Your Virgin Olive Oil is a Slut: Mislabeling Meat, Fish, Honey, Olive Oil, Wasabi and Kobe Beef

So in Europe they’re discovering grocery store goods and cafeteria meals containing horsemeat instead of beef. Hey, that’s why school kids call it mystery meat, amirite? But horsemeat for meat isn’t the only thing being adulterated. It’s just the most disgusting thing.

Virtually all Kobe beef and wasabi in the United States are mislabeled. So is most parmesan cheese. The EVOO that Rachel Ray tells you to choose when buying olive oil almost certainly isn’t even a regular virgin. In fact, it’s probably pretty skanky:

With Italian extra-virgin olive oil in high demand with concomitant high prices, adulterated olive oil has become the biggest source of agricultural fraud problems in the European Union.[6] While less than 10% of world olive oil production meets the criteria for labeling as extra-virgin, it has been estimated that up to 50% of retail oil is labeled “extra-virgin”.[7] Some oil labeled “extra-virgin” is diluted with cheaper olive oils or other vegetable oils. In some cases, lampante, or “lamp oil,” which is made from spoiled olives fallen from trees, is used, even though it can’t legally be sold as food. One fraud ring is accused of coloring low-grade soy oil and canola oil with industrial chlorophyll, and flavoring it with beta-carotene.[6]

Then there’s honey-laundering – selling adulterated and sometimes contaminated honey imported from China with the DNA fingerprints sanded off:

It has been reported that about 75% of all honey in stores are labeled “ultra-filtrated”.   This process removes all impurities such as pollen and wax.   Most generic brands of honey are usually ultra-filtrated.  And this is our first tip.  Stay away from honey that is labeled ultra-filtrated.   Why?

Pollen, removed by the ultra-filtration process, is the only way to determine  the source of the honey.  So when the pollen is removed, it can be from the US, China or somewhere else.  No one knows. Some countries, especially China, have been known to smuggle honey into the United States.  What’s wrong with this smuggled honey from China?  This honey is tainted by illegal antibiotics and heavy metals.  Plus, some dishonest companies add corn syrup or some other type of sweetener to honey to increase the quantity.

And calling tuna the chicken of the sea was just the beginning of fish being mislabeled:

Tilapia for red snapper; catfish for grouper; oil fish standing in for cod; farm-raised shrimp and salmon in place of wild caught. These are just some of the common swaps that Will Gergits says his company, Therion International, sees when it conducts simple, inexpensive DNA testing on fish.

“It’s a real problem,” Gergits said. “We see substitution quite frequently. It makes me angry.”

A new report released this week says recent studies have found that seafood may be mislabeled as often as 25 percent to 70 percent of the time. According to Food and Drug Administration port inspections, a third of seafood sold in the U.S. is mislabeled as one type when it’s actually something else, even something cheaper.

As always, was there first.

Foreign Cheese: Threat or Menace?

This is why we can’t have nice cheese: U.S. Limits Imported Cheese to Third of a Pound per American:

I searched a bit and discovered, which gives the import quotas for cheese by country. It turns out the annual aggregate amount is about 50 million kg of cheese from all countries. That works out to about one third of a pound per American. That’s only about 1/100th of total cheese consumption in the U.S., therefore that can legally be from a foreign country.

In other news, an average American eats 33 pounds of cheese every year. Holy shiitake mushroom.

Some NYC Restaurants Banning Customers from Taking Food Pictures

 CBS NewsSome New York City Restaurants Ban Food Photography By Customers

This is a tough one. In general, I’m okay with businesses restricting what customers can do. This isn’t the government, it’s a business, it’s private property, and the businesses have a lot of latitude to say what can be done with and on their property and facilities. If I don’t like it, I can take my business somewhere else (which is why it’s different from a government rule that applies everywhere).

Most people agree to turn off their cell phones in a movie theater, for instance. One part of the story claims the cell phone picture ban has the same motivation:

“It can shatter the experience when you’re asking your fiancé to marry you, and a flash is going off at a table next door,” said David Bouley, owner of Bouley Restaurant.

At Bouley, located on Duane Street in TriBeCa, a new protocol is in place. Guests may only take photos in the kitchen, and by next week, Bouley will be providing a photo to customers with the check.

Someone else in the story suggests it’s really about the restaurant controlling their image:

Steven Hall, a spokesman for dozens of other restaurants in New York City, said food photography is a phenomenon that more and more chefs cannot accept because of presentation.

