Thursday, January 01, 2009
Laulau is a savory dish, and eaten both as a main course or as a side during a bigger feast (pictured). A chunk of salted butterfish and a chunk of pork butt or pork shoulder is wrapped together in taro leaves, tied like a cute little present, then steamed. Chicken and beef chunks can also be tossed in, depending on the whim of the chef. It's very simple, and very delicious. And probably the good luck food of choice this year on Oahu, as the price of fish has skyrocketed....
Hau'oli Makahiki Hou!
*A terrific, easy to follow recipe for laulau is here, at Ma'ona blog. Pic courtesy of Ma'ona, too.
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
We're thinking, however, that the big blue glass pig with the special Inauguration logo on it (above) is not necessarily the wisest thing for Brand Obama merch, given the historic problems Our Government has with "pork barrel" spending, and the wavering crazy nature of pork belly futures. But Bam has pledged to end all the pork barrel nonsense, so, yeah, we ordered one of the Bam Bacon Banks, for $10. As soon as it shows up, we're putting some lipstick on it!
*A riveting history of Lipstick Piggery in American politics is here.
*Our fave Presidential quote is from Ronald Reagan, prez #40: "I am very proud to be called a pig. It stands for pride, integrity, and guts."
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Team of Revelers Says Forget About That Hot Starbarack Coffee You Were Bringing To The Freezing Inauguration!
Coolers are banned, too, and that's a Barack Obummer, because we were planning on watching Bam being sworn in while enjoying a carb-happy picnic of organic Obama Chili, Plate Lunch Macaroni Salad, and Obama Cupcakes, washed down with some brilliant Audacity of Hops Inaugurale...y'know, all that walking was gonna make us awfully starving, because traffic's going to be a mess, and to date, bicycles are banned, too.
Also off limits, from the Team of Revelers press release:
Regardless of the weather conditions, umbrellas will not be permitted in the ticketed areas. Other prohibited items include, but are not limited to: Firearms and ammunition (either real or simulated), Explosives of any kind (including fireworks), Knives, blades, or sharp objects (of any length), Mace and/or pepper spray, Sticks or poles, Pockets or hand tools, such as “Leatherman”, Packages, Backpacks, Large bags, Duffel bags, Suitcases. Strollers, Laser pointers, Signs, Posters, Animals (other than service animals), Alcoholic beverages, Other items that may pose a threat to the security of the event as determined by and at the discretion of the security screeners.
The Team of Revelers are also warning that the weather's gonna suck, and that cell phone usage will be well-nigh impossible. But hey, it's a Barackanalia of historic proportions! We can stuff our pockets with Obama Cupcakes, can't we? That party-poopy Team of Revelers isn't scaring us!
The Chinese milk melamine contamination scandal, in particular, will be far from over, since FDA recently decided it is fine for American babies to consume formula that contains melamine, which is a reversal of their previous position that there was no acceptable level of melamine in baby foods. And because FDA was extraordinarily slow to ban Chinese milk products (slow being a kind adjective; appallingly irresponsible is the better one), our food chain is still loaded with melamine contaminated products, from tainted animal feed to processed foods, as well as contaminated American baby formula. The latest Chinese food suspected of being contaminated with melamine? Seafood. Our USDA doesn't test for melamine in seafood, even though it's fairly common knowledge that farmed fish in China have been fed chow contaminated with melamine.
Would Michelle and Barack feel safe giving Sasha and Malia food from China? Chinese officials, as you read this, are pestering the US to remove the milk products ban. There's plenty of time for this to happen before Barack gets into office, too: The FDA and USDA have been engaging in all kinds of terrible policy reversals in the last days of the Bush administration. China is reeling financially from our current, brief ban of their contaminated products, and they really need our cash right now, because today, the AP newswire is reporting that the 22 dairys involved in the melamine contamination in China will be paying one-time monetary compensation to the families of the more than 300,00 babies sickened by poisoned infant formula. Chinese courts have still not allowed families to file private law suits, but a medical fund has been established to "assist victims" with ongoing health problems. Of the original 54,000 Chinese babies hospitalized for kidney problems from the contaminated formula, 861 remain hospitalized, according to Chinese state news sources (in other words, this figure could be far higher). Six babies (probably more) died. From AP:
According to the state-run newservice China Daily, the 22 companies blamed in the scandal will make a one-time 900 million yuan ($131 million) cash payment to victims. The remaining 200 million yuan ($29 million) would cover bills for lingering health problems, the paper said, citing an unnamed source from the China Insurance Regulatory Commission.
