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Le Fooding

Le Fooding: A feeling, a mood, an emotion, not just about food, but the whole eating experience.

Flash in the Pan

Le Fooding

—Ari LeVaux

On a recent Wednesday evening, a youngish crowd gathered on the banks of Paris’ Seine River to catch a ride to a nearby island. After the short crossing, they sat on blankets and pillows amid crackling fire pits and ate Irish tapas. Plates of salad greens tossed with Clonakilty blood sausage, thick with oats, and bowls of chunky seafood chowder with smoked salmon were followed by creamy mocha hazelnut meringue, all of which helped absorb a variety of whiskey-based drinks, including whiskey mojitos. Folksy rock bands played on a makeshift stage, not loud enough to overwhelm conversation. The event was called Foodstock. And while most of the guests were better dressed and better smelling than attendees at the namesake Woodstock festival, 41 years ago, both groups shared a spirit of revolution.

Foodstock was organized by Le Fooding, a movement-turned-business that for the last ten years has spoken for a new generation of Franco Foodies. As the French Revolution replaced stale traditions of hierarchy with ideals of diversity and freedom, Le Fooding is a break from the narrowly defined principles of traditional French cuisine. The old guard is epitomized by the Michelin ranking system, which ranks the dining experience with one, two, or three stars based on a variety of exacting standards. Where the Michelin standards are based on the assumption that there is a right and wrong way to do everything, Le Fooding standards are based on the overall feeling of a place, food included. Accordingly, Le Fooding has produced its own restaurant guide that covers select restaurants all over France.

If you ask a Foodingueur to explain what he or she means by “feeling,” expect a starry-eyed response. “Feeling doesn’t have a translation in French,” explains Constance Jouven, a communications specialist with Le Fooding. “It’s a quality you feel that makes you think, ‘I have to come back here.’”

According to Anna Polonsky, co-executive of Le Fooding, “Feeling is not about strict codes for how many centimeters are between each table, or how the bathroom is arranged, or how this or that food is prepared, or having truffle on the menu. Sometimes a restaurant has all the codes, but isn’t memorable.” 

If you find it strange that French foodies are reorganizing the French dining experience according to an American word that doesn’t translate into French, brace yourself for this: They also claim there isn’t even a French translation for “food”—hence the adoption of the word “food” in Le Fooding.

“In France, food is either industry, science, or art,” says Polonsky.” She says there are different French words for each sense, but none so inclusive as “food.” By choosing a word with many different meanings, Le Fooding marked a broad chunk of culinary territory.

The word “Fooding” was coined in 1999 Le Fooding’s founder, Français Alexandre Cammas. Writing for Nova magazine, Cammas observed a shift in the habits of younger Parisians, who were showing an increasing interest in food as a recreational pursuit. “Clubbing is out,” he wrote, “and Fooding is in.” Today, Le Fooding shares a Paris office space with a rock ‘n’ roll magazine on a narrow side street, barely a stone’s throw from the Bastille.

Like many of the impressionists who followed the realists, the Le Fooding guide favors broad strokes over minute detail. For example, “...casual stubbly waiters, a hustle-and-bustle trendy crowd, a chef with moods, no bookings at lunch...” says the guide of Le Chateaubriand. Of Les Delices du Shandong: “Chinese food and training camp for potential ‘Survivor’ candidates. Can you take the garlic medusa, the trashy tripe, or the super hot beef soup?”

Le Fooding happenings like Foodstock are conceived as demonstrations of food-borne feeling. Recent events have included a clandestine cognac bar in the basement of the Hôtel Thoumieux, and a “Paris loves New York” event at P.S. 1, in  New York City. This September Le Fooding will return to the states with a New York-versus-San Francisco event, partly inspired by the rivalry of East Coast and West Coast rap—minus, one assumes, the drive-by shootings.

“The idea is to gather what’s happening right now, in terms of food, art and music,” Polonsky says. “It’s a snapshot of the moment.”

Following a Le Fooding guide recommendation, I booked a reservation at a Paris restaurant called Derrière, which means—pardon my French—“buttocks.”

An eclectic dining service was arranged around a tastefully decorated and somewhat cluttered bohemian apartment. There was a motorcycle parked beneath a crowded coat rack just inside the door, a ping-pong table in the middle of the room, and a cluttered desk between two tables.

My companions and I sat in an upstairs bedroom, two of us on the bed by a bedside table, below a ceiling-mounted mirror that allowed me to lie back and watch myself chew. Another party occupied a table at the foot of the bed, and another dined between components of the room’s entertainment system, their bread plate on the TV, wineglasses perched on a stack of magazines. Across the room was a painting of a naked woman with her knees pulled together in the air, her Derrière winking at us.

A cheerful waiter sat with us as we ordered pumpkin soup with sea urchin whipped cream, steamed cod with nori, cabbage, and creamy clam jus, braised beef cheeks, scallops with orange and ginger, and lentils with horseradish. The food was exceptional, each dish arriving beautifully presented on mismatched plates. The mood in the room was jovial, and the layout seemed to foster a rare kind of intra-table intimacy. Our pumpkin soup drew questions from across the bed thanks to our chatters of approval.

