Saturday, September 26, 2009

Is dolphin safe tuna better for the sea?

Here’s an interesting article about dolphin-safe tuna fishing. It throws into relief the unintended consequences of fixing the surface of a problem without addressing the root cause. It turns out that no matter how you lure tuna, whether it's safe for dolphins or not, if you’re fishing in a mass-attack style you’re going to kill a lot of other fish “unintentionally”.

Read the article through to the comments at the end. You’ll see the writer is restricting his conversation to one kind of fishing method. It’s not the only way to fish for tuna.

I checked in with Iker Fernandez, one of the folks behind our tuna from Ortiz. I thought his response was funny because the kind of tuna that Ortiz buys are fished traditionally. As much as we might be desensitized to expect these acts of aquatic carnage, he’s surprised, almost incredulous. He wrote, “I can assure 100% that our tunas are fished by line, one by one. I’d like to know what kind of tuna this writer is talking about!”

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Meet your Maker: Alan Benton

Allan Benton, Bacon Maker
by Jen Konieczki

From the moment I tasted Benton’s Bacon I was in love with his bacon. I have never in my whole life had bacon taste that amazing. The smoky flavor, the thick cut of meat that doesn’t shrivel when you cook it, and, ohhh boy—does it flavor a pot of beans like no other bacon I know of.

Allan Benton is one America's most lauded bacon makers. He's been curing and smoking ham in Madisonville, TN since 1973. Southern food writer John T Edge called it "the country's best bacon." His bacon is dry cured—a rare practice among modern bacon makers—and has a very intense flavor.

Below is a brief, casual interview I conducted with Mr. Benton in August 2009.

Jen: How do you like to eat your bacon?

Allan: Either pan fried or on a BBLT (Benton’s Bacon Lettuce and Tomato sandwich).

Do you have a favorite recipe?

Not really sure. I would say wrapped around a Lamb Chop and grilled, or draped across the top of a turkey. I also like it for breakfast in Red Eye Gravy over high quality grits. My favorite grits are either Anson Mills or Falls Mills from Belvidere, Tennessee.

What other types of bacon or cured meats do you enjoy?

Hickory Smoked bacon and unsmoked bacon, dry cured, close to pancetta. I love country hams that have been cured at least twelve to eighteen months.

Do you ever get tired of eating your own bacon?

No. [Chuckles] I have been eating it my entire life. I have had to cut down a bit because I take cholesterol medication but I still eat it a couple times a week.

If you weren’t making bacon what would you do?

I’d give Obama a run for his money! [laughs] I’m just pulling your leg, I have been making bacon since I was very young and plan on doing it forever!

If you were going to eat someone else’s bacon, who’s would it be and why.

I seldom if ever travel. If I were to eat another, it would need to be a top quality dry cured bacon. I was a senior in college before I ever tried “store brand” bacon. I was living in a dorm and purchased the meal plan. The first time I tried that kind of bacon I only finished it because I was paying for it.

Does everyone like your bacon?

You either love it or hate it. There is not a big in between.

What are your favorite restaurants in Tennessee?

Foothills Mills in Maryville, Rouxbarb and The Orangery in Knoxville, and the Blackberry Farm Inn in Walland.