Grocery | The Invisible Behemoth on Main Street

Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America

In Grocery, bestselling author Michael Ruhlman offers incisive commentary on America’s relationship with its food and investigates the overlooked source of so much of it – the grocery store.

In a culture obsessed with food – how it looks, what it tastes like, where it comes from, what is good for us – there are often more questions than answers. Ruhlman proposes that the best practices for consuming wisely could be hiding in plain sight – in the aisles of your local supermarket.

The following is an extract from Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America by Michael Ruhlman


THE INVISIBLE BEHEMOTH ON MAIN STREET

Grocery stores are where we purchase most of our food – $650 billion annually at thirty-eight thousand of them in America, $1 trillion if you count all retail food sales(1) – yet most people know almost nothing about how they operate or where the food they sell comes from. We do, however, count on their always being here. While food issues drive some of the most compelling stories in the news (after national and international crises) – everything from the gluten-free fad, the pros and cons of genetically modified foods, questions about food’s possible impact on increasing gastrointestinal illnesses, food fanaticism, food recalls, anxiety about food expiration dates, eating disorders, the paleo diet, our $1 billion-per-day health care crisis – we remain more confused than ever by conflicting information we receive in the news about the food we eat.

Some of this confusion can be clarified and explored by looking inside a grocery store.

The American supermarket is like no other retail store, and we use it like no other retail store, venturing out to buy groceries on average twice a week, every week, all year long, to feed ourselves. A family’s biggest expense, after housing and transportation, is groceries (about 10 percent of its income). A small portion of the population grows some of their own food, but almost no one, or no family, fails to go to a grocery store each week. It’s the only store most Americans have to spend money in. Those who can’t get to one tend to be sicker than those who can, according to researchers who study urban and rural food deserts, places where there are no convenient grocery stores.

Grocery stores are more than just places to buy food. They are in a broader sense a reflection of our culture. During the Cold War, for instance, supermarkets were a powerful symbol. “With their dizzying array of processed foods, [supermarkets] came to be regarded as quintessential symbols of the triumph of American capitalism,” writes Harvey Levenstein in Paradox of Plenty: A Social History of Eating in Modern America. During the impromptu 1959 Kitchen Debate in Moscow, then Vice President Richard Nixon pointed to the astonishing variety of goods available to Americans as evidence of capitalism’s superiority, pooh-poohed by Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev. The next year, however, when Khrushchev and his pals visited a San Francisco supermarket, “the expression on their faces was something to behold,” writes Levenstein, quoting Henry Cabot Lodge, one of the hosts.

Because they are a reflection, even symbol, of our culture, and thus a gauge of who we are, supermarkets illuminate what we care about, what we fear, what we desire. They offer a view of our demographic makeup, including how much money we have and how big the country is, not to mention how much it is changing. The grocery store describes the effects of global warming on farms from Washington down through California, the state of our oceans, and the health of our land. It is a showcase for the latest food production innovations, which is critical given the world’s escalating population. And the grocery store is at the center of broader issues of how the food we eat affects our bodies and our body politic.

All these issues, and countless others, come into focus when viewed through the lens of the American supermarket, food’s last stop before it enters our homes. Though we aren’t often reflective or thoughtful about grocery stores, they are in truth a barometer of our country’s collective state of mind.

Why this lack of attention? Perhaps because on the surface, grocery stores seem banal. Perhaps because they are so ubiquitous. I don’t know. There’s a scene in the extraordinary film The Hurt Locker, in which an American serviceman, a bomb diffuser, is home after a tour in Afghanistan, and is grocery shopping with his wife and young child. The fluorescent lighting in the supermarket aisles makes even the brightly colored boxes and packaging seem flat; we sense that the character, played by Jeremy Renner, will not be able to exist in this colorful but dead consumer landscape – a landscape embodied by the grocery store. Sure enough, he is soon back in Afghanistan, suiting up to dismantle a car bomb.

