when the northeast’s signature warm-season crop makes its debut. If all goes well, our plants will produce a swarm of fruit over the next eight weeks. With a little luck, many will go even longer. The inaugural tomato variety is the one I consider the finest I’ve ever tasted: The sungold. The product of the breeding genius of a Japanese seed company, this cherry tomato has a deep yellow-orange color and a flavor that is more than just sweet. With their addictive syrupy tang that bursts in your mouth, sungolds are a reliable sellout at the market. On average, I eat one for about every 10 that I harvest.

I had never encountered a sungold before 2010, when I wandered into the greenhouse of the farm I was working on in Vermont, plucked one off the vine and was transformed. Now, no self-respecting small farmer is without them. I’ve seen half pints of these things selling for as much as $4.50 at the farmers market. That’s about a quarter per cherry. Not too shabby.

The onset of the tomato harvest — now a daily task on the farm — is an opportunity to test just how eternal the truth of abundant tomato giving actually is. Not that we have anything to be forgiven for. Our boxes these last weeks have been teeming with seasonal goodness. Squash, kale, beets and basil have all made regular appearances. But the sight of all those plants weighted down with fruit, one or two of which begin to blush red each week, has removed some weight from these shoulders, now starting to stoop with the fatigue of high season. If all else fails, there will still be tomatoes. And for that, I rest a little easier.

Veteran JTA journalist Ben Harris is chronicling his new life as a Connecticut farmer.


'Epic' Kosher Catering for the Epicurean in You

By Leah Koenig

Isaac Bernstein prepares dishes at a recent Epic Bites event. / Courtesy of Epic Bites

On a recent Friday afternoon, when I normally would be working or cooking for Sabbath dinner guests, I found myself in my friends Naf and Anna Hanau’s Brooklyn living room, tucking into a plate of pigeon confit drizzled with a port-balsamic glaze. Moments prior, I had sampled snapper with dehydrated olives and a blood-orange vinaigrette, and eaten one too many deep-fried smoked turkey balls that came served, in a gloriously Hanukkah-friendly fashion, with sweet quince butter.

The man behind this unlikely pre-weekend feast was Isaac Bernstein, founder and chef of the Oakland, California-based kosher catering company Epic Bites. He was visiting New York for a week to prepare a series of pop-up dinners, and Naf and Anna (who run Grow & Behold, a kosher sustainable meat company that supplies some of Epic Bites’ meat) offered to host a “leftovers lunch,” where he would cook with whatever ingredients remained after the week of events. Luckily for me and the other guests, Bernstein’s idea of leftovers included candied kumquats and steak tartare.

For the past two years, Bernstein, 30 — who sports dark plastic-framed glasses and is as comfortable wearing an Iron Maiden T-shirt as he is chef whites — has worked to redefine the standards for kosher cooking and food service. The professionally trained chef, who graduated from the French Culinary Institute, in New York, pushes creative boundaries, working with local farms to source hard-to-find herbs, like lovage, oyster leaf and cilantro flowers, and fermenting many of his own vinegars, including a fruity-smelling nasturtium blossom vinegar he bottled recently.

His clients, primarily nonkosher Jews who are organizing a dinner or event that includes kosher guests, are game to follow his culinary lead — mostly. “You cannot give everyone fried chicken skin on day one,” he said. “But they appreciate that we respect the ingredients, and that if they order something like bagels and lox, we are going to cure the salmon ourselves and add aromatics to make it special.”

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Zucchini-and Feta Latkes for Summer

By Nora Cohen

Growing up in a Venezuelan Jewish home opting out of nightly family dinners was never an option. But every once in a while, I wished it was. Surprisingly, it wasn’t that I wanted to watch the finale of American Idol which always happened to air during dinnertime or that I would have rather had dinner at a friend’s house. Instead my occasional and mostly failed attempts at avoiding the family table came from my deep-seeded aversion to eating zucchini.

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Cycles in Seasons and Torah

By Andrea Cohen Kiener

Food is a most basic human need. Until one a hundred years ago, most people everywhere worked in some aspect of food production. Most tools of human culture developed in order to secure, store, and distribute food reliably. Consider the Hebrew servitude in Egypt, building the storage facilities at Pithom and Ramses and Joseph’s job description of measuring, storing and distributing grain. According to author and scientist Jared Diamond, everything from capitol cities to written records developed in service to an organized food supply.

