My younger son, E, has been baking since I can remember and ended up attending and graduating from culinary school. One day he called me from school, all excited about his new Asian cooking class and this new PBS series called, The Mind of a Chef. Of course I was hooked, especially since David Chang grew up in Northern Virginia, where I have called home for many years now.
Then Season Two started, and I was introduced to Sean Brock for the first time, and Sean introduced us to Glenn Roberts of Carolina Gold Rice Foundation and Anson Mills fame, and Glenn shared with us the importance of heritage crops. I was glued to the episode with Sean Brock and Glenn Roberts and their description of how much our crops had changed since the time Native Americans and then the early American settlers were turning wheat and corn into bread and grits. Sean talks about how “we used to breed for nutrition and flavor. Now we’re breeding for efficiency and convenience. We’ve forgotten about what food’s all about.” (The Mind of a Chef Season Two Trailer). He goes on to observe that it’s no wonder we have so many wheat allergies. Boy did that catch my attention!
In his cookbook, Heritage, Brock talks about being beyond disappointed with his much anticipated first taste of hoppin’ John, and the transformation he went through finally having hoppin’ John made with heritage crops of Sea Island red peas and Carolina Gold rice. “That [first] hoppin’ John was made with commercial, enriched rice and old, flavorless black-eyed peas… What emerged after the Great Depression was a modified commercialized rice brand, with a very different flavor and texture from those of the rice people remembered from their youth.” I imagine it being like the difference between drywall-tasting gluten free bread and a warm, crusty piece of sourdough bread made from your grandmother’s starter.
People ask me why Celiac Disease and gluten allergies are becoming so prevalent. As NCIS’ Gibbs often says, “I don’t believe in coincidences.”
Keep on rollin’!