March 29, 2009

More food stuff

* For the lactose-intolerant who want cheese -- because it provides fat and seems to turbo-charge your libido -- I've found two brands that have caused only minuscule problems, and one whose lactose effects I haven't noticed at all. There's Finlandia's Imported Swiss and Emmi's yoghurt cheeses, which aside from producing a little burping, are perfectly fine. Both advertise themselves as lactose-free.

The best I've tried so far, though, is Black Diamond's 5-year aged cheddar, which annoyingly is exclusive to Whole Foods -- I can have three generous servings a day and not notice it at all. And being aged for so long, it has a wonderfully sharp taste. It must be the extra aging that leaves so little lactose left. It's not very expensive either -- about $16 a pound. It will take some time to locate, though, since British cheeses are relegated to the orphanage area of the cheese counter, while Spanish, French, Italian, and Greek cheeses take center stage. (Except for mozzarella and feta, which are too well known and no-longer-hip, and so are also banished to the back area.)

* A commenter previously suggested Ghirardelli's 86% cocoa chocolate bar as a replacement for Lindt's 85% bar. I pointed out that the Ghirardelli bar has about twice as much sugar, so that if you consume a fair amount of chocolate regularly, it's probably better to go with Lindt. Just yesterday I discovered something even better -- Vivani's 85% bar. It only has 5.7 g of sugar, compared to 5 g in Lindt's bar, per 40 g serving. But it has about 3 g more fat, so it tastes a bit richer. The difference isn't huge, but it's noticeable (at least by my hypersensitive palate -- it may make no difference to others).

I found it at Whole Foods for about $2.75, while the Lindt is available at larger grocery stores for about $1.50. I like the taste enough to shell out more dough for the Vivani bar -- plus it has Robert Motherwell-esque artwork on the wrapper, so it has greater snob appeal. (I hate abstract art, but Motherwell -- at least his works at the National Gallery -- I've always found the least offensive.) You might not be able to find it just yet, since I've been browsing the chocolate section of Whole Foods for awhile, and they've only begun carrying it since a week or so ago.

* For a snack that has no carbs or sugar, but that still tastes like junk food, here's an easy pork rinds and dip combination I've settled on. Pork rinds are packed with good fat and have 0 carbs, but they don't taste like anything. So you'll need a dip. I don't measure things in this case, so you may want to experiment with small portions to get it right, and then make a larger amount.

Mayonnaise, majority of the dip (mine is canola oil-based and eggless; YMMV with other types)
Olive oil, enough to thin it out a bit
Unsweetened ketchup, enough to turn it light pink (I can only find this at Whole Foods)
Black pepper

Lots of fat, no carbs, and a somewhat rich yet not overwhelming taste. The key ingredient is the cardamom; otherwise it tastes a bit bland.

The hard part is finding a store that sells pork rinds -- even at junk food-filled grocery stores, there will only be a handful of bags of Baken-ets amidst an ocean of corn, potato, and soy chips. Forget Whole Foods -- they were the favorite snack of George H.W. Bush, after all. It's still odd that they don't have an overpriced organic brand, though.

There are two religious groups that live in convivencia within Whole Foods, both members of the greater community of People of the Organic Book: the lower-latitude group (Mediterranean, Indian, Thai, etc.), and the return-to-New-England-small-towns group. Modern Anglo-America is their shared devil. The latter buys expensive organic maple syrup, barbecue sauce, ground bison meat, and Burt's Bees chapstick, so clearly there's an unfilled niche here for organic pork rinds -- just make sure the bag boasts that they're "kettle cooked" and has a picture of a 17th C. Boston blacksmith, and you're all set.

Curiously, there is no food religion that seeks to distance itself from modern Anglo-America in both time and space -- as though only pre-Risorgimento Italian food were worth eating, or only Sassanid-era Persian food. This shows that aversion to modern Anglo-America is not the result of logical reflection -- if it were, there should be this group. Plus, those who fled in only one dimension would have considered the hypothetical added benefit of fleeing in the other as well, and should be able to offer a reason for why they only chose to distance themselves in just time or just space. (E.g., maybe the effects don't add together, so you only need to depart in one aspect.)

Rather, it's a gut reaction, and being lazy, they just go with whichever cognitive bias is stronger in their mind -- the "golden past" or the "exotic other" ideals.


  1. Canola oil is junk that should be avoided at all costs.

  2. If you have a stick blender you should try making your own mayo. I make one with bacon fat that's amazing.

    Take a cup of liquid bacon fat strained of sediment. (Or mix 1/2 cup with a half cup of cold-pressed peanut oil). Add an egg, a couple of teaspoons of white vinegar, and a tablespoon of Dijon mustard.

    Let everything sit a few minutes until the non-oil ingredients settle to the bottom. Push the stick blender to the bottom and slowly work up using short bursts. Great stuff! Add some salt and white pepper to taste and you're set.

    I used to call it "the artery killer" before I read Taubes.

    agnostic - do you use green or black cardamom?

  3. My wife and stepdaughter both use Burt's Bees and seem to think that it's better than Chapstick. One problem with lip moisturizer is that it creates a sort of dependence: its use causes peoples' lips to produce less natural moisture, requiring more use of the product. Burt's Bees apparently does not have that effect.


  4. 'Going exotic' in both time and space would be quite difficult; I think that's the main problem. Also. food recipes have improved over time even if some ingredients have suffered a degree of degeneration. I've read both medieval cookbooks and an eighty-year old book on quantity cookery, and either people really had different tastes or else cooking as a science has improved over time.

  5. 1) Consider Hachez 88% cacao chocolate bars. I eat maybe 2 or 3 pieces at a time maximum and that has less than 1 gram of sugar. Can be found at Whole Foods in Manhattan, so can probably be found in any WF (Manhattan WF have to be the smallest WF out there).
    2) I think you want to be avoiding canola oil and canola oil products as well, but that might be a step far for you for now.
    3) Is it possible that there are degrees of lactose intolerance? I can't drink milk but have never had a problem with any kind of cheese. You apparently have it much worse.

    -Steve Johnson


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