Hunger In America

(thanks Jeannie for the article!)

Food writer and one of my personal aspirations, Mark Bittman (a cook, writer, and lover of food, and another cool not-a-chef like most of us) posted an article regarding the hunger crisis in America entitled: ‘I Eat and Mom Doesn’t: Growing Up Hungry in America’.  

Try to take a look at it when you get a moment. It’s a reflection upon the poverty hunger epidemic in America, which is increased much in the last few years. Where lucky folks like us are fortunate to have plenty of food in our lives to taste, cook, and blog about for our own adventures, there are plenty others in America alone who barely have enough to get through a month. Just another grain of being grateful added to the sandglass, for sure.

I remember when I was beginning a classroom assistant job in the city around the time I was about 23, a few of us who were just hired bonded together about just how bad the job was, went off for lunch together, and would of course get on the train after work was done for the day and go off once again how the day was. Most of all, it was payday that was the worst, due to the mere fact that they were so disorganized they couldn’t pay us on time. At the time, I didn’t look at it as a big deal so much as an annoyance, but one of my co-workers did.

One day in the usual walk to the station with one of my fellow assistants, she was more fired up than usual. Of course, payday came and went and we were told of a delay on all our checks. We decided to take a little longer walk to the next subway stop so she could calm down, and basically she broke down and told me how she’d been feeding her kids ramen noodles for days until she was supposed to get paid. With every delay (and it was a few days), and in-between all the expenses from doctors’ appointments to doing laundry as a single mom, pretty much she had no idea where the kids’ next meal was going to come from. I’ll admit, at the time I looked at her and was a bit skeptical .. she was employed after all and always seemed to hold a good amount of confidence. But here she was, telling me flat-out that she didn’t have enough to put food on the table for her family, and if they kept up with these delays, she wasn’t sure what she was going to do.

The end of the story has me offering her $10-dollars, her thanking me profusely and promising to pay me back, but I’d decided to leave that job the following week so I never got it back. Did I really care or did I know for sure if she was feeding her kids with that $10? I’ll never know. But if it was $10 for my own food for thought at that time, I could deal with that.

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Reflecting – 6/16/11

It’s been a few months now with these blogs, and I think now it’s a good time to reflect.

When I started LittleTreats, it was something that began as a second try to get out there again and write about what I was passionate for: food and life. Sure, it still remains the great foundation for any writing of any sort, but it actually took me a little while since then to realize there needed to be more meaning for me than that.

Thus came the next two: Caro’s RECIPES & Each Time. One documenting how one could make food, and one devoted to my love of the arts. Both of them pretty much captivated by the need to educate. As I consider myself both an educator and an artist, in a way I felt that this truly what I was more passionate about the need to help people learn… and here’s why.

Just as we need to eat? we need creativity. We NEED an outlet for whatever ideas may come about, and we NEED to know how to keep our eyes open to what’s around us.

And as I love teaching, I will definitely try to do my part to continue on with that l’il mission statement. These two somehow, I feel, have become two of the things we’re losing touch with in our ultimate education for life. We depend much on what we’ve learned from school, but always saying we need more, more, more … I’ve come to determine that where schools really can only do so much, in the end it’s up to us to keep that fire going. We’re a very culturally-rich nation, America. But what everyone else seems to have a hold on us is their values outside of their school life.

I’ve come to realize that the need to feed your senses needs to just be one constant walking ground. Just as the arts are important, so is the need to educate folks about food. In the efforts made to better our health in this lifetime, we need to take the steps to be willing to explore, and just be in the know.

That said, I don’t think I’ll lack the inspiration to keep writing. 🙂

Many, many thanks and hoping for the best yet to come ~~ Caro

A Mass(ive) Market, a “Super” Market?

To market, to market …

Where the concept of business goes hand in hand with food, it’s undeniable that the American culture truly has poured much effort into the influx of people’s needs to have the food they’ve enjoyed for ages.

Is a supermarket really a “super” affair anymore? With every trip to CostCo, Sam’s Club, or even Super Target (yep, Target x 10. Felt like I needed a Segway just to get a dvd) I find it to be almost an adventure of seeing how people’s logic comes into play. Sure, everything you need is in one spot, but frankly? I’ve never been that person who’s been attracted to buying the food there. I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s the massive-warehouse-esque set-up, however I think it goes together similarly with my ultimate dislike of truck stop convenience stores (the smell alone makes me nauseous). Which really in the end, is that I have absolutely no idea how long that food has been sitting there, and thus kind of not wanting to know what lurks inside when I open the package. I’m finicky, what can I say. Definitely not quite as inviting.

