Archive - December 2010

The 20 Most Spine-Chilling Food Issues in 2010

Islam Siddiqui, the right man for the job?


For consumers, the events surrounding food production and regulation in the year 2010 has been a tempestuous ride. The FDA issued a total of 226 food recalls and safety alerts during the last year of the decade.

One cereal maker alone, Kellogg’s, recalled 28 million boxes of cereal contaminated with methylnaphthalene, a chemical derivative made from crude oil and coal tar, which is also a pyrolytic byproduct from the combustion of tobacco, wood, petroleum-based fuels and coal.

Back in March the company Basic Food Flavors — who offers the food industry 120 varieties of hydrolyzed vegetable protein or HVP, a food additive — announced a massive recall because of salmonella contamination. The company produces about 20 million pounds of the food additive annually. Hundreds of products were recalled involving millions of pounds of food.

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) – the public health agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture responsible for ensuring that the nation’s commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products is safe — currently has 32 active recall cases pending for 2010. The contaminated food products include but are not limited to turkey, tuna, chicken, and beef. These foods are either mislabeled, have undeclared allergens, or are contaminated with listeria, salmonella or E.coli.

After a food establishment completes a recall, the record is removed from the current recall list and added to the archives. For the year 2010, there are currently 36 archived cases totaling 783,323 pounds of contaminated beef, chicken and other food products.

Also in 2010, we covered a story about a group of high-ranking corporate purchasing managers from some of the most well-known and largest food companies in North America involved in racketeering, bribery, conspiracy, price fixing, bid rigging, and falsifying laboratory tests. The scope of corruption reached more than 55 companies, and included PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay, Kraft Foods, B&G Foods, the maker of Ortega Mexican foods, Safeway, and SK Foods LP, one of the nation’s largest tomato processors.

And as The Food Safety Bill was passed in a late night, last minute vote, with not a single U.S. Senator objecting, despite the Tester Amendment being incorrectly and misleadingly sold to the critical public as “exempting” small farms and food producers from the entirety of the “heavy-handed regulations” of the Food Safety Modernization Act, we leaned that FDA was involved in a cover-up regarding GM Salmon by knowingly withholding a Federal Biological Opinion by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration prohibiting the use of transgenic salmon in open-water net pens.

Additionally, we’ve included what we believe to be among twenty of the most important developments involving food production and regulation that either transpired in the year 2010, or was reported in 2010.

20. US Cattle Cloned from Dead Cows
Some US cloned cattle have been created from the cells of dead animals. And since the U.S. approved cloning over two years ago, you may have already grilled a cloned steak from beef cells extracted from a dead carcass. More…

19. With guns drawn, cops raid raw milk food club
With guns drawn, four officers blazed into Rawesome Foods in Venice, California, and raided the walk-in cooler to find jugs of raw milk. The real reason why the FDA opposes raw milk is because Big Dairy opposes raw milk. More…

18. Monsanto Takes GM Food Fight to Supreme Court
Monsanto wants the nation’s highest court to reverse a 2007 California US District Court ruling that the USDA illegally approved Monsanto’s GE alfalfa without carrying out a full Environmental Impact Statement. The ruling was upheld in 2009 by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals which placed a nationwide ban on Monsanto’s Roundup Ready alfalfa. More…

17. FDA says Walnuts and Cherries are Drugs
The FDA sent a Warning Letter to the president and CEO of Diamond Foods claiming the company’s walnuts are drug products in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. How Orwellian is that? More…

16. Canada Poised to OK Transgenic Pork for Dinner
The world’s first transgenic animals — pigs genetically modified with a snippet of mouse DNA introduced into their chromosomes — are one bureaucratic step closer to becoming pork meat on Canadian dinner tables. More…

15. Drug-resistant Bacteria Regularly Found in U.S. Meat
Federal studies report finding drug-resistant bacteria in U.S. meat on a regular basis. The federal report claims that for the last twenty years there has been widespread agricultural use of an array of antibiotics that includes Cipro, an antibiotic that is no longer effective 80 percent of the time on deadly human infections it previously had treated. More…