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Why I Spared the Bunnies From Knife

By Ben Harris

(JTA) — We were out weeding squash last week when Fred came over to say he had to show me something but he feared it would lead to an act of violence.

Regular readers will know Fred is the farm’s sole employee. (I believe the technical term is “farm hand.”) He’s also a devout Hare Krishna, strict vegetarian and devotee of non-violence.

With a prelude like that, I knew where this was heading.

Fred led me to a spot in the field, cleared away some brush, and there in a small hole were four or five baby rabbits. Fred and Raul – one of Fred’s spiritual fellow travelers and an occasional presence at the farm – were busy cooing over their find. I was completely unmoved. I realize this makes me sound like a heartless ogre, but cute as they were, I had bigger fish to fry (or rabbits to roast, if you like.)

I had seen momma bunny hopping around with her cotton tail (Fred had rather unhelpfully christened her Hare Krishna — get it?), and all I could think about when looking at those little tufts of fur was that rabbits breed like rabbits! Soon there’d be lots of Hare Krishnas running around (a Fred fantasy, I’m sure) and I’m pretty convinced they’re the ones that have been chomping on my snap peas. The babies had to go, and I knew exactly how I was going to do it.

The other regular presence on the farm is my landlord Joe. An Italian immigrant with a thick accent and a penchant for dropping the last syllable of words, Joe is a lifelong farmer, a Catholic and a carnivore. He raises a handful of goats on the farm that he kills with a small knife to the throat and butchers himself. A few weeks back, he asked me if any vendors at the market sell rabbit meat. I didn’t know, but Joe went looking himself and came up empty. I figured presenting him with this find would buy me some goodwill.

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6 Ways To Put a Jewish Twist on Your Mojito

By Hody Nemes

The mojito is a classic Cuban drink. But who says it can’t be a Jewish one, too?

In honor of National Mojito Day on July 11, we have concocted (and named!) 6 Jewish mojitos that will spice up a summer party. Or a synagogue kiddush.

Start by finding the five classic ingredients of a mojito: rum, lime juice, sugar, mint, and sparkling water.

That’s when the real fun begins:

1) The Borscht Belt

Throw in a tablespoon of beet puree to create a beautiful pink mojito that marches to the beet of its own drum. Add a dash of ginger for an extra refreshing kick.


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Looking Back — and Forward — to Schav

By Joelle Abramowitz

Photo: Joelle Abramowitz

Sometimes we need to encounter something new to help us unearth a remnant from the past.

“This week, I got sorrel,” I told my mother. Each week I’d recite to my mother what had come in my CSA share and what I ended up doing with my vegetables. The sorrel was notable because somehow, on my third year of being a CSA member, I still had not yet encountered sorrel for myself.

After receiving my box of vegetables, I tasted a small piece of the sorrel. It was as I’d expected, but more: lemony and sour and wonderful. Having only a few ounces of sorrel, I decided to make a sorrel-onion tart. Indeed, the bites with ample sorrel were quite lovely and refreshing.

I related my sorrel adventure to my mother.

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Crumbs, Kosher Cupcake Chain, Folds for Good

By Mimi Dwyer

Getty Images

(Reuters) — Cupcakes still lined the counter of an empty and unlit Crumbs Bake Shop on 42nd Street in New York City on Tuesday afternoon, the day after the largest U.S. cupcake retailer announced it was closing.

Crumbs, which specializes in oversized cupcakes and went public in 2011, shuttered its nearly 50 locations in 10 states and the District of Columbia.

Gina Mackey and Raquel Baquero of Queens stopped by the store after they heard the news that it would be closing.

“I don’t do too much cupcake stuff because I don’t find them to be very moist. But this was a moist cupcake and I did enjoy it, so it’s a shame it went out of business,” said Mackey. “Had I known it was going to go out of business, I would have come and gotten my last Crumbs cupcake.”

“And I would have gotten my first,” said Baquero, her daughter.