However, there are some MASSIVE markets that somehow seem to always get my engine revved. I have yet to discover more of course, but if you also ever get to check out the great markets in and around Doylestown, PA, I say go for it because the food and ambience alone will have you coming back! (thanks to my friends, Jen and Jon!)

Some great places I love to shop for num-nums, despite bein’ large n’ in charge:

HMart (aka Han Ah Reum): Yes, of course you’d say I’d be biased for loving a Korean market, however it’s not just the Koreans that flock to their local HMart to re-stock! Over the summer, I overheard my chiropractor telling the rest of the people in the room how he shops at the HMart near his home in New Jersey for the reasons alone of: the freshness, the food, the atmosphere, but more importantly, the deals! As a father of 3 daughters, he said he found himself constantly back there bc he felt they had more to offer than his local supermarket. On weekends, the place will be PACKED with people who feel the same way! From cuts of quality meat (that’s what we always go back for), to the deals on fresh produce, plenty of flavors and tea the bottle … but most of all they will be cooking on-site and constantly offering the most delicious samples throughout the entire store.

I will often lose E in the midst of what is probably sampling heaven on Earth…


Eataly: I will later on be devoting an entire entry to this place, but for now, here’s a little taste. If you haven’t checked out Eataly in the Flatiron District of NYC (and expanding its business beyond), I say it should be a must if not just to see what it’s all about. Put together by a powerhouse team of Mario Batali, my favorite, Lidia Bastianich, her son Joe, and Oscar Farinetti, this place is truly a savory playground for the senses and I felt like my durned feet had wings on them. This is definitely ANOTHER place that if you don’t plan ahead, you’ll get swept away in the massive crowds that will clamor around for straight-up quality Italian love for food. The intention, they said, was to make it a one-stop massive market to educate folks on the celebration of real Italian food. It truly is an inspiring place (although a little pricey $). Wall-to-wall with local meat & fish vendors, gelato and wine stations, the best pasta, cheese, and olive oil Turin would have to offer, and in my personal opinion, the best prosciutto and preserves LIFE would have to offer. There is a restaurant on site I have yet to try .. but once you get a taste, you might find yourself wandering back over many times more 😉


– Farmers’ Market: Cannot emphasize this one enough. Anywhere you are in the world, if you’ve got a farmers’ market somewhere nearby? GO. The importance of local eating is definitely worth your while for if not for your health and tastebuds alone. This stuff offered up out in the open is usually picked the day off, and brought to you from not too far beyond your reach. But of course, all is not limited to just food at the Farmers’ Market. Following the seasonal patterns, get your fresh-cut flowers, your Christmas trees, a genuine wool sweater, and my personal favorite, the Textile and Fabrics Recycling booth.


Mitsuwa Marketplace: The beating center of the Japanese shopping center in Edgewater, NJ … this is the perfect place for one to get their fix in Japanese products, toys, cookers, snacks, and of course, food. From groceries to side vendors (and the occasional Blue Fish cutting extravaganza!) Though a little on the pricey side, I find myself here every month to stock up on bottles of Oi Ocha Green Tea, and, shamelessly, a green tea ice cream from one of the small vendors inside as well. It’s clean, efficient service and never a rat race (though beware, parking there can be!) But by all means, you’re not limited to the marketplace itself. Across the way from the marketplace is a tea & ceramics store (VERY much a gem to find gifts!), Japanese toys n’ novelties worth checking out, and for the ladies, a Shiseido facial & makeup products store.

live from Mitsuwa Market … it’s the Giant Bluefish Cutting Extravaganza!!

Chelsea Market: And then of course, the heart of Food Network and beyond – Chelsea Market. A fantastic food concourse located smack dab in the Chelsea/Meatpacking District of NYC.

I’ll admit, the first time I ever went here? I felt like I was on Cloud Nine, mostly due to the fact that you can make so much of this alone: go to the market, search around and literally eat bit by bit from all that is available to you in there: Buon Italia market, Eleni’s, Ronnybrook Dairy Farm, The Fat Witch Bakery, Ruthy’s, Bar Suzette creperie… the list goes on and on. I actually loved also checking out the wine vault in here – wonderful people and a fabulous selection of Malbec!

ps, for all the fancy-pants folk, Morimoto’s restaurant is also on site here. 😉 So go take a walk on the Highline, make your way over to the market, and venture off on the cobblestone streets to see what other great things Chelsea has in store for ya.

By all means, this is just me talking, and there’s still so much more to discover in favorite places to find the good stuff …

Share the wealth! If you’ve got a favorite market to find great things, hand over the address and I’ll be there!