14. Cattle Feed, What They Don’t Want You to Know
Cattle are fattened on chicken manure. And not only are many of America’s cattle herds fed chicken manure, they’re also fed euthanized dogs and cats, dead skunks, rats, and raccoons found on U.S. highways. More…

13. Veggie Burgers Made With Gasoline By-product
Unless a soy-based vegetarian burger is certified organic with the green USDA Organic seal on the package, it almost certainly contains hexane-extracted soy protein. Hexane is a neurotoxin and a petroleum by-product of gasoline refining. More…

12. Tainted Beef Rejected by Mexico is Sold to Americans
Mexican authorities rejected a shipment of U.S. beef because it contained copper levels in excess of Mexican standards. That same beef was sold on the U.S. market. More…

11. The Hazards of Genetically Modified Soy
In a study expected to be published in July 2010, a Russian biologist determined third generation hamsters fed genetically modified soy were unable to produce offspring. Genetically modified organism (GMO) studies on mice and rats have linked GM products to allergic reactions, liver problems, sterility, disease, reproductive problems, infant mortality and excessive cell growth, which can lead to cancer. More…

10. Tertiary butylhydroquinone in McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets
McDonald’s chicken McNuggets served in the U.S. contain tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ), a petroleum-based product, and dimethylpolysiloxane, an anti-foaming agent also used in Silly Putty. More…

9. 12 Year-old McDonald’s Burger Shows No Sign of Decay
Nutrition consultant Karen Hanrahan kept a McDonald’s hamburger for 12 years. She purchased the McDonald’s hamburger in 1996 using a coupon and posted her claim on her website in 2008. More…

8. Say Goodbye to the Gulf Seafood Industry
Even before the Deepwater Horizon blowout, generations of U.S. shrimpers faced financial ruin because of cheap, frozen imported shrimp glutting the American market. Foreign shrimp fisherman aren’t restrained from the bycatch laws American shrimp fishermen are required to follow. More…

7. How the BP Oil Spill Will Affect Bluefin Tuna
In the past 40 years, Bluefin tuna populations have declined by 80 percent due to industrialized overfishing. In April, Barbara Block, a Stanford University marine biologist noted that the giant bluefin only show up for about a month to spawn, and April is the time they show up. Block says many of the tuna go exactly to the region where the Deepwater spill is centered because it’s one of the preferred breeding areas. More…

6. The Truth Behind the Egg Scandal
With over a half-billion eggs recalled because of salmonella contamination traced to Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms, once again the federal agencies responsible for regulating and safeguarding America’s food supply have demonstrated that their real aim is to defend and protect the interests of huge agribusinesses. More…

5. FDA to Approve GM Salmon Despite Strong Opposition
Despite strong public opposition, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to approve AquaBounty’s genetically engineered salmon. More…

4. New Food Bill May Render Family and Organic Farms Extinct
Although the Food Safety Modernization Act was crafted to improve overall food safety, the bill will force small local farms and co-ops out of business, thus consolidating the control our nation’s food supply among a small and powerful cabal consisting of a handful of corporations like Monsanto, Cargill, and Tyson. More…

3. Obama appoints Pesticide lobbyist
President Obama has appointed former pesticide lobbyist Islam Siddiqui, to be chief agricultural negotiator in the office of the U.S. trade representative. More…

2. FDA Cover-up Regarding GM Salmon
FDA was involved in a cover-up regarding GM Salmon by knowingly withholding a Federal Biological Opinion by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration prohibiting the use of transgenic salmon in open-water net pens. More…

1. Three Monsanto GM Corn Varieties Toxic to Mammals
Researchers concluded that three GMOs are not safe enough to be distributed commercially because the kidneys and liver in rats displayed toxicity levels when exposed to all three GM corn varieties. More…

Simple Lentil Roast


It’s a few hours before we greet the New Year. I’ve got a dish to recommend that I’m sure would become a hit in the food circles. It’s the Simple Lentil Roast.

