the viand zine #1 [april 2007]

the viand zine #2 [may 2007]

 

 

#1 contents

what is the viand & its history
who we are & who you are        
slow food & other viand concepts                     
our favorite farmers markets
meet y/our farmers            
new skill: cooking greens                    
sybs beyond the recipes             
viovision                        
pteri on salt!         

what is the viand?

pleasure and quality in everyday life can be achieved by slowing down, respecting the convivial traditions of the table, and celebrating the diversity of the earth’s bounty. let’s put the carriers of this heritage – farmers, artisanal producers, and home cooks – on center stage.

the viand is a monthly small-plates slow-food feast. all of the food comes from local farmers markets and artisanal producers and everything we serve is hand-made. we see it as part of the process of re-learning cooking and community and we see it as a part of one of the major (and successful) social movements of our time, which is changing the food system, supporting small farmers and increasing pleasure and health of food.

in order to share our perspectives and skills, viand chefs also give cooking classes, kitchen advice, and accompaniment in farmers market shopping

 

 

history of the viand

the viand began in November 2005, when vio hosted a “we shut down the WTO in 1999” celebration and joint birthday party for mark & stevie. she cooked and served food all day with the intent that people would not get uncomfortably full, as they tend to get on that other november holiday… the next month she invited everyone she knew in LA to a small plates feast, and continued to do so monthly. in November, 2006 more cooks started to join the viand. the current ‘viand collective’ was formed in January 2007.

 

 

 

who we are

pteri (traveler)
Sharing food is one of the most basic and culturally universal events.  Making it a gathering of thoughtful food and good friends makes it a divine experience.

sybs (composer)
For me the Viand is a beautiful setting where I can share unusual food with an ever-changing & always interesting mix of people. Play with a collective of chefs in the kitchen. Feed people. Learn about food in all its aspects. Be both a Chow-Hound and a Culinary Activist. You never know who you'll meet or what you'll eat at the Viand!

vio (rabble-rouser)
breaking bread: food and community are the window into asking the questions we need to ask about what is happening in our world and taking action, hand in hand, chewing.

duro (compiler)
To attend the Viand is to open up the mouth and mind to magnificent morsels. Surrounding oneself in the susurrus of softly spoken satisfaction and candle thrown shadows luxuriates the senses. Whether one discovers gustatory bravura or narrowly escapes culinary catastrophe, friends and food are always the perfect pairing.

who you are

 

you are our friends, from our jobs, arts, and coincidences. you are also people we meet everywhere who share an interest in good food or food politics. we invite your involvement in the viand in several ways…
eat!
it thrills us when people enjoy
 our food. that’s enough!
ask!
ask us about the  ingredients or how things are made. we’d love to tell you!
invite!
this is not just a party, it’s a  social movement. tell your friends! start your own!
network!
we hope viand guests will share recipes, wine recommendations, restaurant tips, and also to network about non food issues (who was that guy who fixes guitars?).
give feedback!
the viand is growing and changing. we aren’t sure where it’s going and we’d love to hear your ideas for what you’d like to see or where you think we could go.
help cook!
if you like cooking too, let us know what you’d like to bring and we’ll work it in. if you start doing this regularly, we’ll invite you to participate in the menu brainstorm and planning process which happens on the chefs’ wiki.

viand concepts

the viand is a monthly small-plates slow-food feast. all of the food comes from local farmers markets and artisanal producers and everything we serve is hand-made. we see it as part of the process of re-learning cooking and community and we see it as a part of one of the major (and successful) social movements of our time, which is changing the food system, supporting small farmers and increasing pleasure and health of food.

in order to share our perspectives and skills, viand chefs also give cooking classes, kitchen advice, and accompaniment in farmers market shopping

in November, 2006 more cooks started to join the viand. the current ‘viand collective’ was formed in January 2007.

