THE NEFF ZONE -- BY JIM NEFF
CADILLAC NEWS -- OCTOBER 8, 2022
What's on the menu? Most of us ask this question on a regular basis. Meals and snacks are often the highlights on a daily agenda. Ah, crossing off “eat a sloppy burger” on your to-do list can be a simple pleasure.
Recently, items about food have been abundant in the news. For example, WalletHub just released a list of 2022's best foodie cities in America. “To determine the best and cheapest foodie scenes, WalletHub compared more than 180 U.S. cities across 29 key indicators of foodie-friendliness. Our data set ranges from cost of groceries to affordability and accessibility of high-quality restaurants to food festivals per capita.”
Here in Michigan the top city was Grand Rapids at number twenty-five. Better yet, GR was sixth in the “most affordable” category. In the overall rankings, Portland, OR was number one. (https://wallethub.com/edu/best-foodie-cities/7522)
An item that not many foodies order at a restaurant is kale. Researchers have now discovered a reason for this. “If the taste of kale makes you screw up your face, you are not alone: researchers have observed fetuses pull a crying expression when exposed to the greens in the womb.” (https://www.theguardian.com/science/2022/sep/22/taste-of-kale-makes-unborn-babies-grimace-finds-research)
Kale may be good for you if you can endure the taste. On the opposite side of the coin, we in the Midwest sometimes throw dietary caution to the wind. In an article titled “Seven Unhealthiest Midwestern Foods,” some of our guilty pleasures are revealed. “Beer cheese, fried cheese curds, cookie salad—these Midwestern favorites may be mouth-watering, but they do come with a downside: They aren't that healthy.”
I must admit, before now I've never heard of cookie salad (buttermilk, vanilla pudding, whipped cream, and fudge-striped shortbread cookies) or Snickers salad (vanilla pudding, Snickers candy bars, Granny Smith apples and cool whip). See all the Midwest naughties at: https://www.eatthis.com/unhealthiest-midwestern-foods/.
Speaking of sweet treats, Hostess has just put bite-size Twinkies, Ding Dongs, and Donettes on the market. The company says: “Hostess Bouncers Glazed Twinkies include real vanilla and a creamy filling inside a lightly glazed golden cake. Hostess Bouncers Glazed Chocolate Ding Dongs feature real cocoa and a lightly glazed chocolate cake filled with a delightful creamy filling. Hostess Bouncers Cinnamon Donettes contain real cinnamon and a sweet filling inside a glazed cake donut hole.”
This is sort of a blast of nostalgia in one bite. (https://www.foodnetwork.com/fn-dish/news/hostess-bouncers-bite-size-twinkies-ding-dongs-donettes)
In terms of nostalgia, BuzzFeed has come up with a list of thirty-three discontinued foods that many adults fondly remember. Some of these are: Alpha Bits cereal, Kudos granola bars, Trix yogurt, Dunkaroos, and Hershey's chocolate milk mix.” See the whole list at: https://www.buzzfeed.com/hannahloewentheil/discontinued-nostalgic-foods.
We've always been advised that fish can be a healthy addition to a diet, but it pays to know what you're consuming. A case in point is that Illinois has a new name for an invasive species. “There's a long history of fish being renamed to widen their appeal to consumers—orange roughy was once known as slimehead, and monkfish was sea-devil and frog-fish. Now, it's the Asian carp's turn. Illinois has rebranded the fish as 'copi' in the hope that people will start eating more of the invasive species. The Asian carp is the the collective name for silver, bighead, black, and grass carp.” (https://www.newser.com/story/324062/delicious-invasive-species-has-a-new-name.html)
If “healthy” copi is not to your liking, perhaps you should opt for a standard American favorite – pizza. Now even that has a new age twist and a Michigan connection. At Mott Community College in Flint, all you need is three minutes and nine dollars to have yourself a fresh artisan-style pizza.
“PizzaForno, a 24/7 fully-automated artisan pizzeria in vending machine format, installed the company’s 13th machine in the United States at Mott Community College. It’s the fourth college campus PizzaForno unit in the U.S. and the fifth total unit in the state of Michigan. The machine is loaded with up to seventy pizzas with all the favorite options: Meat Lovers, Cheeseburger, Pepperoni, BBQ Chicken, Hawaiian, Four Cheese Blend, Vegetarian, and Honey Chèvre. Customers can also download the PizzaForno app to order and reserve their pizzas in advance.” (https://www.mlive.com/news/flint/2022/09/heres-where-you-can-get-a-fresh-pizza-in-three-minutes-in-flint.html)
When it comes to pizza we think “Italian food.” It's interesting to note: “There are many Italian-American menu items that just aren't authentic, definitely skewing more toward American than Italian.”
Two examples are garlic bread and mozzarella sticks. “The fact of the matter is neither is authentically Italian.” One Chef even says: “There are a few dishes I typically avoid. Chief among the sacrilege is mozzarella sticks.”
On the subject of garlic: “Similarly, the excessive use of garlic is much more of an American thing. In Italy, they don't use much garlic. When you go to a supposedly Italian restaurant and smell it, this is the first sign that you are eating fake Italian food.” (https://www.eatthis.com/worst-italian-order-says-chefs/https://www.eatthis.com/worst-italian-order-says-chefs/)
Finally, there is a food trend that is uniquely American – dunking everything in Ranch dressing. If you're one of those Ranch people, you may want to consider a cutting edge addition to you're home's décore. “Cover your walls in Ranch with Hidden Valley's new Home Collection.” (https://www.foodandwine.com/news/hidden-valley-ranch-home-decor-collection-dani-dazey)
There are multiple ways to go with this theme. Choices include: “Wallpaper, blanket, pillows, posters, comforters, shams, bathmats, shower curtains, placemats, coasters, tablecloths, notebooks, bags, pouches, and even a $10,000 couch.” Outfit your abode at: https://www.hiddenvalley.com/product-category/home-collection/.
I must admit the Ranch thing baffles me. How can a salad dressing enhance the taste of all food? It's not like it's peanut butter which, of course, actually does go with everything.
Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read NeffZone columns online at CadillacNews.com and NeffZone.com/cadillacnews.