“There’s no way you’re going to take a beautiful shot of food in a dimly-lit restaurant,” Hall said.

Some restaurants are banning cell phone pics entirely, others just food photographs. Some allow cell phone pics as long as there’s no flash.

I’m not crazy about the ban, but I go into museums that ban cameras or at least flash photography. I don’t see this as any different. If anything, a camera ban at, for instance, the Salvador Dali museum is more restrictive, since there isn’t another Salvador Dali museum across the street where I can take my business. If this it bothers me, I’ll just go to another restaurant.

Internet, You Have a New Weirdest Thing

Later: see update below

White Power Milk. Milk that’s been gargled by white women for white supremacist germpahobes for the sake of purity.

At first I was like “Do they realize the connotations of ‘white power?'” And then I read the site and “Yes.” Example: “Our secret ingredient is in the process through which rich, beautiful, white girls gargle your milk to absolute perfection.” Because that’s what rich white women do – gargle milk for freaks on the Internet.

Milk that may appear by smell to be perfectly consumable (even organic), can contain contaminants such as suspended particles, parasites, bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Through extensive recruitment within the upper echelons of society, we deliver the finest milk purified in a way only we can. Our secret ingredient is in the process through which rich, beautiful, white girls gargle your milk to absolute perfection. It’s her touch that sets us far above the rest. Our diverse selection includes West Coast, The South, New England, New York, and London. Each of the carefully selected girls offer subtle differences of background, yet what they share is most important. All are waiting to clean your milk with their mouths. That is our promise to you!

To be eligible to filter White Power Milk, each white girl must be accredited as socially elite and deemed physically in superb health. However, rarely is it necessary to involve interviews or doctors. When we find the right girl from the right family, we just know.

The purification process begins with the purest raw organic cow’s milk (absolutely no bovine growth hormone, no antibiotics, and no pesticides in the feed). This milk is stored in our Upper East Side, Manhattan cold storage facility awaiting your order. At that time, she enters our adjoining private spa area, and meets her attendant (usually a fellow White Power Milk gargler). The attendant collects her jewelry and clothing, assists in her bathing, and directs her mouth rinsing regimen. Needless to say, her dental health, and overall oral health is flawless.

Finally, she is led to the gargling room where she purifies your milk carefully for the allotted time the attendant dictates. The longer she gargles the milk, the more contaminants are able to be removed and the purer your milk becomes, so we, of course, recommend you request maximum purity. After she is done, the milk is deposited into your glass bottle, sealed, and returned immediately to cold room for delivery.

You have just seen “the gargling room” used in a sentence. Having a strange woman on the Internet gargle your milk to purify it makes no sense, but then again neither does white supremacy or germaphobia.

Via comments at jwz.


It turns out this is a piece of performance art by a guy named Nate Hill. Whew. That at least makes sense. Hill’s His Wikipedia entry, NSFW Web site, and a possibly NSFW interview are all pretty darned interesting.

Made Butter for the First Time

I made butter for the first time last night. I was amazed how easy it was.

Added about 12 ounces of whole cream to the minibowl of a KitchenAid 7 cup food processor and ran it for about 8 minutes. The cream turns to whipped cream and then separates into solid and liquid. You can hear the changes happening along the way as the pitch of the motor changes.

When it was done there was a mass of butter and a pale white liquid. I washed off the liquid under cold water tap water. Then I pressed out the water with my hands because the Internet told me that helps keep the butter from going rancid.

The butter was fairly bland, so I pressed a little salt into the butter and we ate that on hot bread. Big smiles all around.

You can do the same thing with a KitchenAid stand mixer with the whisk attachment. It supposedly gets pretty messy when the butter starts separating from the whey – I saw that happening inside the food processor with the whey spraying everywhere. Some people cover the top of the mixing bowl with Saran Wrap. The food processor sounded easier.

Brined Turkey

Sean suggested brining the Thanksgiving turkeys. After blegging for advice on Facebook  we tried that this year using Alton Brown’s recipe. They were delicious. My wife said it was the best her oven-roasted turkeys had ever tasted.

On Facebook Melody Byrne said she and Chris cooked their fried turkeys that way, too, so I brined the turkey for the infrared fryer. It was good, though I couldn’t tell much difference compared to the way it usually tastes with a butter injection – it’s always moist. The gravy made from the drippings was good as always, if a little on the salty side.

Next year I’m going to go use the butter injection for the fried turkey and brine the oven bird. BOB W.