We tend to use grocery stores without thinking about them, or if we do think about them, it’s with mild annoyance, the thought of shopping itself a chore. What we rarely reflect on is what a luxury it is to be able to buy an extraordinary variety and quantity of food whenever we want every day of the year.

I’m often asked about the reason for our country’s growing obsession with food—the emergence of “the foodie,” the 1993 creation of a 24-hour TV channel devoted to food, chefs becoming celebrities, new cooking appliance fetishes, and ever-fancier kitchens that see less and less actual cooking. My response is that when something you need to survive starts making you confused and sick, you become obsessive about it. We don’t tend to think much about air, but if we suddenly didn’t have any, it would be pretty much all we’d be able to think about. The same might be said about grocery stores—if they suddenly vanished, if our only option for sustenance was the Cheesecake Factory or a CVS pharmacy, we’d think about them a lot.

Part of the reason we don’t think about them is that food, on a daily basis, isn’t a concern in this country. We have a lot of food—more than what we need, in fact. It’s available every hour of every day. Just walk into any supermarket in America, an industry that responds aggressively to what America wants to buy, and you enter a landscape composed of tens of thousands of square feet of inexpensive food, food that’s critical first to our comfort and ultimately to our health and happiness. And yet there’s something wrong here, and we know it, though we can’t we quite get at what it is.

Here’s what this book is not: It is not a history of grocery stores, though their transformation from trading posts to country stores to stores selling packaged food to everything-under-one-roof supermarkets is part of the story. It’s not an aisle-by-aisle tour of each of the ten main departments of a grocery store (produce, grocery, seafood, meat, floral, bakery, frozen/dairy, deli, prepared foods, wine and beer). Nor do I report on the industrial system we’ve developed to feed our hunger

for beef and pork, the methods and impact of overfishing our oceans, or even the ways the major food manufacturing companies (Kraft, Kellogg, PepsiCo, Nestlé, etc.) create, market, and profit from the food that seems to be making us sick. And this is not a nutritional guide to what is on the shelves and how it affects our health, though food choices and health are central to my story. These issues have been widely covered in other books and in the media. (2)

This book is instead what I would call a reported reflection on the grocery store in America, and an expression of my own love, anger, opinions, and concerns over what is in them, how it got there, and what it all means. I’ve been writing about food and cooking since 1996, when I snuck into the Culinary Institute of America to write about what the most prominent cooking school said you had to know in order to be a chef. In the intervening two decades, food issues have become some of the most pressing and confusing of our time. Because these issues are so numerous and disparate, I’ve had to be selective about what I choose to write about, and about these subjects I do not attempt to conceal my opinions.

I cover the food that interests me, the people who are most outspoken in the grocery business, and follow the stories that matter to me, whether it’s on a vast ranch in a national park in Idaho or on a tour of the grocery store with my physician. In researching this book, I visited farms, stores, and produce auctions; I joined grocers at food shows and interviewed the cheese makers they buy from; I toured a fish auction in Honolulu, one of the major fish auctions in the country; I bagged groceries, got to know the people who ran the stores and who worked in them, and generally hung out in the supermarket. In short, as a lover of food, a cook, and a person who cares about the future of food in America, I wrote a book that, using a small family grocery chain in my hometown of Cleveland as my inroad, is the book that I wanted most to read. Ultimately it is a story that’s never been written: an appreciation of, and wonder at, the American grocery store and the complex and fascinating business of retailing food to a country of 350 million people.

But it is also, as you’ll see, a deeply personal subject, and I try to tell that story as well. Happily, I grew up in a household that loved food and cooking, the place where, surely, my love of food and my fascination with grocery stores began. Having written about the food world for twenty years now, I’ve come to care about food more than I ever thought possible—about how we grow it, raise it, catch it, kill it, package it, distribute it, buy it, cook it, and dispose of what we don’t want. Our food (and the cooking of it, or lack thereof) is more important than most people realize, and we fail to understand this at our peril.


