Mountain View College is making great inroads in the sustainability and slow foods movement in an area known for fast food joints. (Photo courtesy Mountain View College)
There was a time in 1980s San Francisco, when a reporter could let an apartment from a woman out in the Sunset District and be surprised that there was a garden out back, a patch of land sprouting carrots, lettuce, beets, and luscious tomatoes.
Today, gardens are everywhere seemingly, even as water shortages, zero lots and high-density housing curtail gardening plans. Communities are filling in the gaps, though, and shared gardens are blossoming.
Whether one talks to a university garden manager in Dallas, an urban gardener in New Haven, or a 79-year-old community garden coordinator in New Hampshire, one thing’s clear: the shared garden movement has grown beyond just ‘tree-huggers’ and into the community at large. Kitchen gardens preceded the modern supermarket, and now we’re turning back the clock to reap greater health benefits and social nourishment.
Author and former TV reporter Anupy Singla has made inroads in the American culinary market by promoting DIY Indian cooking.
Anupy Singla is hoping to turn Indian cuisine into the next Mexican food.
Well, not exactly, but this best-selling cookbook author, mom and former broadcast journalist sees a real need for what she has to offer — expertise as a self-trained cook informed by emigrating from India at just age three.
Yet, her business, Indian as Apple Pie, is more than just a cute concept: it’s spices, recipes, cookbooks, a blog and, with any luck, the inspiration for a TV show.
Spices the Indian way
Singla, who lives in Chicago with her husband and two young daughters, says her business fills a niche, and she is shattering preconceptions.
That’s because many Americans just don’t get what Indian food is about, she claims; for example, we frequently confuse a curry with curry the spice, or douse dishes with the spice as a “Saturday Night Fever” character would his cologne.
“Some think curry powder is the essence of Indian cooking. I grew up never using curry powder, only for some specialized non-Indian [foods],” she says.
In the movie Chef, Jon Favreau plays a chef on the edge who leaves his crazy white-linen job to run a food truck.
In the movie “Chef”, Jon Favreau’s character abruptly quits working for a posh L.A. restaurant that’s been squelching his creativity – as well as forcing him to work under a psycho boss, deliciously played by Dustin Hoffman. The disgruntled chef decides to follow his dream of opening a specialty food truck and the results are, of course, movie magic.
So is art imitating life? Are real-life chefs and would-be chefs quite as bold after they’ve been stifled creatively? Turns out yes, even if most interviewed won’t cop to being quite as miserable as Favreau’s Chef Carl was onscreen.
Pride of ownership
Oklahoma City-based chef Jonathon Stranger, co-owner of popular restaurant Ludivine, attended the world-class Institute of Culinary Education, yet in his early 20s his life was a mess. Working in restaurants seemed to fuel an alcohol-and-pills habit, in part because of the plentiful supply he found through working in kitchens, but mainly because of where his head was at.
Chef Jonathon Stranger went from recovery to creative riches with his world-class restaurant Ludivine, which has brought the farm-to-table concept to Oklahoma City, his hometown. Photo © Quit Nguyen