The Taste of Tomorrow
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  • April11th

    Dear Friends:

    At last!

    Please leave your office, abandon your to-do list, and run — don’t walk — to the nearest bookstore to purchase three copies of The Taste of Tomorrow for yourself and two friends!

    And if you don’t have access to a bookstore,  then go ahead, close that Word document, and head over to B&N or Amazon.com and buy some copies of The Taste of Tomorrow.  It’s a perfect Easter, Passover, or May Day gift!

    Seriously, thanks for all your support and patience.  We look forward to getting your feedback.

    Also, The Taste of Tomorrow: The Magazine looks forward to keeping you up to date on the people, ideas, and technologies profiled in the book.  The book took three years to complete, and there are plenty of updates to provide on people in the book.

    Josh

  • April3rd

    When you start reading The Taste of Tomorrow seven days from now (yes – that’s seven days!), you’ll come to an intriguing passage in Chapter 12, in which our protagonist visits a food research and development lab south of San Francisco.

    We have journeyed to this lab, in an innocuous office complex near SFO, to gain insight into one of the food future’s burning questions.   (A whole section of book is devoted to the question:  What could be the Next Thai food – ie: breakthrough world cuisine – in the United States.) The purpose of our trip is clear: get ethnic food insights. Get some leads. (Which we do)  Eat.

    During this visit, there’s a collateral intrigue. Trying to glean insights from the guru of the firm, Mattson, we get a chance to observe some real-time food invention– a “protocept” of a new pickle. A potentially novel approach to the pickle. (Teaser: not your ordinary kosher dill or sweet-n-sour)

    What was fascinating to observe was how the food developer nearly-instantly — within a handful of chews — assessed the pickle and offered specific suggestions for taste modification.  What was also curious was the language used by the food inventor— this is the land of the food industry (xanthan gum and soy protein isolate and flash pasteurizer). It’s not typical kitchen speak. In brief, it became clear, observing that pickle protocept exchange, that it would have been fascinating to spend a week at this lab, Mattson, observing the process, learning food R&D speak,  learning how  research chefs and culinoligsts (that’s what they’re called) think.

    I didn’t do that in the ToT. It’s a mere drive-by.

    BUT BUT BUT… when you read the ToT and think “Damn.. I’d like to learn more about that place” –  there’s good news:

    Barb Stuckey, one of Mattson leading food gurus, who I had the pleasure of meeting, has written a fascinating new book called Taste What You’re Missing: The Passionate Eater’s Guide to Why Food Tastes Good which will introduce you to the mindset of the food inventors.

    Specifically, Barb’s book explores the science of taste – why people love some foods, and don’t like others.   It’s an analytical, technical look at taste  for the lay reader – for instance, you’ll learn about the technical difference between orthonasal olfaction (nose-smelling taste) versus retronasal olfaction (mouth-smelling taste).

    Taste Self-Awareness

    I just picked it up last night (loved the prologue) and am especially excited about trying a series of experiments that will help me discover my “taster type.”  (I’ve always wondered why I have such an aversion to cultured dairy products) One exercise is designed to determine the number of taste buds on one’s tongue.  (I’ll let you know as soon as the data is in., If you’re interested in learning about the science of taste, definitely check it out

  • February2nd

    Hollywood = food.

    Lots of foodie-types will pick San Francisco or NYC. Cases can be made for Chicago or Montreal. We’ve enthused about the virtues of DC (see earlier post in “African cuisines”)

    But when the ToT staffers picked our favorite food city in North America, it was unanimous, a no-brainer.

    Here is part 1 of why when we think Hollywood we think food.

     1.Farmers Markets To Die For.

    SoCal has, of course, a really big advantage – the world’s best climate (pretty much). You can get locally grown lettuces and locally grown eggplants and locally grown peaches and locally grown almonds – in January or July. It also has another natural resource – a population filled with  food nerds that support the growing of obscure varieties and risky heirlooms.

    You may have heard about the farmers markets in Santa Monica or Hollywood or Downtown LA.

    But it’s the mediocre LA farmers markets that blow our minds. Your no-big deal LA farmers market might have 10 different types of heirloom lettuce, and 10 different varieties of mushrooms, a citrus bar with seven kinds of oranges,  a nut vendor, a berry specialist, not to mention a bunch of ethnic and artisanal options – in January.  An LA-area farmers market is where you probably have your best chance of crossing paths with an Australian finger lime or a Turkmen melon.  In short, if you’re the type of person who wants every trip to the farmers market to hold the potential of a rapturous food encounter – LA.

    Check out this slightly dated guide to the Best of LA’s farmers markets.

    2. The LA Times Farmers Market Beat Reporter  — The Fruit Detective

    The Woodward & Bernstein of the LA farmers market scene.

    If you are an LA Times food section reader,  or if you read one of the ToT’s favorite books, Adam Leith-Gollner’s The Fruit Hunters, you may know of David Karp.  He is the Woodward & Bernstein of the LA farmers market scene.

