Gourmet Live’s Top 10 Stories

Published in Gourmet Live 09.21.11
Twelve months, 49 issues, more than 170 original stories published. Dig in and enjoy readers’ favorite selections from Gourmet Live’s first year

The Ethical Salad, by Barry Estabrook, July 13, 2011

As the story goes, Robert H. Cobb, the owner of the Brown Derby, was scrounging through the legendary Hollywood restaurant’s walk-in for a late-night snack in 1937. He hauled out whatever came to hand: romaine, cooked chicken breast, tomatoes, Roquefort cheese, and hard-boiled eggs, along with some cooked bacon. Then he chopped them and tossed them with dressing. His accomplice on the midnight refrigerator raid was Sid Grauman, the owner of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Grauman liked the improv salad so much that he came in the next day and ordered a “Cobb salad.” It was an immediate hit.

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The Postmeal Smoke, by Foster Kamer, March 2, 2011

It goes back to the dawn of modern agriculture, yet it’s never been terribly well documented. It’s a widespread and common practice, accessible to everyone from the world’s most wealthy to the savagely impoverished, yet you won’t find it on a menu. The people who do it don’t think twice about it, but you won’t find a single person who would promote this ritual of dining to anyone, let alone themselves. They’ve probably denounced it out loud, while partaking. It’s the most unhealthy of indulgences, a literal epicurean suicide that speaking in favor of would be, at the very least, irresponsible, and at worst, sociopathic and morally reprehensible.

Which is why the Postmeal Cigarette’s time is now.

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A Bite with Julianne Moore, by Kelly Senyei, September 22, 2010

Julianne Moore is best known for her Oscar-nominated performances on the big screen. But when she’s not busy acting in films like this year’s The Kids Are All Right, she devotes her time to a second passion, food.

“When I’m not on a film set, my life is really about my family,” she adds. And high on the list is preparing those nightly meals when everyone shares the experience of cooking and eating together. The actress cooks in her warm, kid-friendly kitchen, where she pursues art in a different way than on the big screen. Moore whips up simple, classic dishes on her own, and she’s happy to play sous-chef to the family’s other gourmand, her writer-director husband, Bart Freundlich.

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For the Love of Mayonnaise, by Rick Bragg, November 3, 2010

I always wondered where the magic came from.

It being my mother's mashed potato recipe, I just assumed it was love.

I have had them in a thousand meat-and-threes, spooned out by ladies in hair nets and orthopedic shoes, and in a thousand perfect bistros, dusted with parsley or Parmesan.

None were as good as hers, conjured in her battered pot in the pines of Alabama.

I asked her secret.

“Just butter, milk, salt, and pepper,” she lied.

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Tales of Terroir, by Kristin Kimball, June 22, 2011

Our farm, on the easternmost edge of northern New York, produces a full diet, year-round, for 170 people. These members sign up with our CSA for the year and come to the farm once a week to pick up their share of what we’ve raised or grown, including beef, pork, chicken, eggs, milk, vegetables, grains, dry beans, fruit, and maple syrup. It’s a joy to feed such a big farm family, but also a heavy responsibility. In our community, most people can’t afford a membership here while also footing the bill at the supermarket, so it’s up to us to fill their bellies. We got a record-breaking amount of rain over the past few months, about three times what’s normal. Lake Champlain, a mile away, spent more than nine weeks above flood stage, and crested a foot above the highest known flood level. As old farmers around here will tell you, a dry year will scare you, but a wet one can starve you.

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Lonnie Holley: Artist, Visionary, Shrimper, by Molly O’Neill, June 29, 2011

Lonnie Holley cooks the same way he makes art. There are no recipes, no drawings, no plans. There is hunger and the burn to make a difference, there are ingredients and found objects. Holley, who is 61 years old and a resident of Harpersville, Alabama, picks and scavenges, and then he stands back. He listens until the foraged booty tells him what it wants to be.

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The 50 Most Important Women in Food, by Kate Sekules, May 18, 2011

Men have the big toques, but when you think about it, it’s women who may have exerted the most influence over our foodways—especially since there’s been mass media to record their feats. So here’s our top 50 countdown of the most important women in food. Period. It’s the view from the United States, but with key players from other cultures. Agree? Disagree?

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The Rock-Star Tour Diet, by Matthew Kronsberg, April 20, 2011

Ask anyone who has ever gone on tour with a band about life on the road. Ask them about the sex and the drugs and the rock ’n’ roll. Go ahead. After they stop laughing, you will probably hear stories of great adventures, discoveries, and camaraderie. Dig deeper, though, and the stories turn darker. The chronic sense of dislocation. The sleep deprivation. The Domino’s.

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Fabulous Fried Pies, by Lise Funderburg, July 27, 2011

Every Saturday throughout spring and summer, at least one of the Howard sisters—Martha, Mary, Carrie, or Laverne—shows up on the town square of Monticello, the county seat of Jasper County, Georgia. The Howards preside over a table in the Chamber of Commerce–sponsored farmers’ market, an enterprise that once would have seemed superfluous, back in the days when almost everyone in Jasper was a farmer.

Under the slim shade of a statue honoring the Confederate fallen, the women sell handmade lye-and-lard soap, beans and vegetables from their brothers’ garden, and homemade chow-chow that comes in four degrees of burn: hot, hot-hot, hot-hot-hot, and then “put down your plate and run.” What the Howards are best known for, however, and what I’m hoping to unlock the secret of, is their fried pies: generous crescents of flaky pastry with fillings that often come from nearby trees or fields. In other words, what heaven on earth would be like if heaven had no words for cholesterol or obesity.

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Local Food Goes Loco, by Manny Howard, March 30, 2011

A meal that results from your own hard work is strong juju. A few years back, I turned my backyard in Flatbush, Brooklyn, into a farm and—with the notable exception of salt, pepper, and coffee beans—lived off only the food I grew and husbanded back there. For nearly 60 days running I ate roast chicken, collard greens, and tomatoes for dinner. I’d be a liar if I said it didn’t get boring, but I’d be as guilty of understatement if I didn’t declare that (other than fatherhood) building and maintaining my little farm and harvesting livestock and produce from it was the most satisfying accomplishment of my life. This lent form to a passion that has always lived inside me, and it birthed a movement: Stunt Foodways. It’s about cooking crazy with conviction.

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