He put a dime in the coconut [phone] and he rang ’em up…
BMW and the Guggenheim united in a clever partnership (August 3 – October 16) as the “BMW Guggenheim Lab” – a “mobile laboratory traveling around the world to inspire innovative ideas for urban life.”
I learned about the Lab through a razor, a shiny knife – an incredible culinary/performance art group that I read about a few months ago in the NYT for the the multi-course meal they served on the L train. The way they’ve been able to bring food (as education, art and cuisine) into social, political, environmental topics is pretty awesome.
Last night at the ‘Lab’ on East Houston Street, they presented “Edible Water: a study of hydrocolloids and water scarcity and potability around the world.” They shared stats on the world’s access to water, ie: In the U.S., each person has access to (and uses) approximately 600 liters per day… while in some rural areas of countries, like Kenya, people must walk 4-6 hours per day just to gather a few liters of polluted water. They went on to discuss the use of agar, sodium alginate and xanthan gum as thickening agents for water/liquids (to either a gel or sol) in the cooking process. Education on these two separate topics was bridged a razor, a shiny knife’s ‘culinary metaphor’ for the inaccessibility of water in more remote places of the world:
Population with sustained access to an improved water source + ‘culinary expression’ based on hydrocolloids. Density = Inaccessibility due to Sourcing/Pollutants.
US 100% (no additives in sample)
Peru 83% (xanthan gum .2%)
Fiji 47% (agar .5%) photo compares Peru and Fiji… so dense you can flip the cups over…:
Ethopia 22% (agar 2%)
Somalia urban 63%, rural 10% (sodium alginate .8% and calcium chloride .5%) photo:
They shared some great resources for learning more about the global water situation, including: OXFAM, The Water Project, UN WATER, UNICEF-WASH, Global Water Challenge, Water Charity, Water.org, and charity:water.
To contribute to these efforts, SUSHISAMBA participates in UNICEF’s Tap Project annually.
Just last week (July 30), el bulli served its last meal. I can’t help but think of the time I spent there… of the friends I made… and the knowledge I gained along the way. The restaurant is an important part of history now, and the fact that Ferran and his team are transforming it into a foundation to keep the revolution going – is something that I truly admire. His movement has been the most important since the Escoffier era and it will continue to inspire us…
As a cook, I want to say thank you for all of the curiosity and creativity that was generated in that kitchen – and for letting us know that everything in cooking can -and should – be questioned, because you never know what’s possible…
How fitting that today is Roberto Burle Marx’s birthday and we just had the chance to walk his famed Copacabana sidewalk? Read more about his awesome work here.
So great to learn something new every day! High five, Google.
Caju (Cashew Fruit), Passion Fruit and Kiwi Caipirinhas to wet the palate.
Casquinha de Siri – traditional Brazilian dish made with crab meat. We tried this dish a few times here in Salvador, Bahia (where the recipe is said to have originated) and noted that it’s always served in a crab shell-like porcelain dish.
Camarão ao Molho de Maracuja (shrimp with passion fruit sauce) served with rice and raisins. Heavy and sweet; another traditional favorite. (Rice and farofa in the background for the Moqueca)
Moqueca Mista made with Pescada Amarela (Brazilian yellow fish) served with white rice and a classic side of Pirão (essentially a fish ‘gravy’ made from fish broth and cassava flour). The Moqueca broth was served bubbling and all of the ingredients were totally submerged with the exception of some floating red tomatoes. So far throughout our trip every Moqueca (and feijoada) we’ve tasted has been served in a beautiful, traditional ‘Panela do Barro’ (handmade clay pot). It’s a very rustic look and it perfectly suits these hearty dishes.
In Salvador we ate at a well-known, traditional Brazilian restaurant called Yemanjá. But before I take you there – here’s a little bit on the goddess it’s named after (from our conversations with the locals and a some extra online research)…
Yemanjá is a famous goddess in Brazilian religions – both Candomblé and Umbanda. As the Goddess of the Ocean, she’s the patron deity of the fishermen. She’s honored across the country on different dates depending on location….
In Salvador, Bahia (where we visited early this week) – Yemanjá is celebrated with huge feasts every February 2nd and December 8th. On February 2nd – thousands of people awake in the morning to leave gifts of flowers, perfume, jewelry and make up at her shrine in Rio Vermelho (where we stayed). These offerings are then gathered and taken out to the sea by local fisherman. Throughout the day mediums, (maes and filhas de santa) chant and dance to call the spirit of Yemanjá. At night, there’s a huge street party in her honor. The second tribute in Salvador, the Gift to Yemanja, occurs on December 8 in the Pedra Furada, Monte Serrat with similar festivities.
Back in Rio, Yemanja is honored on New Year’s Eve (Révellion, which we also celebrate at Sushi Samba) when millions of people dress in white and gather along the beach to toss white flowers to the sea in her honor and then watch the fireworks. Some people even send her gifts out to see in tiny wooden boats to pay their respect with the hope that she will fulfill their wishes in the coming year.
And, in Sao Paulo – she’s celebrated the first two weekends of December on the shores of Praia Grande. Since Sao Paulo City is land-locked, many people decorate their cars with her image and colors and drive miles to Praia Grande beach to cast their offerings out to sea.
Since we weren’t able to see it for ourselves – here’s a beautiful photo-documentary of it by artist Baden Powell – taken this year:
If you’re not drinking a caipirinha in Brazil – then you’re drinking cerveja.
Brazil is the fourth largest beer market in the world. The country’s introduction to beer is said to have been made in the nineteenth century when the Germans were immigrating, which, by comparison to many other countries was a ‘late start’ for beer drinking…. but they’ve certainly made up for it since.
A few things to know: There’s ‘cerveja’ – which means ‘beer’ but primarily refers to bottles or cans. Then, there’s ‘chopp’ which refers to draft beer. If you order beer as a group in a restaurant you’ll receive one large garrafa (1 liter) in a plastic koozie. If you order beer independently of everyone at your table, you’ll receive a single, 12oz bottle. Either way, beer is served bem gelada – very cold. And, either way, if you order one that means you’ll be getting TWO to the table. They always present a second garrafa on ice as a convenient upsell… just an arms-length away when you finish your first. It worked like a charm, every time.
Most of Brazilian beer is pale lager, really light and have a sweeter aroma and taste. We tried Xingu, Brahma, Skol, Antarctica, and Kaiser. I’m personally a big fan of Brahma – which also happens to be a global favorite, ranking third. Next up – we’re hoping to try Bohemia Escuro which we’ve heard is a higher quality, darker variety.