“When my friend posted the story they were closing, I was like, ‘Well, I just blew it,’” Baquero said. “I just walked by to confirm that they were really closed.”

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America's 50 Best Fried Chicken Recipes

By Richard Leong

(Reuters) — Lee Brian Schrager’s passion for fried chicken led him to travel around the United States and convince celebrity and local chefs to share their recipes in his new cookbook “Fried & True.”

In the book co-written with Adeena Sussman, Schrager shares more than 50 recipes for fried chicken from his contributors including double fried chicken and another with Asian-inspired ingredients.

The 55-year-old founder of the Food Network South Beach and New York City Wine & Food Festivals spoke to Reuters about what makes the best fried chicken and sharing recipes.

What is the secret to making great fried chicken?

Lee Brian Schrager: The right temperature with the frying oil. If the oil is too hot, it’s going to be burnt on the outside and raw on the inside. If it’s too cold, it will get too greasy. Starting the oil at 370 degree Fahrenheit (188 degree Celsius) is the key.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s Chicken Schnitzel

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Shakshuka Is Israel's Summer Favorite — for Dinner

By Vered Guttman

Shiran Carmel/Haaretz

(Haaretz) — All has already been written about the famous Israeli breakfast of a large chopped Arabic salad, eggs, labneh, feta and other cheeses, Greek style yogurt and bread: that it’s fresh and healthy, that it’s Middle Eastern, that it’s just too much.

Everything was said, except the truth, and the truth is that Israelis have this exact meal for dinner, not breakfast.

Many Israelis still have heavy, hot meals at lunch. Kids come back from school early and have their schnitzel and mashed potatoes. Dinner is light and includes the dishes listed above.

Summer, when light cooking or no cooking at all are a plus, is the best time to try and follow this diet. Tomatoes and cucumbers are at their peak this time of year and yield the best chopped salad. To the regular chopped tomatoes, cucumbers and onions add grated radishes, chopped peppers and fresh mint and finish with lemon juice, olive oil and salt. Offer good bread to absorb all the goodness accumulating at the bottom of the salad bowl. You can also add a simple salad of squashed avocado with chopped egg, green onions and olives to spread on bread.

Finish this Israeli-inspired dinner with a fresh watermelon. You’ll leave the table full but not heavy. You might even sleep better!

There’s one staple that requires cooking, but still fits summer dinners (or brunches) really well, and that is shakshuka. Shakshuka is a Northern African dish of cooked eggs in tomato and red pepper or paprika stew, usually with the addition of hot pepper. It was brought to Israel by the Tunisian Jewish immigrants and is popular both in Israeli homes and restaurants. The most common version is made of cooked tomatoes, crushed garlic and paprika. Some recipes include sliced chorizos, some call for feta cheese, and there’s also a green version of Swiss chard or spinach stew with eggs cooked in it is gaining popularity as well.

Shakshuka made with canned tomatoes can be quite good, but there’s really nothing like one made of fresh summer tomatoes. The dish has such few ingredients- it relies on the tomatoes alone, and those must be of the best flavor. Try mixing different heirloom tomatoes- but any good, red, ripe tomatoes will work well.

With slices of ciabatta or sourdough bread, this is a whole vegetarian meal on its own. I just wish I could say it was cheap, since no meat is saved. Unfortunately, if you’re living in America, tomatoes, even in the summer, can be as expensive as meat, or even more expensive- something I still cannot understand. But you’ll be comforted to know you’re following the MyPlate recommendations of the USDA, and serving your family real goodness in a skillet.

Below are two versions for shakshuka, one is a classic tomato-paprika base with roasted eggplant, the other is a summer version of Swiss chard and fresh corn.

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Your New Favorite Summer Treat: Halva Popsicles

By Molly Yeh

My love affair with halva began in the cafeteria of an IDF base, surrounded by pounds upon pounds of halva bars and a bunch of my best Birthright friends. We sat for an entire afternoon, unwrapping the bars, “quality controlling,” and making enough halva bread pudding to serve a literal army.