What’s so special about this roast? To start with, it’s fat free since it’s made with no meat. Before you start complaining that this is just another vegetarian fad, listen to this. This is no fad. In fact, this could very well be the perfect substitute for your meat dishes.

These days, you should be concerned about your health. Now that we’re right smack in the holiday season, I’m sure that you’ve come across a couple of parties along the way. And I would not be surprised if it’s all meat. It might be a nice change of pace to try something different?

This recipe would be perfect. Lentils may have been looked down too long, but I guess it’s time for it a comeback. Not only is this pea great-tasting (pretty close to meat), but it’s also rich in nutrients like protein, fiber, folate, iron, and other nutrients that keeps your body healthy.

You can have as much as you want without feeling guilty about your health. It’s true. Why don’t you give it a try? Besides, they look like coins and some cultures think this is good luck for the new year,

Preparation time: 15 minutes-Cooking time: 40-45 minutes. Serves 4.


  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
  • 2 medium red onions, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 14 oz / 400 g tin pre-cooked brown lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 3 slices brown bread, crusts removed
  • 3 oz / 75 g grated (mature) cheese
  • ½ large carrot, grated
  • 1 teaspoon mixed dried herbs, such as Italian or Provencal seasoning
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 4 fl oz / 125 ml warm water


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F / 190 degrees C.
  2. Heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan over a medium flame and gently fry the onions and garlic until soft, about 4-5 minutes. Stir regularly.
  3. Put the lentils in a large bowl and crumble in the bread. Add the grated cheese and carrot, and season with the dried herbs and salt and pepper. Mix well.
  4. Finally, stir in the egg and about ¾ of the water. The mixture should be soft and moist but not wet. If it is too dry, add a little more of the water.
  5. Lightly oil a bread tin and pour in the lentil mixture. Push down the mixture and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon.
  6. Put into the bottom of the oven and cook until firm and just turning golden.

Be Fortunate this New Year: Eat the Lucky Foods!

New Year 2011 image via

Inevitably, any New Year’s celebration is highly symbolic.  Many cultures and even individuals believe that starting new means going through certain rites of passage, from cleaning the house inside-out, getting rid of the old, putting coins in every corner of the house and wearing polka dots when the clock strikes midnight.  In a sense, many people also prepare with the same amount of vigor as the Christmas holidays.  In addition to the fireworks, the meals and the parties, many people believe that no stone should be left unturned in order to turn one’s luck around.  And of course, food is not overlooked when it comes to these symbolic rituals.

Interestingly, there are similarities around the world when it comes to culinary beliefs come New Year’s Eve.  Chinese traditions in China and other parts of Asia always highlight the importance of round foods served for the midnight meal.  Round fruits are expected to grace the table with the expected thirteen different types.  Hence, every family can get creative as to what they consider as round, with some counting the pineapple because of its many “round eyes”.  Mandarin oranges are the usual staples as they are believed to bring luck, and of course, they are spherical.  Sticky foods are considered popular as well, especially with the Chinese pudding called nian giao, a glutinous rice cake.  Although this is more in-demand during the Chinese New Year (and also eaten the rest of the year), the importance of nian gao during the New Year’s celebrations is because the words nian (sticky) sounds like “year” in Chinese, and gao sounds like “high”.

New Year's Spanish tradition eating 12 grapes

People in Spain and Latin America eat 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight to bring good luck

The Dutch also believe in the power of the “rounded” food because it means coming full circle.  Hence, doughnuts are quite popular among the Dutch every New Year.  Spain and other Spanish speaking countries also consume twelve pieces of grapes by midnight.  Although the ritual began for the purpose of consuming surplus grape harvests, the twelve grapes are actually symbolic of the twelve months.  Hence, to those who consume a sour grape on the third time, it means a sour third month next year.  It is also believed that these grapes should be consumed before midnight, but in Peru, they consume a thirteenth grape after twelve for good measure.