1 Figures from Food Marketing Institute and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

2 See Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma for beef (and more), Ted Genoways’s The Chain for pork, and Paul Greenberg’s Four Fish for seafood. Michael Moss’s Salt Sugar Fat investigates food manufacturing giants. Dan Barber contrasts industrial agriculture with potential models for growing food sustainably in The Third Plate. Marion Nestle explores every department in the grocery store, examining food from a nutritionist’s vantage point in What to Eat.

Visualising Spheres of Knowledge

The Book of Circles Cover

In The Book of Circles, his companion volume to the popular Book of Trees, Manuel Lima takes us on a lively tour through millennia of information design. Three hundred detailed and colourful illustrations cover an encyclopedic array of subjects, drawing fascinating parallels across time and culture.

Here are a few of the spectacular images from The Book of Circles:

William Billings, Musical score for the song “Connection”, 1794 Credit: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University
William Billings, Musical score for the song “Connection”, 1794
Credit: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University

Frontispiece to The Continental Harmony (1794), a book by William Billings containing dozens of psalm anthems and hymns. Billings was a prominent early American choral composer. This illustration represents the score for the tune “Connection” as a four-stave, circular piece of music, which starts at the top of the outermost ring and works its way to the centre.

 Dave Bowker, One Week of the Guardian: Wednesday, 2008 Credit: Dave Bowker
Dave Bowker, One Week of the Guardian: Wednesday, 2008
Credit: Dave Bowker

Part of a series of experiments exploring how to visualise the content of the Guardian newspaper in an artistic and engaging way, a diagram showing the popularity of fifty-four news articles. The concentric circles group articles into colour-coded categories (e.g., life and style articles are shown by orange, technology by cyan, and science by blue), with the least popular category positioned in the centre. Word counts for each article are noted within speech bubbles.

Nicholas Felton, Feltron 2007 Annual Report, 2008 Credit: Nicholas Felton
Nicholas Felton, Feltron 2007 Annual Report, 2008
Credit: Nicholas Felton

Pie chart displaying the statistics for an average day of the author, plotting various data such as number of emails sent, miles run, or cups of coffee consumed. Between 2005 and 2015, information designer Nicholas Felton meticulously documented his daily activity to create his Personal Annual Reports, compilations of information graphics that give an overview of each year, set out in the style of corporate reporting. The project is an exploration of how to graphically encapsulate the activities of an entire year, as well as how we can glean data from rapidly changing technology

Anna Filipova, Lineage of Sin in the Bible, 2009 Credit: Anna Filipova
Anna Filipova, Lineage of Sin in the Bible, 2009
Credit: Anna Filipova

Chart measuring time through sins, as described in the Bible, displaying an inverse relationship between longevity and sin. Longevity decreases from Adam (the first man) to Moses at the same time that sin increases. The outer ring, read counter clockwise, moves through the major events of the Old Testament. Relevant biblical verses that reveal someone’s age are cited, and the average age for an epoch is shown underneath (coloured rings).

Ernst Haeckel, Drawing of an ophidea, 1904 Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Ernst Haeckel, Drawing of an ophidea, 1904
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Lithograph of an ophidea, a type of echinoderm similar to a starfish. Ernst Haeckel was a German biologist who published a series of detailed lithographs, Kunstformen der Natur (Art forms of nature), over the course of five years. These images of microscopic biology have been hugely influential on both the arts and science.


Click here to find out more about Manuel Lima’s books.

Man VS. Child

Man VS Child

Author and comedian Doug Moe knows first-time fathers are as worried about being terrible at their new terrifying jobs as new mums are. But while most modern fathering guides centre on men’s oafish parental failings, Man vs. Child forgoes condescension in favour of fresh and irreverent wit.

This guide for first-time dads tackles funny but important questions, like how to be a good dad without becoming a BabyBjörn-wearing tool in the process, or what to do if your child loves your iPad more than they love you. From caring for a newborn to dealing with a kid on the verge of adolescence, Moe breaks fatherhood down into survival lessons like “Time to Decide About God” and quizzes that ask dads to reflect on hilarious parenting questions like “Is My Child Too Annoying for This Restaurant?”

