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Food Stops Hunger

October 9, 2015

This is not a political issue. It’s a humanitarian one. There are people in our community who don’t have enough food to eat. How they got into that situation is important, but it’s not the most pressing question.

There are human beings going hungry in a nation that throws away an inconceivable quantity of edible food. Regardless of how wealthy the community, there is food insecurity everywhere. The question is, are you going to help fix the immediate problem, or not?

Sure, there are federal programs, but these aren’t always enough to make it through the month. That is why the Food Pantries for the Capital District is so important. It helps to distribute supplemental food from the food bank to communities around the region.

As a food writer, it’s especially important for me to help do what I can to support these programs. I constantly remind myself what a luxury it is to complain about the foam on my cappuccino when there are people who can’t even afford a cup of coffee. So, I volunteered to judge the Food Pantries’ annual Harvest Festival, and worked out a deal where Yelp could be a sponsor of the program too.

If you weren’t able to make it, here’s how the judging went down.

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AskTP – August, September, Whatever

October 8, 2015

“Are you still doing Ask the Profussor?” That would be a fair question, since this is the longest stretch I’ve ever gone without dipping into the archive of unanswered questions, and providing each of them with their long-awaited response.

The short answer is, yes. In fact, I’m doing one right now. And speaking of short answers, I think that’s the only way we’re going to make it through over two months of neglect. My original commitment was to answer every question asked in the comments section of the blog, just so long as it uses proper punctuation. Never did I say the answer would be long or even complete.

So let’s power through this. If there is any good news, it’s that the velocity of questions has come down quite a bit. Maybe it’s because after over six years of writing this thing, people can Google the answers from within the blog. It’s hard to think of a subject on which I haven’t weighed in.

It’s been a long time since the last one. Hopefully you haven’t forgotten that most of the links go to the same place. It’s the mystery link of the day. Where will it take you today? I promise it will have nothing to do with my day job.

Now, without any further ado, onto the questions.

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To Eat or Not To Eat

October 7, 2015

That is the question. I’ll save you from an extended food-centric bastardization of Hamlet’s soliloquy.

Sending food back to the kitchen at a restaurant is a decision that is rarely made lightly. And in fact, I rarely do it. This is a subject that comes up a lot when I talk with restaurant owners. Most of them truly want their customers to speak up about a dish that was made incorrectly as soon as possible so that the restaurant has a chance to fix the problem. The goal is to always have customers leave happy.

Of course, you can’t make everyone happy. But that’s not going to stop the good places from trying. Unfortunately, there will be some consumers who try to take advantage of a restaurant’s good will, and try to get free meals for small infractions. I used to work with some advertising clients like that. It’s not fun.

I feel like we’ve covered in the past some of the reasons why customers are reluctant to send food back to the kitchen. Well, this past week, I had two unfortunate experiences. They each had different resolutions, and it reminded me of one other reason I hate sending food back.

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Judging and Healing the World

October 6, 2015

Sometimes the world feels like an awful place. I’m not sure how many of you have been following the US bombing of a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan. Yes, it’s in the news, but hearing about the shelling from the perspective of hospital staff on the ground is truly horrifying.

My read on the situation is that 22 patients and staff of the hospital were killed. That’s twelve staff members, seven adult patients, and three juvenile patients. It does not look like an accident. The US Military was provided the GPS coordinates of the hospital from Doctors Without Borders to make sure it wasn’t inadvertently targeted.

But it would seem that the airstrike was called in by the Afghanistan military, who had an ongoing grudge against the hospital for healing people regardless of their side in the conflict. And it kills me that this is going on in our name. This is not okay.

Of course, this is just one of the many, many things that is broken in the world today. The good news is that there are people out there who are working hard to heal the world. Some of this takes place in our own backyard. And I’m thrilled to be working with a group of these folks on a benefit this week.

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Duck. Soup. Scone.

October 5, 2015

Saturday, I was feeling a little judgy.

A long long time ago, I used to enjoy dressing up in costume. Mostly in my adolescence. And the reason that I liked to do it was because it was a chance to come up with some kind of outward expression of inner being.

So in high school, while I was struggling with my own identity and self esteem, I spent a lot of time putting together a couple of different costumes for a couple successive years. One year, I dressed up as Frankenstein’s monster. The next, I went as the Phantom of the Opera. In college I went a little darker, and got a bit more hedonistic, so I went through a vampire phase.

Eventually, I really became much more comfortable in my own skin, and the costume thing largely lost its appeal. But last Saturday, I had to dress up for The Enchanted City where I was the chief justice for the culinary competition. So really, there was only one thing I could do.

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Enchanted, I’m Sure

October 2, 2015

There’s a first time for everything. Never did I think it would be part of my job to attend a Victorian steampunk and fairy street fair. But it turns out that I’m doing more than just attending it.

Perhaps you’ve heard that this Saturday The Enchanted City returns to River Street in Troy. Well, this year Yelp is a sponsor, and for better or for worse I’ve helped to shape the food part of the festival.

I’m going to encourage you to come for the food, and stay for the spectacle. You can see all the entertainment listed for the day on the website, but if you want the inside scoop on what and where to eat, you’re in the right place.

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Soup Searching

October 1, 2015

First things first. Thank you to all of you who shared the heck out of the Tour de Cider Donut results post. As of this writing it has already gotten 376 shares on Facebook. That’s huge, and it’s brought a lot of new people into the blog.

So, maybe I can capture a bit of that new energy today. Because today I’m looking to pick your brain on the subject of soup. So close your eyes for a moment, and think cold thoughts.

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