During and after dinner, we lounged with kitchen towel napkins on our laps and took turns exploring the restaurant. Hidden pieces of art were tucked in closets. In the bathroom, an elevated clawfoot tub served as a sink. Behind a mirrored wardrobe, a hidden door opened into a smoky library with couches, a foosball table, and shelves of books.

Derrière won’t be earning any Michelin stars. When the guy sitting at the foot of the bed moved, I bounced. Later, a woman somehow got locked in the bathroom.

“You go to a restaurant not only for the food but because you have a specific desire,” Polonsky had said. Indeed, after weeks of food that substituted cream for creativity as it chased a crusty, nostalgic ideal, at Derrière I finally found the cutting edge. It was the elusive, funky and brilliant Paris dining experience I was craving. I suppose I can go home now.

Dear Flash,

What’s the difference between “organic” and “natural” as food labels?
—Confused Consumer

A: These words have very different meanings, depending on the context. In chemistry terms, many of the pesticides and herbicides that are prohibited under organic certification are, technically speaking, organic molecules—which merely means that they’re carbon-based. USDA organic is an evolving definition originally based on the kinds of foods grown on small, diverse farms that don’t use chemicals. Big Ag wanted in on the lucrative organic market, so the USDA certification system was created to codify the label. While certified organic farms may now be vast monocultures worked by underpaid immigrants, they still must adhere to basic sustainable agriculture principles, like having a soil building program, not using agrichemicals, not confining livestock and, more recently, allowing organic livestock access to pasture.

The “natural” label, on the other hand, mandates little in the way of how the food is raised, and only regulates how it’s processed. An animal raised in confinement and routinely dosed with antibiotics and regularly fed other animals’ fecal material may still be labeled “natural” as long as its flesh isn’t processed with chemicals after the animal is slaughtered. That’s not exactly what most people have in mind when they think of “natural” food. Ironically, a recent survey found that many consumers choose “natural” over “organic,” either because they think it’s more “natural” or because they think it’s less expensive—neither of which tend to be true.

Even the dictionary definition of natural—“present in or produced by nature”—is a bit squirrelly. What isn’t ultimately produced by nature? In that light, everything could be considered natural, including corn that was genetically engineered to produce organic pesticides.


Stillness and trusting in God? Yegads!

—Judith Acosta, LISW

Be still… It’s really such a simple request and such an impossibly difficult task for so many of us as we get older and more acculturated. It certainly has been for me. I can barely talk on the phone for 15 minutes without washing the dishes or multitasking in some other way. America is a culture of action. We do. We don’t sit.

The problem is that with constant busyness comes chronic spiritual insensibility. We can build things, accumulate things, and get from one point on a line to another faster than any other group of people on Earth. We are the cleverest, quickest, and most acquisitive culture in our planet’s history. But we see, feel, and understand less. We have collected data and sacrificed wisdom. We have built colossal glass cities and relinquished our sight.

By the time we are in high school, probably earlier, most of us are set into a rhythm of living. Our eyes are focused ahead, and our peripheral vision shrinks with each passing year until we can barely see the tips on our own noses. And unless we can see not only ourselves but ourselves in context, the truth is that we can know very little. It becomes more and more difficult to see any evidence of God, much less know Him. Unless, of course, we’re in deep trouble, and a sense of urgency is dramatically renewed. As one patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church has said, “Unless there is thunder, people don’t make the sign of the cross.” The American equivalent: “Everyone believes in God in the trenches.”

Yet, we are continually surrounded by evidence. We are in a world filled with miracles. Clues are in every corner of our lives. Amma, the Hugging Saint of India, exclaimed that God is everywhere: “If you ask me who is God, I tell you, you are my god. The lion is god. The flowers are god.” Yet most of us don’t see it. Or don’t recognize these clues as such if we do see them. Some of us just forget to look. But miracles are not empirical. They do not present themselves in the linear, organized manner of double-blind studies. We try, but we cannot collect miracle data to analyze. Most people think they will believe it when they see it, but the truth is that we see it when we believe it or are at least willing to entertain the possibility. This is what is meant in Matthew and why we must be as little children to see the truth in the evidence that is all around us.

Two experiences have illustrated to me the urgency of keeping my eyes and mind open.

The first occurred when I was 12 years old and I was allowed to take an after-school art class. It was a small, unpretentious event held in the back room of an old woman’s apartment in the Bronx, but it changed the way I saw everything. Instead of looking at a thing and seeing its function first (how it pertained to me, how I could use it, eat it, play with it), it now had a life and a charge all its own. I saw light, form, color, shade, placement in its surroundings. If I tilted my head this way or that, the thing—and all those aspects of it—also tilted. I was suddenly in relationship with the world in a new way.

