by Christine M.
I have a confession to make—I am that friend who always wants to get a trivia team together on a Tuesday night. I’m also that kid who read Trivial Pursuit cards for fun to see if I could guess the answers. And I ask Santa for those one-a-day calendars of random facts every year.
I love learning about something new, especially in bite-sized tidbits. It gives me endless joy that it is socially acceptable to sit around at a bar with some friends and compete with strangers to see who knows the most about baseball history or French royalty.
Despite this love of all things trivia, however, I’m pretty rubbish at actually knowing the answers to most questions. Throw out an obscure Harry Potter or Broadway musical question, and I’m your gal, but my random knowledge of how many points Bulgaria scored in the 1994 Quidditch World Cup rarely comes in handy in your everyday quizzo session. (It’s 160 points, in case you were wondering... and yes they still lost to Ireland. Quidditch is weird.)
As a self-designated trivia nerd, I’m always on the lookout for ways to beef up my knowledge of all things random. So in honor of National Trivia Day, I’ve gathered some tips on how the Free Library supports the trivia nerd in us all by sharing content from some of the top trivia categories. I also threw in some top trivia questions for a little gamified learning along the way!
(answers at bottom of blog entry)
Globe and Jerusalem are types of what?
From classes in the Culinary Literacy Center to cookbooks to a graphic novel about a family caught between the two warring sides of a civil war among people who have artichoke leaves instead of hair, the Free Library has all your food facts covered.
And if you’re looking to brush up on your food facts while surrounded by some real foodie history, Richmond Library is your place. The first incarnation of the Richmond Library was in 1897 as a "Traveling Library" of 300 books in a flour and feed store that was open two nights a week.
Which planet in our solar system has the most moons?
This is always one of my worst trivia categories. I swear I studied science in school, but this subject seems to have been the first thing that left my mind after 12th grade. If you’re anything like me, then the Free Library is going to be a great resource for you, starting with these books on our largest planet and our A Science Minute blog posts!
What is the world’s largest fish?
From Grip, Charles Dickens’s pet raven (and indirect inspiration for Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven!) to birding backpacks (filled with a pair of binoculars, maps, and a field guide) available at multiple neighborhood libraries, the Free Library is home to some unusual ways to get your animal fix. Interested in some artistic animal inspiration? Visit the dragon sculpture by Stewart Zane Paul at Joseph E. Coleman Northwest Regional Library, as well as a mural of medieval knights and a variety of animals, painted by Richard Watson.
In Back to the Future, what does Marty McFly's license plate say?
All those movie trivia questions (or my favorite, audio clips of a movie where you have to name the title!) are where I shine at quizzo, but I can always use a refresher. Luckily, you don’t have to leave your house for this one. With your Free Library card, you have access to 30,000 documentaries and classic movies through the Kanopy streaming service and movies/television shows (along with audiobooks, ebooks, music, and graphic novels) with Hoopla.
Who was the 'mad monk' of Russian history?
Though I’m a big nerd for Revolutionary War and World War II history, I also love digging into the history of where I’m living. Parkway Central Library hosts the region’s largest collection of newspapers from the Philadelphia metropolitan area, with over 400 newspapers on microfilm dating back to 1720. If you’re interested in more contemporary history, the newly opened At These Crossroads: The Legacies of Frederick Douglass and W. E. B. Du Bois exhibition in Parkway Central’s West Gallery is worth a visit.
What is Paul McCartney's middle name?
If your trivia knowledge gap lives in music-land, try becoming a musician and learn by doing! Parkway Central Library’s Music Department has instruments (from guitars to steel drums) available to borrow for free with your library card.
Which player was the last to hit at over a .400 average in Major League Baseball?
With all the digital ways to read books and gather facts right at our fingertips, sometimes it’s nice to remember that the resources at the Free Library reach far beyond the books on the shelves (or the computer). Our staff have a bountiful source of information on so many topics, and they’re always willing to share. For a taste of the vast knowledge the Library staff holds, check out the Knowledge Base online, or jump right to the sports facts.
