Posts for March 26, 2012

Do You Fear Your Food Because You’re Middle Class?

The book.Photo: Barnes & Noble

A new book by retired Canadian history professor Harvey Levenstein seeks to draw connections between modern-day food phobias in the United States, the germ theory introduced by Louis Pasteur, and twentieth-century middle-class hysterias (often media-driven) about the various ways one could die from foodborne bacteria. But Louis Pasteur actually did some kind of important things vis-à-vis food safety, and the world has had plenty of very good reasons to fear our food supply, so we're not totally clear on the point here.

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Join Green City Market Junior Board at Sepia Wednesday

The Green City Market Junior Board helps the city's premier farmer's market by reaching out to young professionals and raising funds for the market and its educational programs. Wednesday night beginning at 6:30, you'll have a chance to meet some of the food-interested folks involved and enjoy a great dinner with ingredients from one of the region's most celebrated urban farming programs. Sepia chef Andrew Zimmerman will prepare a five-course menu plus hors d'oevures using items from Growing Power, while head bartender Josh Pearson will provide wine pairings and cocktails for the reception. The dinner is $115 (which covers, tax, gratuity and a donation to Green City Market); see the menu here and call 312-441-1920 for reservations.

Shocker Alert: Placenta-Eating Not All Its Cracked Up to Be

For a hot minute there, chowing down on your own placenta threatened to become the new bacon, or at least the new coconut water. Now, a former Santa Monica resident who actually popped pills formed from her own placenta following the birth of a son is speaking out against the practice with her own horror story today in the New York Times.

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What's With All The Subway Restaurant Robberies?

Saturday night at 8:51 p.m., a Subway restaurant at 407 S. Dearborn was robbed at gunpoint. The gunman took off on foot with about $400. Which is different from the time the Subway in Streamwood was robbed, yielding $237. Or in Batavia on November 23, or Elgin on December 2. Then there was this criminal genius:

A man tried to rob a northwest suburban Subway restaurant using a taxi as a getaway car — but ended up carjacking the taxi, leading police on a chase and then colliding with a school bus in Rogers Park Wednesday morning.

He didn't even succeed in the robbery, so if he hadn't stolen the cab, he'd have lost money. But if there's humor to be found in that one, there was none in the February 9 robbery of a in Village Subway which ended with employee Lyn Ward, 57, dying of a gunshot wound to the neck. The owner told reporters that it was the third robbery to date at that location.

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Old School J.P. Graziano Grocery Co. Expands Retail Hours

It's still kind of like this.

One of our favorite places is the Italian grocer and sandwich shop J.P. Graziano Grocery Co. at 901 W. Randolph, and the more the neighborhood gets filled up with fancy restaurants, the more we like this old (established 1937) importer and wholesale deli for being its old school self. But we just got word from fourth-generation owner Jim Graziano that it has made the tiniest concession to modernity.

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Legendary South Side Spot Army & Lou's To Return With Blues Theme

Army & Lou's, 422 E. 75th.Photo: Zol87 via Flickr

Martin Luther King ate there; so did Smokey Robinson and politicians of all races who hoped to appeal to the black vote. For African-Americans growing up in Chicago in the 60s, 70s and 80s, Army & Lou's was often the first "nice" place at which you ate, and the first one where you saw live music. Opened in 1945 by a Chicago Defender employee named William "Army" Armstrong and his wife Louvella, it was long one of the most iconic restaurants on the black South Side. But by last year it had closed, a victim of changing tastes toward healthier food than traditional soul food, the shift of the area's commercial activity toward Hyde Park and a general feeling that its time was past. Now a developer plans to reopen it this summer as a blues-themed restaurant with an updated look and menu— and to expand its celebrated brand name beyond the stretch of 75th street where it has been since the 1960s.

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Zagat's Up-and-Comers Under 30: Are They the Uppest of the Up?

Zagat's 30Photo: courtesy Zagat

Meet the leaders of tomorrow... or at least the shortlist for next year's hottest chef lists. Zagat has published a list called 30 Under 30: Chicago's Hottest Up-and-Comers, calling out 30 young people who have notable positions around Chicago's food scene. In other words, there are a lot of chefs de cuisine and sous chefs under a more famous guy, a fair number of pastry chefs and mixologists, no fewer than four Paul Kahan proteges (David Posey at Blackbird, Elliott Green at Avec, and both Erling Wu-Bower and Cosmo Goss at Publican Quality Meats), and of course a couple of high-profile younger halves of father-and-son teams (Bannos and Melman). It's a worthy bunch, no question, but it does raise the question: are you the hottest up-and-comer if you have a job at a top level place working for somebody else, or are the real up-and-comers the ones making their own way at lower-profile places of their own right now? (Assuming the Ruxbin team is still mostly under 30, for instance, I'd bet on them at least as much as anyone here.) On that basis, the one we were happiest to see on the list was the very last one alphabetically and probably the youngest one numerically— Jonathan Zaragoza, who got his start with his family's much-acclaimed south side birrieria but is now working under Andrew Zimmerman at Sepia to learn the high end of the business. If we could invest in chef futures, he's the kind we'd be buying right now.

The Man Who Coined Pink Slime; Clean Well-Lighted Place To Close

• If you wince and lose your appetite every time you hear the term "pink slime," you can blame a government scientist named Gerald Zirnstein for coining the term. [Reuters]

• Tristesse: The famed Hemingway Bar at the Ritz in Paris is closing. Here's a look at its history. [WSJ]

• FYI: Store brands are now cool. Also, half the time shoppers don't even realize something is a store brand, as with Target's Archer Farms label. [USAT]

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