biergarten in tubingen


Dried seaweed and algae as snacks.  Low in calories, low in carbs, heaps of vitamins and minerals.  And don't forget about iodine, which is going to make its big comeback this year.  Since no one is eating iodized table salt and everyone has gone Kosher salt, goiter is going to rear its ugly head and the only thing that's going to save us is kelp chips. 

Kale is still hot.  Kale chips with truffle salt.  Kale, chopped fine, makes a divine intervention into otherwise plain white rice.  Kale juice is the next logical step because it takes so much masticating to consume it.

Almond butter is coming back.  I just re-upped at the health food store with the "grind-your-own" machine.  Peanuts kill.  Almonds are one of the more civilized nuts.  Throw a tablespoon in your kale smoothie - not kidding.

Chia remains on its warpath.  Like a platoon of Incan warriors marching up the coast, chia continues to work its way into the parlance of the water cooler.  This superfood is not only beginning to dethrone Flaxseed as the big Omega 3 champ, but it is dipping its mitts into baked goods too as a fat substitute.

Hempseed is seeing another renaissance.  Not since Bill Clinton didn't inhale have I seen as many hemp products on the shelves of Main Street.  It is also high in Omega 3, protein, fiber, and tastes great.  Tastes like the '60's as I'm told.


Authordavid koch

Chia Shrek by doyle.jack

Cha-Cha-Cha-Chia!  We've heard it all before, the daytime TV slogan of the ubiquitous Chia Pet and other Chia-related products of Joseph Enterprises (also the maker of The Clapper, "Clap on! Clap Off!).  What I didn't realize until last year was that chia is the name of the grain that sprouts on your Pet/Shrek/Obama/Homer/or Scooby Doo.

The little black seeds we all made fun of as children are now being touted as "Aztek Superfood" and being sold at Whole Foods and the like.  Its health benefits have been brought to light by both Oprah and Dr. Oz.  2010 brought record setting global chia harvests and 2011 will likely be even bigger.

Yes folks, chia is the new flaxseed. 

from Google Trends

I first had chia at the Granville Market in Vancouver as "the world's most amazing breakfast cereal," - Holy Crap.  Yes, that's the name of the brand, Holy Crap.  They mixed it with hemp milk and it was great; the tiny seeds remind my of poppy seeds but when wet they form a gelatinous bubble around them, much like a tomato seed has.

I've never had a Chia Pet but the Pet-making process is the same as eating it; you mix the seeds with liquid and give them a few minutes to gel.  Instead of spreading them on your Spongebob Squarepants; however, you eat them.  This gel is formed by soluble fibers, called mucilages, and helps slow the breakdown of the carbs during digestion.

According to The Chia Book, The University of Arizona Press, “Chia has more Omega 3 than fish oil, flaxseed and marine algae. It has more protein, lipids, energy and fiber - but fewer carbs - than rice, barley, oats, wheat or corn... Chia is an excellent source of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc and copper.”

The chia plant is indigenous to Central America and Mexico and is used to make the popular drink chia fresca and is often mixed with ground toasted maize kernels to make pinole.  Because of it's high protien and of its ability to absorb 10 times its weight in water, it was a staple for indigenous people to take on long journeys.

In his book “Born to Run,” author Chistopher McDougall outlines how the Tarahumara tribe in Mexico routinly runs 50-100 miles at a time after drinking their chia fresca, made with water, chia, honey, and lemon juice.

The long distance running connection piques little interest to me to me because I don't run, I'm top-heavy and wouldn't even run to catch a bus - I do; however, often make a shake of sorts for breakfast anyways so I got some chia to check it out.

Chia Seeds Soaking in a Mason Jar by GilmourCreative

I tried mixing mine with almond milk, coconut milk, cow's milk, and sometimes simply water.  It never got to a consistency where I would enjoy eating it with a spoon; just too loose and watery.  They have very little taste anyway.  I ended up mixing 1-2 tablespoons with about 10 ounces of liquid, stirring, waiting and pounding it.

I didn't notice an outpouring of Aztek energy pumping through me, but I'm usually 3 cups of coffee deep when I leave the house anyway.  It produced a level of satiety that was similar to my normal breakfast concoction so I didn't see much of a benefit.

There was the novelty of the chia gel and I have read several recipes that use the gel to substitute for fats while baking.  They do this because the gel is so hydrophilic that it holds onto the water in the oven and keeps the baked goods moist.

I'll keep experimenting with chia and since it is so hot right now, I suggest everyone goes and grabs a bag at their local health food store to check it out too.  Some people report that they can't stand the gel because it is too mucus-like, other (whack-jobs, likely) report chia addictions.  But then again, there's that lady who likes to eat Comet.


Authordavid koch
California Burrito from Sombrero's, Lakeside CAMy whole life I’ve eaten burritos.  I grew up in Long Beach, CA - a “suburb” of Los Angeles with 460,000 residents, the southernmost city in LA County along the coast.  My childhood consisted of the memories in between Mia Lupitas’ burritos smothered in Ranchero Sauce and half-off burritos from El Burrito Jr. when you tore the coupon out of the Seal Beach Sun.  

