Every year at this time as newsmakers take a break and newsrooms do, too, it's a tradition to run "Best of" features. As Pique is no exception - the finishing touches are being put on the "Best of" issue as I write this - I thought I'd offer my own one-off version, rounding up the "Best of" and "Worst of" the world of food in 2010.
Best food trend in 2010
The best food trend in 2010 has to be the renaissance of simply-prepared food. Was it the HST on the restaurant tab? The DDT on the produce slogged in from Timbuktu? The recession or the 100-mile-diet fallout? Or simple burnout on foodie one-upmanship? (About time after 25 years.) Whatever, I'm with you, brothers and sisters, as we rediscover the joys of mashed potatoes and fried chicken done right at home.
Best homemade fast food ever
In light of the above, one of the best dishes I came up with in 2010 is my one bowl/two stick dinner - perfect for anyone who has to cook in the kitchen of local employee housing. It goes like this: whip up your favourite Kraft Dinner. While the water's boiling for the noodles, wash a big handful of (organic) cherry tomatoes and another big handful of (organic) broccoli you've chopped into nice little pieces, but I'm sure you could use other veggies as you like. Stick the veggies in a soup bowl and blanche them by covering them with boiling water (either boil some water separately in a kettle, or if you've got enough extra boiling for the KD noodles, use some of that). Once the noodles are cooked, add all the regular KD trimmings plus about half cup of some good grated or ground cheese - the better the cheese, the better the results - and a couple of big spoonfuls of good plain yogurt - the higher the fat, the better and creamier the results. If you feel bad about the extra fat, ditch some of the butter the KD recipe recommends. Add your nicely blanched vegetables, stir it all up and serve yourself in the same bowl you used to blanche the veggies. Perfect eaten with chopsticks in front of a screen with a good show. Clean up: two minutes.
Worst hit food supplies in 2010
Which country wins the title for the place suffering the most from disrupted food supplies? Was it post-earthquake, post-hurricane, post-cholera, Haiti, with water supplies destroyed and roads blocked by rubble and post-election wreckage, or Pakistan, with flooding that impacted 20 million people and destroyed about 17 million acres of farmland - an area the size of England, or 30 per cent of the country's productive land? Both, I say from the looks of UN stats. More than 3 million Haitians are suffering without adequate food, or about one third of the population. In Pakistan, where prices of essential staples have spiraled upwards an average of about 40 per cent in the last five years, about 77 million are without enough food, more than half of the people in the entire nation. In either place, a box of Kraft Dinner would be most welcome. Send one, or the equivalent thereof, via SOS Children's Villages, either to Haiti, where they are now feeding some 14,000 children daily, or to Pakistan, where they are active in the worst-hit regions ( http://www.sos-childrensvillages.org/pages/default.aspx ).
Best blue food inspired by Avatar
While it's pretty hard to get your hands on anything eaten by Na'vi, the stars of Avatar , some of the best suggestions for blue food were inspired by the movie. While Avatar came out last December right before Christmas, most of its run was in 2010, so it's fair game here. Besides, it's the only excuse I could come up with to talk about blue food. I don't know why, but it's fascinated me since I was a kid, mainly because of the way things like blue popsicles and blue ice cream turn mouths a ridiculous blue. How about adding blueberries to a batch of lemonade to get the right hue, or just use blue Kool-Aid straight up? Blue corn chips and blue potato chips are great, and for some Avatar parties, people were modifying their chocolate fountains by using white chocolate with blue food colouring. On a drink note, adding blue curaçao to your martinis or margaritas will turn them blue. Plus there are blue hurricanes - rum, pineapple juice, OJ and blue curaçao - and blue lagoons - lemonade, vodka, and blue curaçao. No excuse for not having a blue, blue Christmas next year. If you go blue, don't worry. You won't turn into a 10-foot, 300-pound Na'vi - they don't use nucleic acids to encode genetic information.
Worst holiday food idea in 2010 and always
Low-fat, low-salt, healthy Christmas dinner? Get over it, people! Christmas dinner comes but once a year and I don't care if it has 14,000 calories per serving (really, the average serving is supposed to have 1,400 calories, with no second helpings), I hope you sloshed extra gravy on that bird-soaked stuffing, went back for seconds on the Yule log, and generally dug in and enjoyed. If you didn't, do so twice next year. And quit reading those lame food columnists looking for a "healthy" new angle during the holly-daze.
Best foolproof weight loss system invented
If you've gotta knock off, say, a couple of hundred pounds fast, try the "treatment" Canadian-born author Cory Doctorow invented in his latest novel, Makers. Okay, so the book was released in late 2009 but, hey, that's almost 2010. In this futuristic post-corporate cyber world, cutting edge production and technology lie in the hands of New Workers - bands of independent, ingenious individuals who hook up in new configurations to reinvent every durable good imaginable, as well as a few non-durable strategies, like how to get rid of belly fat. So what do you have to do to lose 200 pounds in weeks? In Doctorow's world, you sign up at a clinic in St. Petersburg, Russia, where you're subjected to electro-muscular stimulation and chemical therapy, once the SOP of rich new mothers in Hollywood in pursuit of post-pregnancy skin tightening, along with appetite-suppressing hormones, stem cell treatments, and genomic therapy to boost metabolism. Sounds good to me - especially after all this holiday eating. Bon appetit !
Glenda Bartosh is an award-winning freelance writer who wishes she had the metabolism of a hummingbird.