Hundreds upon hundreds-the cooks, the teachers and the authors-were in Washington late last month for the 8th annual convention of the International Association of Cooking Professionals. Like all conventioneers they gave lectures and listened to them, networked and gossiped, toured the city and dined in its restaurants. And with them, recording their comings and goings, were food section writers Phyllis C. Richman, Carole Sugarman and Tom Sietsema.
For Washington food professionals the IACP convention was special, not just because it was held on home ground and planned by local p eople-chairman Marcia Fox and vice chairman Lainie Forman-but because Francois Dionot of L'Academie de Cuisine was installed as IACP president. For the organization as a whole it was a special convention because it was the first under its new name-changed from the International Association of Cooking Teachers.
It was also the occasion of the first public announcement that the IACP is taking over the annual cookbook prizes previously known as the Tastemaker Awards. And it was a convention that drew more European participants than even the association's regional meeting in Paris did last year. The IACP was truly launched at last as an international group, with eight Italians (who are planning a regional meeting in 1987), four Australians, even more English, plus representatives from Hong Kong, Norway and Ireland in attendance and an international committee formed for the first time. French? Most of them were transplanted Americans, but one of the living legends of French cookery, Simone Beck, flew in to be honored at the final brunch.
This international gathering had a chance to see the culinary riches of the capital city through tours of the USDA's Beltsville Research Center and the National Herb Garden, to hear talks by food lobbyists, to look at the rare cookbooks of the Library of Congress and to attend a demonstration of early American cooking at Sully Planation. Le Pavillon presented a cocktail party in the Cannon House Office Building, Windows did one overlooking the Potomac, the Four Seasons showed off its health-conscious alternative cooking as prelude to a desssert reception in Georgetown Park, and White House pastry chef Roland Mesnier demonstrated dessert making while Jean-Louis Palladin showed beautiful beginnings with his inventive New Terrines.
Mostly, it was a chance to meet fellow professionals and exchange ideas. Though Julia Child, still recovering from a knee operation, was absent, Craig Claiborne and Barbara Kafka made brief guest appearances. Jane Grigson from England renewed acquaintance with SUsy Davidson from France; Paula Wolfert and Irena Chalmers managed to cadge a talk on the way to the New York shuttle. New York teachers Jacques Pepin, Peter Kump, Lydie Marshall and Bert Greene found themselves in the same city for a few days, probably an unprecedented event. Representing the chocolate mafia were Flo Braker and Rose Levy Beranbaum. Off the book shelves and onto the podium were Anton Mosimann, Madeleine Kamman, Giuliano Bugialli, Anne Byrd, Mariion Cunningham, Jo Bettoja, Nina Simonds, Jenifer Haravey Lang, John Mariani, Barbara Tropp, Harold McGee and Richard Sax, perhaps the greatest number of cookbbok authors to ever visit the city at one time. -P.C.R.
One of the week's most spectacular culinary creations was the ravioli-scallop terrine prepared by Washington chef Jean-Louis Palladin; it was four hues of scallop mousse-tinged green (parsley), red (beet puree), orange (loster coral) and yellow (saffron)-piped into tubular lengths of pasta blackened with squid ink and set in an aspic. When cut in slices, it revealed a mosaic of sophisticated design.
What makes for such a showstopper? For one thing, the scallops for the mousse were acquired live, so that their meat was freshly firm and clear. In preparing the mousse, equal parts of scallops and cream (35-39 percent butterfat) were combined with a dash of sea salt. And the raviolis were poached in a broth befitting their exquisiteness: lobster consomme.
But with squid ink selling for as much as $150 per pound-it takes one ton of squid to get one kilo of ink, it was estimated-the home cook might be somewhat daunted by the terrine's priciness. (There's a bit of consolation for anyone adventurous enough to attempt the dish, however: Palladin assured his audience that leftover squid ink freezes well.) -T.S.
Freida Caplan, owner of the Los Angeles specialty produce firm that sells to every major retailer in the country, is betting on becoming the Squash and Bean Queen. The return to simple cuisine will be the impetus, Caplan told a crowded workshop on trends in food products and food production. This time squash and beans are going the fast food route-Freida's Finest is selling beans that cook in 18 to 20 minutes without prior soaking, and microwave owners are discovering squash, Caplan said, as she plucked a mini-gold table squash from a basket of "demonstration" produce she had brought along for her talk.
In Caplan's future-food basket of not-s-simple cuisine is black wild rice from California, elephant garlic and kiwano from New Zealand. A lime-banana taste, a shelf life of six omnths and a do-not-refrigerate warning make the kiwano one of the "weirdest fruits" her company has ever seen, Caplan said.
And what else do the setters of trends and technology see in their crystal balls? From Walter Martin, co-owner of Flying Foods International, a New York import, distributing and wholesaling firm, it's more cottage industries (both in aquaculture and agriculture), an increasing trickle-down of diverse specialty produce from upscale restaurants to consumers, and a growing export market for U.S.-produced specialty foods.