I’ve spent a hundred life-hours waiting for the Breakfast Burritos from Nick’s Deli, their potatoes seem to soak up the essence of chorizo better than any other I’ve had.  Let’s not forget the Carnitas at Super Mex either; my dad used to take me to the one on 1st and Alamitos before they opened one closer to home on 2nd.  

If you are what you eat, I’m more than 25% burrito.

California Burrito from Rudy's, Carlsbad CA
After living in San Francisco for 5 years I was surprised to discover a phenomenon that emerged while I was away from Southern California, the California Burrito.  My jaw dropped when I pulled into the drive-through of a Cotixan and asked what one consisted of.  

If I were to have guessed the contents of a California Burrito it would have been something with brown rice, black beans, avocado, maybe fish, maybe sprouts, and definitely a whole grain tortilla.  Much to my chagrin, they are something down a completely different path.

In my research at more than a half-dozen Mexican joints in the San Diego area, the common thread that binds them all is carne asada (steak, for you gringos), cheese, and potatoes - which are overwhelmingly in the form of French fries.

French fries?  Yes, French fries.  CA Burritos have more DNA in common with a cheeseburger and fries than they do to any real Mexican food.  No doubt they were the product of alcohol.  They are greasy and dense and warrant a post burrito nap or Metamucil, depending on how well they were prepared.

California from El Cotixan, Encinitas CA
What is most interesting is that controversy abounds at every turn regarding the California Burrito; where it orginated (was it really San Diego?), what restaurant first put it on the menu (many folks point to Santana’s), even what defines a true pure-breed (is it sour cream or guacamole?  Does pico de gallo come standard?).

Urban dictionary user, Ren Daasnes, states that a real CA Burrito has sour cream and if guacamole is substituted then it is an imposter, called a Cyrus Burrito.  Right or wrong, I love her logic.  Besides, how to better honor the founder of the Persian Empire by ordering a Cyrus Burrito at a Mexican drive-through?

California Burrito from La Gordita, Vista CA
In any case, the California Burrito is metastasizing.  It has been sited as far north as Sacramento (at Oscar’s), and I personally spotted one in Isla Vista, just north of Santa Barbara, at Cantina.  When done right, they can be phenomenal; synergistic, just like you would imagine when you combine two comfort foods, the burrito and the cheeseburger.

Be forewarned; however, when done poorly they can be disastrous.  The grease from the fries only fills the gaps in between the gristle of the carne asada and makes the salsa pool at the surface.  The two oils battle for your attention by dripping out the bottom onto your pants, making it look like you may have wet yourself a little while at lunch.

No bueno.

Next time you are in San Diego County, or see one in a higher latitude, check them out.  According to the San Diego Examiner, “Some of the top spots for the Cali meat-bombs in San Diego include La Posta de Acapulco's on Washington, Taco Surf in PB, Trujillo’s by State, Vallarta Express in CLMT and occasionally Santana’s.”


Authordavid koch
CategoriesHistory, Humor
8 CommentsPost a comment

Joe Jost's Special

I grew up in Long Beach California, and like every town in America, there's one bar that everyone, and I mean EVERYONE knows.  Enter Joe Jost's - the place is an icon, practically representing the fair City of Long Beach in all corners of the earth.  You could be at a secondary school rugby match in Fiji and see some guy wearing a Joe Jost's T-shirt.

It's been around since the early 1920's and if you're not up on American history, that means it survived prohibition.  (By the way, the only good thing that came of Prohibition was women's suffrage, but that's another post).  Joe Jost's has survived 80+ years by sticking to the basics and doing them well.

They serve cold beer, very cold, 29 degrees cold.  That's below freezing for you literary types and they serve it in giant frozen 15 ounce glasses called Schooners.  The sheer mass of the Schooner keeps your beer cool drastically longer than a standard pint glass, and while they stay cool, they look a heck of a lot cooler too.

Besides cold beer, there's root beer, peanuts, pickled eggs, and five different kinds of sandwiches: cheese, liverwurst, hot dogs, a salami sandwich, and Joe's Special.  

Joe's Special is it.  While I'm sure the other sandwiches are good, the Special is the only sandwich anyone in my company has ever ordered.  In their own words, a Special is, "A Polish Sausage made from our family’s own blend of spices, slice of Swiss cheese and pickle, mustard on rye bread."

With a Schooner in one hand and Joe's Special in the other, life can be pretty grand.   Recently we recreated them in our own home, and while I omitted the Swiss cheese, I added an onion relish.  You could do them together, the combination of flavors will be delicious.  Try this at home:

Joe's Special (printable recipe)

  • 1 Polish sausage, grilled and split lengthwise
  • 1 slice of Rye bread
  • 1 dill pickle spear
  • 1 healthy slathering of Dijon mustard, about a tablespoon
  • 1 slice of Swiss cheese

For the onion relish:

  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water

Put all of the ingredients for the onion relish in a pan over medium heat.  Cook until the onions soften and the liquids reduce, about 12 minutes. 