Want a shortcut to the ultimate trivia knowledge? We have you covered there too.
Did I miss your favorite quizzo category? Are you also a hopeless trivia nerd? Let me know in the comments!
by Paul M.
Ever wonder what to do with that slightly wrinkled bell pepper sitting in your produce drawer, or that Tupperware of cooked rice? Have you ever felt an overpowering sense of humdrum eating, heated up leftovers? One’s first instinct is to simply throw it away for the sake of saving precious energy thinking about what to do with it next. What you are experiencing is a condition I like to call "Leftovers Syndrome," a sense of not knowing how to prepare or utilize leftover foods.
Extreme cases happen around Thanksgiving.
Do not be alarmed. I am here to alleviate some of your problems, as November 23 just happens to be National Leftovers Day! This unofficial holiday has been designated to be the day after Thanksgiving. Rightly so, it has become the day of creative ingenuity and boundless possibilities. Your friends at the Culinary Literacy Center have a few ideas that we would like to share with you.
Probably the biggest food group in this category, they are not the most sought after option on the table (which they should be, but I digress). Soup is usually the number one answer of transforming them into a new dish. I have a family tradition of making Thanksgiving soup every year, and even make my own stock. Any scraps from produce preparation can be used to make a vegetable stock. Let it simmer for hours, drain, and use or cool immediately.
Leftover rice can be a wonderful asset to any meal, but it can also be a giant question mark. My rule of thumb is that leftover rice is just begging to be made into fried rice. When you combine leftover vegetables, meat, herbs, spices, soy sauce, and crack an egg—voilà, you have a new dish! To be even more creative, I made fried rice stuffed bell peppers. I had some leftover green bell peppers and decided to kick it up a notch.
Mac & Cheese
I would personally eat mac & cheese any day of the week. I would also gladly eat it in its entirety. However, it doesn’t hurt to repurpose it occasionally. I am a firm believer of turning most leftovers into sandwiches. Parents out there: kids love sandwiches—grilled cheeses to be exact. Do grilled mac & cheese sandwiches sound great? I think so. I had left over sourdough bread and I buttered some slices, added cheddar cheese, a spoonful of mac and cheese, more cheddar, and top with the other bread slice butter-side up. Heat a pan over medium heat, cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until bread is golden brown and cheese is melted. Boom!
Beans & Legumes
Beans or other legumes are not the cool kids of the party, but they are the ones you should pay attention to. These protein-packed ingredients can make fabulous meals. My favorite is turning them into variations of hummus. You could also include them in a weeknight pasta dinner. Big tubular pasta, like rigatoni, is the perfect bed for sautéed greens, a quick butter and wine sauce, those leftover beans, and parmesan cheese.
Stuffing (or Dressing)
Everyone enjoys the carb sidedish made entirely of bread. Growing up we called it dressing, not stuffing, but it can be used similarly. The best way to use leftover stuffing is to make it into waffles. If you have a waffle maker at home, this can be your next culinary achivement. After combinging eggs and a little stock to the leftover stuffing, you can pack the mixture into your greased waffle maker and let it cook. For dressing eaters, it is the same process. However, be careful not to incorporate too much liquid in the mixture since it tends to have a higher moisture content than normal stuffing.
Turn that cranberry sauce, jelly, or whatever you call it into a wonderful sandwich spread. Mix cranberry sauce with some mayonnaise (not Miracle Whip!) and you've got yourself a new and improved sandwich spread. Better yet, you could turn the cranberry sauce into muffins!
The juggernaut of the table, this bird is my favorite ingredient to work with. From turkey salad, turkey soup, turkey sandwiches, turkey poutine, or even turkey fried rice, this bird can be transformed numerous ways. My favorite is making a turkey and vegetable frittata. Nothing is better than making a wonderful brunch after Thanksgiving.
Don't forget about the unltimate Thanksgiving sandwich, piled high with turkey, stuffing (or dressing), and a wondefrul cranberry mayo!