Chapters include:

-Newborn: Keeping This Weird Thing Alive Awhile, Even As It Tries to Kill You
-Your Interesting Baby, Maybe the Most Interesting Baby Ever
-Man v Toddler: Does Your Toddler Want to Kill You?
-Now That My Kid Doesn’t Need Me, What Is My Life Worth?

Balancing relatable humour with heartfelt advice, Man vs. Child will appeal to any dad looking for both laughs and real guidance from a man who has had – and survived – these experiences himself.

The following is an extract from Man VS. Child by Doug Moe.


Tantrums: Welcome to the Darkness

The main thing about toddlers isn’t toddles, it’s tantrums. I guess “tantrumers” doesn’t roll off the tongue sufficiently. Tantrums are the ubiquitous freak-outs wielded by toddlers everywhere to get what they want through a combination of embarrassment and torture.

Everyone Thinks You are a Monster

Most parents will do almost anything to make tantrums stop. Private, home-based tantrums are horrible, but they are manageable for strong parents. But what do you do about public tantrums? Everyone stands around staring, watching you fail, and blaming you for the screaming child ruining their day. Tantrums aren’t your fault! Of course, maybe you forgot to feed your child. Or you skipped a nap in violation of the sleep schedule. You did both? Wow. But embarrassment is the enemy of good parenting. A parent impervious to embarrassment is an irresistible force.

Everyone Thinks Dads are Dumb

For centuries, men have reaped the benefits of male privilege: first dibs in land, voting, power, etc. But mid-meltdown, that power dissolves and the centuries of female wisdom and child-rearing responsibility comes back to haunt the beleaguered dad. Nosy biddies all over will start to question even the best dad if he is with a kid in mid meltdown. They just assume that you are as big an idiot as all the lovable TV dads they’ve come to know from the story box they watch at home, and they will give you some “extra help.” Try to accept this help as graciously as possible. They’ll say, “She looks hungry!” or “Is everything okay?” If you get sarcastic or angry, all you’ve done is confirmed that you are a big dumb dad who doesn’t know how to keep it together. Give them a politely clenched smile like mothers everywhere have practiced forever.

Talk to Yo ur Kid Like She is a Tiny Cavemen

Although some tantrums are inevitable, many are caused by the frustration a toddler has in communicating her desires and feeling heard. There’s lots of advice out there on this. One approach I enjoyed came from the book The Happiest Toddler on the Block. This book advised that toddlers are like tiny cavemen—and not just because they both wear overalls.

According to this view, the correct approach can mitigate tantrums.

1. It’s best to talk to toddlers in short, emotive phrases, as if you are talking to a caveman. But instead of saying things like “Big sky-bird eat mommy” (Caveman), you say things like “You want snack! You want SNACK! You hungry! SO hungry!” (Toddler) to mirror their concerns back to them in a way they’ll understand.

2. Then you add what you want to get across: “But daddy no have a snack! Snack when we home. Almost home. Then SNACK!” The book calls this the “Fast-Food Rule”—somewhat confusingly since now I’m just thinking of that drive-in on The Flintstones. It’s called this to help you remember to repeat back “his order” (what he wants) before you tell him “your price” (what you want).

3. I also think it’s fun to say “May I take your order?” but your mileage may vary.

If talking like a caveman doesn’t work, you can always try an old dad standby: ignoring. Most dads are great at ignoring things, a handy characteristic when a kid is pitching a fit in public and can’t be reasoned with. Know that you are not a bad dad, despite what literally everyone else in the world thinks.

Veterans: The Faces of World War II

Ichiro Sudan trained to be a kamikaze…

Roscoe Brown was a commander in the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African American military aviators.

Charin Singh, a farmer from Delhi, spent seven years as a Japanese prisoner of war and was not sent home until four years after the war ended.

