If you haven't heard of Clara Cannucciari yet, you will, and likely in the near future. She is a 93 year YOUNG great-grandmother from upstate New York. Thanks to her grandson/filmmaker, Clara is a You Tube phenomenon and is completely en fuego right now. With 10 videos, she has more than 800,000 views.
Maybe it's the economy that's driving her popularity. She tells us:
"The winters, they were terrible. And that's another thing. We didn't have a refrigerator, so we used to put everything, bury it in the snow outside, that was our freezer. Then we'd say, 'go get the meat, out near the fence, OK?' [she chuckles] That's sad. I'm laughing, but it was sad... Everything was terrible, but we had good food."
She is so adorable:
"I've never used a cutting board. We didn't have all the conveniences of a cutting board and stuff."
Here is one of her recipes; from Episodes 4 and 4.5:
Peppers & Eggs - "You can't have peppers and eggs without bread"
3 Bell Peppers, she uses yellow and red
The recipe comes from her mother. Clara says that, in high school, she once traded her 'Peppers and Eggs Sandwich' with a girl who handed her a Spaghetti Sandwich. She says, "I was so disappointed. Never again. I'm not trading with anybody."
"The bag would get all full of oil but everybody wanted our sandwiches. Everybody would have a dry sandwich with salami or ham. We had peppers and eggs. 'Wanna trade sandwiches?' - 'No' she would say, 'we don't want to trade.'"
First you clean out the peppers, take out the seeds, and you slice them long and relatively thin. She says you should keep the seeds, dry them, and plant them so that you have peppers for next year (obviously). Fry the strips in a shallow pan with some oil, with some salt, until they start to brown.
Beat the 4 eggs together with a fork. Pour them over the cooked peppers in the pan. "Then you mix them in until they settle. and then, they're done."
In a large bowl, make a well out of the flour, and crumble the yeast into the middle of the well. Dissolve the yeast by adding water, and knead. Continue adding water and mixing with your hands until it comes to a dry-clay consistency. Cover with a towel and allow for it to rise.
Once the first rise is done, divide the mass into loaves and put into loaf pans. Cover, and allow to rise again. With a knife, make some slits across the top. Bake at 350 until they're golden.
Jon Stewart on his Daily Show poked fun of Baconaise the other night and I was compelled to learn more. Not only is the product Kosher! - but there is a Baconaise Lite, which packs in only 3g of fat per serving, AND they have a chart that explains how using Original Baconaise instead of 3 slices of real bacon - can cut the fat content of a Turkey Club by 50%. Using Baconaise Lite will cut the fat content by more than 85%!
So I suppose the question becomes, "Can Baconaise Save You Life?"
These miracle spreads (dare I call them?) are made by a company called JD Foods. So what else is going on in the heads of these people?
Enter Bacon Salt, "a low sodium, zero calorie, zero fat, vegetarian and kosher seasoning that makes everything taste like bacon." Interestingly, their mission was to bring the joy of bacon to vegetarians and those who adhere to kosher law.
Is this altruism? Unadulterated genius?
I'll have to try some before I make that call. What makes their story even more bizarre is that their first set of funding came from winning $5,000 on America's Funniest Home Videos.
The salt amazingly comes in 9 flavors: Original, Hickory, Peppered, Natural, Applewood, Maple, Cheddar, Jalapeno, and Mesquite.
(from video) "Bacon needs to pace himself!" - man in bacon suit.
This famous quote by French gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826) may be more pertinent now than it has ever been. Several recent studies have begun to shed light on the subject of our past and how cooking may have been the single biggest development to help Mankind diverge from apes.
Last year from Wired:
"Some have proposed that it was our high-energy, high-protein and cooked diet that enabled us to fuel our big brains during our evolution," said study co-author Mehmet Somel.
More recently, Richard Wrangham of Harvard University, outlined in a meeting for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) how he believes that it was cooking (and not simply a shift from a plant-based diet to a meat-based diet) that allowed for Homo Erectus to literally feed a larger brain.
I find his logic is sound and it follows like this. The human brain consumes up to 25% of our caloric intake. Ergo, it would require the consumption of either 25% more calories OR for us to more completely digest what we've eaten. He notes three major factors involved with the cooking of food.
- Softens food - In one study, two groups of rats were given different diets: soft pellets and hard pellets. The soft group gained 30% more weight than the hard group after 26 weeks.
- Breaks down starches
- Breaks down and denatures proteins
Quoted from Wired:
"Wrangham cited data showing that cooking increases the body's ability to digest starches (as found, for example, in bread, potatoes and bananas). Only about 50 percent of raw starches are digested, compared to 90 percent of cooked ones. The trend, and the numbers, are similar for protein: from 50 to 65 percent digestibility raw to better than 90 percent cooked."
Referencing the same meeting with Wrangham at the AAAS, the Economist states,
"[Cooking] “denatures” protein molecules, so that their amino-acid chains unfold and digestive enzymes can attack them more easily...That makes it easier to digest, so even though the stuff is no more calorific, the body uses fewer calories dealing with it."
I feel compelled to mention too, that cooking food makes it taste a heck of a lot better! Now get cooking and pass the paprika please...
Malcolm Gladwell is the best-selling author of "The Tipping Point" and "Blink". In this short lecture from a TED conference he dives into how data gathered by Howard Moskowitz and food companies during the 1980's led them to embrace the diversity of people's tastes and provide more diversity of products. He uses spaghetti sauce, mustard, and coffee as examples.