 

 

small plates
a series of smaller dishes delights the senses, while slowing us down and forcing us to pay more attention to flavor. often small plates are richer than ordinary entrees, so we get full without a large volume of food.
slow food
an international social movement organization devoted to: "...a fundamental right to pleasure and consequently the responsibility to protect the heritage of food, tradition and culture that make this pleasure possible."  read more on p 7
sustainable cuisine
buying local! supporting and getting to know our farmers! eating seasonal, ecological foods. 
intimate food
“Our goal is to excite the imagination … give freedom to the cook, who can then take the recipe further down the path, making it personal, intimate, and special. There is mystery and suspense in the making of a dish. The discoveries along the way will make that recipe unique and private, depending on the generosity of the cook and their love and eagerness for the food. Most people can live well with 20 or 30 recipes. The dishes that matter are the dishes that you have a connection with, that bring images to your memories and mean something personal to you. “ from Jacques Pépin. maybe start with our recipe for Greens

 

 

slow food

Whether standing at a BBQ, kneeling on a tatami mat or seated at an elegant restaurant, eating is fundamental to living. Elevating the quality of our food and taking time to enjoy it is a simple way to infuse our daily lives with joy. This is the philosophy of Slow Food.
With food so central to daily life, it naturally follows that what we eat has a profound effect on our surroundings as well - the rural landscape of the countryside, the duration of tradition and the biodiversity of the earth. For a true gastronome, it is impossible to ignore the strong connections between plate and planet.
Founded in 1986 in Italy, Slow Food became an international non-profit organization in 1989 and is currently made up of nearly 1000 ‘Convivia,’ or chapters, whose vast network of 80,000 members is the greatest strength of the movement. The international headquarters of Slow Food is located in Bra, Italy. Slow Food works locally as well as with international policymakers such as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. It has forged friendships with governments throughout the world, consulting for Italy's Minister of Agriculture, working with New York City's mayor and collaborating with the Brazilian government.

           
Mission: Through its understanding of gastronomy with relation to politics, agriculture and the environment Slow Food has become an active player in agriculture and ecology. Slow Food links pleasure and food with awareness and responsibility. The association's activities seek to defend biodiversity in our food supply, spread the education of taste, and link producers of excellent foods to consumers through events and initiatives.

Slow Food believes the enjoyment of excellent foods and wines should be combined with efforts to save the countless traditional cheeses, grains, vegetables, fruits, and animal breeds that are disappearing due to the prevalence of convenience food and agribusiness. Through the Ark of Taste and Presidia projects (supported by the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity), the Slow Food Award for Biodiversity and Terra Madre Slow Food seeks to protect our invaluable food heritage.
Slow Food USA  is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to supporting and celebrating the food traditions of North America. From the spice of Cajun cooking to the purity of the organic movement; from animal breeds and heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables to handcrafted wine and beer, farmhouse cheeses and other artisanal products; these foods are a part of our cultural identity. They reflect generations of commitment to the land and devotion to the processes that yield the greatest achievements in taste. These foods, and the communities that produce and depend on them, are constantly at risk of succumbing to the effects of the fast life, which manifests itself through the industrialization and standardization of our food supply and degradation of our farmland. By reviving the pleasures of the table, and using our taste buds as our guides, Slow Food U.S.A. believes that our food heritage can be saved.
            Slow Food U.S.A. believes that pleasure and quality in everyday life can be achieved by slowing down, respecting the convivial traditions of the table, and celebrating the diversity of the earth's bounty. Our goal is to put the carriers of this heritage on center stage and educate our membership on the importance of these principles.
www.slowfood.it   www.slowfoodusa.org

our favorite farmers markets

pteri shops at the Hollywood farmers market on Sundays from 8am-1pm. Ivar and Selma Avenue (that’s between Sunset & Hollywood and between Cahuenga & Vine)  A full-service local market with a great atmosphere.  They not only have all the fresh produce you desire in abundance and variety, they have plants, jewelry, clothes, gifts, baked goods, juice, fresh pasta, honey, eggs, mushrooms, ladybugs, cheese, meat, fish, flowers, live music, kittens and many stalls of prepared food.

duro y vio shop at Hollywood and at the Venice Friday Market at Venice Blvd and Abbot Kinney. this tiny market has almost everything we need, and a neighborhood atmosphere.

