A Picture Paints a Thousand Words

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In Norman Rockwell’s famous painting “Freedom from Want” he is illustrating one of the four freedoms that President Roosevelt had expressed hope for. In a famous speech in January of 1941, Roosevelt hinted that the United States would most likely end up as a part of WWII and that we would be fighting for four basic freedoms worldwide: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. Freedom from Want represents a happy family sitting down to what looks like a hearty meal with its main course being a big turkey. The structure is unusual since the table, not the people, occupies the majority of the space. There is also not a lot of food, but the large turkey, indicating that you don’t need extravagant things to feel joy. A grandmother-like figure is serving the turkey to a full table of smiling faces. It is obvious that Rockwell was trying to depict a family who did not have to worry about “wanting” anything more than what they had because they had plenty. This is an image of a family who did not have to worry about having food on the table that night or shelter over their heads. Roosevelt’s famous speech was in early 1941; this image was not published until early 1943. In this time period, the United States had entered World War II. This image was even more touching to those who saw it at the time of its publication; it was what they were fighting for. The painting is about freedom from want, the idea of sharing joy with those we love.

© Norman Rockwell

The Evolution of Ice Cream

Ice cream’s origins are known to reach back as far as the second century B.C., although no specific date  or inventor has been credited with its discovery. Alexander the Great enjoyed snow and ice flavored with honey and nectar. During the Roman Empire, Nero Claudius Caesar frequently sent runners into the mountains for snow, which was then flavored with fruits and juices. Over a thousand years later, Marco Polo returned to Italy from the Far East with a recipe that closely resembled sherbet. Historians estimate that this recipe evolved into ice cream sometime in the 16th century. In England it was called “Cream Ice.” France was introduced to similar frozen desserts in 1553 by the Italian Catherine de Medici when she became the wife of Henry II of France.

Until 1800, ice cream remained a rare and exotic dessert enjoyed mostly by the elite. Manufacturing ice cream soon became an industry in America. Ice cream production increased because of technological innovations, including mechanical refrigeration, electric power and motors, packing machines, and new freezing processes and equipment. Today’s total frozen dairy annual production in the United States is more than 1.6 billion gallons.

Wide availability of ice cream in the late 19th century led to new creations. In 1874, the American soda fountain shop emerged with the invention of the ice cream soda. In response to religious criticism for eating sinful rich ice cream sodas on Sundays, ice cream merchants left out the carbonated water and invented the ice cream “Sunday” in the late 1890s. The name was eventually changed to “sundae.”

Ice cream became an edible morale symbol during World War II. Each branch of the military tried to outdo the others in serving ice cream to troops. In 1945, the first “floating ice cream parlor” was built for sailors in the western Pacific. When the war ended, and dairy product rationing was lifted, America celebrated its victory with ice cream. Americans consumed over 20 quarts of ice cream per person in 1946.

As more prepackaged ice cream was sold through supermarkets, traditional ice cream parlors and soda fountains started to disappear. Now, specialty ice cream stores and unique restaurants that feature ice cream dishes have surged in popularity.

© Daniel Chao 

Food in 1984

324772543_a4b22a38ed_bAs I was reading George Orwell’s 1984, I noticed that the Party members of Oceania had very little to eat, the opposite of what the government says. It is mentioned that the ration of chocolate was once reduced from 30 grams/week to 20; the next week, it was proclaimed that the ration was RAISED to 20 grams/week, to make people believe they actually had it better than in the past. Also, all the aliments were generally very poor quality– Victory Gin, one of the few alcoholic beverages available, was oily and tasted like nitric acid and food was tasteless and provided in short supply. These indicate that the totalitarian government wished to keep the population weak and underfed, and thus more prone to manipulation and easier to be turned against certain targets. Food is used by the Inner Party, the government, to control the people of Oceania. The government also use food to remove individuality and identity from its people. Everyone eats the same meal everyday. The people don’t even have regular products such as sugar so they have to use tablets of saccarine. Even when the citizens of Airstrip One are forced to live with less food, they are told that they are being given more than ever and, by and large, they believe it. The ministry of Truth is behind the misinformation, affecting the Ministry of Plenty’s output quotas, by blatantly lying about how much is actually produced. The Ministry of Plenty rations almost all food and drink, with the exception of cheap “Victory Gin.” Orwell was very insightful to note the connection between heavy alcohol use and compliance to the whims of a totalitarian state, where the government is the only source of food and money for the population. All other food products are poor quality, made in government-owned factories that are constantly behind on schedule because of the intentional inefficiency of the government-run industries in Oceania. Orwell had this insight, during his lifetime, Stalin proved just how far a totalitarian would go to starve his people into compliance.

