Chivry~ A collection of random musings from around the kitchen

A Roll of the dice
February 12, 2009, 9:00 pm
Filed under: People eat | Tags: , ,

The geographic location of your childhood forms more than your etiquette, your habits, preferences, etc…, but  your entire health.  The influence of John Wayne, Gary Cooper, Marilyn Monroe and the other stars of Hollywood contributed to the reign of cigarettes as the number one cause of preventable death.  Human addictions are soon replaced.

Obesity and its family are now the number one cause of preventable death in the U.S. Here in the United States we often cannot afford the continued attention of a doctor and the basic preventable care offered.   We are the only nation in the West to not have basic health care.  

In Nicaragua health services are free.  The depth of facilities, and trained staff, however, is very shallow.  Preventable medicine, while free, is not very efficacious.  Diabetes has risen 54% between 2000 and 20006 (Diabetes Voice 2007, vol 52 issue 4).

The government passes out informational leaflets and adults are rarely more than 30 minutes away from a free diabetes consultation.

If you were born in Nicaragua, and have been raised on the starch heavy foods that  folks survive on  (a major component of diabetes)  and have contracted diabetes, you would have to get that free consultation in Managua, the capital. While adults can go to a consultation in any city, children have to go to the children’s hospital in Managua.  One little girl had to travel 24 hours to get care (Diabetes Voice, ibid).  Folks can’t afford those travel expenses earning only $5 a day.

We all have different dice thrown.


Nicaraguan farmers
January 22, 2009, 9:26 pm
Filed under: People eat | Tags: , ,
Don Ricardo with son and fruit trees

Don Ricardo with son and fruit trees


I went to visit Don Ricardo and his family in the mountains of Nicaragua.  We climbed the mountains in a 4×4 tortuously slow, crossing streams  and navigating huge divets  in the road.  When we finally arrived at the farm we presented Don Ricardo with a bottle of rum.  His wife made  juice for us: fresh squeezed orange juice, water and a little sugar…at Don Ricardo’s insistence we used the juice to chase the hefty shots of rum he poured us.

He then took us on a tour, viewing his coffee and citrus orchards, his dairy cows and his land.  A truck climbs up to his farm once a day to collect the milk he squeezes from his cows.  Sometimes in the rainy season when the roads give out he has to carry the milk to the bottom of the hill to meet the truck. He himself rarely goes to town.

After the Sandinista revolution many people carried guns, and during the presidency of Violetta Chamorra, those people with guns could not find jobs or food and so resorted to violence.  Don Ricardo was assualted my 30 or so men with rifles, tied up, and all his chickens and food stolen from him.  He had a revolver, he tells us, but what to do against 30 men.  He shrugs and smiles.

In the picture above are the fruit trees he received from president Aleman, who came to power after Chamorra.  Aleman gave every farmer fruit trees and chicken wire to start an orchard.  Don Ricardo planted the trees and took pictures to send to Aleman to prove that he had used the gift productively.

His farm was immaculately clean, even with a dirt floor, and his hospitality was lovely: he invited us to stay for lunch and we had a typical Nicaraguan farm meal: scrambled eggs, fried salty cheese and tortillas with sweetened coffee from his farm.

It was beautiful, humbling and refreshing to see people with so little to be so thankful for life and so willing to share.

Snow storm
December 23, 2008, 8:05 pm
Filed under: Is it just food? | Tags: , , , ,

I have been pained frequently over the last few days thinking about retail businesses, the losses they are experiencing right now, and how much the economy in general needs consumer spending.

This dramatic winter weather is forcing many people to stay at home. Retail stores, already reeling from the current economic turmoil, have had a last minute lifeline, holiday spending, withdrawn.

Neighborhood restaurants and businesses might feel a little upturn from local customers, especially on day 2 or day 3 of being snowed in: folks can get a bit stir crazy and desire to go out.   I have a freezer full of seafood, steaks, tomato soups, frozen berries,  yet I still went out for brunch at the local and enjoyed some outside time.

I’m getting ready to go into work now, and am very much looking forward to having the locals come in and spend a snow day with me.

Are they taking over?
December 20, 2008, 8:29 am
Filed under: Is it just food?

I just read this  article in the Economist that tickled the heck out of me.  The hogs are taking over!  I only see dead hogs, and they are usually all medium sized little fellows.