Logic would have it that after all of that quality controlling, I’d have gotten sick of it, but it really just made me want more in a way that I now hoard it and try to sneak it into everything. Muffins, pie, even my birthday cake this year was filled with it. Such sweet, nutty, fudgey goodness is only made better by the fact that it brings back wonderful memories of my trip to Israel.

This summer, my favorite way to enjoy halva is in popsicle form. Chopped up pieces of halva scattered throughout tahini and honey yogurt, and then frozen and embellished with chocolate? I could eat a whole batch.

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Bens Deli Gets Montreal Museum Show

By Michael Kaminer

It may not have built a brand as big as Schwartz’s, but Bens Delicatessen looms large in the history of Jewish Montreal — and in the city’s cultural lore. Once a working-class hangout, Bens grew to serve smoked meat and soups to celebs from Michael Jackson to Leonard Cohen to Catherine Deneuve in its ‘60s-‘70s heyday.

Now, Montreal’s McCord Museum is paying tribute to the delicatessen – which closed in 2006 – with Bens, the Legendary Deli, a compact but fascinating exhibition about the eatery, founder Ben Kravitz, and a bright, shining moment in Montreal history.

“Bens itself was a great portrait of Montreal,” Celine Widmer, the exhibition’s curator, told the Forward. “An institution that endured the time of a human life span, Bens was always much more than just a restaurant. It died out after 98 years of existence, but remains an integral part of our collective memory. It became iconic. It was one of those very special places that a city experiences quite rarely.”

The exhibition showcases more than 100 objects, including posters, architectural plans, photos, counter stools, dishes, utensils, menus, and original recipes donated by Kravitz descendants, who had contacted the museum in 2007 about staging a show. A fascinating video tribute to Bens comes in the form of a two-minute spiel by superfan (and Montreal native) Leonard Cohen pulled from 1965 docu Ladies and Gentlemen: Mr. Leonard Cohen.

Like any great deli, the attraction of Bens wasn’t just food, which even regulars would admit was so-so. Because the restaurant was the rare non-drinking establishments open late in Montreal, its cachet as a slightly louche, latenight hangout snowballed – think a smaller Katz’s. By 1960, Bens’ staff of 80 was serving 8,000 customers a day.

“When nightlife was centered downtown, back in Montreal’s Sin City days, American entertainers would stop in there to sober up or start their day,” said Bill Brownstein, the Montreal Gazette columnist whose 2006 book on Schwartz’s became an acclaimed stage musical. Ben’s ascent also mirrored Montreal’s, Brownstein said. “The period when Bens at its prime was an era when we were the financial and cultural hub of the country,” before political unrest shifted the center of gravity to Toronto, Brownstein explained.

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Yotam Ottolenghi's Seeded Chicken Schnitzel

By Yotam Ottolenghi

Yotam Ottolenghi’s Seeded Chicken Schnitzel with Parsley-Caper Mayonnaise

Adapted from ‘Fried & True’ by Lee Schrager With Adeena Sussman

For the parsley and caper mayonnaise

1 large egg yolk

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

3/4 cup sunflower oil

1/2 teaspoon sugar

2 cups loosely packed parsley leaves, chopped

1 tablespoon salt-packed capers

For the chicken

4 skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 1/2 lbs. total), each piece cut into 3 long strips

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs

3 tablespoons white sesame seeds

2 tablespoons black sesame seeds (or extra white, if not available)

2 tablespoons flaxseed

2 tablespoons sunflower seeds, roughly chopped

1 1/2 tablespoons coriander seeds, roughly crushed

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/3 cup sunflower oil

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Michelle Bernstein’s Watermelon Salad

By Michelle Bernstein

Michelle Bernstein’s Watermelon Salad

Adapted from ‘Fried & True’ by Lee Schrager With Adeena Sussman

Ingredients

1 1-3/4-pound wedge watermelon, rind removed and cut into medium dice (about 4 cups)

2 large beefsteak tomatoes (1 1/4 pounds), seeded and cut into small dice (about 2 cups)

1 large English hothouse cucumber (3/4 pound), peeled and cut into small dice

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

2 tbsp torn dill, uncut

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 pinch garlic powder

1 pinch onion powder

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. In a large bowl combine the watermelon, tomato, cucumber, feta, and dill

  2. In a small bowl whisk the oil, vinegar, garlic powder and onion powder; season with salt and pepper to taste

  3. Drizzle half the vinaigrette over the salad and toss very gently

  4. Add the remaining dressing to taste and gently toss again


Does Vegan Mean Healthy?

