Saturday, July 21, 2007


Good Morning. Friends and family have been after me to start blogging for some time now and since Spencer's still sleeping - a remarkable event at 9am - I'm going to at least make a start. People have been after me to blog because I'm usually on a soap box where nobody but friends and family can hear me - and either they figure the world might want to hear what I'm on about, or maybe its as simple as "misery loves company". You'll have to decide. I can't tell anymore.

Why Noshstalgia? Noshstalgia reflects my interest in preserving great, endangered, food traditions and sharing them with others. I'll elaborate on this later - but first a few words to better set the stage...

I recognize the danger of nostalgia generally. As we grow older, we're prone to looking back and romanticizing our earlier life experiences. It's a cliche that things used to be better. And if we fixate there then we may miss the present altogether. Very dangerous stuff.

There are plenty of worthy developments in the world of food today, and I don't mean to suggest otherwise. I have great interest in and admiration for many contemporary growers, producers, distributors, chefs, restaurateurs, etc. But this blog is not about the new - it's about our culinary roots.

It's obvious that food has become fashionable. As I look at the success of popular food-focused media outlets, the proliferation of specialty foods, the growth of Whole Foods, food celebrities, and now even Hollywood movies set in the context of the food business I can't help feeling that we may be approaching the zenith of the fad.

But most people don't actually cook. Time is precious and people can't spend hours as they used to. And there are many more impediments to real cooking at home - reasons that I hope to discuss later. For now, just consider the ratio between the number of primary ingredients required to produce food, and the number of products selling in the market. At the Fancy Food Show in New York two weeks ago, there were well in excess of 100,000 products on display. Modern supermarkets carry tens of thousands of distinct items on its shelves. The proliferation of items on offer reflects first and foremost on people's need for convenience. One way or another, many of these products are substites for the time, effort, and know-how otherwise required to produce meals from primary ingredients.

And most of those who do cook are in a hurry. Time is precious, even for self-identified foodies. The focus of many recent cookbooks and tv shows is on producing meals quickly. So - am I all about "slow food"? No - but it's certainly a part of the picture for me.

So back to this - Food is fashionable. I appreciate the attention that good food and its contemporary heroes are receiving. But, it seems to me that many of the most important aspects of our food culture - past and present - have yet to penetrate for many people. The foodie trend has reached a point that suggests it may soon be "over". It feels to me like we're at about (Warhol) minute 14. Popular culture is very harsh with fads that have passed. And too often, good, important ideas are lost because of their nominal association with a defunct trend.

My job here is to share what strikes me as important and hope to build impact beyond the fad. I hope that you'll find some value in my jottings.

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