Lucky lentils for new years

Because lentils are round like coins they are considered lucky foods

Anther popular dish are made of legumes such as beans and peas.  These are popular in the Americas and in Europe.  Legumes are popular because they look like coins, hence eating them is similar to being blessed with money.  Legumes are usually consumed as soup (i.e. Brazil) or as sides that supplement another “lucky” food, pork.  In Japan, legumes are popular lucky foods as well.  The Japanese consume kuro-mame or black bean dish as part of the osechi-ryori which is a composition of symbolic meals that are eaten during the first three days of the new year.

Pork is also considered a lucky food because in many cultures, hogs are considered prosperous.  Many pork dishes such as roasted and suckling pig are served in countries such as Cuba, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, and Austria.  Because pork has a high fat content and the pig moves forward, it symbolizes wealth and progress.  Fish is also considered lucky because it can be preserved and transported.  Old religious restrictions on red meat was also a reason why fish has been an acceptable meat on New Year’s day.  In Japan, fish and other seafood are also consumed because they symbolize fertility (the herring roe), long-life (shrimp) and sardines (good harvest).

Of course, if there are lucky meats on New Year’s Day, there are those are unlucky as well.  Any winged creature such as chicken, turkey and goose should be avoided because luck can fly away.  Some seafood such as lobsters are considered bad luck because they move backwards.

Greens are also generally favorites because “green” symbolizes money although it should be also considered that among the food you have been eating over the holidays requires some green intervention.  In Denmark, stewed kale is a common New Year’s vegetable dish whereas in Germany, sauerkraut is never absent on the New Year’s table.  Americans also love their greens on New Year’s, particularly collards.

And last but not the least, who celebrates New Year’s without any sweet pastry or cake?  Anything round, spherical and sweet are common across many countries, and they symbolize a fortunate cycle in the coming year.  Italians fried pasta dough balls called the chiacchiere which is drenched in sugar.  Doughnut-like pastries are popular in many European countries.  Many customs also bake cakes and sweets with hidden fortune trinkets; anyone who gets the trinket will have the most luck that year.  This is practiced in Greece with its special round cake called the vasilopita; Mexico’s ring-shaped cake called rosca de reyes; and the sweet rice pudding in Scandinavia hiding that one, fortunate whole almond.

It seems as though food preparations for the New Year’s have many requirements.  Even though they can be painstaking, people all over the world keep the tradition alive for the purpose of ensuring a wonderful year.  Whether these are true or not, the main point of the celebrations is to look forward to the new year with a significant amount of optimism.

On Food and Television

food network

The clock is ticking for the New Year. Now, have you prepared yourself for the celebrations? If not, then better do it now. It’s no fun trying catch the deadline and joining the rush in buying the ingredients you’ll need for the party. Better prepare in advance. And if you’re still having problems on what to prepare, then you better watch these TV shows. They can give you some pretty good ideas.

Big Daddy’s House: Far Out Flavor (9:30 a.m. at the Food Network)

If you’re looking for some unique taste adventure, then Big Daddy’s got some for you. Watch him as he shows us some of the tastiest dishes that can come our way: Spicy beef salad, ginger and coconut crusted shrimp…I could make some of those for my New Year’s party.

Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee (Anniversary Lounge) (10:00 a.m. at the Food Network)

For your anniversary, you don’t really have to go to some expensive restaurant. Just let Sandra show you how to make delicious meals fit for your anniversary right at home. You’d be surprised at how easy it is (just stay away from her “ethnic” dishes and you may just be o.k.)

Throwdown with Chef Bobby Flay: Meatballs (10:30 a.m. at the Food Network)

It seems like Bobby is up for another challenge. Mike Maroni of Maroni Cuisine in Northport says that his grandmother makes the best meatballs around. And Bobby’s going to challenge that. Will he succeed, or will Maroni claim supremacy?

Down Home with the Neelys: Pass It On (11:30 a.m. at the Food Network)

There are some recipes that are best passed down generations. And these are certainly the good ones, too. Pat and Gina Neely have decided to bequeath unto their daughters (and unto us) some family recipes that are meant to stand through time.

