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Monday, May 4, 2009

Shoestring on the air

I encountered a series of stories on NPR called "How Low Can You Go?" - you can listen to the shows over the internet. The premise is a challenge to cook a meal for four on a budget of US $10, and they invite notable cooks and chefs to meet the challenge. It's a bit of an error-prone system, of course, as specific food costs vary significantly from location to location, even between states in the US (ie, a $10 food budget in Alaska buys very different stuff than in Maine); not to mention the four people may be an adult and three toddlers, or four linebackers. But it's an interesting challenge, as I do think historically, almost all cuisine is born of creativity in times of necessity.

So far, they have done a story with a Spanish chef, a Chinese-American chef (one of my favorite celebrity chefs, Ming Tsai), a former Navy chef, and the Neelys, who have a Food Network show specializing in Southern style home cooking. The last one, the Neelys, kind of dismay me. While the others presented chickpea stew with spinach, upscale fried rice, or skate with potato gnocchi (all foods based on mainly unprocessed ingredients), they did macaroni and cheese. In the interview, they justified the choice because it was filling, and that it was nutritious because it had meat in it. In the form of bacon.

I consider that being nutritionally shortsighted.

Personally, I think I can do pizza soup for four for much less than $10. Certainly enough left over for some slices of pepperoni. 

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