Put the cheese on the piece of bread.  Place the Polish sausage into the slice of rye and configure the dill pickle spear to fit like a key inside of the split in the sausage.  Add a slouge of mustard, a table spoon of onion relish, and fold together like a taco.  

Wrap up in a paper towel or parchment paper.  Try not to drool in your beer.


Making a "Joe's Special" from Papawow on Vimeo.

Authordavid koch

The New Pepsi Challenge

In the late 1970's Pepsi began doing public blind taste tests where subjects would take sips of both Coca-Cola and Pepsi - and choose which one they liked better.  They found they had a slight edge in these tastings over Coke and ran the claim, "Nationwide, more people prefer the taste of Pepsi over Coca-Cola."

I remember these ads clearly.  I also remember being a big proponent of Coke at a young age, but I couldn't tell you why.  Even though Pepsi was, "The Choice of a New Generation," I felt angry that so many foolish people would incorrectly pick Pepsi when Coke was so clearly better.

In his amazing book Blink, author Malcom Gladwell actually describes some of the nuances of taste tests that the Pepsi Executives may-or-may-not-have knowingly taken advantage of.  When testers are asked to take only a sip, Pepsi, being slightly sweeter than Coke may be chosen more often even though many might think its flavor cloying over the course of a whole drink.

Anymore, the two are equal in my book; and although I don't drink sodas often, they go great with Mexican food.  When I figure out why, I'll let you know.

So, what's the New Pepsi Challenge?  Last year, Pepsi and Mountain Dew released "Throwback" versions of their sodas made with cane sugar instead of corn syrup.  Just like the good old days, you know, 1980.  They were released only for a limited time and came in old-fashion cans, which I think look pretty cool myself.

I bought a 12-pack of each the Throwback Pepsi and the regular one and conducted my own New Pepsi Challenge asking testers to see if they could choose the one made with real sugar over the one made with corn syrup.

While some people just made their guess, some added that they preferred one over the other.  Some people even said, "I think this one is corn syrup AND I think I like it better."  Although I could discern a very slight difference in flavor, I couldn't tell you beyond a guess which one was which.  I also didnt prefer one over the other.

They both tasted like sour carbonated sugar water.

And your results:  8 vs 8.  A tie. 

Authordavid koch
3 CommentsPost a comment

Delicious Cocktail Wienies

10. Top 10 Foods with Funny Names (via the Los Angeles Foodie)

With such classics as Super Dickmann's, Mini Dickmann's, Cock Soup Mix, and Fart Juice how could you go wrong?  I didn't know that Heinz made a microwavable Spotted Dick Sponge Pudding in a can!  Sounds scrumptious!

9. 10 Great Health Foods for Eating Well (via the Mayo Clinic)

Well, hasn't this subject been beaten like a filthy rug on a windy day?  I thought this was interesting because it is from the freaking Mayo Clinic, not, bestfoodsforstaying, or  Let's get real, the list starts with Apples, Almonds, and Blueberries...

8. Top 10 Mispronounced Foodie Words (via Chicago Tribune)

I've been told that Bruschetta can be correctly pronounced at least two different ways but confusing Chicken Mole with a dish consisting of a flightless bird with a dark spot on its skin is unacceptable.  Pączki?  They got me on that one but I think there are at least two more common ones they missed: chipotle and asiago.  No Vern, it isn't che-pote-el and ah-see-ah-joe.

7. Top 10 Food Hacks (via Lifehacker)

First there's the old "Open a banana like a monkey" trick.  Hint: don't tear it from the stem.  Then there's the "DIY microwave popcorn hack" and the "Making Super Mario-style mushrooms from radishes" how-to guide.  Lastly, they teach you how to make edible shot glasses.  Do all four hacks at the same party and you unlock a badge on Foursquare!

6. Top 10 Food Trends for 2010 (via Epicurious)

Lamb is in, Pork is out.  Home Made Beer is in, Mad-Science Cocktails are out.  Mini Whoopie Pies are in, Mini Cupcakes are out.  Vancouver is in, Barcelona is out...  I'm so bummed right now because I just booked my tickets for the 1st Annual Spanish Basil-Lavender Gin and Tonic, Cupcakes, and Chorizo Tour.  I leave in May.

5. Top 10 Foods Only America Could Have Invented (via the Endless Simmer)

From staples such as a ground pig parts, dipped in batter, skewered with a stick, and deep fried (the Corn Dog) - to more delicacies like impaling a turkey with a duck, that's been impaled with a chicken, that's been packed like a musket with sausage stuffing (the Turducken), this is a solid Top 10 of American gluttony.

4. Top 10 Common Food Poisoning Risks (via the New York Times)

"Each year, about 76 million people in the United States become ill from the food they eat, and about 5,000 of them die, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

Harmful bacteria are the most common cause of food-borne illnesses..."

3. Top 10 Food Related Stand-up Comedy Bits (via LA Weekly) - Mature Audiences

The highlights?  9 minutes with Richard Franklin Lennox Thomas Pryor III talking mostly about Chinese food.  CK Lewis discussing how he won't even try duck vaginas lest he finds out how much he likes them.  There is also Patton Oswald lamenting on how KFC piles everything they have in to their Famous Bowl, and we Americans proceed to eat out of them like dogs.