H a p p y H o l i d a y s !
by Shayna M.
Nourishing Literacy is the Culinary Literacy Center’s school visit program, enjoyed by thousands of Philly students every school year. Hands-on cooking classes connecting to Common Core standards, culinary skills, and nutrition concepts are offered to school students in Pre-K through 8th grade, multiple times throughout the week in our kitchen classroom.
We have launched a series of youth-centered educational videos, designed to prepare students for their kitchen classroom visit. Our first completed video is a handwashing video for our youngest visitors, children ages 3 through 8 years old!
Thank you to videographers and youth mentors, Steve Jackson and Malik Harris, for their wonderful work and care. Special thank you to all of the Free Library families whose children are featured in this video! The kids did a super job of bringing learning to life and making handwashing something that viewers are inspired to do! It is meaningful to have the children of Free Library staff members as the stars of our Nourishing Literacy educational videos.
Our hope is that these videos will not only inspire kitchen safety and an interest in healthy cooking, but also offer another point of connection to the Free Library. The Nourishing Literacy team feels extremely fortunate to be able to encourage and witness our students’ lifelong relationship to the library, from cutting board to library card.
Thank you to all of the departments and department representatives who have enhanced the library experience for our Nourishing Literacy students through enriching activities and presentations including Children’s, Teen Central, Special Collections & Rare Books, Music, BRIC, Security, and CPSD! A recent Culinary Literacy blog post captures one of these great extensions. We are looking forward to continuing this work and to introducing Nourishing Literacy students to even more departments throughout Parkway Central Library!
If interested in learning more about Nourishing Literacy and/or how to involve a child in your life in our program, please email Shayna Marmar, firstname.lastname@example.org, for more information.
by Suzanna U.
When we think of food, many of us recall the well-worn kitchen tables at which our families welcome friends and neighbors to share dishes that tell our stories. As a first generation American, I have long been drawn to the ways in which personal narratives can be told through cooking and food. In my family, stories about celebration and survival alike are inextricably tied in with the bittersweet tastes of those times. Who prepares the recipe and how it is prepared gives way to remarks of how the ingredients have changed across the years and borders and why we eat what we eat now.
Here at the Free Library’s Culinary Literacy Center, our work to serve Philadelphia’s many communities extends to a range of approaches that advance literacy through food and cooking around a communal table. For English language learners, our Edible Alphabet program offers immigrants and refugees an opportunity to build conversational English skills through a series of classes that weave together cooking and literacy.
For a broader audience, we’ve worked with chefs to offer public classes with everyone from the venerable restaurateur Cristina Martinez to bring attention to the work of undocumented immigrants in the food service industry to home chefs who emigrated from Indonesia and Laos and use food as a narrative medium to explore culture and community.
This fall, we’ve partnered with Swarthmore College’s Friends, Peace and Sanctuary project to bring you a three-part Syrian cooking series with family-friendly, hands-on opportunities to cook alongside men and women who came to Philadelphia to make a home with families of their own after repeated displacement. On November 15, we’ll be bringing you Becoming US: Food and Culture, in partnership with the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, as all-star chefs Ange Kampar, Ari Miller, and Chris Paul examine how transition and settlement can be experienced while maintaining and exploring cultural identities.
Beyond Philadelphia’s yearly participation in national initiatives such as Welcoming Week, we look to our city’s residents to tell their stories of food and cooking as it relates to where we come from – and where we are going.
What foods tell your stories?
We invite you to the table to share – please join us!
by Violet L.
Does the "O" in October ever remind you of a hot, bubbling, scrumptious pizza? If it does, maybe that’s because October is National Pizza Month! We just observed International Pizza and Beer day last week—a perfect pairing if ever there was one—but there are plenty of other great cookbooks about how to bake that saucy, cheesy, universally beloved delight, but you might be surprised how many other slices of the Dewey Decimal pie contain a pizza book (and movie) or two!