Uli John lost an arm serving in the German army but ultimately befriended former enemy soldiers as part of a network of veterans-people who fought in the war and know what war really means.

These are some of the faces and stories in the remarkable Veterans, the outcome of a worldwide project by Sasha Maslov to interview and photograph the last surviving combatants from World War II.

Soldiers, support staff and resistance fighters candidly discuss wartime experiences and their lifelong effects in this unforgettable, intimate record of the end of a cataclysmic chapter in world history and tribute to the members of an indomitable generation.Veterans is also a meditation on memory, human struggle and the passage of time.

The following is an extract from Veterans: Faces of World War II.


Ken Smith

Portsmouth, England

Veteran Ken Smith

My name is Ken Smith. I was born on April 12, 1922, in Portsmouth. My parents were very religious. I was in the dockyard choir. I left school at thirteen. I worked on houses. I used to make flights of stairs until the war, when timber became so scarce the government commandeered all of it.

I remember the day the war broke out. I was in church that day. At eleven, Chamberlain was going to make an announcement. I ran home. I remember him saying, “We are at a state of war.” We were told to be ready for air raids. The first thing I did, I went down to the bottom of the garden and dug a big trench about eight feet long. I was there the whole day, expecting an air raid that night. But during the night, it rained heavily. I couldn’t stay there. The next morning it was filled up with water.

I loved football, and a friend of mine said, “Join the Royal Marines; you’ll get plenty of football.” I joined when I was eighteen. I did six months of training near Dover, where we expected the invasion to begin. Every night we used to stand on the beaches. When the invasion didn’t happen, I was moved to Plymouth. I passed two naval gunnery courses and was sent up on a ship in Newcastle, HMS Manchester.


Haku Kikuchi

Tsukuba-Shi, Japan

Veteran Hakushu Kikuchi

I was born in the Ibaraki Prefecture on June 10, 1929. I was born into a family of farmers; I didn’t find much difficulty in getting food. Generally, the quality of life was low in Japan. It must have been hard for others. My father was a fisherman before he was married. He sailed on a big ship, traveling all over the world, to America and Great Britain. He married a woman from the next town over. I was the fourth of six children and the only boy. We mostly farmed when we were young. The other men in the area went on to be soldiers. I began training in 1941, in Kashima city, at twelve years old. I was young. I wanted to help out Japan. I had no fear of death. We had been taught that we should be honoured to die for the country. Everyone was brainwashed. We all thought it was noble to die for Japan. So I applied to become a child pilot when I turned fourteen.


Read more from these incredible stories, plus stories from 48 more veterans, in Sasha Maslov’s Veterans: Faces of World War II. 

Veterans

Bookstore of the Month | The Children’s Bookshop Muswell Hill

Bookstore of the Month

Our Bookstore of the Month this May is The Children’s Bookshop in Muswell Hill!

Children's Bookshop

Describe The Children’s Bookshop in three words

Eccentric, jolly, and bibliophilic!

Where is your favourite spot in the store?

There is a corner by the picture books which is particularly cosy — you can see the whole shop, but no one can see you!

 Give us a brief history of The Children’s Bookshop.

We’ve been around since 1974, and it’s been passed down from family to family – and always to someone who was already working here! Some of our earliest customers are now bringing in their grandchildren, so we have a lovely sense of our history – and canny customers will find staff members who have been here for over thirty years.

Do you have a store pet?

No? What would be your ideal bookstore pet?

We don’t have a pet, but an octopus would come in handy – enough arms to get all the books at once! Or a niffler, just in case we’re sitting on a pile of buried treasure.

Do you have a favourite author? If yes, who is it?

The general consensus from our staff is Philip Reeve, Meg Rosoff, Andy Stanton, Michael Morpurgo, and Eva Ibbotson – storytellers who stand the test of time.

Children's Bookshop

What is your favourite opening line from a book?

We had a vote, and Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman wins for sheer poetic menace:

“There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.”

What was the last book you read?

