Friday, February 20, 2015

Batch of links

- In light of the recent uplifting of the California ban on foie gras, I enjoyed reading J. Kenji López-Alt’s most recent article on the subject. Production of foie gras is still illegal in California, but there are two (apparently ethical and family-run) farms in New York State that produce it. And I maintain what I said before on the subject: this particular food should not be singled out and banned, as it is more ethical (in the States) than most meat produced and eaten.

- The U.S. released a 600-page report with its new dietary guidelines yesterday, but Brazil might actually be the best example to follow.

- This free online knife skills class will teach you everything you need to know. (I didn’t take this class and can’t vouch for it, but it looks really good.)

- How to make baking powder out of baking soda, in case you ever run out.

- What’s the deal with Interstellar’s idea that corn and okra are the only two crops left in the future? Let’s ask a scientist.

- Finally, I have to talk about PoudingChômeurGate! (See here for the Twitter feed.) In a nutshell, last Wednesday, chef Caroline Dumas ambushed chef Danny St-Pierre on the air of a radio talk show and accused him of plagiarizing her recipe for Pouding Chômeur. The issue wasn’t so much that he was using her recipe on his website, but that it wasn’t being credited to her. And you know what? I completely agree with her (even though springing it out of the blue on someone during a live radio show isn’t necessarily the best way to approach it). From a legal standpoint, a recipe is a list of ingredients that can’t be copyrighted (though if the instructions are written in a particular style, that can be copyrighted; the headnote can be copyrighted; and a collection of recipes, such as a cookbook, can be copyrighted). Most chefs agree that if you change 3 ingredients or 10% of a recipe, it’s yours. That being said, I think that the proper thing to do is to give credit to the author of the recipe, even if you change something in it or adapt it (that’s what I do here). When I made that pouding chômeur recipe, I credited it to Au Pied de Cochon, because that’s where I had eaten it and, since I know it appears in Martin Picard’s cookbook, I assumed it was his (I haven’t read said cookbook and don’t know what was in the headnote). It turns out that Caroline Dumas gave it to both Martin Picard and Josée DiStasio, so at least I gave proper credit to someone. And it really is the best pouding chômeur recipe out there! I wasn’t aware, though, that francophones seem less likely to properly credit their recipe sources, and that’s something they should work on (including well-regarded publications like La Presse, it would seem).

[Update, Feb. 24th, 2015: I’ve actually looked at both recipes online (Caroline Dumas here, and Danny St-Pierre here), and I have to say… this is not a case of copy and paste, as Caroline Dumas alleges. I don’t know whether the online content was changed recently, but while both recipes are very similar, one has more sugar, and they are written differently. Moreover, the one with the interesting headnote is Danny St-Pierre’s! He credits it to one of his employees’ grandmother. Strangely enough, though, in the video, he says that he used brown sugar in the sauce along with the maple syrup and cream, but that doesn’t show up in the ingredients, and no one has replied to comments from 2012 about this.]

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