How did pizza grow from a poor person’s snack in Naples into the only food so fun it gets a type of party named after it? You can read the whole story in Pizza: A Global History – and if you’re hungry for a second helping of pizza culture, check out Pizzapedia, a copiously illustrated reference book that gives the deep dish on all things pizza.
Pizza toppings sliding into your lap is a hot mess – and so was punk rock bad boy Colin Atrophy until he decided to start a blog posting his reviews for every pizza place in Manhattan. His memoir Slice Harvester tells the story of how that enviable task got his life together.
Do you like your pizza with peppers, onions, and pigskin? In John Grisham’s whimsical novel Playing For Pizza, a washed-up quarterback for the Cleveland Browns finds a second chance playing American-style football for a team in, of all places, Parma, Italy.
And if you can’t stop at just one slice of pizza page-turners, mystery writer Chris Cavender has written many pizza-themed whodunits like Killer Crust, The Missing Dough, Rest in Pizza, and A Pizza to Die For.
If the splatter of a Jackson Pollock painting reminds you of a large pizza with extra cheese, art historian Nancy Heller totally understands. Her art appreciation book Why A Painting Is Like A Pizza explains how visual art can be mouthwatering, too, and how you don’t have to like the same toppings as “the experts” to still enjoy a hot slice.
Did you know Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan is obsessed with Frank Lloyd Wright? He’s spent over $14 million collecting furniture, stained glass, and many other objects designed by the legendary architect, and you can see some of his unprecedented collection in this catalog Frank Lloyd Wright: Decorative Designs from the Domino's Pizza Collection.
There are so many fun picture books about pizza that it’s hard to pick a favorite, but one contender is definitely William Steig's Pete’s a Pizza, a giggly book about a rainy day make-believe game between dad and son.
Euterpe was the muse of lyric poetry, but is there a muse of pizza? Whoever she is, she's inspired children’s poet Jack Prelutsky to title this poetry anthology A Pizza The Size of the Sun. (He's also written a how-to book for budding poets called Pizza, Pigs, and Poetry: How to Write A Poem.)
But save room for dessert pizza! The Free Library has DVDs of some great pizza movies, including Do The Right Thing (Spike Lee's masterpiece set in and around a Brooklyn pizza parlor)
warning: NSFW language
Mystic Pizza (A coming-of-age romantic comedy containing Julia Roberts’ breakout role),
The Bicycle Thief (an Italian Neo-Realist classic where father and son on the run stop for an authentic Neapolitan pie),
And Spaceballs (a Star Wars parody where the villain is Pizza the Hutt!)
Do you know another pizza book? Another pizza movie? Or just a great lead on where to get the best slice in Philly? Drop us a note in the comments below!
by Paul M.
What do food and books have in common? I can certainly name three things: They are organic, can grow mold, and can be preserved. Those three things were key elements to a lesson taught to third grade students on a recent class trip to the Parkway Central Library.
The Culinary Literacy Center (CLC) and the Rare Book Department collaborated on a lesson for students about preservation. One of the CLC flagship programs, Nourishing Literacy, is a children’s cooking program where school groups visit the state-of-the-art kitchen classroom for interactive learning opportunities through cooking. Nourishing Literacy teacher Shayna Marmar introduced the idea of "good" bacteria and how it interacts with food to help preserve it. Students were first introduced to sour foods and how food can change form when it is preserved. They learned about acid, pickling, and salt before making their own preserved food. At the end of class, everyone got to enjoy the fruits of their labor—quickles (quick pickles) and sweet and sour cabbage, as toppings for hot dogs.
Chidlren's Literature Collection Curator, Christopher Brown, taught the students about book preservation and how it relates to food. Food and books both come from organic matter and can experience similar processes. The students learned that books can also grow mold, like food, if damaged by water. Students learned about early book materials including cow skin, squirrel skin, and cotton. They were invited to soak books in water and learn how librarians preserve or conserve them from molding. Don't worry—by using tried and true book preservation techniques, no books were harmed in the day's fun!
The entire day was filled with laughter and excitement as the students got messy pickling vegetables and conserving damaged books. One of the best ways to teach subjects is to apply them to real life situations. What better way to do that by making food and conserving books. The students left with their own, slightly damp, book souvenirs and full bellies.