Who Let the Gods Out by Maz Evans (Sanchita)

What is your favourite A&CB book?

It’s got to be the two Adas – Ada Twist Scientist and Ada’s Ideas – fantastic heroines whose stories are bought to life with quirky illustrations.

And in winter, Stina is the sort of book you want to wrap yourself up in.

Children's Bookshop

What is your favourite book?

A collection of staff favourites:

Lost Happy Endings – Carol Ann Duffy & Jane Ray (Sanchita’s choice)

Wed Wabbit – Lissa Evans (Maj’s choice)

Tadpole’s Promise – Jeanne Willis (Jeff’s choice)

Jasmine Skies – Sita Bramachari (Meena’s choice)

Share a #Shelfie with us!

The Children's Bookshop

You can find The Children’s Bookshop at:

29 Fortis Green Rd, London, N10 3HP

Follow them on Twitter.

Noteworthy | Extract

Noteworthy

It’s the start of Jordan Sun’s junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts. Unfortunately, she’s an Alto 2, which – in the musical theatre world – is sort of like being a vulture in the wild: she has a spot in the ecosystem, but nobody’s falling over themselves to express their appreciation. So it’s no surprise when she gets shut out of the fall musical for the third year straight. But then the school gets a mass email: a spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshiped . . . revered . . . all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.

Click here to read an extract from Noteworthy, Riley Redgate’s second novel!

Buy your copy here.

Five Ways to Cook Asparagus | Skinny Asparagus with Tomatoes and Hot Pepper

Today there seems to be less time to shop and cook, and yet the time eating together seems more important than ever. Five Ways to Make Asparagus is about making dinner in real time and under real conditions. Peter Miller argues that no matter how busy your day has been that you can still cook and eat well. The only difficulty is to recognise the possibilities.

Using the number five as a reference, Five Ways to Cook Asparagus (and Other Recipes) is built around a hypothetical five day workweek, offering a plan to make the best use of your time, materials and interest in good, healthy food. To help simplify the process of deciding what to cook and how, there are five exceptional ways to cook asparagus that best represent and celebrate the asparagus. The recipes range from the extremely basic, allowing the ingredient to truly shine, to more nuanced preparations. If you try them, you will know more about asparagus, and it will become a more versatile character in your plans for cooking – and so forth, with broccoli and cauliflower, with quinoa and lentils.

Peter has carefully selected a group of specific foods, focusing on vegetables, grains and legumes. As some of the most versatile and healthy foods, they form an easily adaptable arsenal that can be quickly converted into simple, delicious meals. While his recipes are vegetable centric, he also offers select preparations for incorporating fish and meat.

This week why not try out his recipe for Skinny Asparagus with Tomatoes and Hot Pepper:

Five Ways to Cook Asparagus
© 2017 Hirsheimer & Hamilton

Skinny Asparagus with Tomatoes and Hot Pepper

SERVES 4

At the very start of the spring season, you can get fresh, skinny asparagus, and you can cook it with a particular, sprightly abandon. Once the asparagus matures, you can still make the dish, but it will not have the same flourish as in the early first days. The same, of course, is true of spring garlic, or the first wild mushrooms, or the early beans and peas.

1 pound (455 g) skinny asparagus, trimmed, soaked, and drained (see below)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter

1 shallot or 2 spring onions, finely chopped

1 small dried red chile

1 garlic clove, thinly sliced

Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

6 to 8 cherry tomatoes

¼ cup (60 ml) chicken stock, at a simmer

¼ cup (10 g) chopped fresh cilantro or basil leaves

First, trim the asparagus, cutting 1 or 2 inches (2.5 or 5 cm) off the woody ends. With a swivel peeler, shave the bottom 3 to 4 inches (7.5 to 10 cm) of the stalks, taking off the harder outer skin. As you work, set the peeled asparagus in a shallow dish filled with cold water. Soak it for 5 minutes, then drain. (This seems to rehydrate the asparagus and help it cook more quickly.)