My boss tends to like his hogs to come at around 80 lbs.  The amount we go through at the restaurant, and just the size of protein on a plate (the chop of the 138 pounder was so big that the pairing of it with the rolled belly, the braised shoulder, and the head cheese was just too much protein for a plate) dictates about 80 lbs of hog.  I couldn’t imagine a 350 lb. hog!  So here is the article…

Feral hogs

If you go down to the woods today

Dec 4th 2008 | ST LOUIS
From The Economist print edition

AP Millions more to go

AUTUMN is a time for country walks, and, if you are that way inclined, for a spot of bang-bang. But hunters and hikers alike are liable to come face to face with a nasty surprise: a growing number of feral hogs, the destructive descendants of domesticated animals, are stalking America.

During its short and brutal life, a feral hog may grow to become a monster of several hundred pounds, covered with bristly hair and fronted with a set of fierce, killing tusks. One hog shot in Georgia in 2004 lives on in legend as Hogzilla because of the claim, disputed by some, that it was 12 feet long (almost four metres) and weighed 1,000lb (about 450kg).

There are thought to be between 4m and 5m feral hogs at large in America, spread across 38 states. The biggest population is in Texas, but states from Florida to Oregon are infested and worried. Feral hogs destroy the habitats of plants and animals, spread diseases, damage crops, kill and eat the eggs and young of wildlife and sometimes menace people with their aggressive behaviour.

The problem originated with the Spanish conquistadors, who took herds of pigs with them as they marched across the American continent. Stragglers reverted to their wild state. Much later “sportsmen” began releasing hogs into reserves for commercial hunting. More recently still declining pork prices have induced farmers to turn some of their stock loose rather than continue feeding them. Pigs produce so many piglets that a feral herd can double or even triple within as little as a year.

Governments and individuals across the country are getting involved. In 2000 Missouri adopted a shoot-on-sight policy with no restrictions on time or place. Other states are encouraging the trapping, poisoning and snaring of the beasts. “Hog dogs” have been trained to track down the herd for hunters. In many states aerial hunting from helicopters has been employed as a pricey but effective solution. But the creatures are intelligent and adaptable, so these efforts are not keeping pace with the exploding feral hog population. Missouri recently made it a crime to knowingly release pigs from confinement. However, the herds continue to grow and spread. Take care.


and if you are still reading and are interested, check out some of the comments posted on this article  at the below URL. 

food in the white house
December 18, 2008, 6:40 pm
Filed under: People eat | Tags: , , ,

I hadn’t really realized until recently that the First Family actually pays for their own meals. I knew that they had a white house chef who sits with the family and plans their meals (I imagine it might be challenging having tasty snacks available for the President at all hours!).
I understand that our founding father’s did not want the first family eating caviar and sipping on champagne on the taxpayers dollar, but they pay for their own food, and the First lady doesn’t get paid for her work!
I understand in times gone by that the position of First Lady was largely ceremonial, but times are changing and with the advent of dynamic couples in the White house, maybe we should reconsider how we approach the First Family.

The first lady should receive compensation for the scrutiny of her and her children and for the relentless demand on her time.  That’s my 2 cents.

Happy Cornless Turkey day
November 22, 2008, 9:24 am
Filed under: People eat | Tags: , , , , ,

So I just started reading this blog post from and thought it interesting…

The ripple effect of corn’s being funneled to ethanol production instead of turkey feed has forced at least four huge turkey-processing plants to shut down this year, the government says.

Things will turn bleaker after the holidays, when the industry nationwide will reduce production dramatically, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

That’s bad news for U.S. consumers. In 2007, the average American ate 17.5 pounds of turkey, according to the National Turkey Federation.

And this could be the last holiday season for some processors.

Holiday turkeys enjoy a daily feast of corn and soybeans to plump them up just in time for the table. But even soybeans have fallen prey to the push for ethanol.

Soybean production is down in response to demand for corn to make ethanol, which also drives up soybean prices, the USDA says.


The article goes on to lament President-elect Obama’s ethanol policy in a rather dramatic way.  I do actually agree to some extent, but I think Barack Obama had to concede to subsidized corn to get elected.  I think he understands not only the immorality of using food for fuel when it is unnecessary, but also what a huge waste of resources that could better be allocated.  

Fill in your own enthusiastic plan of getting off petroleum dependancy.
November 19, 2008, 6:42 pm
Filed under: Is it just food?, People eat | Tags: , , ,

So I launched the website I have been working on.  It took me longer to get this project running than it did for me to graduate from Willamette University.  Now the real work commences.

As I was going through the recipes that I filmed with my dad I realized more fully our culinary background…French and filled with fat.  Butter is such a vital part of a classic kitchen.  Chicken stock and Beef stock and salt.

In order to widen the appeal of the site I need to begin focusing on eating habits and food cultures that are outside my norm.  I need to visit more vegetarian fare, more vegan fare, more gluten free recipes.  Fun stuff!