Tom Girsch told me that you can play around with the brine recipe to taste, but that it’s important to keep the ratio of liquid (including melted ice) to salt and sugar constant. Good to know.

Word of the Day – Spatchcock

From my friend Art on Facebook: “Spatchcock (verb) – to go all kinds of medieval on a turkey.” That’s about the long and short of it. Details from Alton Brown here.

I’m taking Sean’s advice and brining the turkeys this year, likewise using Alton Brown’s recipe. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Meanwhile, here’s one of the brined turkeys about to go into the infrared fryer. He’ll be fine. St. Francis is watching over him.


Previous WOTDBrannock Device

Infra-red (Oil-less) Turkey Fryer

Who's a pretty bird?

Here’s my post from 2010, which turned out to be surprisingly popular. An infrared turkey is hands down tastier and moister than an oven-roasted bird and the drippings make incredible gravy.

I still think a deep-fried turkey tastes the best. Where infrared beats deep-frying is safety, which matters to me because I have small children, and cost. The infrared turkey fryer costs more the first time you use it, but you don’t have to spend 30 or 40 bucks on peanut oil every year, so by the second use you’ve come out ahead.

Asking the important questions

Why don’t we drink pig’s milk?

Via jwz, who wants to know why if we eat goat cheese we can’t eat monkey butter (possibly NSFW, believe it or not).

Big Article on Knoxville Tiki Blogger Swanky

MetroPulseKnoxville’s Tiki Torchbearer: Tim “Swanky” Glazner – Welcome to the Hapa Haole Hideaway—the best bar in town you’ve probably never been to. It’s just one part of Swanky’s dream to make America fall in love with tiki again.


Swanky’s blog is

Prince’s Hot Chicken in Nashville

Why he looks like Aquaman remains a mystery

I took a pal’s advice and tried Prince’s hot chicken on the Nashville trip. Good stuff. It’s coated in cayenne pepper and lard, breaded, fried, and served on a slice of white bread with hamburger pickles. We had the mild and medium. The kids could handle mild. Medium was enough to get me a little teary by the end.

If you go, be aware that the ordering process ain’t KFC. You walk up to a window and order. Cash only. I didn’t order drinks, but I’m not sure they sell any, which is probably why there’s a Coke machine inside the restaurant.

After you pay you get a number and you wait for your number to be called. On a Friday night I waited an hour. There are a half dozen tables, but don’t count on getting one. Figure on getting takeout. Luckily I knew about the wait and was planning on taking the food back to the familia, who were playing in the pool at the hotel.

But it’s darned good chicken. Now that I’ve had the original there are other hot chicken places in Nashville I’d like to try next time.

Steve K. clued me in to the fact that Yo Le Tenga has a series of songs that are tributes to Nashville hot chicken.

Asheville Hippies vs. Broad Ripple Hippies. Asheville Hippies Represent.

Took the family to Biltmore House for Father’s Day. Our friend Terri suggested Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company on Merrimon, which is a movie house and brewery that’s kid friendly with games for the little ones. The waitress saved the day when Katie had a fit because her quesadilla wasn’t what she was used to and replaced it with a grilled cheese. The pizza was good and I liked their ESB.

And hippies? They got ’em. Hippies that’ll give Tam’s Broad Ripple hippies a run for their money.

This is your high MPG hippie. If his SmartCar for 2 breaks down he doesn’t want to call a cab and risk getting a non-hybrid taxi, so he carries a 10 speed as a backup. He’s flying the Apple logo on the side and an Obama-Biden 2012 sticker on the back, yo.

Amazon Reviews You Can Use: Elizabeth Warren’s “Pow Wow Chow”

So, yeah, little controversy over Elizabeth Warren’s claims to be Native American. And now it turns out she plagiarized her contributions to a book of Native American recipes:

The recipes from “Elizabeth Warren – Cherokee” include a crab dish with tomato mayonnaise. Mrs. Warren’s fictional Cherokee ancestors in Oklahoma were renowned for their ability to spear the fast-moving Oklahoma crab. It’s in the state song: “Ooooooklahoma! Where the crabs come sweepin’ down the plain.” But then the white man came, and now the Oklahoma crab is extinct, and at the Cherokee clambakes they have to make do with Mrs. Warren’s traditional Five Tribes recipe for Cherokee Lime Pie.