    Karp, aka “The Fruit Detective,” is most renowned for his unparalleled knowledge – and obsessive interest – in obscure and exotic fruit.  (For more on Karp, see The Fruit Hunters
    or an excellent New Yorker piece by John Seabrook).

    The Fruit Detective is the chronicler of the LA farmers market scene, writing weekly dispatches for the Times food section. In the past few months alone,  Karp has introduced readers to African scarlet eggplant, Indian blood firestone peaches, green almonds, Red Brussels sprouts, the possibilities of Italian lemons, the melons of Turkmenistan.

    If you’re interested to learn about the 43 varieties of figs – and how and when they taste different, and who the best fig growers are, Karp will amaze you.  If you want to know where to find Australian finger limes, how to select the best grapefruits, how to grow matusake mushrooms in a trailer, consult Karp. The ToT loves him because his passions could foreshadow what could be The Next Big Thing in Produce.  Please savor this classic piece of Fruit Detective work on the varieties of cactus pears beginning to appear at LA markets:

     3. Central Vietnamese.

    North of pho and banh mi, there is bun bo Hue and jackfruit noodle salad.   We know this because, like Randy Newman, we love Los Angeles.

    In LA, it’s not just Vietnamese, it’s  Central VietnameseIt’s not just Thai; it’s Isaan Thai.  LA has Chinatown and Japantown, it also has Little Cambodia and Little Laos and Little Saigon Westminster.

    Yes –there are multiple Little Vietnams.  LA has a whole 100,000-person plus suburb that’s mostly Armenian.   There are suburbs chock full of Islamic Chinese food. The only place in the US that rivals it, in terms of luscious, hyper-diversity, is Western Queens (Jackson Heights, Corona, Elmhurst).  What’s so mind-bending about LA’s diversity is the limitless ethnic chowing to be done in the suburbs of the San Gabriel Valley. In brief, LA, birthplace of the Korean taco, is an ethnic food amusement park.

     4. The David Karp of the San Gabriel Valley Ethnoburbs – Jonathan Gold.   

    The Man (for LA chow hound-types)

    Jonathan Gold, the LA Weekly’s food writer, is no secret.  They finally gave him a Pulitzer Prize. The New Yorker called him “the high low priest of LA food” that readers look to for advice on “where to get crickets, boiled silkworms, cocoons and fried grasshoppers” and where to get the best Isaan Thai (That’s northeastern Thai). Gold is your man if you’re going to Long Beach’s Little Cambodia, or looking for some authentic central Vietnamese food.  Ditto you’re looking for the best Peruvian or Nicaraguan on Pico Boulevard. (Like scaling Everest, pre-planning is essential to approaching the vast LA ethnic smorgasbord)

    Gold also happens to be incredibly entertaining.  If you want a taste, he dispense his weekly restaurant and other advice  on the LA-based food show, Good Food, hosted by Evan Kleiman.

    More on why we love LA next month…

    Meantime, one non-LA note: great piece by Mark Bittman in the NYT travel section on Indian restaurants in London.

  • December30th

    You’ll find more fennel paired peri-peri sauce, more caramelized honey paried with adzuki red beans, and green peppercorn served with goat’s milk.

    Yep, gird yourself for a wave of green peppercorn and goat’s milk.

    That’s according to the 2011 Flavor Forecast – from McCormick.

    As readers of The Taste of Tomorrow  will find out, a chunk in the book focused on the Food Future Punditocracy – that is, the Jimmy the Greeks of the food world, people who specialize in divining what we’ll be eating, how we’ll be eating, where and when we’ll be eating.

    By far, the happiest time of the year for connoisseurs of Food Futurania is the holiday season.  In addition to holiday parties, and Lexus commercials, it’s the season for Top 10 Food Trends of the year lists. It’s also the time for scads of recap lists and best-of lists and years-in-review lists.

    The Girl Scouts “locavore badge,” the rise of food trucks, the artisan cheese movement in Japan – those are among the highlights from the Foodspring 20, the NASFT, producer of the Fancy Food show, annual recap.  Meanwhile, Phil “The Supermarket Guru” Lempert’s lists Vlasic Sodium Reduced Pickles and Totino’s Pizza Stuffers as two “of the biggest misses” on his 2011 list.  Now, some of the food trend list predictions/recaps will strike average humanoids as perfectly ridiculous – as a writer for Chowhound snarkily (but fairly observed), will we really be eating grilled cheese-infused vodka in 2010?  And will we really be eating green peppercorn with goat’s milk?

    I’ll keep you apprised of  notable food prognostications  (either due to possible prescience or extreme ridiculousness) that come my way…
    Meantime, here is an excellent Chowhound interview on the food trend-list cottage industry. The trend expert here happens to be Kara Nielsen, my favorite food prognosticator who also happens she’s also the key person in the book.