This is not the first time the Culinary Literacy Center and Rare Book Department have collaborated on programming and certainly won't be the last. The Rare Book Department’s recent In Our Nature: Flora and Fauna of the Americas exhibit played an integral role in many of the CLC’s public programs this past summer.
Check out these links for more information about Nourishing Literacy and the Rare Book Department’s permanent and upcoming exhibits and collections.
by Kate C.
To celebrate the crisp weather, colorful leaves, and delicious food that this time of year brings, we wanted to share with you a fun recipe that screams fall! There's more to the season than pumpkin spice lattes, you know?
Thanks to a recent event with cookbook author Rose Levy Beranbaum at the Culinary Literacy Center, we’re now obsessed with this apple galette (and amazing cream cheese crust), which can be found on page 215 in Rose’s cookbook Rose's Baking Basics.*
Check it out:
A galette is a free form tart that can be made with many fruits or berries. It is easy to make, but by arranging the apple slices in concentric circles, the finished tart looks extraordinarily beautiful. This apple version is crisp, buttery, tart, and elegant. For the crispest bottom crust, be sure to use a preheated baking stone.
PREHEAT THE OVEN
Forty-five minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack at the lowest level and place the baking stone or cookie sheet on it. Set the oven at 400ºF/200ºC.
MISE EN PLACE
Twenty minutes to 1 hour, ahead, slice the apples. Set them in a medium bowl and toss them with the lemon juice and sugar until evenly coated. (This will
soften the apple slices, making them easier to arrange.)
Cut the butter into small pieces and refrigerate.
Have ready a fine-mesh strainer set over a small bowl.
MAKE THE GALETTE
1. Follow the instructions on page 204 for rolling the crust. Roll the dough as thin as possible, under 1/8” – 1/16” is ideal – and at least large enough to cut a 16-inch diameter disc. If at any point the dough softens, slip it, still on the dough mat, onto a cookie sheet. Cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes, until firmer.
2. Brush any flour from the dough. Gently fold the dough in quarters and transfer it to the pizza pan or half sheet pan. Carefully unfold it, leaving the overhang draped on the counter.
3. Empty the apple slices onto a cookie sheet so that you can separate the smaller from the larger ones. Arrange the apple slices, overlapping, in concentric circles within a 12 to 14 inch diameter (to the edge of the pizza pan, if using), starting toward the outer edge of the circle with the larger pieces, cored sides facing toward the center. If necessary, push a few slices of the fruit closer together and insert more slices evenly in between. Save the smaller pieces for the center. (A few seconds in the microwave will help to make the slices for the center more flexible.) Brush the apples with any liquid that remains in the bowl.
4. Dot the apples with the pieces of butter.
5. Fold the overhanging border of dough over the outer edge of the apples, allowing it to pleat softly at even intervals.
6. For a crunchy border, spritz or brush the dough rim lightly with water and sprinkle with a little sugar. If necessary, brush away any sugar on the surface of the pan.
BAKE THE GALETTE
7. Set the galette, on the pan, on the baking stone. Bake for 20 minutes. For even baking, rotate it halfway around. Continue baking for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the apples feel tender when pierced with a wire cake tester. If the edges of the apples start to brown, tent loosely with aluminum foil. Toward the end of baking, with a metal spatula, carefully lift up the crust to make sure it is not overbrowning. If necessary, lower the heat to 375ºF/190ºC, or lift the pan from the stone and move it to a higher shelf.
COOL THE GALETTE
8. Set the galette on a wire rack and cool until warm before glazing.
GLAZE THE GALETTE
9. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, heat the apricot preserves until boiling. Press them through the strainer. If necessary, stir in the brandy to thin slightly. Brush the glaze onto the apples.
10. Serve warm or room temperature.
STORE APPLE PORTION COVERED WITH LIGHTLY COATED PLASTIC WRAP: room temperature, 2 days; refrigerated, 4 days.