This is going to be one show that’s full of drama and excitement at its best. See twelve hopefuls try their luck in their quest to reach their dreams: to host their own show in Food Network. This two-hour special is something you shouldn’t miss.

Why We Love Julia Child

the way to cook

Her face has graced television for more than four decades. Her writings are among the authority in French cooking. Her style is very relaxing, like she’s telling you to eat at home. Fans love her (we love her). Nutritionists and health-buffs are horrified at her and her love of butter. Be that as it may, one thing still remains: Julia Child is THE icon and matriarch of French cooking in the US.

Perhaps one of the most enduring of her works is a compilation of recipes she had prepared together with her friends from the elite Le Cordon Bleu cooking school, entitled Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Initially, publishers were not that excited to publish the large, 700-plus book. But when it was finally published, the book took the American public by storm. It was a consistent bestseller for five straight weeks, and is considered as the reference of choice in many cooking schools. Aside from that, Julia Child was also noted for her other books, some of these are The French Chef Cookbook, and the second edition of Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Aside from her books, Child is also noted for her television appearances. In fact, the reason American’s became more interested in cooking could be traced to her numerous cooking. The first time she appeared on the camera is perhaps the defining moment of her career, which spanned more than fifty years. Until her death, people will always remember her as a very bright personality, quite disarming, and has a charming way in putting people at ease.

Wherever she is, I tip my hat to her. Her legacy in American cooking is without parallel. She will forever be the legend.

25 Reasons New York is the Best Food City

Totonno's Window

25. You can eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at a different restaurant for a whole year and never repeat a place

24. Dirty water dogs

23. Bodegas

22. Fairway, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Zabars

21. No matter what time, where you are or how drunk you are, you can satisfy all your food cravings

20. Greenmarkets

19. Most restaurant wine lists consist of more than just Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Merlot and Cabernet

18. New Yorkers know that Zinfandel is red.

17. “We are happy to serve you” cup

16. NY Restaurant Week seems to last all year

15. The most specialized and tempting food stores: Eataly, Murray’s Cheese

14. You can still get Dinuguan even though selling pigs blood is illegal.

13. We have a winery right in the middle of the city.

12. Good pizza on almost any block

11. The trucks: @CalexicoCart @legamintruck @biggayicecream@RickshawTruck @KorillaBBQ

10. The “Oscars” of food

9. Latin food at the Red Hook soccer field

8. Eating cheap at Papaya King La Esquina or Mamouns

7. The custard at Shake Shack

6. Places like Katz’s Deli and Le Perigord can survive the test of time

5. High tea at the Plaza

4. No matter what allergy you have, you can still find something to eat

3. Totonno’s Coney Island

2. Per Se

1. You don’t need a passport to try foods from places all over the world.

Is Grass Greener?

factory cow image via wikipedia

We’ve all heard the talks about how healthy grass-fed beef is to our diet. Well, there’s probably some good reason for that. Remember my last article about green beef? Science has already proven just how good it is.

The only issue about this would be its effect in our environment. Remember that our slice of beef comes from an animal, and it has to be fed, maintained and then properly butchered to produce the finished product. All this takes a lot of time and resources, to make this happen. And all these would produce a lot of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere.

There are people who say that grass-fed cattle are better for our environment compared to the industrial-type raised cattle. But is it really the case? Researchers are indicating otherwise. It appears that, regardless of what we feed cattle, they would still pollute the environment. Beef is considered to be a heavy producer of greenhouse gases. This means that the more beef that we consume, the higher the level of gases release into our environment.

The reason that grass-fed cows still pollute the environment could be traced to the tactics used by ranchers to increase the supply of grass to their free-range cows. It’s a pretty hot debate right now. The supporters of commercially raised cows claim that they use of fertilizers and other enhancers in the land would wreck the environment, while those on the side of grass would say that the use of grains in animal feed actually damage the land as much, even worse.

