Bits and pieces: Jewish soul food, food-safety bill and other food news from the web, 12.6.10

Like matzo ball soup? How about matzo ball gumbo? Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Tastes via Flickr.
  • A University of North Carolina professor has written a book that takes a look at how Jews in the South have blended Jewish dishes with Southern staples. Marci Cohen Ferris recently appeared on NPR to discuss her book, Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South. Some interesting hybrids that Ferris discusses include lox and grits, sweet potato latkes and, of course, matzo ball gumbo. I can dig it.
  • A store clerk recently stopped a robbery by throwing a package of empanadas, a Latin American pastry, at the would-be robber, according to a story from the Associated Press.
  • Weight Watchers has changed its Points system, and some folks over in the Gawker comment section aren’t happy about it. According to ABC News, the biggest change to Weight Watchers is that fruits and vegetables have zero points. This probably means nothing to anyone who hasn’t done Weight Watchers, but as a two-time former Weight Watcher, this is pretty major. Thoughts?
  • The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010, the first major overhaul of the Food and Drug Administration’s food-safety provisions since 1938, is working its way through Congress. USA Today provides a really good overview of the bill and the changes that would take place if it passes, such as the FDA having the right to order companies to recall tainted food and the first federal oversight of produce.

Bits and pieces: Frankenfish, fried beer and other food news from the web, 9.7.10

  • Genetically modified salmon is safe to eat and poses little risk to the environment, the Food and Drug Administration said in an analysis the group released last week. According to an article in the New York Times, the FDA’s favorable assessment will make it more likely that this fish will be the first genetically modified animal to enter the American food supply. But “a coalition of 31 consumer, animal welfare, environmental and fisheries groups announced opposition to the approval last week, citing, in particular, concerns that the salmon could escape and possibly outcompete wild salmon for food or mates,” the article stated. I’ll hold off on buying Frankenfish, thankyouverymuch.
  • The Association of Food Journalists announced its list of the best food writers and writing at the group’s annual conference last week, according to the Poynter Institute. I’m searching for the article that won first place for best magazine food feature: “Why America is Addicted to Olive Garden.”
  • This is change I can believe in. White Castle is stepping up their game by testing new concepts in selected restaurants, according to Nation’s Restaurant News. In Lafayette, Ind., WC has introduced Blaze Modern BBQ in one of the company’s existing restaurants. The menu includes seven types of meat, baked beans, corn on the cob and jalapeno cornbread. Down in Lebanon, Tenn., WC is trying a pressed-club-sandwich concept called Deckers that offers 10 sandwiches ranging from PB&J to chicken Cordon Bleu. And there are rumors of a noodle menu at a White Castle in Ohio.
  • Only in Texas can you find beer, club salads and butter that have been battered and submerged in grease. These items are just some of the fried treats at this year’s Texas State Fair, according to the Dallas Morning News. I would eat the Texas Fried Frito Pie – “Chili, accented with a hint of sharp cheddar, encased in Fritos. Battered and fried.”