*Beranbaum, Rose Levy, and Matthew Septimus. Rose's Baking Basics. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018
by Kate C.
Medical information changes rapidly with new research, and when new information is delivered to you during a stressful medical appointment, it can be tough to remember everything you were told. Differing levels of education; access to resources; and factors such as age, language, and cultural differences can all affect a person’s health literacy skills.
October is Health Literacy Month, a month dedicated to helping people find, understand, evaluate, communicate, and use health information to make informed decisions. Take some time this month to use the Free Library to improve your own health literacy, so you can help yourself and others!
Here are just a few ways you can do that:
Reaching HEALthy program is an initiative that seeks to establish the Free Library as an essential healthcare resource for the community, bringing health literacy programs, health counseling and referrals, and preventive health services to the Parkway Central Library. Nurses are stationed in the lobby most weekdays to offer blood pressure and blood sugar screenings, as well as to offer health counseling and referrals when appropriate.
Reaching HEALthy also partners with the Free Library’s staff of social workers to host Coffee Chats on Monday afternoons. Held in Room 108 in the Parkway Central Library, these chats provide a space for patrons who are in transition to share and receive resources on housing, employment, and healthcare. These chats often include partnerships with community organizations such as Broad Street Ministry, Project HOME, Office of Homeless Services, and BenePhilly.
A Free Library partnership with Lankenau Medical Center includes monthly presentations on health & wellness at Overbrook Park Library (1st Tuesday), Haddington Library (2nd Tuesday), and Wynnefield Library (3rd Wednesday), with topics ranging from managing stress to hygiene to sun safety.
Visit the South Philadelphia Library and speak with our Community Health Librarian to help you get your questions answered.
To improve your cooking skills and knowledge of healthy eating, check out a class at our Culinary Literacy Center. They’ve even shared a health recipe, which you can find below.
If you’re in West Philadelphia, check out the Free Library’s health corners, which give patrons a private space to look up health information, with a variety of print resources, a computer, printer, and online access.
Interested in jump-starting your path to good health with a tasty and nutritious recipe? Try this, straight from our Culinary Literacy Center! Let us know in the comments how it turned out!
Citrus Salad with Toasted Almonds*
Oranges are abundant and are often on sale at the grocery store at this time of year. Create this salad with a mix of orange types for a colorful presentation.
Zest one orange. Cut off the ends of both oranges and squeeze ends, reserving one tablespoon of the juice. Peel and remove pith from both oranges and slice. Lightly toast the almond slivers in a dry pan.
To make the salad dressing, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, honey, orange juice and zest.
When ready to serve, toss greens with the dressing. Arrange orange slices on serving plates. Top with the salad greens, and scatter toasted nuts on top.
*This recipe was created by Registered Dietician Kathleen Mathis of Reimagining Nutrition for the Culinary Literacy Center’s Heart Healthy Cooking Classes, which were offered in the neighborhood libraries as part of the Good Food for All program series. Additional programming with Kathleen is forthcoming this spring, so stay tuned!
by Liz A.
Throughout history there are duos that are stronger together than they are separate:
Peanut Butter and Jelly
Hall and Oates
Movies and Popcorn
Thelma and Louise
Mario and Luigi
Today, we celebrate one of the greatest duos of all time...
Dear reader, October 9 is International Pizza and Beer Day!
If you’d like to celebrate with us, read more—we’ve got you covered like cheese on pizza!
While our oven is heating up, let’s get started with a beer. And where better to have a beer than on the Parkway Central’s roof? That’s right—the Free Library Beer Garden is back on October 23, 24, and 25 from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., and October 26 from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Enjoy a beer while taking in the best view the Benjamin Franklin Parkway has to offer.
While you’re up on the roof, sipping a cold brew, you can gaze out on Brewerytown, the Philadelphia neighborhood just north of Parkway Central Library, named for numerous breweries that operated there in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Curious to learn more? The Map Collection has numerous digitized records including industrial site surveys from the late 19th century. They indicate building materials, as well as the purpose of each building and the machinery used, number of employees, and what is manufactured on the site. Our Map Curator, Megan MacCall, found a brewery that was owned by a woman, Mrs. Elizabeth Vollmer, at the time of the survey in 1893. Cheers to 19th century female small business owners!