Details in the report roughly correspond to figures provided this month by lawyers seeking to sue the companies involved, who said that most children who suffered kidney stones would get 2,000 yuan ($290), while sicker children would be paid 30,000 yuan ($4,380). Families of children who died will each get 200,000 yuan ($29,000), China Daily said.But will this monetary compensation ever happen? Sanlu, the corporation that aggregated the milk products, filed for bankruptcy on Christmas Eve. Pre-eminent food poisoning attorney Bill Marler believes Chinese families may never get any money. He also tells us that American infants sickened by melamine tainted baby formula would get monetary settlements about one hundred times the amount that Chinese families may receive. And we might add--that still isn't enough for a child purposefully harmed, who will face a lifetime of health problems.
If Barack's our big Daddy O, as Politico writer Andie Coller recently posited, well, Daddy O may well have a lot of sick babies on his hands. And adults, too. What would Daddy O and Mommy O do if Malia and Sasha got ill from melamine contaminated food?
*To find out more about the melamine situation in the US: Phyllis Entis of eFoodAlert does a jumbo wrap-up on Marler Blog: Part 1, Getting rid of Melamine: Not Just China's Problem is here; pPart 2, What consumers need to know is here; Part 3, Getting rid of melamine from farm to fork is here. It's pretty grim. Poor Barack.
Update, January 7: Even more melamine contamination found in US baby formula; click here to read about it.
*Pic of Michelle and Barack with an American baby from this flickr stream. Pic of Barack on milk carton created during the campaign by some mouth-breathing conservative.
Monday, December 29, 2008
All over the media and blogs this AM: Mexico is refusing US imports from 30 different American meat processors, including Tyson Foods, Smithfield Packing Inc, the largest pork slaughterhouse in the country, and Cargill, a US-based multinational corporation.
USDA spokeswoman Amanda Eamich said in an e-mail to the AP newservice that Mexico has concerns about the general condition of meat products, sanitation issues and "possible pathogen findings."
Mexico is a leading buyer of U.S. meat and news of the suspensions sent cattle and hog futures sharply lower on Friday at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, according to Forbes.
Wow, if Mexico thinks US food is tainted, we're in a very sorry situation. It's kinda like Chip Saltsman, the guy at the center of the "Puff The Magic Negro" idiocy, holding workshops on racial sensitivity.
But Mexico isn't the only country that's upset about US meat. This year, South Korea banned US beef over worries about Mad Cow disease, because the US has no screening tests in place for the prions that cause the disease. In May, there were huge public demonstrations over the issue. Japan, another major importer of US meat, also banned US Beef for two years over worries about Mad Cow disease. In 2007, China banned imports of US meat over food safety concerns, and cited Tyson and Cargill as the top offenders. In 2000, the European Union considered a total ban on US meats over safety concerns. And hey, we're not even mentioning the huge number of domestic recalls that occurred this year alone, for US meat products, including beef, chicken, pork, and processed meat products. It was a record-breaking year for beef recalls.
What will Barack do? Brand Obama has been helping American products regain a foothold in the global marketplace, but his halo effect certainly isn't enough to allay food safety fears. And Senator Dick Durbin's announcement last week that food safety will take a "backseat" in the upcoming administration is a rather harrowing forecast for the future. We can only hope that Durbin is wrong, and that Barack will make swift moves, across the board, to get the US food supply in working order.
*Related: Read about Bill Marler, the man Obama should appoint as Food Safety Czar, here.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
In Inauguration long on cash, short on perks, Wallsten and Hamburger point out that The Inauguration is expected to cost $40 million, and committee planners are scrambling to figure out how to break down events to please those who've dumped what amounts to the annual salary of, say, a teacher--on four days of historic partying:
With less than a month to go, planners are hurrying to add elements to the master calendar. They've told some supporters they might not get all the goodies they'd expect in exchange for big-bucks donations. And they've scrambled to think up new ways to deal with the huge demand and keep important supporters happy. "It's a market frenzy out there," said one [anonymous] fundraiser, who is bundling money from several wealthy families and helping coordinate their travel to the inauguration. "There is frustration because individuals in some cases still do not know what they are getting for their donations."
To date, the Inauguration Committee has raised $21.9 million; they need to raise about a $1 million a day to meet their budget before The Inauguration; that might be difficult even for Barack. But the committee is being very savvy at every point of the Inaugural infoscape: When you sign up to get email updates on the inauguration, or to volunteer, or when you look at the donor's page, you're immediately taken to a page asking you to donate to the fund. Nice! Check out the complete list of donors here.
The Honorary co-chairs for The Inauguration are: Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton; DC Mayor Adrian Fenty; Senators Dick Lugar and Claire McCaskill; Representatives Ray Lahood, Tammy Baldwin, Linda Sánchez and Artur Davis; Hunter and Kathleen Biden; and General Colin Powell.