2. Top 10 Most Common Ingredients in Fast Food (via The Learning Channel)

Would it surprise you if I told you that there are 67 ingredients in a Big Mac?  How about if I told you that Xanthan Gum was in a lot of fast food?  Do you know what Xanthan Gum is?  It is produced by the bacteria Xanthomonas campestris and is used as a thickening agent and stabilizer the world over.  Enjoy!

1. 10 Food Feuds (via Chow)

The list includes such [sort of] heavyweights as Jerry Seinfeld's wife, Scanwich, and Rick's Original Philly Steaks.  They close each showdown with classic quotes as: "The intern has been dealt with, we took away his zero pay," "Mr. McFarland called the allegation that he was a Caesar salad thief ‘a pretty ridiculous claim,’” and “I want to be a good neighbor, but I am nobody’s fool, and nobody’s pushover, and I should not have to carry a baseball bat on my truck in order to sell cupcakes.”

Authordavid koch
2 CommentsPost a comment

Soda.  Pop.  Coke.  Cola.  Soda-pop.  Coca-Cola.  Whatever you call it colloquially, carbonated sugar water has been part of the American diet since the mid 1800's.  Originally sold as health-foods, veritable tonics, a panacea; their benefits have been revealed to be nothing more than snake oil.  

I recently perused the soda aisle at a supermarket and was amazed at the variety of soda they stock.  Some of the more unusual ones boasted a new type of Diet soda, made with Splenda, so it's better now.  Some even touted vitamins and minerals!  Rejoice!  Finally they put vitamins in my soda!

There may have been 30 different SKU's of Coke products when you count 2-Liters, 12-packs, and mini-cans and multiply by Coke Classic, Diet Coke, Caffeine-Free Coke, Caffeine-Free Diet Coke, Coke with Splenda, Vanilla Coke , Coke with Lime, and Banana Bread Flavored Diet Coke Plus Ginsing, Vitamin D and Coemzyme Q10.

I was tempted to purchase a box of TaB, I was like an archeologist sumbling into an artifact that I thought was destroyed in a great fire.  I didn't know Coca-Cola still made the stuff.  TaB has an interesting story:  It was introduced to the US market in 1963 and was originally sweetened with cyclamate.  Congress banned cyclamate in 1969 and instead, saccharin was used.  

In 1977, Congress moved to ban sacchrin also, they didn't but all products that contained any had to carry the warning, "Use of this product may be hazardous to your health. This product contains saccharin, which has been determined to cause cancer in laboratory animals." Remember this?  It was also present on every diner table in a little plastic boat, on the little pink packet of Sweet-N-Low.

In a twist of sweetener fate, saccharin was banned in Canada in 1977 - so now Sweet-N-Low in Canada is made from cyclamate (banned in the US) and Sweet-N-Low in the US is made from saccharin (which is banned in Canada).

I always thought TaB was the first ever diet soda, but it was not.  According to the Wiki, the Kirsch Bottling Company launched a sugar-free Ginger Ale called No-Cal in 1952.  The Royal Crown Cola Company "RC Cola" released Diet Rite in 1958.  No-Cal fizzled out and died but was resurrected in 2005 by the INOV8 Beverage Company in 2005 with the flavors Cherry Lime, Chocolate, Clementine, and Vanilla Cream.

I enjoy a cold soda now and then over ice.  Everything in moderation, I say, even moderation.

Authordavid koch
2 CommentsPost a comment

photo by stgermhKrispy Kreme, since July 1937








I recently completed a book that was written in 1937.  There were some funny passages that had no intention to be humorous, they were so because because so much has changed since publication.  For instance, how bald men are so because they wear hats that are to tight and they cut off the circulation to the follicles in the head.  That may have been sound in the 1930's even though we are now pointing fingers at the EDA2R gene.

Well there was one short passage about food and I thought it was so profound because of how much has NOT changed.  1937 was the year that SPAM was introduced and Krispy Kreme was founded, but putting those aside.  in the book, there was a break-down of a breakfast in New York City, where the food was shipped from, and how much it cost.  It is as follows:

"A family of two living in the heart of the Times Square district... far removed from the source of the production of foods...

Grapefruit juice from Florida, 2 cents.  Rippled wheat breakfast food from Kansas, 2 cents.  Tea from China, 2 cents.  Bananas from South America, 2 and a half cents.  Toasted bread from a Kansas farm, 1 cent.  Fresh country eggs from Utah, 7 cents.  Sugar from Cuba or Utah, one half cent.  Butter and cream from New England, 3 cents. 

Grand total 20 cents.  It is not very difficult to obtain food in a country where two people could obtain all they want or need for a dime a piece. 

Observe that this simple breakfast was gathered by some strange form of magic from China, South America, Utah, Kansas, and the New England states and delivered on the breakfast table ready for consumption in the very heart of the most crowded city in America at a cost well within the means of the most humble laborer.  The cost included all Federal, State, and Local taxes."