Spring-‘in Your Step

We’re a few days into Spring 2011, and this of course also means otherwise to some, which is that we gotta kick it into high gear ’cause skin-baring season is right around the corner. But let’s just say that sunshine n’ better weather should be motivation for anyone, really. Then again, for some of us this also means the giant down-factor: Goodbye delicious food?? Nah, trust me, there’s still a way 🙂

I’ll be first to admit it: Exercising Sucks. Yes, it is absolutely wonderful and beneficial and blahblahblah, however it is not easy and I will be first to admit that. Lately of course, I have been getting back into the swing of things since my body is not quite in the fine dancers’ shape it once was 10-years-ago, and the elliptical machine at the gym is my very dear friend. Yes, exercising does become fun and your body truly does need it, but keeping up with it is quite something to behold. Does it really just boil down to time & effort? or just routine, routine, routine. Or both?

But in the grand scheme of things, it is true: Food +Exercise + Fun need to go hand in hand, and I’ll give you a great example. While visiting Paris for spring break in my last year of college, we did not necessarily eat “healthy” food as one would identify. There was PLENTY of cream, fresh bread, chocolate (I ate fresh Pain au Chocolat every morning from the boulangerie across the street, nutella crepes, chocolate mousse, and Petit Ecoliers every night!) Not to mention we drank plenty of wine and ate nearly every meat, cheese, and pastry in sight! HOWEVER! Despite all within this fabulous food fest, we all came home and literally, all of us had lost about 6-pounds!!

It was pretty undeniable that yes, portions are different in France and ingredients as well, however really, what was it that kept us all trim despite all the richness? Pretty much here it is: Ya just gotta get WALKIN’.

New Yorkers, we average plenty of it and do it all the time. I found it so funny when I was in L.A. how much driving there was, and how all the people who came to visit NYC would be huffing and puffing over a mere 3-block radius!! Honestly, think how much we miss when whizzing by in cars and subways every day. Sure, when it’s freezing cold I’m not the biggest fan, however since it’s warming up I’m finding plenty of excuses. What can I say? I’m a walking fiend. Despite my bit o’ jelly-belly, my legs have maintained a decent amount of solid muscle and because of walking all these, it is pretty much why:

  • BRIDGES: My goal pretty much is to walk every bridge in NY over the next few years, and so far I’ve only covered a few: the GWB, Queensboro, Williamsburg and of course, the Brooklyn Bridge. But if you get a chance, definitely do it. Between the stairs, intervals, and walking over the water, it’ll give you an entirely new perspective.
  • BLOCKS: A mile in NYC = 20 North – South blocks = 4 Avenue blocks East – West. What more could you ask for?? I know it’s not the same everywhere, but if I say if the distance is short enough, just save your gas and use those feet. When I’ve got some time to kill, steam to blow off, or would rather get there faster than the bus or train ever could, I’ll get moving. Some of my friends think I’m crazy for being willing to walk 40-blocks for kicks. One time, when my hard drive crashed on my computer? I literally walked from my apartment in Astoria all the way down to Union Square in Manhattan (in the rain!) to meet my friend because really, there was no other way I was going to relieve some stress other than to walk it off! Honestly though, try it sometime. You’d be amazed at how much you can discover around, and finally find all those great places you’ve been meaning to see!
  • TAKE IT TO THE PARK: They’re not just for kids, folks. If you have one nearby, take a lil stroll on through. I’d like to think sometimes that again, this will give you some insight to what’s around you: picnics, sleepers, kids playing, people runnin’ and lounging around. You can’t get this kind of education anywhere else.

PS – for the record, I would LOVE to have the option of walking in a National Park every day with those gorgeous mountains!

  • BROWSING & WINDOW SHOPPING: Shopping is fun for some, not for others 😉 but you’d be surprised at how much your heart’s trying to keep up when you’re doing all that moving around!! I killed 20 minutes browsing Bloomingdale’s yesterday before an appointment and weirdly enough, it worked up a sweat!

