Food News Chum: Pizza as a Vegetable | Homemade Mustard | Celebrating French Toast

Thanksgiving is over, and you’re probably still stuffed from last Thursday (not me, tho, as we had a small Thanksgiving). So with food still on your mind, and in your refrigerators, here are a few food related items:

  • Pizza as a vegetable. I’m sure that by now you have heard Congress wants to make pizza a vegetable, and have had a good chuckle and some ire at Congress’ expense. The problem is, of course, is that the issue has been misrepresented by the media, and the real story is something very different. The LA Times gives a good summary here. Basically, there’s a new law that requires schools to provide students with more fresh vegetables, and to do this, they are defining minimal quantitites in each category of vegetable. The question was: Does the amount of tomato paste on a slice of pizza constitue a serving of vegetables for the “other vegetable” category? Lobbying by the manufacturers of frozen pizzas, as well as school boards faced with the cost of fresh vegetables, argued Congress into continuing the special treatment that tomato paste gets: specifically, an eighth of a cup of tomato paste is considered the nutritional equivalent of a half-cup serving of vegetables, since that’s how much tomato it takes to make it. Manufacturers and school boards are also fighting the requirement for whole grains, as those are also more expensive. Congress also wanted to limit the amount of starchy vegetables (read potatoes), but Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) from big potato-producing states joined with the National Potato Council to fight the limits on starchy vegetables. The upshot is that the bill that was signed prevents the USDA from limiting servings of starchy vegetables. It also slows the sodium reduction and challenges the USDA to come up with a more precise definition of the term “whole grain” before implementing rules about their use. So that’s the story behind “pizza is a vegetable”. ETA: Here’s another editorial on this.
  • Mustard as a Spice. I cannot stand peppers. The basic spice of bell peppers and hotter chilies doesn’t nothing positive for me; in fact, it usually causes indigestion. On the other hand, I loves me my mustards and horseradishes. So I read with interest an article that talks about how to make homemade mustards. This sounds like something worth trying at home!
  • Celebrating Freedom Toast. Today is National French Toast Day. Now, the interesting bit in the article is that French Toast doesn’t get its name from the country, but rather its creator. The earliest mention of the concoction was found in a collection of Latin recipes from the 4th century, and it’s even given some face time in one of the Brothers Grimm tales. In 1724, a tavern chef named Joseph French in Albany, New York, created his own American spin on this traditional meal and named it French toast, after himself, of course. Similarly, French Fries have nothing to do with the country across the channel, but the method of preparation.