What is more a testimony to the industrial food shipping and distribution system and their "strange form of magic" was not the spread at breakfast available for New Yorkers in 1937 - but the existence of New York City in the first place.  The population then was more than 80% of what it is today.

Here are some other food prices from 1937 via The People's History:

  • Campbells Tomato Soup - 4 cans for 25 cents Indiana 1937
  • Oranges -  2 dozen 25 cents Indiana 1937
  • Kellogs Corn Flakes -  3 Pkgs 25 cents Indiana 1937
  • Mixed Nuts -  19 Cents per pound Indiana 1937
  • Pork Loin Roast - 15 cents per pound Indiana 1937

Other notable events that year included: Amelia Earhart disappearing, the Hindenberg burst into flames, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released, The Hobbit was published by J. R. R. Tolkien, and Of Mice and Men is published by Steinbeck.

Authordavid koch
2 CommentsPost a comment

People can argue ad nauseam  about the origin of Spaghetti (Etruscan or Chinese) or Pizza (Italian or Greek) but when it comes down to dishes, some are so basic (flour, egg, and water in a tube shape/flat bread with sauce) it is inevitable that people had been making similar foods pre-historically.  

Sometimes; however, we learn that the origins of a dish that are so surprising that it shifts our world-view.  Like a Wookiee living on Endor, they just don't make sense.  Prepare for bewilderment, here are 7 eatables you may be surprised when you find out where they come from:
Authordavid koch
CategoriesHistory, Humor

Jon Stewart gives Condé Nast some advise.  Combine all four magazines that they are cancelling: Elegant Bride, Modern Bride, Cookie (a parenting magazine) and Gourmet into into one super mag.

Jon Stewart's Pregnant Gourmet Bride

In the first issue they would feature a tremendous morning sickness cure involving haricot vert, cornichon, and truffle oil...


The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Pregnant Gourmet Bride Magazine
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Ron Paul Interview
Authordavid koch
3 CommentsPost a comment

Nicoise Salad, photo by WordRidden

About a year ago, I attempted to order a Salad Niçoise at the upscale Brompton Quarter Café & Restaurant in London’s affluent Knightsbridge neighborhood.  What was expected to be a calm, relaxing lunchtime experience soon transformed into a battle of food knowledge rivaled only by the Cheese Steak Shop American/Provolone Argument of 2003.  Here’s how it all went down…


I arrived at the scene of the culinary crime accompanied by three dining companions.  We were promptly seated.  After ordering our beverages, I perused the menu and decided upon a Salad Niçoise for lunch.  For those not familiar, the Niçoise is a pleasant salad originating from the South of France, traditionally containing lettuce, tomatoes, boiled potatoes, green beans, boiled eggs, fish (usually poached or seared tuna), anchovies, and…wait for it… Niçoise olives.  


The waitress came over to take our order.  When it came to my turn, I politely stated, “I’ll have the salad Niçoise, please.”  The waitress, soon to become my arch nemesis, took the order, took the menus, and returned to the kitchen or the dark hole from whence she came.


And then, as Kurt Vonnegut writes, the excrement hit the air conditioning...

AuthorLoren Tama
3 CommentsPost a comment

photo by Loren Tama

I’ve eaten Cobb salads for dinner, breakfast, and lunch, sometimes successively and usually in that order.  I love the crunch, the tanginess, and the complements achieved by the right balance of acidic tomatoes, sweet and smoky bacon, and fragrant blue cheese.  A properly-seasoned chicken breast can make the difference between a lame Cobb and a gourmet delight.  


I’ve been known to praise restaurants that use a traditional Cobb dressing, complete with blue cheese, garlic, Worcestershire, and vinegar.  At the same time, I’ve often lambasted a Cobb served with something as pedestrian as thousand island dressing: pounding my fist on the table, I lecture my fellow diners, reciting my familiar phrase “it’s not a Cobb without Cobb dressing!”  As much as I’d like to say that the dressing makes the Cobb, however, the reality is that...

AuthorLoren Tama
2 CommentsPost a comment

Ah, the Loco Moco.  Take white rice, plop a fried hamburger patty on top (usually well-done), pour brown gravy over everything, and then top it all with a fried egg.  What hungry beast designed this dish? 

According to the Wiki, "James Kelly, a University of Hawaii-Hilo professor writes that the loco moco dish was created in 1949 by the Inouye family, who owned the Lincoln Grill in Hilo, Hawaii in 1949. A group of boys from the Lincoln Wreckers...

Authordavid koch
2 CommentsPost a comment

What are these little green sprigs?  Sea Beans?  A Sea Bean is the salty, succulent plant called Salicornia that is also sometimes called glasswort, pickleweed, and marsh samphire (I grew up calling Carpobrotus edulis "Ice Plant" pickleweed, but then again, my parents are no Botanists.)  True Sea Beans appear during the summer at farmer's markets and specialty food shops for a few weeks and they only last a few days once picked, so eat them as soon as you buy them.

