On Trend - Hold the Toast and Sell the Market

Tuna Salad and Avocado Fava Bean Tartines

I literally woke up to

this article

on the New Yorker this morning. It touches upon a larger subject that I have wanted to voice upon for a long time. So, I decided I may as well tackle it now.

To wit, it is the 'trending' of food. I simply don't get it. And, neither does most of the US but possibly for differing reasons.

Now, this article talks about toast as an

mal-manifestion of a growing emergence

in the food space. I call it that because literally the cycle of it goes as follows:

Discovery -> Hype -> Cash Influx -> Hyper Trending and Mass Disgust.

From stage II onwards, it has for the most part left the realm of reality and turned off several more people who could have gained knowledge but are now loath to be part of a hipster movement, which, in honesty, it is! The frightening bit is how the time frame is narrowing between the aha moment of a few to the fashionable frenzy that follows after displacing several honestly curious overlookers into indifference.

Fava beans

Focus on the last line - "

The issue is not the toast so much as a rapidly changing San Francisco and a world in which food matters, maybe more than it should.

" I cannot agree more. Only in the US, and markedly as an aping effect in other parts of the world, could a restaurant charge exorbitant prices for something anyone can make, but don't because it is cool to eat out. It is also the only country when you can call yourself an elite chef and restaurant simply because you focus on seasonal and local. Really? That sets you apart as a chef, a call on talent? These days, increasingly around NYC, there are restaurants that pop up on premise of local and charge you an arm and leg for a simple dish that I can make at home for a fraction of the price! Oh wait, I forgot! There is an added surcharge for it being comforting food that you can eat everyday.

I understand good quality comes at a price but I refuse to accept that quality of ingredients, rather than the menu, is sufficient criteria for being called a great restaurant.

I don't know when people in US (around the world, they already did) started to become aware of eating well. That was an uncontested step forward. Certainly, the Omnivore's Dilemma made it more mainstream. Thanks to Pollan even those of us who grew up in a natural eating environment, yet, later succumbed to the convenience of not eating from the land, reconnected with the desire to be normal. But, I do not know when that normality began to trend to uber-cool and ultra-pricey. I argue this to be an uncontested step backward.

One needs neither shop at Whole Foods to eat unprocessed and healthy, nor read Kinfolk to know how to live!

Tartines Assembly

In making it an effort of fashion, a luxury to boot, such trends have managed to alienate masses of people. Eating well has come to be associated with being hipster, Brooklynite, twee, West coast hippie, etc.; Everything that the average resident of this country either does not relate to, agree with or afford. In doing so, instead of focusing on quality and dispelling myths about food that began as a consequence of lack of food culture, it only pervades the disparity in understanding of it and a burgeoning cultural divide. I live in Brooklyn and love the area but will go up in arms against the "Made in Brooklyn" hype as well as the proliferation of ironic beards!

Recently, I was talking to an European food company about product pricing. He said something, which, stays with me as much for the abject common sense of it as for how it brings in focus the power of knowledge. In Europe, you cannot sell a food product beyond a certain price point because people know what the product is worth and will not pay any more than that value. In comparison, in the US, the higher the price and the more divergent it is from inherent value, the more valuable it is considered. Irony!

Add to all this haute debate, the very real flow of large sums of capital and the death sentence is complete. Food is not fashion. Neither is it a commodity. When food gets commercialized, whether it is a box of cereal or a fanciful toast, it sends the ripple effect through THIS society. And, so, now we are caught with the forces of the need to be at the edge propelled by the seemingly endless fuel of capitalism. It is amusingly and frighteningly ridiculous at the same time.

Fava beans Tartines

Market Speak

- Skip this section if not interested in investing.

So, basically, in the US, product beta is very high and one always overpays. This, I can argue, is prevalent across all industries (just look at the flight of capital into social media). But, is particularly worrisome in certain sectors, such as food that is a basic necessity. Longer term, this will induce another spiral in the food industry and a spate of misplaced lobbying, where the only winners are those with money and power to the detriment of every one else. And, make no mistake, this can only be deleterious.

In the near term, btw, this portends a looming correction in the markets. In investing sense, this flight of capital is signal of one thing and one thing only - excess cash that cannot find value in other sectors. Ergo, the markets are overpriced. I am bracing for down cycle. I call end of year.

With that happy news, I leave you with a comforting toast, sorry tartine, made with fave beans! Btw, lava beans is the new rage in the markets. And, of course it comes from California. While everybody and their dog is scampering mad to find "new" and inventive ways to eat this glorious bean 'brimming with nutrients', it is really a staple of the European spring which is showcased in simple, lovely dishes such as this tart and these fritters.


Tuna Salad and Avocado Fava Bean Tartines

{makes a very satisfying lunch for ONE}


For the Tuna Salad:

1/4 cup drained tuna in olive oil + 1 tsp of the oil reserved

1 T chopped red bell pepper

1 tsp chopped onion

1 T dijon mustard

1/2 tsp peri peri or other hot sauce

For the Tartines:

2 slices of sourdough bread

4-5 pods of fava beans

1/2 avocado, sliced

a bit of crumbly cheese, for sprinkling on top (I used baked kefir)

a few slices of cheddar for melting on bread

salt, vinegar and olive oil

Toss the salad ingredients together and set aside.

Remove the seeds from the lava bean pods and blanch in salted boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and pop open the thick seed cover to get to the green bean. You can eat it as is or cook in a sauce at this point.

To assemble the tartines, toast the bread slices with oil on both sides. Place cheddar on the toast and warm till it starts melting. Be careful to not burn the other side.

Sprinkle half the beans atop the cheese layer. On one toast, load the tuna salad. On the other arrange the avocado.

Arrange the remaining beans on top of the salad and avocado and crumble cheese on top.

Bon AppΓ©tit!