Among the pictures in Martin's slide show of foods we will be seeing more of in restaurants and retail outlets: fresh white asparagus, grapevine cuttings for grilling (the next mesquite?), more wild mushroms, ramps (wild scallions), edible flowers and purple peppers (they turn green when cooked).
Between scientific procedures that can define and encapsulate flavors and biotechnology that controls handling and growing, we should be seeing more custom-made foods, predicted Wilda Martinez, national program leader for product quality of the USDA (e.g., Kraft is breeding carrots for cruchiness). Those advances coupled with new trends in packaging will bring about "partially processed" foods, said Martinez. Also in the future: wider use of the microwave spectrum to possibly inactivate selective enzymes that lead to food deterioration.
Sanford Miller, director of FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, told participants that although we tend to look down on food processing, modern civilization could never have advanced without it. "It's very difficult to grow all the food you need on the 20th floor of a condominium," he quipped.
As for specific advances in technology, Miller said that aquaculture is far from a new idea (every ancient mountain monastery had its fish pond), but that one of the problems with the modern-day system is that the fish tend to get sick because they are so crowded, forcing producers to use antibiotics.
In answer to a question about the recent study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine documenting gastrointestinal illness from eating raw or insufficiently cooked shellfish, Miller said that contamination of shellfish is nothing new, that the nature of these aquatic animals is to strain "everything" into their shells. Miller reiterated his concern over the emergence of microbiological contamination of the food supply, which he said has been increasing 20 percent per year both in the United States and abroad. While the increase in part reflects our ability to better diffentiate between food-borne illness and the flue, he also attributed it to the appearance of new organisms and to consumers' negligence in "good old-fashioned" food sanitation. -C.S.
According to Danielle Delpeuch, the grande dame of foie gras from southwestern France, the best moment for savoring the delicacy is "in the morning, when the palate is completely fresh." Eat it alone, without alcohol, she said, then added, "and when you're finished, deglaze the mouth with champagne."
Delpeuch reported at the "Foie Gras and Truffles" seminar that 75 percent of France's foie gras is eaten within the borders, and that per capital consumption of the duck or goose liver is a whopping 7 to 8 pounds per year. -T.S.
The high cost of restaurant liability insurance coupled with her doctor's orders have prompted Madeleine Kamman to disband her New Hampshire cooking school and restaurant by mid-October, reported the cook, author and teacher during her cooking demonstration to benefit the student scholarship fund of the Cooking Advancement, Research and Education Foundation. Preparing a menu pairing French techniques with American ingredients-Northwest-Northeast Oyster Plate, Filet of Moulard with Oregon Pears and Crazy Oat Cakes, Salad of Bitters with Air-Dried Maine Goat Cheese, and Molded Cream of Pink Grapefruit and Meyer Lemon Rinds with Raspberry Sauce-Kamman told the audience that she will instead be touring the country doing cooking demonstrations.
When she takes her talents on the road, Kamman may b ecome inclined to travel with everything-plus the kitchen sink. In a spirited demonstration of how to rise above kitchen mishaps, Kamman kept reassuring conferees, "Let's not panic," after the leaf gelatin wouldn't melt-even when boiled-orwhen one of the electric burners went dead or when a control knob fell off the range.
Nevertheless, Kamman's reputation for creativity and inventive procedures wasn't daunted.
On creme anglaise: Test for doneness not when the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon, but when the froth disappears.
On sauce for lamb: Use a caramelized essence of the lamb juices instead of stock, and add fennel seds to intensify the flavor.
On veal stock: Use veal breast instead of bones for a meatier stock. -C.S.
The topic "Food Lobbyists: How They Change the Food We Eat" was discussed in an interesting exchange between industry and consumer representatives.
On the con side was Sherwin Gardner, vice president for science and technology for the Grocery Manufacturers of America, who argued that lobbyists, laws and regulations do not necessarily change the way people eat. Factors that have more impact on our eating habits are social (such as the increasing number of women in the workforce), economic (increased affluence), technology and science (packaging, microwave ovens, findings about nutrition and health) and demographics (such as the growing number of the population over 50).
To support his contentions, Gardner gave examples of recent changes in eating habits that have occurred without government regulation: decreases in consumption of distilled spirits and meat, increases in fish consumption and calcium supplements, and the 40 cents out of every food dollar being spent away from home.
On the pro side was Carol Tucker Foreman, president of Foreman & Co. and formerly assistant secretary of agriculture for food consumer services and executive director of the Consumer Federation of Ameriac, who contended that lobbyists have an impact on the safety, availability and price of food and that the system favors the groups that have a high stake in the outcome.
Foreman gave examples of market orders and import and quota fees, which affect the price and availability of food, and pointed to the shrewd ways of political action committees and other lobbyists who are proficient in generating economic data (e.g., what will happen to the pig farmers if you take restrictions off the import of Danish hams?) or coming up with lists of people who are opposed to legislation that will hurt members within congressional districts.