Sea beans have great crunch that bursts a blast of brine when chewed.  They taste just like a day at the beach - really, their resemblance to the sea is uncanny.  Because they are so salty,

Authordavid koch

The German soft drink Bionade is taking the world by storm.  I'm not joking.  Sales started in 1995 and by 2003 they had sold 2 million bottles.  They sold 7 million bottles in 2004, 22 million bottles in 2005, and 70 million bottles in 2006.  2007 sales were well over 200 million bottles. 

They are posting 300%+ growth year over year and are the #3 soft drink in Germany after the "Big C" and the "Big P" - the Bionade team is showing up at all the industry trade shows now, and there is even a Bionade Flickr pool; but the question remains, what is Bionade?

There is a somewhat fluffy description about how it is actually made from their website:

"In order to produce a non-alcoholic refreshment drink in a purely organic way, “Mother Nature” has to be out-smarted through her own mechanisms. Under purely natural conditions, alcohol is usually generated during the process of fermentation when sugar is present.

It was only after a long period of research and development that BIONADE’s inventor, the master brewer Dieter Leipold, was successful in converting sugar into gluconic acid during fermentation according to brewing principles. An analogous process can be found in the production of honey by bees.

Authordavid koch
CategoriesDrinks, History
2 CommentsPost a comment

Dad's Balboa Bar with Chocolate sprinkles - photo by Dave Koch

4th of July Weekend is sheer mayhem in Newport Beach, CA.  There are beach cruisers, boaters, kayakers, strollers, sparklers, and stand-up paddle boarders adding to the general riff-raff of the holiday.  Sometimes, your only solace is to sit on a sidewalk bench and dive your senses into the chocolate-dipped goodness they call a Balboa Bar.

Balboa Bars begin as blocks of vanilla ice cream...

Authordavid koch
4 CommentsPost a comment

Snap, Crackle and Pop are all brothers and they are elves.  They were adapted from Kellogg's radio ad and were first illustrated by Vernon Grant in 1933.

Snap is the oldest and is the problem solver, fixing what his two brothers create.  Snap sports a chef's hat.  Crackle is the fun-loving middle child.  Crackle is also the leader of the group and the supposedly, smartest of the three. Crackle wears a red-and-white-striped hat.  Pop is the jokester, youngest elf; Pop doesn’t take anything seriously and he wears a band leader's hat.

According to Mental Floss Magazine (2008) "A Second Helping of Cereal Facts" there was a fourth brother, Pow.  - "In the 1950s, [Pow] was supposed to represent Rice Krispies’ explosive nutritional value.  Sadly, four proved to be one cereal gnome too many, and Pow was given the pink slip."

I grew up on Rice Krispies, usually heaping three or four tablespoons of granulated sugar atop each bowl.  I enjoyed the ads as a youngster, but who knows, maybe I would have enjoyed them 33% more had there been Pow...

Interestingly enough, the names Snap, Crackle, and Pop are changed from country to country in order to better fit into each culture, this process is called glocalization.  Here are some of them (via the Wiki):

  • Belgium - Pif! Paf! Pof!
  • Canadian French - Cric! Crac! Croc!
  • Denmark - Pif! Paf! Puf!
  • Finland - Poks! Riks! Raks!
  • Germany - Knisper! Knasper! Knusper!
  • Holland - Pif! Paf! Pof!
  • Italy - Pif! Paf! Pof!
  • Mexico - Pim! Pum! Pam!
  • Norway - Piff! Paff! Puff!
  • South Africa - Knap! Knaetter! Knak!
  • Sweden - Piff! Paff! Puff!
  • Switzerland - Piff! Paff! Poff!
  • United Kingdom - The mascots were portrayed, for a while, as cows instead of gnomes.


What's your favorite? - I like South Africa's...


Authordavid koch

photo by Dave Koch

Bacon or Sausage?

Scrambled or fried?

Hash browns or home fries?

As I sit waiting for my guest at a local diner, I have an epiphany on the what makes us so attracted to the meal in which we break our nightly fast.  Let's talk about breakfast.  Why do we crave it?  Why is it often, "Served All Day"?  What is the root of it's universal appeal?

I suddenly realized that it's beauty is in it's simplicity; but what makes it so special is it's ability to be customized.  At it's foundation you often have eggs, a meat, a leavened bread, a pan-fried bread, some sort of a sweet topping (syrup, jam, etc.), ketchup, and the ubiquitous Tabasco sauce.

What makes it amazing is that the sheer number of unique combination's allow for everyone to eat the same thing, yet completely different from the next person, and also precisely how they like it.  This amalgam makes up most fare served up in the finest morning eating establishments.

Patron:  "Pancake sandwich with bacon, eggs over medium, no runny, sourdough toast."

Server:  "It doesn't come with toast, honey"

Patron:  "OK, no toast then.  Or, could I have some on the side?"

Server:  "What kind of toast?"

And so it continues...

If you turn off your filter at a busy diner, these conversations pop into your head in a continuous stream.  People narcistically order their personal nuances into every distinct piece of the meal, far more than any other.  "Extra this"  "Light that"  "Easy on the..."  "Could I have a side of the ... instead?"  They've had more practice fine tuning breakfast than lunch, or dinner.  Just look at the menu; there may be less than 10 things, all assembled in different ways; like Legos, but for food.

