The Meat of the Matter

The fiber-optic cable upgrade finally arrived in near south Austin, which means unlimited access to the Television Food Network (TVFN). Concerns about TVFN addiction proved unfounded when Emeril Legasse's wild-eyed, high-octane exuberance prompted a channel switch after only one segment of Emeril Live! Another evening, I opted for the much more sedate Molto Mario only to be horrified by an anecdote that chef Mario recounted from his most recent trip to Italy. He attended a food conference where some American journalists advised the makers of proscuitto di parma to do away with its traditional rim of fat in order to make it more appealing to American consumers. It isn't bad enough that the food police have destroyed the flavor of American meat, now they want to use participation in the global economy as a weapon to destroy the quality of ethnic food products that have survived for centuries. Mario evidently omitted the names of the journalists to protect the guilty.

Jewish Cooking in America

If you're interested in food as a defining element of culture, this is a program to savor. The 26-part PBS series Jewish Cooking in America with Joan Nathan debuted on KLRU October 10 and will air Saturday afternoons at 3pm, with repeats on Tuesdays at 11:30am. The series is based on Nathan's award-winning cookbook Jewish Cooking in America (Knopf, $35 hard) and uses food to explore Jewish history and culture in the United States. The nationally acclaimed cookbook author spent several years traveling the country visiting the homes and kitchens of chefs, celebrities, and other great Jewish cooks. Nathan's friends shared their family heirloom recipes, photographs, and reminiscences to help her document the rich American Jewish culinary heritage. Knopf just published a new edition of Nathan's book as a companion volume to the series, and the main theme music appears on a new Sony Classics CD from klezmer musician Andy Stratman. Both items may be ordered by calling 800/235-3000.


Vespaio (1610 S. Congress, 441-6100), the friendly new trattoria from chef Alan Lazarus, is already attracting crowds hungry for wood-fired pizzas, homemade pastas, a dazzling array of antipasti, grilled meats, and fish. No celebrity sightings, but the food is good. Attractive decor and pleasant ambience, a potential neighborhood fave...

Hometown chef Hoover Alexander launched Hoover's Cooking(2010 Manor Rd., 479-5006) last week. His very affordable menu includes good Southern home cooking, some tasty barbecue, and a selection of spicy dishes in the Tex-Mex and Cajun veins. Try the fiery smoked chicken wings and the perfectly fried catfish...

It must be fall because restaurants and grocery stores all over town are selling Pumpkin Flan from Marta's Flan. Check out the Pecan Cheesecake and Kahlua Cheesecake flavors while you're at it...

Speaking of pumpkins, they've arrived at Austin's Historic Farmer's Market (6701 Burnet Rd., 454-1002) along with Indian corn, corn stalks, and hay bales...

The annual Fredericksburg Food & Wine Festival is this Saturday, October 24, noon-7pm, at the Marketplatz downtown...

Renowned author Diana Kennedy will make Austin one of only four stops on her upcoming book tour to promote My Mexico: A Culinary OdysseyWith More Than 300 Recipes (Clarkson-Potter, $32.50 hard). Mrs. Kennedy will appear at a booksigning and buffet dinner in her honor at Fonda San Miguel (2330 W. North Loop, 459-3401) on Sunday, November 15, at 6:30pm. The dinner price is $65 and includes an autographed copy of the book. Reservations required.

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