But the question we all want to know is, are the recipes any good? So let’s turn now to  the Amazon reviews of Pow Wow Chow: A Collection of Recipes from Families of the Five Civilized Tribes : Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole

By John Courtade (Austin, Texas United States) – See all my reviews

I’ve received nothing but rave reviews from my colleagues after whipping up treats from this cookbook in the faculty lounge kitchen. Admirers of Pow Wow Chow may also enjoy Bow Wow Chow, a Indonesian-influenced cookbook from a former professor now in politics.

By Mark W. Rodgers (Clarksville, MD, US) – See all my reviews

I’m confused; each recipe calls for 0/32 measurements of ingredients — that doesn’t add up to anything. I have serious reservations about these recipes.

By Jason K. Smith (Denver, CO United States) – See all my reviews

This is a fabulous collection of recipes suitable for faculty luncheons, or just anyone who is interested in getting in touch with their high-cheeked ancestors.

I felt, while making the crab with tomato mayonnaise dressing, that I was really in touch with my 0/32 Cherokee roots, and knew that my faux-native american ancestors were once putting this on canapes before inviting some new friends from the new world over for brunch!

I thoroughly enjoy the recipes here. My favorite one is called “Diversity Dish.” This was contributed by the world’s only confirmed blond-haired, blue-eyed Cherokee who used her tomahawk to dig this up from her Oklahoma archives. You start out with 10 quarts of sanctimony, add in a gallon of hypocrisy, throw in a few fables (I recommend the “Family Lore” brand available in Cambridge), add a pinch of whining (1/32 ounce will work), toss in a paleface poseur and a large measure of insufferability. No integrity required. And there you have it: political career implosion. Great for faculty lounge gatherings and unearned academic advancement.

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Collection of Recipes for us American Indians,May 17, 2012

Recently I became a full blooded American Indian after watching the movies “Last of the Mohicans” and “Dances with Wolves.” Indians like me and Lizzie Warren can now share in the wonderful but often harsh world of the Native American. I am brought to tears when I hear how she struggles to live in her million $ Cambridge wigwam. How the white man keeps her in poverty on the Massachusetts Indian reservation called Harvard where they only give her $340,000 per year to live… Sitting Bull weeps to hear such cruelty.

If there is anything I can do as a fellow Indian to help her in her struggles against the evil pale face, please let Sacagawea Warren know I’m here for her…maybe we can meet and talk about our plight at a luncheon or something.

Stay strong Fauxcahontas…stay strong.

5.0 out of 5 stars Imported Mustard and Cognac,May 18, 2012

I must write my High School and complain about my history classes. Never did I realize that The indians had access to imported mustard and cognac. Elizabeth Warren’s fabulous recipes call for those ingredients and I am certain she would never make up a false recipe or copy any one else after all she is a liberal from Mass. Those poor folks from the former Pavillion Restaurant must have copied her great great great uncle from the fugawe tribe. Unfortunately they have been lost in the forests of Brookline but if you listen carefully at night you can hear them calling out wer’e the fugawe.

Small Victories in the War on Foods Poor People Eat

ReasonDo Poor People Ignore the Government’s Dietary Advice Because They Can’t Afford Healthy Food?:

Although price matters, a diet that complies with the government’s guidelines is readily affordable—a fact that even the eager food nanny Mark Bittman recognizes. Bittman conceded in a New York Times column last fall that “it isn’t cheaper to eat highly processed food,” saying people who claim “junk food is cheaper than real food” are “just plain wrong.” True, that was just two months after Bittman advocated government subsidies for dried legumes, one of the cheapest foods on the planet, in the name of “making healthy food more affordable.” But if a fussie foodie like Bittman can see the reality that is on display every day at the local Walmart, there may be hope for public health researchers who insist that people prefer French fries and ice cream because they’re cheap.

PreviouslyThe War on Food Poor People Eat

CSI: Burgertown

A few weeks ago I was searching for ideas for a timelapse video project I could do with the kids. Browsing YouTube we found this video of a McDonalds hamburger that looks unchanged after six months of sitting on a kitchen counter.

Pretty gross. Must be all the chemicals they put in it, right? Turns out someone else has an unrefrigerated 14 year old McDonald’s hamburger that looks pretty much like a brand new McDonalds burger.

J. Kenji López-Alt decided to investigate Mythbusters-style to see what would happen when he did the same thing to regular hamburger meat: The Burger Lab: Revisiting the Myth of The 12-Year Old McDonald’s Burger That Just Won’t Rot (Testing Results!).

Kenji is the kitchen science guy who came up with beer cooler sous vide. His skillet pizza technique looks tempting.