The second was studying for nearly five years to become a homeopath after already being a psychotherapist for about 10 years. Classes would not start until we had all closed our eyes and sat still for a period of time, sometimes for as much as a half-hour. Even as I write this some years later, it hardly sounds like much—what’s a half-hour? But for me, sitting still and letting myself be quiet so that I could receive impressions from my patients without actually collecting them, without any judgment or interference on my part, was initially as easy as teaching a puppy not to run after a rabbit. But by my last year (and it was a struggle every time), I began to notice something odd—I started to see more. Information was not just more available, it was clearer and more understandable. This, I began to understand, was where the miracles were to be found.

But understanding was far from enough for me. Humans are a complex and mixed bag of needs, desires, and defects. Poised precariously between good and evil, heaven and hell, life and death, dangling between light and dark, the human heart is by nature a busy place, a shifting ground where there is both endless dance and relentless battle.

Stillness does not come easy for me.

I do not sit with much grace.

I have had to find a way to be still of heart and let my body move as it will. So, I do yoga. I walk in meditation, and I pray as I hike. Sometimes on those hikes I talk. Sometimes I listen. Sometimes I’m hurt and fearful. Sometimes I’m grateful and delighted. All I can do is bring myself—all of me—to Him, assuming that He can handle it: the awe, the anger, the confusion, the good, the indifferent, all of it, all of me, from the loftiest impulses to the darkest corners of my soul. And what I found was unexpectedly simple: Finding God was like being married. You have to show up for the relationship. All of you. Build it and they will come. The same is true of God.

Be there and He will come.

Judith Acosta, LISW, CHT is a licensed psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, and classical homeopath in private practice in Placitas.


Healthy Geezer

The Healthy Geezer

—Fred Cicetti

Q. When I was younger, I couldn’t get enough Chinese food. Now it just doesn’t have that zing anymore. I’m guessing it’s me, not the food, right?

A. As we age, our sense of taste may change, but this loss of zing in Chinese food might be caused by medicines you’re taking. Drugs can change your sense of taste, and some can also make you feel less hungry. So, the aging process and the medicines we’re taking can affect our enjoyment of food and, therefore, our nutrition because we may not eat all we need.

Eating habits in seniors are affected by other problems, too. Some complain about their dentures. Others don’t have easy access to transportation to go food shopping. Those who cooked for a family find it unrewarding to cook for one. Depression can affect your appetite, too.

So, what should you eat? According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), you should try to eat the following daily:

 

• 6 to 11 servings of bread, cereal, rice, or pasta. One serving equals one slice of bread, 1 ounce of ready-to-eat cereal, or 1/2 cup cooked cereal, rice, or pasta.

• 3 to 5 servings of vegetables. One serving equals 1 cup of raw, leafy vegetables or 1/2 cup of chopped vegetables, cooked or raw.

• 2 to 4 servings of fruit. One serving equals one medium piece of fruit like an apple, banana, or orange, 1/2 cup of chopped fresh, cooked, or canned fruit, 1/4 cup of dried fruit, or 3/4 cup of 100 percent fruit juice.

• 3 servings of milk, yogurt, or cheese. One serving equals 1 cup of milk or yogurt, 1 1/2 ounces of natural cheese like cheddar or mozzarella, or 2 ounces of processed cheese like American.

• 2 to 3 servings of meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, or nuts. One serving of cooked meat, poultry, or fish is 2 to 3 ounces; you should eat no more than 5 to 7 ounces a day. One cup of beans, 2 eggs, 4 tablespoons of peanut butter, or 2/3 cup of nuts also equal one serving.

To maintain a plan for healthy eating, follow these tips from the National Institutes of Health (NIH):

• Eat breakfast every day.

• Select high-fiber foods like whole grain breads and cereals, beans, vegetables, and fruits. They can help keep you regular and lower your risk for chronic diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

• Choose lean beef, turkey breast, fish, or chicken with the skin removed to lower the amount of fat and calories in your meals.

• Have three servings of low-fat milk, yogurt, or cheese a day. Dairy products are high in calcium and vitamin D and help keep your bones strong as you age. If you have trouble digesting or do not like dairy products, try reduced lactose milk products, calcium-fortified orange juice, soy-based beverages, or tofu. You can also talk to your health care provider about taking a calcium and vitamin D supplement.

• Keep nutrient rich snacks like dried apricots, whole wheat crackers, and peanut butter on hand. Limit snacks like cake, candy, chips, and soda.

• Drink plenty of water.

If you have a question, please write to fred@healthygeezer.com.


A health Fair with a twist

The May Day Life-Style Choices Fair will be held at Vista Grande Retirement Center, 4101 Meadowlark Lane SE, Rio Rancho, on May 1 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  This fair is open to the public and will combine a Health Fair, Open House and a Labyrinth Walk.

The “Health Fair” portion will offer information pertaining to aspects of our well being not usually found in other fairs. The Open House portion is an opportunity to view available apartments and see the beautifully landscaped grounds at Vista Grande, you will also enjoy the Labyrinth Walk which is being held to promote Peace and Unity Worldwide. May 1st has been named by The Labyrinth Society as an annual day to honor the Labyrinth and its multiple uses.

The “celebration will be held worldwide at 1:00 p.m. regardless of time zone.

For more information call Vista Grande at 505-892-9300.

 

     

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