sybs I buy just about all of my produce at the Farmer's Market, it tastes so much better than anything you can find in the store, and I love meeting the people who grow the food. The whole experience is so much more pleasurable than going to a store.
            My favorite markets are the Wednesday Santa Monica (Arizona & 2nd) and Pico Market on Saturday. (Pico at Cloverfield). There is also a Saturday Market at Santa Monica, it is a bit smaller than the Wednesday.
            At the Wednesday market you can find everything from six different kinds of avocados, several seasonal choices of honey, free-range eggs (both chicken and quail), grass-fed beef, goat cheeses, Santa Barbara pistachios, Kiwis grown near Bakersfield, a nice assortment of breads, raw butter (tastes like you always thought butter should taste; this is  the REAL thing, it's amazing) and of course fruits and greens of all kinds. Once you have tried the wild arugula there is no going back to store-bagged. The wild-grown has a great spicy-peppery kick to it- it has become a staple in my kitchen, can't live (well) without it. Weiser Farms is always worth a stop (ask for Jim). Take home some of their "Atomic Red" carrots, the beautiful deep color comes with taste to match. As a bonus, at this "Queen Bee" of the markets, you can see chefs stocking up for their restaurants, loading up dollies with crates of great ingredients for their creations.
            The flavor of the Pico market is more on the low key side, very relaxing. It is set on the edge of Virginia Park and you can catch a glimpse of a ball-game on your way in. They have several good flower and plant vendors. Buy a bouquet of delicate sweet-peas. Sit in the sun and sip a coffee or eat a tamale. Watch Dad asking his little girl "Do you remember what we call this vegetable? This is a leek." A young chef in the making?

To discover a favorite market in your own neighborhood, go to www.farmersnet.com for a complete listing of days, locations and times.   

 

meet y/our farmers

AppleMark

Nate Peitso owns Tradewind Mushrooms and sells shiitake, Portobello, crimini, oyster, and, when possible, chanterelles at the Friday Venice Market.

AppleMark

Zied from Mom’s Products sells our favorite Greek and Tunisian feta , Syrian mouhammara, olive tapenade, and good pita bread. He sells at LA at the Venice friday market. His cousin sells at the Sunday Hollywood market. Mom’s products is also at the Silverlake Market.

AppleMark

Tomas sells for Lily’s Eggs. You can choose your eggs based on what the chickens eat. You’ll find Tomas at both of the Arizona St Santa Monica farmers market, as well as Venice and Hollywood.

Greg and Shorty sell mostly grass fed pork and beef at the Hollywood, Santa Monica, and Ocean Park farmers markets. Try the “belly bacon”…. To order a special cut, call  Greg, owner of Rocky Canyon Meat, at 805.461.5754.

 

 

 

sybs beyond the recipe

"It all seemed too good to be true: That eating something delicious could be a strategy for preserving biodiversity and that the pleasure we took in doing so could itself constitute a small but meaningful political act." (Michael Pollan, Cruising on the Ark of Taste)
            I love this quote, because for me it captures the journey I have found myself on in this past year. When I started coming to the Viand, my method for figuring out what to eat was looking at a cookbook or magazine and getting inspired by a picture or an ingredient, the "ooooh, doesn't that sound gooood, let's try this recipe" approach to cooking. This was when I could muster the time and motivation to plan ahead, otherwise I would just root around in my pantry or fridge for something that could be thrown together.
            The kind of food Violet was serving made me very curious. How does she come up with all these combinations I would have never thought of? It all tastes sooo good! How does she know what goes together? How will I know what goes together when I am shopping for food or standing alone in my kitchen? What do I do with all those fabulous greens from the farmer's market? How can I make a really great dish from simple ingredients? The Viand motivated me to move on from just the recipe on the page to wanting to understand more about food.
            Eventually I found myself yearning to be liberated from "The Recipe". To leave behind the concept that these things are written in stone and that you had better not mess with them- or else! I no longer wanted to just recreate something someone else had dreamed up and written down. I wanted to understand the principles, so that I could improvise freely. I began to experiment, to substitute ingredients, to open my mind to various possibilities. If I don't have tarragon, how about basil instead? Gorgonzola instead of Parmesan? Salt on ice-cream and cayenne in the cookies?

            Logically enough,  I became interested in the "background" of food. What makes a great bread? What is the history of salt? How do cultures differ in their views and preparation of food?  What does "organic" really mean? What the heck is "Slow Food"?  I believe I read nothing but food-related books for about six months.           