Heat a big pot of water to a boil and toss the asparagus in. When the water comes back to a boil, quickly pull out and drain the asparagus.

Heat a wide sauté pan over medium-high heat for a minute. Add the olive oil, half the butter, and the shallot. After a minute, crush the dried red pepper into the pan and add the garlic. Toss and stir so the parts mix, then throw in the asparagus. Cook for no more than 3 minutes. The sauté cycle is a flash of exuberance for the first of the asparagus. You must shake the pan vigorously to get the asparagus to touch all the other elements. Add a good pinch of salt and black pepper. Throw in the tomatoes and stock and shake the pan even more, above the heat, to get the parts in contact. The stock will loosen and deglaze the pan’s contents, and the tomatoes will create even more disorder as they split and leak.

Add the last of the butter, swirl for a second, then lay the asparagus in a jumble on a warmed platter. Sprinkle with the cilantro and give one last grind of black pepper.


 

Five Ways to Cook

Five Ways to Cook Asparagus (and Other Recipes): The Art and Practice of Making Dinner by Peter Miller (Abrams, out April 11, £18.99)

Offering more than 75 recipes, adjustable menus, tips for giving new life to leftovers and detailed information on sourcing ingredients, with Five Ways to Make Asparagus you can cook a dinner with only one or two fresh ingredients and you can be confident that that will be more than enough.

 

The Last Thing You Said | Extract

Last Thing You Said Quote

Last summer, Lucy’s and Ben’s lives changed in an instant. One moment, they were shyly flirting on a lake raft, finally about to admit their feelings to each other after years of yearning. In the next, Trixie – Lucy’s best friend and Ben’s sister – was gone, her heart giving out during a swim. And just like that, the idyllic world they knew turned upside down, and the would-be couple drifted apart, swallowed up by their grief.

Now it’s a year later in their small lake town, and as the anniversary of Trixie’s death looms, Lucy and Ben’s undeniable connection pulls them back together.

They can’t change what happened the day they lost Trixie, but the summer might finally bring them closer to healing – and to each other.

Last Thing You Said Quote

Click here to read an extract from this deeply romantic YA.

Budapest Bowl | Recipe from Bowls!: Recipes and Inspirations for Healthful One-Dish Meals by Molly Watson

Budapest Bowl
© 2017 by Nicole Franzen

Budapest Bowl

Mushroom barley pilaf + paprika-braised chicken + dilled white beans + sweet pepper slaw + sour cream + dill

ORDER OF OPERATIONS

  1. Cook the chicken
  2. Make the pilaf
  3. Make the slaw
  4. Heat the beans
  5. Assemble the bowls
Paprika-braised chicken
  • 1 lb [455 g] boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp mild Hungarian paprika
  • 1 tsp hot paprika, or 1⁄2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup [240 ml] chicken, vegetable, or mushroom broth
Mushroom barley pilaf
  • 8 oz [230 g] button or cremini mushrooms
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1⁄2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 cup [180 g] pearled barley, rinsed
  • 3 cups [720 ml] chicken, vegetable, or mushroom broth
Sweet pepper slaw
  • 3 bell peppers (a mix of red, orange and yellow is nice)
  • 3 Tbsp canola or olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1⁄2 tsp salt
  • 1⁄2 tsp freshly ground black pepper dilled white beans
  • One 141⁄2-oz [415-g] can white beans, rinsed and drained, or 13⁄4 cups [420 g] drained homecooked white beans
  • 1⁄2 cup [20 g] chopped fresh dill
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1⁄2 cup [120 ml] sour cream
  • Chopped fresh dill for garnish

FOR THE CHICKEN: Preheat the oven to 375°F [190°C]. Pat the chicken dry. In a large frying pan or sauté pan with a tight-fitting lid, warm the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, undisturbed, until it starts to brown on the underside, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the pieces over and brown on the second side, 3 to 4 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a plate. Add the butter to the same pan and melt over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until soft, about

3 minutes. Add the mild and hot paprika and cook, stirring, to coat the onion. Pour in the broth and bring to a boil.