Regardless of which side of the debate you are, you can’t deny that cows still produce a lot of damaging by products in the environment. For example, the methane these ruminants belch out (as well as excrete), is a strong contributor to increasing the temperature of the earth. And don’t forget the manure itself. Spread out and used as fertilizer, and it would be great for growth. But try putting them in a single area, and you’re courting disaster. In fact, the USDA had been spending a lot just to clean up rivers that have been affected by manure run-off.

So where does that leave us, then? Well, the obvious option would be for us to skip on the beef and start going for the salads. Our vegetarian friends would applaud us, and we’re less likely to pollute the environment.

Too bad it means we’ll miss that slice of steak.

A French New Year

veuve clicqot

New Year’s Day is universally very symbolic; people have many rituals that depict getting rid of the old in order to welcome the new.  A French New Year may seem similar to the rest with the feasts on New Year’s Eve with the food, the fireworks and the parties.  However, celebrating le Jour de l’an can also have its very own French twist.

In most cities, New Year’s Eve is up for any kind of celebration.  Families share a meal in the evening, and usually the best of the French champagne and foie gras are served.  December 31 is actually la fête de Saint-Sylvestre or the Feast of Saint Sylvester, and the evening celebrations are referred to as le Réveillon de Saint-Sylvestre.  Although Saint Sylvester does not have anything to do with the New Year’s, the French acknowledge this particular special day thus adding more value to the last day of the year.  Families can thereby hold smaller intimate dinners whereas some organize a une soirée dansante or an evening ball.

New Year’s Eve celebrations in France vary according to region.  Many cities such as Paris are more popular for its parties and clubs, but in Hautes-Pyrenees in a village called Viella, the partying takes another turn.  On New Year’s Eve the people of Viella attend a late evening mass to mark the incoming year.  Afterwards, people make their way to the vineyards in a procession, torches in hand.  This ritual marks the grape harvest in the village, a midnight activity that is reflected in the bottles of strong sweet wine from the region.

Other than the special foods served on a French New Year’s table, people also serve some symbolic dishes such as cakes and tarts.  Cakes are usually heart-shaped (called le coeur de l’ an) and log-shaped.  These cakes are decorated with the “lucky” symbols of the incoming year such as golden balls, chocolate coins, birds and evergreen trees.  There is also a pastry called “King’s Cake” or la galette des rois.  This cake is made of puff pastry with frangipine filling; frangipine is a mixture of eggs, crushed almonds, sugar and butter.  In a la galette des rois, a small token (feve) such as a coin, bean or ceramic figure is hidden; the person who gets the slice with this token will be “king” for the day.  Ice cream is also a popular New Year’s dessert.

New Year’s Day in France is also a special occasion because this is when gift giving takes place.  Family members exchange kisses, hugs and well-wishes for the incoming year.  It can be noted that other than the cakes, the French are quite minimalist when it comes to the symbolic approach to the incoming year.  A French New Year is generally elegant and simple, with enough food to enjoy the special occasions but with substantial company and rituals to value the point of the celebration.

Vegetarian Rice Roast

brown rice

We may be eating too much of a good thing. Meat is good, but only in moderation? After all, studies have already shown that too much meat in our diet could cause a host of health problems (including heart disease anc cancers) that would plague us in the years to come.

Perhaps in the New Year we should make it a point to look for healthier alternatives.  During the holiday season need something good, filling, and at the same time very healthy, this is the perfect time to try a tasty vegetarian dish.

This recipe uses brown rice as a base. This is a very healthy choice, actually. Not only does it give the roast a unique flavour, but it is also rich in nutrients like magnesium, iron, and B vitamins that are not present in white rice. It’s the healthy choice for our roast recipe.

Serves 4 – 6


170 g long-grain brown rice

15 g butter

1 medium onion, skinned and chopped

1 garlic clove, skinned and crushed

2 carrots, grated

114 g button mushrooms, finely chopped

114 g fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs

114 g nuts, finely chopped

114 g mature Cheddar cheese, grated

2 eggs

salt and pepper


1. Cook the rice in boiling salted water for 30-35 minutes or until tender. Drain well.

2. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a medium frying pan and fry the onion, garlic, carrots and mushrooms, stirring frequently, until softened. Stir in the breadcrumbs, nuts, cooked rice, cheese and the eggs.