Books by Jeffrey Steingarten for example, who is a compulsive devotee to anything foodish and thus a font of knowledge. His "The Man Who Ate Everything" and "It Must've been Something I Ate" make very informative reading and are endlessly entertaining at the same time.
            Then I came upon "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan. His book was truly a revelation to me, it opened me up to a much deeper understanding of all issues around food. It taught me about where my food comes from, how it gets here, what kind of food chains exist,  how animals are raised and slaughtered, what industrialization of food means, what kind of ecological impact is involved, why the way mainstream America eats seems to cause so many health-problems.
            Since then, my thoughts about food have moved beyond the question "what do I feel like eating?"  What to feed myself (and others) has become a more thoughtful choice, a more conscious decision. I cook from scratch and mostly very simply. Lots of greens from the farmer's market. I stay away from processed foods & excessive packaging as much as I can and strive for eating mostly food that has never encountered a bar code. I am aware that there is a difference between buying persimmons in season at the farmer's market or getting blueberries flown in from Chile at Trader Joe's. I may still buy those blueberries occasionally, but I now realize that they have travelled thousands of miles to get here. This is really not so great for the berry, for me or the planet. Too much energy has gone into getting it here and it is not what is in season here locally, it is what is in season in Chile. Or it comes from a hot-house which has no season and offers little in the way of great tasting food. If I want to eat beef, I now look for grass-fed from the Farmer's market, because I now know what happens to "regular" cows in America and it is far from pretty or good for you.
I see now how it all connects. It is no longer just about what I put onto my plate and into my mouth and the impact that has on my personal health. I have learned to see food choices in a much larger context. I now understand that I have a "food-dollar" which I can put to good use. By supporting local vendors and buying organic food, I am casting a "vote" with my food budget. It matters and it makes a difference. My well-being and that of the planet are connected. To quote the farmer-poet Wendell Berry: "Eating is an agricultural act". The personal pleasure of food has taken me into a much larger world and connected me to issues far beyond my kitchen stove or my dinner plate. It has been quite a ride & I have loved every minute of it. It all began at the Viand!

viovision

I think food is the connecting issue between our personal lives (health, happiness, security), social-justice issues (everyone should have healthy, culturally appropriate, fresh food), economic issues (corporations are trying to take over the food supply from seed to table, destroying farmers, small processors, safety and quality of food) and ecological issues (the top agenda item for a sustainable system is to reduce transport distance, so we need our local farms). The cutting edge of the organic movement is NOT happening at Whole Foods, and it’s not about rich yuppies getting their bodies pure. It’s in urban communities of color who are asserting the right to “community food security,” which is an amazing movement in this country. See www.foodsecurity.org.

Cooking and the kitchen can be very simple. And when you use fresh food from the market the flavor is exponentially better than anything else. It’s going to be good whatever you do to it! I call the farmers’ market my church. I’m devout. I go two or three times a week. I try to give as much of my food budget as possible directly to farmers and to other artisanal producers. I buy more than I can eat and cook for anybody I can get my hands on. It’s a myth that organic food is more expensive. Organic processed food is probably more expensive than its counterpart, but I don’t buy that stuff. I mostly eat kale, collard greens, dandelions, swiss chard. A bunch a day. They cost about $1.50 each. That adds up to … what? $11 a week? I only buy tomatoes when they’re in season. $2.50 a pound seems like a lot, but they are so full of flavor and nutrients and it’s an extravagance only a few months a year. I read an interview with a farmer who charges $3.50 a dozen for his eggs. He said, “Well, yes, they’re expensive. You can pay me, or you can pay your doctor.”

 

We need a better understanding of what farmers do and why it’s sustainable and healthful. Here’s a typical misunderstanding: People think of fish as the “clean” meat to eat, but a lot of it is heavily contaminated. On a political level, it’s almost totally unregulated and very wasteful. Shrimp farms and other aquaculture are displacing coastal communities and destroying the delicate mangrove ecosystems. The fish industry is really raping the ocean. I see sushi [in its U.S./western context] as a very elitist food — it’s skimming the top from this disgusting, destructive industry and presenting it as if it’s so fine and elegant and sophisticated. Very colonial mentality.
I eat and serve farm-raised meat. Farmers have had thousands of years to learn animal husbandry and to manage farms ecologically. That system is sustainable. Another reason to eat meat is that it’s very hard for small farms to make it economically or ecologically just on vegetables. You can only charge so much for a vegetable, and it takes a lot of work to grow it and it has a short shelf life. Animals grow lots more mass per unit of labor. They output nutrients instead of uptaking them. Then they walk themselves off the farm when the farmer is ready to harvest, bringing a big price that helps to stabilize the farm economy.
I am so grateful to good bread bakers and cheese makers — and the farmers, of course. I don’t mind paying a lot for those things. In the United States, generally we don’t pay enough for food. People think food should be “cheap,” which ruins farmers. Our farmers haven’t gotten a raise for decades. This is misplaced priorities. Good food is much more important to our health and happiness and the maintenance of our communities and culture than Tivo and big-screen TVs, but people don’t want to pay for food. We’re proud to pay for technology and electronics! But the TV makes us feel bad about themselves and isolates us from other people and nature. What makes us feel connected and empowered? Cooking for each other ...
            For me, the viand is a space to show people the abundance that is available to us, right here , right now, in our lives.

