One of the cool things about Wednesday – food articles in the newspapers.

Newsday’s Sylvia Carter does a write up on the origins of NYC’s favorites – Waldorf salad (actually is from the Waldorf-Astoria); Junior’s Cheesecakes (apparently, Junior’s had a previous name – I had no idea); knish (which the ex-Mayor Rudy Giuliani banned from the hot dog carts); bagels and bialys; egg cream; hot dog….

I love this article from the NY Times’ Mark Bittman, wherein he praises the beauty of well-done fried food. He makes everything sounds so yummy and tasty. He justifies the idea of fried food so well:

THE cooking method people fear most is the one they love most: frying.

It does everything you want cooking to do. It makes food crisp, tender, gorgeous and golden. The combination of moistness and crunchiness when you bathe fish in hot oil is incomparable, and vegetables are never more appealing than when they’re fried with a light batter.

Grilling is fun, and appeals to our primitive side; it’s the essence of summer. Frying, on the other hand, is civilized, delicate and more like a winter sport.

Sadly, we’ve been trained to deny our love, even become ashamed of it, because frying is supposed to be unhealthy. And, the naysayers contend, it’s a pain, it’s expensive, and it’s messy.

Hogwash. Try it once, and you’ll be hooked. And on your second try you will come pretty close to mastering the art of frying. You won’t need an “automatic” deep fryer (which is far more trouble than it’s worth) or other fancy equipment. Even a thermometer isn’t essential (though it is
undeniably convenient).

As a nation we eat fried food constantly, but almost always in restaurants, where it’s least likely to be done well, with old oil, sloppy timing and less-than-ideal ingredients.

Frying lends itself to home cooking. Almost all fried food is best about a minute after it is removed from the bubbling oil. That is when it cools off enough so that its surface hardens a bit, before the interior moisture can begin to soften it again and after the danger of scorching the palate has passed. [….]

But, you’ll ask – everyone does – doesn’t the food absorb a lot of oil as it’s cooking? For the answer, I turned to Harold McGee, author of “On Food and Cooking” the second edition of which was just published by Scribner.

Clearly some fat is absorbed by fried foods, but only about as much as that absorbed in sautéing or stir-frying, Mr. McGee said.

“The bigger the surface area compared to the volume, the more oil you end up with,” Mr. McGee said. “A chip is all surface, which is why it’s so wonderful, but it can wind up being 35 percent oil.” Most fried foods have much less than that.

Let me salute – I, SSW, am a fried food lover, and you, Mr. Bittman, make fried food sound so seductively good…

Oh, and a “Jurisprudence” article from’s Dahlia Lithwick – she ponders the question “Does William Rehnquist have a right to keep his medical condition a secret?” There are no easy answers, just way too much speculation, I’d say.

And, since the year is winding down, it’s time to speculate on who’s going to be Time magazine’s person of the year. (and this week’s issue was really nice – a review of photos of the year and of yore – fascinating stuff). I’d take a stab at a guess right now, since I was so on the money last year: since it was a nutty election year, I’d say that the American voter ought to be the person of the year – especially since last year’s was already the American soldier. So, someone, please, just give me the cash in case my prediction works… 😉

Umm, t’is the season to eat, drink, and be merry (so speculate and gossip to your heart’s content, I guess)…

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