Return the chicken to the pan, cover, and transfer to the oven. Bake the chicken until it is very tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, uncover, and use a wooden spoon to separate the chicken into shreds (that’s how tender it should be). Place the pan on the stove top over medium heat and cook, uncovered, until the sauce is reduced by one-third, about 20 minutes.


FOR THE PILAF: Begin the pilaf while the chicken is in the oven. Trim off the stem ends from the mushrooms, then cut off the stems. Finely chop the stems and thinly slice the caps. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft, about 3 minutes. Increase the heat to high, add the mushroom stems and caps, and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms release their liquid, about 5 minutes.

Add the barley and stir to mix everything well. Pour in the broth and stir again to mix. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to maintain a steady simmer, cover partially, and cook, stirring every few minutes, until the liquid is absorbed and the barley is tender, about 30 minutes. If the liquid is absorbed before the barley is tender, add up to 1 cup [240 ml] water, 1⁄4 cup [60 ml] at a time.


FOR THE SLAW: Seed and thinly slice the peppers. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Add the peppers and toss to combine.


FOR THE BEANS: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the beans until hot (or put them in a microwave-safe bowl and heat them in the microwave). Add the dill, season with pepper, and toss to mix well. 


TO ASSEMBLE: Divide the pilaf among four bowls. Arrange the chicken, beans, and slaw in three separate and equal sections on top of the pilaf. Dollop the sour cream on the chicken and sprinkle everything with the dill.


NOTE: Want to gild the comfort lily? Try this with Mashed Potatoes instead of barley pilaf.


This recipe is from Bowls!: Recipes and Inspirations for Healthful One-Dish Meals by Molly Watson, published by Chronicle Books (£13.99)

Bowls

Explore The New Paris with Lindsey Tramuta

Expat Lindsey Tramuta, who has been living in Paris for a decade, is here today to share her favourite spots from Paris’s vibrant new food, fashion and design scenes…

…as if we needed more motivation to book a trip to Paris!

The New Paris

There’s a lot to love about Paris today across the worlds of dining, drinking, shopping, and exploring but these are among my favourites from “The New Paris”.

Grand Pigalle Hotel

The Experimental Cocktail Group’s first hotel is, of course, outfitted with a spacious lounge for craft cocktails and Italian plates crafted by Roman chef Giovanni Passerini.

Le 52 Faubourg Saint-Denis

Accomplished restaurateur Charles Compagnon’s third restaurant, with an ever-changing menu and nonstop service from breakfast through dinner. Don’t miss a bottle of his own beer, La Marise, and a cup of Café Compagnon which he will soon be roasting himself in Courances, outside of Paris.

Le Tricycle

Vegan hot dogs, soups, salads, and cakes put this funky two-story spot on the Paris street-food/healthy-food map.

The New Paris
© 2017 Charissa Fay

O Coffeeshop

Timothée Teyssier’s itinerant coffee bike may only hit the road for special events but he can now be found in his new fixed location in the 15th arrondissement, turning out excellent coffee, cakes, and fresh soups and salads.

The New Paris
© 2017 Charissa Fay

La Chambre Noire

Natural wines and farm-to-table small plates with a crowd that spills over from next-door taqueria, Café Chilango.

Paname Brewing Company

A Parisian brewery and brew bar on the Quai de la Loire, the perfect spot for a pre-dinner drink outdoors.

Des Gâteaux et du Pain

A fruit-lover’s paradise! Try one of everything in season at Claire Damon’s sleek pastry shop.

Cuisse de Grenouille

Inspired by 1960s surf culture, this shop is dedicated to casual-chic menswear and womenswear and lifestyle accessories.

Le Slip Français

100% French-made undergarments for men and women in patriotic blues, whites, and reds.


Discover more spectacular places from Paris’s vibrant new food, fashion and design scenes in The New Paris, available now!

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