  • BEACH WALK: Now, we don’t have many beaches around NYC, but for every beach that I do find, I just walk up and down the shoreline for what seems like ages. There’s a priceless factor that comes from walking a boardwalk or on the sand, because not only is there the land, but the water nearby. Plus, let the sand strengthen your ankles better than any concrete ever could!
  • MUSEUMS: Those benches are there for a reason! You are on your feet for this lil trip a very, very big portion of the time and a good testament to those who are just looking to take it all in another way. If I do need to sit, I’ll try to zone out to what’s in front of me. Screw the camera and bring a sketchpad. Your heart n’ legs don’t necessarily need to be the only muscles you exercise on your walk through the museum.

my personal favorite museum in NYC 😉

  • FOOD TOUR!!: Of course, we leave the best for last 😉 I say if you’re willing to plan it? go for it! And I do this a few times a year. Pick a few destinations of what you’re planning to eat for that day, try to space them out if you can. But this doesn’t  mean you’re going to indulge in a smorgasbord in every visit! It’s a trail of small bites, if you may. One example I could give is when I go up to the Upper West Side in Manhattan: I start at Alice’s Teacup on 73rd & Columbus (since there’s going to be a wait, I put my name down and venture off). I go an avenue down to the Gray’s Papaya on 72nd & Amsterdam, and have a hot dog to tide me over. When it’s time to venture back to Alice’s? I get a small pot of tea and a ham & cheese scone. Now, I could go to Buttercup Bake Shop a block over afterwards to pick up some treats, however I might opt to go a little further. I take a walk down to the Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle and venture downstairs to Whole Foods or upstairs to the Bouchon Bakery to see what’s going on. If nothing tickles my fancy there, I’ll see what’s up at the 53rd & 6th Ave. Halal chicken & rice truck (though the line might be down the block!). And with luck? If I’m still craving something I can always indulge in a waffle from the Wafels & Dinges truck if it’s still hanging around by Central Park near the Plaza Hotel. And then? it is time to go home, time well-spent, tummy full, and knowing I used these legs to get everywhere with a good amount of my own fuel!

 

(PS – take your food tour on vacation! our last vacation food tour was in Epcot Center in Disney World, FL. Made it all the way around the world until the weather decided otherwise in “China” and we were rained out. My determination to get a crepe in “France” was foiled and we gave up somewhere around “Norway”. However, we both have a nice lil tour in mind for our upcoming trip back to Vegas in April, so stay tuned!)

Whip out your pod, create one awesome playlist, and get movin’ the best way you’ve known how to!

with a full Spring in your step. (cheezy, but you get it!)

“Peasant” Pleasantries 2.0

my first attempt @ Boeuf Bourguignon! June 2010

“peas·ant [pez-uhnt] –noun 1. a member of a class of persons, as in Europe, Asia, and Latin America, who are small farmers or farm laborers of low social rank. 2. a coarse, unsophisticated, boorish, uneducated person of little financial means.

pleas·ant·ry [plez-uhn-tree] –noun, plural -ries. 1. good-humored teasing; banter. 2. a humorous or jesting remark. 3. a courteous social remark used to initiate or facilitate a conversation: to exchange pleasantries. 4. a humorous action.”dictonary.com

I’m not too keen on the whole concept of describing anyone as “boorish” nor “unsophisticated”, but I will say that in a weird way when it comes to learning and eating, we’re all peasants in a sense. Hence, “pleasantries”… in matters of food, it’s all good fun had by all. And thus bringing us to the joys of Peasant Pleasantries 2.0.

Although life is tending to go a tad in the fast lane these days, we are living in quite the generation of the “Re”: RE-loaded, RE-wind, RE-new, and RE-do”. And as follows in the style, food and the way we eat has also been taken on this change in a big way. Case in point: the so-called “peasant” dishes. The food that was long before considered not the food of kings, somehow have found their redemption! Some still served in their own classic way, and then of course, those who have been given quite the makeover and granted sterling reputation by those who are irrefutably devoted to them 😉
a list of “peasant” dishes – food that were once considered lower-class/ commoner/ childish nosh (now all majorly refre$hed and revamped with a vengeance):
– Fried chicken
– Lobster
– Sushi
– Pizza
-Ratatouille
– Pho
– Tacos
– Couscous
– Brown rice
– Onion Soup
– Risotto
– Crepes
– Ramen
– Grilled cheese sandwiches
– Boeuf Bourguignon (French beef stew)
– Bibimbap (Korean mixed rice bowl)
– Kamjatang (Korean spicy potato soup)
– Goulash (Hungarian stew)
– Coq au Vin (French wine chicken)
– Haggis (Scottish sausage)
– Horiatiki (Greek salad)
– Osso Buco (Italian veal shanks)
– Banh Mi (Vietnamese sandwiches)
– Arroz Con Pollo (Spanish chicken rice)
– Huevos Rancheros (Mexican tortillas w/ fried eggs)
– Ropa Vieja (shredded flank steak)
In a generation of “re” looks like peasant dishes have been given a major dose of re$pect. Hats off. 🙂
C’mon. Everyone’s got a favorite peasant dish, what’s yours??