Larry Graham, executive vice president of the National Food Processors Association, said that a lot of people affect the food we eat, but that the real impact comes from the scientific community.
Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, agreed that Gardner's social, economic, demographic and technological factors probably have an overwhelming influence on the food we eat, but pointed to the power of "indirect" or "surrogate" lobbyists. Hiring an "objective professor" is one method the food industry employs to convince consumers about the benefits of food industry employs to convince consumers about the benefits of foods such as sugar, according to Jacobson, and the fast food industry send its lobbyists into schools in the form of Ronald McDonald. -C.S.
Besides sprinkling her snowy driveway with kosher salt, New York Times health columnist and book author Jane Brody feeds her chicken skins and egg yolks to the family dog. Dogs are true carnivores and have an entirely different cholesterol metabolism from people, said Brody in a master class talk she gave with Dr. Mark Hegsted, professor emeritus of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. Unlike in humans, most of the cholesterol in a dog's bloodstream is the protective kind-the high-density lipoproteins, or HDL. So a dog can handle a h igh cholesterol diet without getting coronary artery disease, Brody said. And egg yolks give a dog a shiny coat, too. Or, alternatively, Brody later suggested hard-boiling unused yolks and putting them in a bird feeder. Now that whe has tackled human nutrition, could a "Good Food For Animals" cookbook be far behind? -C.S. Jean-Louis Palladin was only minutes into his cooking demonstration when the inevitable question arose: Would he be leaving the Watergate restaurant bearing his name for a chance to develop a three-star restaurant in France?
Palladin remained resolutely noncommittal, prefering to let his assistant Jimmy Sneed respond. Holding a dish aloft, Sneed quipped, "Here are some of our dinner plates, which may soon become collectors' items." -T.S.
Three "classic" wine and food matches were included among the six dishes and seven wines served to participants of the "Pairing Food and Wine" seminar. But after sipping and supping their way through 42 separate samples, guests could agree on but one perfect marriage, that of beef tenderloin in peppercorn sauce with a glass of cabernet sauvignon. Otherwise, tasters learned that even a union like salmon and creme fraiche with chardonnay could go awry with the addition of a lot of dill-an unexpected bit of whimsy from the kitchen. -T.S.
A bit of culinary wisdom for tohse of us who can afford the good life: Leon Pinto, whose specialty firm Gourmand sells flash-frozen truffles in addition to fresh, offered this advice for bringing back the flacor of the former-place the truffles in a sheet of foil, along with butter, bacon and goose fat. Place in a warm oven for 15 minutes and eat immediately. Pinto offered that the fruit of the mushroom reaches its pungent peak in mid-December and is good through the end of March. Regarding foie gras, Danielle Delpeuch recommended soaking the delicacy in a bowl of milk to avoid red spots. Follow that with a quick cooking in a cold pan, using no fat. -T.S. Any trends here? Jean-Louis Palladin discovered Hungarian tomato powder on his latest trip abroad and is currently ytapping his sources for more. -T.S. Following his primer on food and wine, Conrad Koneczny, president and owner of Virginia Imports and ever the oenophile, wistfully hoped that consumers would eventually choose a restaurant on the basis of its wine list, "because it has a great cabernet as opposed to a great steak." -T.S.
The creamless, butterless, oilless menu prepared by Anton Mosimann of London's Dorchester Hotel was also spared much salt and sugar. "Good food and food that's good for you were once seen as opposing one another," said Mosimann, who was recently awarded a second star from the Michelin guide.
He calls his new health-conscious cooking "cuisine naturelle" and describes it as "honest food," combining the frshest of ingredients with simple cooking techniques.
Indeed, there was nary a drop of wine ("I use alcohol to drink, and save it from food," noted Mosimann) nor a bit of sauteing (he "sweats" vegetables in water) among his varied presentations: symphonie de fruits de mer, poached chicken breast with seasonal vegetables, filet of beef with cabbage and baby vegetables, and for dessert, terrine of oranges with raspberry sauce (bound not with sugar syrup but with apple and orange juice). Fresh herbs were substituted for rich sauces and the seafood medley had been steamed, and then only briefly, using a Chinese steamer. Lemon juice took the place of wine. And while the end products made for attractive displays, Mosimann was quick to remind his audience to "eat it, don't look at it."
Still, for the price of such a meal, one might insist on a bit more fanciness. And the idea of incorporating fresh food with lightness-a fairly recent phenomenon in England, a more developed concept here-didn't much impress the assemblage of professionals, a number of whom would rather have watched the master demonstrate from his standard repertoire.
Does the chef practice what he preaches? "I've lot 8 to 10 kilos in the past 2 years, boasted Mosimann. "Not that I haven't eaten," he offered, "just that I'm eating better." -T.S.