Beyond Food

.. when everything looks daunting, but isn’t really. It’s just an illusion. I love that.

via Linus Lohoff

How sweet it is to marvel. Saturn and its moon Tethys, shot December 7 by the Cassini orbiter.

The first. Good morning.

via ffffound

via StyleFactory

Chinese New Year is giving us The Year of the Rabbit.
Three reasons I love this.

1. My brother’s a rabbit, according to the Chinese Horoscope, and there’s none better than him.

2. Rabbit is delicious. We grew up on it, marinated in white wine and rosemary, then roasted.

3. The rabbit is spry, lively and deft, a great way of doing business, my model for 2011.

A charming 49 seconds of spry, lively, deft, via ThisIsntHappiness.

Lifted from this week’s New Yorker. Stuck to the fridge by a Mickey Mouse magnet.

Branding before there was branding. Wait, there was always branding.

From the Soda Can Library, covering 1938 -1980.

Would love to see the next 30 years and how it got us to Red Bull.

Via RecoveringLazy via LifeLounge

…but for wonder and awe.

A mars dune field [this detail is about two km wide] that appears blueish because it’s rich in basalt. The lighter areas thought to be covered in dust.

Love these ironically “close-up” views from outer space.

More here.

See the whole series via The Boston Globe’s Big Picture.

via (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)

Let’s plug this baby into plans for urban vertical farming.

Designed by Polish architecture students Ryszard Rychlicki and Agnieszka Nowak.

Via Design Boom

Cooling down needs getting wet.

via CeeeMarie

“The only important thing in a book is the meaning it has for you.”

– Somerset Maugham

Edith’s War is Andrew Smith’s new novel, and layers of meaning are rife in this tale of two Liverpool families during World War II. The book opens a window onto the impact of living through war as a civilian, on living a daily life that includes the aerial bombardments of the Blitz, and on being left behind.

For me, the book’s deepest meaning is dished up in its confluence of Italian and English culture, which — whatever the time or place — is never better focused than when people are gathered around food. For the Maguires and the Baccanellos, the two neighbouring and emotionally enmeshed families at the centre of Edith’s War, food rationing was the order of the day. At the beginning of the war, the UK imported over 70 per cent of its food and 50 per cent of its meat. Rationing began in early January, 1940, initially with bacon, eggs, butter and sugar, and not long afterward, meat.

Although both families have kitchen gardens, which help them become self-reliant and creative in putting food on the table, it’s the scramble for meat that puts both rabbit [coniglio] and horse [cavallo] on their plates, and not always happily.

These characters hunted their rabbit, but when I was growing up, we never went any further than our backyard for fresh, live rabbit. It was a family staple, and from it I learned the relationship of eating to killing.

From about six or seven, I was my father’s accomplice at slaughter. Thinking back, I’m not sure how I felt about my dad asking me to hold the hind legs while he held the rabbit’s neck and sunk a knife into it. Together, we’d hold the animal until it stopped moving. After letting the blood drain, he would start the ceremonial skinning, cutting a seam around the neck and paws, tipping his knife under the membrane separating the pelt from the body. Then, surreally, he would pull the pelt clean off, like a sweater. Then came the belly incision, revealing a collection of perfect, moist organs joined together in their purpose, and now sorted out for ours.

This crazy childhood experience could explain why I became a chef. Looking back, I can see that I was able to manage my task because of the natural and ironically safe atmosphere my father created. He acted like he was doing the most natural thing in the world. Of course, he was.

It turns out I would never be queasy about meat, but horse is something else.

Horse makes an appearance in Edith’s War when the Baccanello matriarch, Anna, tells the two families gathered for an Italian-style Christmas Eve feast, “I tell that butcher over and over to find some horse. It’s not rationed and there must be many people round here only too glad to sell their animals. Finally he took my advice. It’s good, yes?”  Hmmm. Her son gobbles up some remaining scraps with gusto, but Liam Maguire, who’d been eating his fill blithely unaware, is horrified.

The year I cooked classical French food in a posh restaurant in Quebec, I cooked horse for the first and last time. Although I didn’t want to, I ate some. It was beautiful, moist, purple-red flesh that tasted delicate and sweet. I ate it like I ate sweetbreads, brains and sea urchin. I needed to know how they tasted, and I can be happy going to my grave never eating them again.

When I looked closely at my problem with eating horse, all I could come up with was the archetype. Horses are dealt a genetically gifted hand. In my eyes, they’re grand and noble, suited only for riding or work or some combination of both, but never as part of the food chain.

Here’s the thing: it’s no different from my young childhood friends who cooed while petting our lovely, soft bunnies and then violently popped their eyes and dropped their jaws when they found out the rabbits would eventually be supper. As adults, we can indefinitely cling to our emotional sentiments concerning food, but like the Maguires and the Baccanellos in Edith’s War, we’ll continue to take culinary cues from other cultures, whether contending with our survival or not.

You can get a great deal on Edith’s War here and the eBook here.

Follow Andrew’s blog, tweet him @andrewaxiom and fan him on FB.

For the girlie pastry chef in your life.


The work of German designer Tanja Hartmann via, appropriately, ShareSomeCandy.


via fffound via Machine Animal Collages

snail impact from Massimiliano Rigano’s on Vimeo.

Full-screen this and be briefly transported.

Via Zach Frechette @ztf

Brings to mind the XTC Classic, 1000 Umbrellas

via CrookedBrains