What is that on the baby?

Some of you have asked what was all over the baby -- finger paint. Yes, finger paint.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Phantom Gourmet - AKA - The Food Pimp

So, let me see... Why do I think the Phantom is full of B-O-L-O-G-N-A? 

I've been watching the Phantom since it was a baby. I've tried dozens of restaurants based on his recommendations, and I've loved many of the meals I've eaten. In fact, as college students we would often save up to eat at the local phantom picks.

However, since the deal with Viacom and the move from NE Cable News, the show has never been the same. The first problem is the host, in a word -- dull. After the original host (Billy Costa) left to do his own mediocre show, the youngest Andelman brother began hosting. He seems like an affable guy, but his level of culinary expertise is sadly lacking and his sense of humor is banal. 

Still, the real travesty lies in the show's decision to sell advertising space on the show. Because of this recent management choice, the show spends an inordinate amount of time reviewing small chains like Fireflys and Fuddruckers, having taste tests between Burger King and Wendy's or Hostess and Drakes and reviewing the same restaurants every week: Strega, the Halfway Cafe... 

They never do anything new, and they have lost the soul of the show -- discovering and evaluating local cuisine. I don't need to know about Sal's 80 lb. pizza or the Eagle Deli's burger monstrosity again. Really folks. There is more to New England's food scene than burgers, pizza, huge portions, junk food and pub grub. 

Monday, February 16, 2009

Dreaming of Electric Sheep and High Fructose Corn Syrup

Have you heard what they say about high fructose corn syrup? Apparently it's just corn?

In this era of highly processed foods I generally believe the theory that the more a food resembles its original state the better it is for you, and high fructose corn syrup couldn't look less like corn. Large corporations like Pepsi and Coca Cola started using it as a sweetener because it was cheap, which is almost never good. The product is so cheap that it has become ubiquitous and impossible to "use in moderation," as recommended. And the Corn Refiners Association of America has begun an aggressive campaign to convince consumers that HFCS is natural, which reeks of corporate propaganda. They say HFCS is natural because it comes from corn, a friendly vegetable that we loved as children. However, using the same logic, one would have to conclude that heroin is natural. After all, what could be more harmless than flowers? Foolishness, and highly suspect. 

But here's the kicker, no one seems to know if it is any worse for people than any other sweetener. Original studies showed that HFCS spiked insulin levels and created leptin resistance, which caused obesity, liver damage, and diabetes in rats and people. However, newer studies contain conflicting results. Some seem to reinforce the original findings, while others show that HFCS is no more dangerous than table sugar. I know what you're thinking: "those studies were probably done by the corn people," and you are largely correct -- but not totally. High Fructose Corn Syrup has its share of unbiased, reputable defenders (see the Time magazine article). 

It seems I can't reasonably avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup, and experts say  it may not be all bad anyway. Yet, my intuition and experience tells me that it isn't healthy and I can't use it in moderation because it is everywhere. So I ask you? What's a mom to do? 
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