By Molly Oberstein-Allen

When I decided to go vegan this past February, I expected to feel healthier and to have a clearer conscience regarding my dietary and shopping choices. I found that while it was easier to eat food that technically fit the requirements of being vegan than I had imagined, it did not always mean more healthful or ethical food. While one can be mindfully vegan, it is also easy to eat a lot of unhealthy and unethical foods that don’t contain animal byproducts such as Oreos. I also found myself eating much more soy than I previously had, which made me bloated and gassy. Of course, I could have taken the time and effort to plan a more conscientious diet, as friends of mine have, but I most often found it easier to take the easy way out and go along enjoying my tofu-wrapped Oreos stuffed with Twizzlers.

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My First Real Fourth of July — and Plum Cobbler

By Nora Cohen

I am 23 years old but this year marks my first real Fourth of July.

You may be wondering what ‘real’ means. Well, in 2000 my family emigrated from my home country Venezuela to the United States. Fourteen years of paper work later, I am proud to say that I am celebrating my first Independence Day as an American citizen!

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Travel Channel Cancels Adam Richman's New Show

By Rachel X. Landes

Jewish Brooklynite and TV foodie, Adam Richman of “Man v. Food” may need to find a new network. His new show, Man Finds Food, was supposed to start July 2, but has since been indefinitely postponed by the Travel Channel in the wake of an instragram controversy over body image.

Earlier this month, Richman lost 70 lbs after struggling with his weight since the start of Man v. Food, and posed for Cosmopolitan UK. June 20th, he posted a picture on Instagram of himself in a pair of ill-fitting suit pants with the caption, “Had ordered this suit from a Saville Row tailor over a year ago. Think I’m gonna need to take it in a little… #thinspiration.”

The post has since been deleted, but not before the critical comments began. Here’s a screenshot, courtesy of Grubstreet:

Fellow Instagrammers quickly noted that “thinspiration” also was the favored hashtag on po-anorexia blogs and by others proud of eating disorders.

In response to the negative comments, Richman lashed back. “Grab a razor blade and draw a bath. I doubt anyone will miss you,” he told one commentator.

To another, he said, “Give me a f—king break. If anyone acts like a c—t I’ll call them one. It’s not misogyny, it’s calling a spade a spade… If my use of the hashtag offended you, it was unintentional & for that I’m sorry.”

Later that day, he responded via Twitter, “Yes. I’ve responded to the internet hate recently with vile words directed at those hating me. I am sorry, I should know better & will do better.”

This tweet was later deleted, but Richman later said in a written apology on Good Morning America, “I’ve long struggled with my body image and have worked very hard to achieve a healthy weight. I’m incredibly sorry to everyone I’ve hurt.”

So far, there is no premiere date for “Man Finds Food.”


Adam Fleischman's Chocolate Fried Chicken

By Rachel X. Landes

ChocoChicken’s chocolate fried chicken and duckfat fries. // Twitter/KristieHang

Looking for a new way to eat all-American food on Independence Day? Try any of Adam Fleischman’s restaurants.

Who is he, you ask? Why, the founder of the famous Umami Burger, of course!

In 2009, Umami Burger was a single burger joint on La Brea Avenue, in Los Angeles. Since then, the chain has exploded to more than 20 locations in New York, Florida and California. After his first year in business, he had four restaurants that garnered him about 1 million dollars a month.

When Umami Burger opened in New York City, the line curved around the block.

Known for its gourmet burgers like the Truffle Burger, with house-made truffle cheese and glaze, the Hatch Burger, with four types of green chilies and house cheese, and the Umami Burger, with Parmesan crisp, shiitake mushrooms and house ketchup, Umami Burger has revolutionized burgers. “When I created the Umami burger, I wanted a forward-looking burger,” Fleischman said in an interview. “I wanted a burger that was global and that had all sorts of modern influences.”

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