Photo © Anton Raath (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Effects of California’s Drought on Agriculture

9585107660_9581e5c6e8_kCalifornia is in the third year of one of the state’s worst droughts in the past century, one that led to fierce wildfires, water shortages and restrictions, and potentially staggering agricultural losses. California’s severe drought is expected to put pressure on consumer prices for fruits, vegetables and other goods. California, the country’s largest producer of dozens of items found in grocery stores — including grapes, kiwis, olives, avocados, broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, tree nuts and dairy — is entangled in its fourth year of a crippling drought. California’s drought has had a national impact on food prices, as the cost of some U.S. produce grown exclusively in the Golden State, such as almonds, artichokes, olives, persimmons, pistachios and raisins, marches upward. Consumers this year are expected to pay about 3 percent more for fruits and vegetables. The scarcity of water has already forced growers in the nation’s most populous state to abandon thousands of acres or pay more to water the land they keep in production. No one is more nervous about the drought than California’s growers. Agriculture consumes about 80 percent of the water used in California. The lack of water is forcing some California farmers to spend huge sums of money to keep their crops irrigated and growing. And the scarcity of water is also affecting the value of some farm land. Analysts have found that the drought had directly cost California $2.2 billion in 2014.

                              Lake Oroville 2014                                                                     Lake Oroville 2011

Photos © NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (CC BY 2.0), NBC News (Justin Sullivan, Paul Hames, Getty Images), Article National Geographic

Pasta

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Pasta is a staple in most of our kitchens. About half of the American population eats pasta 1-2 times a week and almost a quarter eats it about 3-4 times a week.

The popularity of pasta in America dates back to Thomas Jefferson, who had a pasta machine sent to Philadelphia in the late 18th century after he fell in love with the it while dining in Paris. He was so enamored by pasta that he even designed his own pasta machine while on a trip to Italy. The pasta dish he made infamous in the United States is something we like to call macaroni and cheese. But, America’s true love affair with pasta didn’t heat up until the 20th century, when there was a boom in immigrants hailing from Italy. When the first Italians arrived, one of the only pasta varieties available in the United States was spaghetti; that’s why it is so iconic to Italian American cuisine. Now, of course, it is hard to find a grocery store today that doesn’t have at least half an aisle dedicated to different pasta varieties.

My favorite type of pasta to eat is spaghetti, but I do not like to eat the meatballs. My mom makes the best spaghetti. Instead of meatballs, it has ground beef instead. She also adds small bits of onion that taste really good. I also like the pesto pasta from Stonefire Grill. Pasta is my favorite food to eat. I love that there are so many different types of pasta shapes and when you order a pasta dish from a restaurant, there’s always so many you can choose from. It’s easy to make and extremely delicious.

Photo © Nicola

Voilà, French Cuisine

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Food is very important in France as it forms part of the French lifestyle. In France, there is a distinctive culture of French food that is undeniable. It is accompanied with pride, exclusive ingredients and techniques, a world renowned French dishes and those special regions that are known for one particular kind of food. To not experience the food, both regional and national, is to not truly experience France.

There are several foods and beverages that are quintessentially French. You may find them in different places around the world, but you will probably associate them with France. The most known are crêpes, which are very flat pancakes that are usually stuffed with any toppings, such as fruit, ice cream, or any spread. Another is the baguette, which is a long loaf of bread. There is also coq au vin, chicken cooked in red wine, typically paired with mushrooms and garlic. Chocolate mousse also originated in France. It’s a light, airy dessert. And last, but not least crème brûlée, a custard topped with hard caramel.It is also typical for a French person to drink wine and eat cheese with their daily meals.

SONY DSCFrench dishes are known for their complex and rich flavors as well as the many different cooking techniques used. The main ones known are flambé and sauté.

If you were to tell someone about French attitude towards food, you would would say that the French love to enjoy their meals. The meals are carefully prepared and are influenced by the region.

Photos © Marie PoulinLizette Leanza

Pizza

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What is easy, cheesy, and sure to please? Pizza! Pizza!

Its soft dough made from high grade flour, topped with a festival of mozzarella, parmesan and cheddar cheese, all melted to perfection. Each bite would absolutely crave you for that satisfying taste. Though its outer layer, like those of us humans, can vary in thickness, there is no mistaking cheese pizza. A gooey creamy, yellow-orange triangular shape, dripping with a delectable mixture of cheeses and a fresh tomato sauce. How it slides down our throats. The wonderful, rich taste that only cheese can bring! It’s buttery, crispy crust made from flour, topped with delicious, savory tomato sauce made from fresh vine-ripened tomatoes cooked to perfection in, then sprinkled with tons of delectable Parmesan, mozzarella, and cheddar cheese, creating layers upon layers of a superbly melted cheese. Now, we wait until it’s cooked to a golden brown perfection. The smell will send you to your knees and its taste of the mouthwatering cheese as it slides down your throat will send you to heaven. Steam rising up off the melted cheese make mouths water. The first bite, teeth sinking into the cheese through the tomato sauce and into the moist crust, made for chewing and swallowing rapidly. Even the cheese and tomato sauce, sticking to fingertips, begged to be licked. A comfort food that can be consumed at anytime.

Photo © Sally’s Baking Addiction