pteri on salt

Salt. The oldest records come from 4,700 years ago in China where writings were found discussing more than 40 kinds of salt.  In ancient Timbuktu salt was supposedly traded ounce for ounce with gold.  In fact, the word salary comes from the words “salt money” in Latin.  Slaves were once purchased with salt money giving meaning to the phrase “not worth his salt.”  During the United States Civil War, part of the Union's military strategy included the capture and/or destruction of sources of salt for the Confederate army.  Food preserved with salt let humans survive harsh winters and humid climates where food could not be sufficiently dried.  Life itself would be impossible without it, since the human body requires salt in order to function properly.
            Given its importance, it’s fortunate that salt is one of the most common minerals on earth.  Salty springs and lakes dry out to leave salt crystals that can be collected.  Salt can be extracted from seawater by boiling or leaving it to evaporate.  In some places, solid salt appears on the surface of the earth and can be collected or mined.  Wells can be dug down to tap underground supplies of salty water.  A Chinese writing found in 2,700 BC includes descriptions of two methods of extracting salt and putting it in usable form that are amazingly similar to processes used today. 
            The National Academy of Sciences advises that we consume at least 500 mg of sodium a day to maintain good health.  However, what kind of salt should we be using? 
            Let’s start with iodized salt.  Iodine, which is converted to iodide in the gastrointestinal tract, is needed for normal thyroid function.  But your body doesn't make iodine -- you have to get some in your everyday diet.  Iodine deficiency during pregnancy and early infancy can result in irreversible mental retardation and severe motor impairments in children.  In adults low iodine intake (or very high intakes) can cause hypothyroidism.  In this country, iodine deficiency was the number one cause for young men to be discharged from the army during World War I.  In fact, iodine is so vital to a person's overall health that in the 1920s U.S. government health officials recommended it be added to table salt. 
            Today, iodine deficiency has been virtually eliminated in this country.  However iodine deficiency may be re-emerging as a public health issue.  Although as a nation we consume excessive amounts of sodium in processed foods, those foods often do not contain salt in iodized form.  In addition, Americans are eating more fancy salt—like kosher salt, sea salt, and fleur de sel — that don’t contain iodine.

The average adult needs roughly 150 micrograms of iodine per day.  Recent studies show Americans are edging closer to the minimum than they have since the early 1970s.  In fact, they are getting half as much as they did then.  Fish and dairy products are rich natural sources of iodine, so are some seaweeds, such as wakame.  With beef and dairy products the amount of iodine present depends on the iodine content of the soil where the cows were raised.  Many multivitamins also contain iodine.  Though it’s possible to overdo it with iodine, most opinions currently rest on less iodine being more harmful than too much. 
            Next, should we be using ordinary table salt or natural salt?  This, to me, is more simple than the iodine question. 
            With the advent of industrial development, natural salt was “chemically cleaned” – think white sugar, bleached flour, etc.  Today’s table salt is primarily kiln-dried sodium chloride with anti-caking agents added to keep it flowing freely from the salt shaker.  Trace minerals, as well as calcium, magnesium and potassium salts are removed in processing.  Kiln-drying involves scorching salt at 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit to remove moisture.  This amount of heat changes the chemical structure of the salt and creates a product that is unnatural and hard on the body.
            Finally, with the growing popularity of sea salt it’s important to know that not all sea salt it created equally.  If you are buying a big container of sea salt at the store for a small price you can bet you are getting a lesser grade and probably the rich nutritional elements have been extracted and sold separately to industry.  Precious and highly prized by the salt refiners, these bring more profits than the salt itself. 
            In summary, salt is good for you in the right amount and in the right form.  So please, pass the high-grade natural salt. 

File written by Adobe Photoshop® 4.0

 

greens

AppleMark
…kale…collards. dandelion greens… chinese broccoli… cabbage… bok choy…mustard greens… pea sprouts… sweet potato vines…

  • large cast-iron skillet
  • cut off the bottom ½ to inch. discard.
  • slice or chop the rest
  • put some oil in the bottom of the pan (about 2 tbsp). we use grapeseed oil.
  • add a pinch of salt.
  • use medium to high heat
  • cook until the stalks have softened. some of us us like them browned. “done” is when you like how they taste.

 

if they’re too bland, add a little bit of one of the following: feta cheese, parmesan, lemon, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, ½ tsp peanut butter…