3. Season to taste with salt and pepper and mix thoroughly together.

4. Pack the mixture into a greased 3 pint loaf tin and bake at 350°F for 1 – 1 1/4 hours or until firm to the touch and brown on top.

Serve the Vegetarian Roast sliced, hot or cold, with tomato sauce or chutney.

Why We Love Gaston Acurio

Gastronomia Peruana

For the sheer love his local cuisine, a man would sometimes rise up and give his best in promoting it. He’ll tell his peers why they should love the food that his homeland has prepared. That’s the usual case for the average man. But if we’re talking about Gaston Acurio, it’s a different story. He’ll make you realize why you don’t just love it…why you need it.

That is the nature of this chef, who was chosen to be the ambassador of Peruvian cuisine. That’s pretty much a heady title, as well as duty. But knowing how Acurio does his thing, then it’s definitely not a problem at all. He’s passionate about Peru’s cuisine, and he wants the whole world to appreciate its flavors. You could see that with the number of restaurants that he has established all over the world. From his native country Peru, to the European nation of Spain, his signature is always there.

That’s not a pretty bad achievement for someone who dropped his law degree and pursued the art of cooking. After he stopped studying law, he then proceeded to train himself in cooking by enrolling in a hotel trade school named Sol de Madrid in Spain and then proceeded to Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. This is also where he met his future wife Astrid Gutsche, who was originally from Germany. The two later on started their own restaurant chain called Astrid & Gaston, which became an instant hit with their clients.

A true visionary, Acurio has researched the potentials of Peruvian cuisine and has adapted it to into his restaurants. His rediscovery led him to present these regular dishes in a very modern and attractive manner. And through his restaurants, he is able to bring prestige to his home country. It’s something that I’m sure that he is very proud of.

He is also involved in a TV show, which focuses on the rich culture of the Peruvian landscape. Also, he is a major promoter of Peruvian dishes all over the world, finally succeeding in internationalizing the local dish called ceviche. Lastly, he has written some cookbooks, a compilation recently published by the newspaper El Comercio.

Right now there are Astrid y Gaston locations in Peru, Chile, Colombia, Argentina, Ecuador, Venezuela, Spain and Mexico. I can’t wait for him to open up in NYC.

On Food and Television

cooking for real

It’s time for you to enjoy some time for yourself. Whether it’s in a pub or in some restaurant, you should make it a point to enjoy yourselves. But still, if you’re the pretty creative and adventurous type, then you should try some home cooking. It’s a fun hobby, and you get to impress your guests once you’re proficient at it. Why don’t you try watching foodie shows? You’ll get what I mean.

Quick Fix Meals with Robin Miller: Freeze! (9:30 a.m. at the Food Network)

Think that the freezer is only good for food preservation? Time to think again. Robin Miller will show just how the freezer can be our best friend in preparing no-hassle meals.

Boy Meets Grill: Brazilian Grilling (10:30 a.m. at the Food Network)

Bobby is at it again. Our favorite chef in meat will show us some classic grilling recipes that is totally out of this world. Enjoy watching him as he works his magic on the grill.

30 Minute Meals: It’s All Gravy (2 p.m. at the Food Network)

Rachel is with us again for another lesson in quick “cooking”. Pork chops seems to be the order of the day, and she’ll be showing us how to prepare them, complete with gravy, in only thirty minutes. Let’s see how they turn out.

Cooking For Real: Bistro Night In (4 p.m. at the Food Network)

Really, you don’t really have to go outside just to enjoy a good bistro meal. Watch Sunny as she shows us some winning recipes for a delicious bistro fare, right at our homes. Create an in home bistro, invite some friends and get the latest gossip while impressing your guests with your cooking talents.

Good Eats: Yes, We Have No Banana Pudding (7 p.m. at the Food Network)

No doubt that you’ve been pretty much unsatisfied with the normal banana pudding we eat. But fret no more, since Alton is right here to show us how to make the best one yet.