As I sneak glances upon my fellow patrons I see two middle aged women eating pancakes with a light touch on the syrup.  They have only used about a third of their respective tiny pitchers of the dark stuff.  One hasn't even touched her little ball of butter, the other has devoured hers; both are sharing a side of bacon and each are sipping coffee.

The man to my right and a little behind me, as I rubber neck in my stealthily way, is devouring scrambled eggs, hash browns, a biscuit (he hasn't touched his butter either), and washing it all down with a glass of milk. He dines alone, slowing as he eats, the last few bites are deliberate and well planned.  A small bite of egg, then a stab of the biscuit, a small swipe of marmalade from his knife, and then into the mouth.

A foursome of two couples was just seated near me and I have a great vantage point.  They begin with three coffees, a tea, and a round of waters with one woman sipping her water from a straw.  The woman with the tea has a side of fruit immediately.  When they are served, it looks as if something's wrong with the ladies' order, very wrong.  They send it back.

What emerges a minute or so later looks like Benedict, split with her female friend across the table from her.  One of the male counterparts gets eggs that look over easy, white toast, sausage patties, and hash browns.  He likes to break everything up at first rather then before each bite (I know the type), and spends a minute or so preparing the plate.  The other man does nearly the same, only with links instead.

On another note: I just watched a woman pour an unholy amount of sugar into her coffee from the glass jar of sugar.  I think there should be a safety valve on those things.  She could have put a Shetland pony into hypoglycemia with a dose that size.

For me?

I'm going to get one egg over-hard (I've not been digging runny yolks lately...), bacon (I had sausage links yesterday), hash browns, a biscuit (I'm going to smother it with my own little round ball of butter and...), and maybe some marmalade.  I will add a tablespoon or so of ketchup to the side and likely skip the Tabasco.  Coffee with one tub of half & half, no sugar.

My cohort, I'm guessing, will order one egg over easy, bacon (or maybe the sausage patty??), hash browns, and white toast.  He will get two sides of brown gravy and pour it on top of everything.  He will spend 90 seconds or so shaking black pepper on top once the roofing of gravy is down - I've never seen someone put more pepper on their food than him.  He'll order a side of milk for his coffee in lieu of the half & half tubs, no sugar.

[Update: I got the same but I was offered a side of gravy as well and I went for it.  It was mushroom gravy - and it was quite tasty, thanks for the tip.  My cohort got one egg but scrambled, with links instead and an English muffin.  He only got one side of brown gravy, though still with heaps of black pepper, and he put strawberry jam on the English muffin... I was so close.]

So, how do you assemble your ideal "diner breakfast"?

Bacon, ham, links, patty, pork chop, or steak?

Pancakes, French toast, waffle, or silver dollars?

Over easy, over medium, scrambled, poached, or omelet?

Hash browns, home fries (triple cheese for $1 more), French fries, or fruit?

Sourdough, white, wheat, rye, English muffin, crumpet, or biscuit?

Coffee, tea, orange juice, grapefruit, tomato, or milk?

Cereal, oatmeal, granola, yogurt, muesli?

Authordavid koch
CategoriesHistory, Humor
13 CommentsPost a comment

What's a 49er BBQ?

A 49er BBQ is something you can whip up in a small apartment on a foggy day with an electric stove from the 1960s and still have people second guess if it was done on a grill or not. Well, they'll know there wasn't a grill, but it'll be delicious nonetheless.

We made pork spareribs, pinquito beans, and Southern greens on a recent lazy Sunday.

The ribs are done using a technique I learned from Alton Brown. The pinquito beans are, more or less, Santa Maria BBQ style. The greens I kept Southern.

The ribs and the beans take at least 2-3 hours but the greens, once prepped, only take 5-10 minutes to cook - so plan accordingly. I started the beans with a "short-cook method," since I didn't soak the dried beans overnight, they needed to be par-cooked. Then, I made the dry rub and got the ribs into the oven. Last, I prepped the greens and put them aside to finish.


  • 1 slab of pork spare ribs
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumon
  • 1 Teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 Teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 Tablespoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Trim fat from ribs thoroughly; these will be done in the oven and excess fat will not render as if it were on a grill. Lay out 2 sheets of aluminum foil, each of which are 8 inches longer than the spareribs. Lay the 2 sheets of foil on your workspace to make 1 extra wide piece of foil. Overlap an inch from each piece and crimp several times to form a tight seal. Place the ribs in the middle. Combine spices in a bowl, then generously rub across the ribs. Don't forget to get both sides.

Fold up the top and bottom of the foil together and crimp in the same fashion for a seal. Do the same with either side. You should have a tight 'bag' made from aluminium foil. Place on a baking sheet for easier transportation and in case of spillage. Place into the oven for 2 hours. Check after 2 hours for done-ness; gently unfurl the foil sides. A bone should rotate easily around the meat, indicating that everything is tender. If not, place back into the oven and check again after 15 minute increments.

Once ribs are soft, open of the foil so that they are exposed and turn the oven to broil. Baste the top of the ribs several times with the juices in the bottom of the baking sheet using a pastry brush. Watch closely because they will burn quickly; this will take about 5 minutes. When a good crust is formed, pull from the oven, close up the foir around them, and let them rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing.