Barack's sister, Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng, and Michelle Obama's brother, Craig Robinson, are also honorary co-chairs.
The most interesting co-chair? Assistant Senator Majority Leader Dick Durbin, who announced last week that Food Safety will not be a priority in the Obama Era, despite Obama's campaign promises. We suuuurrree hope Durbin's being kept far away from any of the planning for Inauguration Chow, wink wink.
Want to be an insider at The Inauguration, but can't toss your annual salary into the fund? The Inauguration Committee is looking for volunteers. Go here to check out how you, too, can witness history while directing inebriated people to port-o-lets in sub-freezing weather. But even volunteer spots are going fast, so don't get your hopes up! The comple schedule for The Inauguration is here.
Related: DC caves to Senators and limits Inauguration liquor sales, to the disgust of locals.
*Cake at top of post is from Sarah Ramey's blog.
But Barack's said nothing publicly about Kwanzaa, even though he has immediate family in Africa; Grandma Sarah Obama lives in Kenya. And even though there's a special Obama Kwanzaa exhibit at the Nyumba Ya Tausi-Peacock Museum in Bristol, Virginia, and even though many African Americans are particulalry jazzed over the holiday this year, because Barack's the President-elect. Amy Hunter, of the Bristol Herald Courier, writes about how Obama's political aesthetic perfectly blends with the seven principles of Kwanzaa: Unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, co-operative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. Kwanzaa sounds pretty Obama to us! (Pictured: A Kwanzaa feast)
On the other hand, Barack is also ignoring Festivus, a goofy anti-Christmas holiday invented on the sitcom Seinfeld. Festivus is currently causing controversy in Barack's homestate of Illinois, because celebrants erected a Festivus Pole at the State Capitol in Springfield.
Hmm, seems like Barack's spending his political coin elsewhere, such as continuing to promote controversial gay bashin' preacher Rick Warren....New York Times columnist Frank Rich scolds Barack in an op-ed today, here.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Coller contends that "progressive parenting principles are reflected not only in Obama’s rhetoric, but also in his approach to leadership," and insists he's been influenced as much by Father Knows Best as Team of Rivals.
Hmm, if Bam's cookin' up a big Nanny State, he'll need a nice sauce to blend the disparate personalities in his cabinet together. We suggest Daddy O's Bodacious Sauce. The creators of Daddy O describe it as "the chameleon of sauces," perfect for indoor and outdoor cooking, a "super sauce" that creates genius from the quotidian. Sounds ideal!
Daddy O's comes from Iowa, making it even more perfect as the blender for Obama's cabinet; Tom Vilsack, Obama's somewhat controversial Secretary of Agriculture nominee, is a former governor of Iowa. And as Michael Pollan keeps reminding us, agriculture is related to every other issue Obama faces: Energy, the environment, the economy, health... What kind of Nanny State will we have with our future foodscape? Ethical eaters and the sustainability minded have been pondering this since the election. The FDA and USDA have failed miserably in their already mandated Nanny State duties, and worried foodists have been hoping for big change, because food safety's a mess, organic standards are a mess, Farm Subsidies are crizazy, bad pollution standards have poisoned our fish supply, our nutrition and school lunch programs have led to big fat kinder, we're growing more corn for fuel than we do for food...need we continue with the laundry list of woes?
Friday, December 26, 2008
Pool got The Big Lunch Story anyway. According to NY Times The Caucus Blog, The First Eater ordered lunch at the Paradise Deli in Koko Marina Center:
[Obama] ordered a tuna melt for himself — on 12-grain bread with cheddar cheese, tomatoes and no mayonnaise — and shave ice treats for the children. Then he made rare contact with his pool, putting his arm around a scribbling [Paul] Rucker [Washington Post] to tease him, “You don’t really need to write all that down.” The president-elect offered to buy shave ice for the entire pool. “I don’t think this is against policy,” he said. “You want one, I can tell.” Maybe so but there were no takers, according to the pool report.
Carol E. Lee of Politico "scoops" the rest of the pool: She reports that Sasha had Banana Shave Ice for dessert.
*Related: The Press Pool has taken to writing about their own Chowbama mis-adventures; read about cockroachgate here.
*Related: Is a tuna sandwich a wise move? Obama's inheriting huge fish/mercury problems when he takes office.
*Pic is Barack ordering Shave Ice at Paradise Deli, courtesy of Day Life.
Barack's doing so much nothing, in fact, that the pool has taken to reporting on every morsel of food Barack consumes, and this has turned them into unwitting stringers for Gourmet magazine. There've been repeated sulky pool posts about being forced to "hold" at the McDonald's on the Marine corps base where Barack works out at the Semper Fit gym, and a big story this morning was foodie gifts well-meaning locals have tried to give Barack (three bean salad!! Gasp!!).