Hungry? We are too. Let’s move on to the pizza! In the Culinary Literacy Center, it’s no secret that we love Leanne Brown’s Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4 a Day. Available in print from the library or accessible for free in English and Spanish through the author’s website, Good and Cheap has a plethora of amazing recipes that live up to the titular adjectives. The pizza dough is no exception. If you have the time, we recommend the "Slow Method":
Pizza Dough 2 Ways
4 individual pizzas
As for next steps, we leave that to the experts—Philadelphia’s own Marc Vetri and his book Mastering Pizza or Tony Gemignani’s The Pizza Bible. And what are you putting on your pizza? Come to the Knife Skills Class on October 16 and learn how to julienne, brunoise, chiffonade, and battonet veggies into submission to top your pizza. Keep your eyes peeled to the Culinary Literacy Center’s Events page—we’ll be offering another Mozzarella Cheese making class soon! Until then, check out a book on cheesemaking.
And when that pie is out of the oven and you’re noshing on pizza and sipping on beer—a combo made in heaven—we couldn’t think of anything better to read than Pizzapedia and Philadelphia Beer: A Heady History of Brewing in the Cradle of Liberty.
Cheers! Cin Cin! Prost!
by Suzanna U.
For many, the month of October can conjure up a glorification of gore. Here at the Free Library’s Culinary Literacy Center, we are taking a bit of a different approach and beginning a three-part series focusing on offal.
Offal, also called variety meat, refers to the trimmings of animals that might go unused once a butcher does their deed. The uses of these cuts of meat, which range from kidney to heart and everything in between, vary from culture to culture. With the re-emergence of whole animal butchering by local outfits such as Primal Supply Meats, Philadelphia-based chefs and home cooks alike can try their hand at using offal to create dishes that nourish meat eaters and challenge them to learn more about the intersections of anatomy and nutrition.
As Jonathan Reisman, an emergency room physician co-presenting the class, writes:
The body parts that make life possible—the muscles that help us move, the heart that pumps blood, and the brain that conjures our most personal thoughts and emotions—all correspond to similar, if not the same, organs in animals. A good doctor understands the function of these parts as they relate to our pursuit of health; a good butcher or chef understands them as ingredients to become delectable food. Learning anatomy and physiology in medical school helped broaden my culinary horizons, and I found that knowledge of the bodily origin of my food deepened my connection when eating it. Knowing where your food comes from is not just the geographical origin of fruits and vegetables, but also understanding the anatomy and physiology of how body parts functioned during life before being served on our dinner plates. Becoming a doctor disrupted my ingrained habits of edibility and cleansed the doors of my culinary perception. And, as William Blake might have said, "when the doors of perception are cleansed, one may see things as they truly are"—delicious. Come join us at Anatomy Eats to learn where our food truly comes from and how the perspectives of anatomy and cuisine overlap within our own bodies.
The first Anatomy Eats class, which kicks off on Tuesday, October 9, explores physiological systems of the body by way of cuisine and anatomy and features the circulatory system. We will get the chance to taste blood, bone marrow, and heart, as prepared by chef Ari Miller, while Dr. Reisman describes how these components work together to keep our bodies healthy. As an on-again-off-again vegetarian, I am looking forward to seeing how my own perceptions of meat-eating are challenged by this class.
Ari Miller is a chef who started his career in Tel Aviv and has worked in Philadelphia for some of the city's best chefs. In his own kitchen he expresses serious love of street food and the fifth quarter. (Photo by Jason Bartlett).
More than a panache for gore, these classes will put into question our own culture’s singular focus on particular cuts, such as the quintessential chicken breast, and broaden our understanding of what it means to be a culinarily literate meat eater committed to taking part in a more sustainable, more nourishing food system.