  • 1/2 pound of dried pinquito beans, also called pink beans
  • 1 teaspoon of powered mustard
  • 2 tablespoon of brown sugar
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 yellow onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of chili sauce (I used Srirachi)
  • 1/2 jalapeno (I like it spicy, but you can omit this)

Sort the dried beans on a plate or baking sheet to remove any stones.  Soak the beans in water overnight if you can.  If you are not able to soak, place the beans into a large pot, add a gallon of water [or so] and bring it to to a boil.  Kill the heat, cover, and allow to sit for an hour.  This is called the "short-cook method."


Drain the liquid once complete and continue with the recipe. Once you have soaked or done the "short-cook method" with the beans, add them into a pot and add enough water to cover them by one inch.   Add the rest of your ingredients. 

Simmer uncovered until the beans are soft, about an hour.  The level of liquid should be kept flush with the height of the beans, add water as needed.


1 pound of leafy greens: kale, beet, collard, chard, etc...
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup dried currants or raisins
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon kosher salt

De-stem the greens and rinse/wash thoroughly. This may take several baths in water and several spins around the spinner. Chop coarsely. Since the greens take only 5 minutes, begin cooking only when the ribs and beans are done.

Add the butter and olive oil to a hot pan, keep the heat on medium-high. Once the butter is melted and begins to brown, add the greens. Add the currants, celery salt, kosher salt, pepper, and vinegar. Stir occasionally until softened and done, about 5 minutes.

Plate everything in neat little piles.

You may touch up a little BBQ sauce if you like. I'm not a total purist and if that floats your boat... then, who am I to blow against the wind?


Authordavid koch

Several years ago, Papawow founder and foodtellectual extraordinaire Dave Koch loaned me a copy of Tampopo, the 1985 Japanese Western/comedy about, well, noodles.  I’m sure he meant well, but Tampopo ruined noodles.

I must admit that I haven’t seen Tampopo for many years now, so the details are a bit hazy.  The essence of the movie is the woman Tampopo’s search for the perfect bowl of noodles.  Various scenes describe the essence of a good bowl of noodles.  It all starts with the broth. Having made broths, stocks, and soups before, I am fully aware of the time consuming process required to make a deliciously savory, but not-too-salty broth.

The noodles themselves are another critical component – be they udon, ramen, soba (generally reserved for cold soups) or another lesser variety, the noodles cannot be overly mushy or hard.  They need to withstand the heat of the broth and the prodding of the eating implements (never a fork) without giving in, and at the same time cede to the tooth with a tiny bit of elastic resistance.

And then there’s the meat.  I have had too many udons containing an overly fatty, thick piece of ham. I’ve had tempura prawns with instantly-dissolving panko, revealing naked crustaceans in a slurry of fry.  Unacceptable.

The problem with Tampopo is that it leaves the viewer craving the perfect bowl of noodles.  I have not, in the years since my viewing of Tampopo, achieved satisfaction.  Unfortunately, my noodle experiences since that defining moment have left much to be desired.

Five minutes prior to writing these words, I consumed a bowl of noodles with dumplings – purveyor to remain anonymous – that left me craving something more substantial.  The dumplings tasted like poultry seasoning without the poultry.  The broth was empty, want of seasoning and excitement. And the noodles were flat, lacking personality.

One peculiarity of this vendor, which I have visited previously, is the over-abundance of vegetables in the soup. Rather than meat or fish broth, I end up tasting only carrots and sprouts.  Today’s noodle dish was merely a ghost of something that could have been.

Perhaps my disappointment in noodles is a regional problem.  I have not had a decent opportunity to sample noodles in Asia since my search began.  The exception was a disappointing ramen bowl in the Singapore Airlines lounge of the Hong Kong airport.

Incidentally, the best noodles I had since Tampopo were from a Japanese restaurant in the San Francisco International Airport.  I have spent many hung-over Sundays burning my tongue in a bowl of udon before departing to another place.  The broth there is particularly invigorating, and it magically warms my body and alleviates my ailments.

The tempura shrimp often end up naked, but with the appropriate level of care one can negotiate panko and crustacean in the same bite.  Despite the positive aspects of this airport miracle, it is still miles away from satiating my craving.

Tampopo initiated my search for the perfect bowl of noodles, and coupled with my search lays ceaseless disappointment.  One day, I optimistically muse, my search will prove fruitful.  Until then, noodles are ruined.

Tampopo in London

I stopped in my tracks one day when, walking down Fulham Road in London, I came upon a restaurant called Tampopo (  What a clever name for an Asian restaurant, I thought, but Tampopo herself would not have been pleased; this is not a noodle shack focused on the perfect bowl of noodles.

Instead it is a multi-location Asian restaurant, serving “steaming noodles to soothe, slow-cooked curries and sizzling stir-fries full of goodness and flavour.”  Sounds like goodness to me, but it does not sound like the end to Tampopo’s – or my – quest.


AuthorLoren Tama
CategoriesHistory, Humor