But today, pool reporters have turned into pupule laū kanaka--crazy people; they're now reporting on their own foodie misadventures, since Barack's not providing enough action. This AM, the pool report is all about the pool's own (terrifying!) brush with Hawaiian food. Kailua resident Joy Gillian, who baked oatmeal/cranberry/raisin cookies for the pool, accidentally gave them a big dose of island surprise:
Reporters cheered Gillan...they tore into the plastic bags and began enjoying the cookies. Then Reuters photographer Hugh Gentry looked into the goodie bag and informed pool that a live cockroach was at the bottom. Pool stopped eating the cookies and dispersed of their remnants immediately.
Can we just say? The pool is not only uluāhewa, they're also a bunch of mainland pussies. Cockroaches are rampant in Hawaii, and unavoidable, even in the cleanest homes and restaurants, and they're just a fact of island life. There are 19 different kinds, including the incredible 3-incher, the Periplaneta americana (pretty much life size, above). The pool's been surrounded by cockroaches since they arrived on Oahu, and more than likely they've eaten food that's been cockroach adjacent. We're sorry they're acting like unwitting guest stars on Andrew Zimmern's Bizzare Foods, and dissing poor Joy Gillan in the international media.
And just a suggestion? Pool members better leave their luggage in the garage for a few days when they get home, because there will, no doubt, be cockroaches in there, too.
New etiquette for a new presidency...
We're still parsing President-elect Obama's Christmas Dinner visit to troops last night at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, on Oahu (above). The mess-hall appearance is a fascinating, post-modern blend of the aloha spirit and presidential imperative, which Obama seems to be honing on the road to The Inauguration.
Consider: Mr. Obama hasn't had a formal review of rank-and-file troops since winning the election. But he has been at the Marine base every day since arriving on Oahu, to work out in the gym (it's about ten minutes from his Kailua rental house). Mr. Obama could've met with troops at any time, but choose instead to appear, unannounced, as the troops ate their special holiday dinner. He walked from table to table, and chatted amiably. He was dressed in a polo shirt and khakis, which may be a little formal for Hawaii in general, but which is under dressed, in general, for a Head of State.
So imagine, if you will, that you're a Marine, happily watching a selection of Christmas Day football games on one of the many flat-screen TVs in the mess hall, while dining grandly on turkey, roast beef, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn and pineapple. You're bummed that The Fighting Irish are banging on Hawaii, and you're shouting at the TVs, at your pals, at the universe. Then, suddenly: Holy Cow, Barack Obama is walking up to your table! You've got a mouthful of turkey, maybe some gravy splattered on the front of your uniform, maybe you've had a couple beers, and the future Leader of The Free World wants to spread some aloha. What's the protocol here?! Do you stand? Do you salute? Do you bow? While Mr. Obama's chatting with your table, is it rude to keep eating? The chow's getting cold, you're hungry, and Mr. Obama is saying things like Hey, guys, and Good to see you, man. Maybe a bite of potatoes is fine? From the yelling across the mess hall, it sounds like someone just made a dramatic move in the Notre Dame-Hawaii game, but you can't see because Mr. Obama is standing here--you come to your senses and forget the game. Holy Cow! Barack Obama! Can you phone-cam him? Can you have his autograph? Your hands are sticky from eating, and Mr. Obama wants to shake. Oh wait, he's leaving--what's the protocol here? Do you stand? Do you salute? Do you bow? Mr. Obama moves to another table.
Mr. Obama's casual troops review over dinner makes complete sense. He's been called Imua Obama, a true son of Hawaii, and he's said that he believes that Americans need the spirit of aloha, which is an all inclusive aesthetic that values everyone, regardless of racial or class lines. A story by Jeff Zeleny in yesterday's New York Times referred to Mr. Obama's low-key approach as "Obama's Zen State," and pointed out that having such a calm President-elect is reassuring in difficult times. And yet, having an aloha-infused president could also be a little disconcerting for those who aren't used to institutional casualness. Formal etiquette rules exist because they help people make sense of social situations, they prevent faux pas, whether it's meeting the president or meeting future in-laws. It seems pretty clear we're going to need a whole new rulebook for Shaka Obama, and that's swell. Dosing up on aloha is the kind of change we can really believe in. Today, a new poll from Gallop/USA Today finds that Mr. Obama's the most admired man in America, so his ability to set a new national tone can't be underestimated.
Related: In August, Washington Post published an amazing piece by David Maraniss, on how Obama's Hawaii years shaped him; read it here.
Above: Mr. Obama flashes the Hawaiian Shaka, the symbol of the aloha spirit, at a Hawaiian crowd while campaigning on Oahu. Photos from Getty/pool.