Weekly News Bites (June 9 -16): Coffee Doesn't Give You Cancer, Changing Chinese Food and Local Cookbook and Food Fests
Coffee won't kill you, says science. The local food scene in Chengdu is heating up (for better or worse) and we're celebrating our own local food with a Taste of Somerville recap and an upcoming cookbook fete.
New moms, night-shift workers and just about everyone else, can breathe a sigh of relief — there's no link between coffee consumption and cancer. (Really not at the forefront of most minds, but we'll take it.)
You know what some people are worried about? The future of super-popular Sichuan food.
Here in New England, we're psyched about the food scene and celebrating with festivals for local eats and cookbooks.
Here's your week in food!
A second (or fourth) cup won’t kill you
According to the World Health Organization, coffee doesn’t, in fact, cause cancer. As NPR’s The Salt blog explains, many of us weren’t actually aware there was a supposed risk. But in 1991, the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer listed coffee as a possible carcinogen, due to some “limited evidence” that there was a link between coffee consumption and increased risk of bladder cancer.
Thankfully, the post points out ‘Researchers reviewed more than 500 studies on more than 20 different types of cancers. The group concludes that coffee may in fact help protect against the risk of cancers of the liver and uterus. In addition, coffee consumption has been associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer in a number of studies.’
A hot debate over Sichuan cuisine
Speaking of bacon — well, at least double-cooked pork belly — Sichuan food has been having something of a global moment. Numbing-hot dan dan noodles, dry-fried chicken, mapo tofu and other specialties are popping up in some version on modern restaurant menus, while more traditional spots are also gaining traction with a foodie set.
But according to the New York Times, some in the southern Chinese province worry people are putting sizzle over substance and food authenticity is being lost in the pursuit of the latest food trends, especially in the capital city, Chengdu.
Are we surprised that the government is getting involved? Sichuan officials announced ‘a plan to award Sichuanese restaurants, at home and abroad, Michelinlike ratings — gold, silver and bronze pandas — to encourage standard-bearers for good cooking.’
The article goes on to say that younger chefs are pushing back by pointing out that every cuisine evolves; after all, how many Parisian chefs are still cooking like Escoffier?
Fuschia Dunlop, an English food writer who was one of the first to introduce Western palates to the intricacies of Sichuan cooking is quoted in the article, “Sichuan, Chengdu in particular, has an incredibly high concentration of restaurants and a fiercely competitive restaurant industry, so people are always looking for the next new thing… But it’s certainly true that since the late ’90s, the pace of change has really accelerated.”
Let’s celebrate our local food...
Our Associate Editor Danielle's dad arrived Wednesday and instead of taking him out to dinner, she took him to Taste of Somerville, where they sampled food and drinks from lots of local restaurants, shops, and breweries.
Dave’s Fresh Pasta was doling out delicious cheeses and summery rosé wine, while Anna’s Taqueria was dishing up spicy chicken and agua de Jamaica ( magenta-hued hibiscus tea). The sweetly spicy housemade habanero-honey sausage with ballpark mustard from Kirkland Tap & Trotter was summer on a skewer.
The bergamot tea from MEM Tea was super refreshing, while the sandwiches from Bergamot restaurant were gone before our correspondents could get their hands on them (so they'll have to stop in for dinner next week).
Another popular stop was Juliet in Union Square, which recently started serving dinner Thursdays through Saturdays. After tasting the fresh gazpacho, Danielle is moving them to the top of her must-try list.
But her dad, who’s visiting from Raleigh, NC, might ask to visit Highland Kitchen because he particularly enjoyed their southern-inspired grilled-ham-and-pimento cheese sandwich.
And local cookbooks
The Boston Globe gave us a preview of the Readable Feast, which takes place this weekend at the Boston Public Market. The book festival, co-founded by Yankee Mag’s Annie B. Copps and Louisa Kasdon, founder of Let’s Talk About Food, will bring authors, editors, chefs and food writers to the market space. In order to be included the author must live in New England, or be writing about a New England culinary topic.
Jasper White, who will be receiving the “Local Hero” award at the awards ceremony of Friday night was quoted in the article as saying, “Boston has the most amazing legacy, more than any other city in the country, in American cookbooks, beginning with Fannie Farmer,” White said, listing off esteemed local cookbook authors such as Julia Child…it’s really appropriate that we celebrate the legacy of these cookbooks and these authors here in Boston.”
Purchase tickets and learn more about the event at thereadablefeast.com