ON MILK AND CEREAL

A collaboration with Janani Balasubramanian
(Non-Italics = Janani, Italics = Bex)

1

‘Cereal' takes its name from its source materials--'cereals' otherwise known as grains.  That is a peculiar way to name something.  It would be like naming butter 'milk' or naming steel 'iron'.  As in, naming the product of a process after the original material.  Peculiar.  But then, John Harvey Kellogg, the initial inventor of what is known as corn flakes, the first type of modern American cereal, was a peculiar fellow.  Kellogg was a doctor at Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan, a facility that was later converted into a military hospital.  The legend that is printed on the cereal boxes (really, buy a box of corn flakes with the corn flakes myth on them sometime) was that Kellogg wanted to invent a simple food that his patients could easily digest.

That is part of the story.  The other part is that Kellogg was a staunch 7th day Adventist, a staunch vegetarian, and hugely anti-sex.  He wanted to invent dry, bland foods that would discourage people from masturbation. That's right--he called masturbation 'self abuse' and considered cereal a type of edible chastity belt. As in, if you ate enough really boring food you wouldn't be tempted to masturbate.  Perhaps this is where the term cereal monogamy comes from.

 

 

2

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The whole 'milk builds strong bones' gimmick is a calculated strategy of the dairy industry.  A lot of communities in the US, including several communities of color, can't digest the lactose in cow's milk properly--especially the milk that comes to us from industrialized, hyper-corporate dairy farming.  It's bad for the workers, bad for the animals, bad for us.  It's just good for cutting corners and profit, and also bones.

Actually, industrial dairy milk acidifies our blood and draws bone-building minerals into our bloodstream. Milk and other processed foods actually erode our bone structure.  

Milk builds strong stock markets.

3

It's funny to be pairing cereal with milk in our daily rounds since cereal and milk is precisely so much of the literal ills with our contemporary dairy industry. As in, the vast majority of dairy cows in the United States are grain fed.  Cows' digestive systems are not made for eating grain. Even those genetically super enhanced cows. They aren't made for it.  They get sick, often.  The milk we consume often comes to us filled with pus, bacteria, and other signs of illness because cows are literally dying.  

 

4

And it makes it hard for them to carry children, also. Ever think about why cows give milk?  It's for their own children--meaning that cows are constantly forcibly inseminated and giving birth to calves that are taken away from them.  This, coupled with grain-feeding, genetic modification, and overcrowded living conditions, makes the animals who are giving us milk consistently sick, traumatized, and at risk for early mortality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5

There are pockets of farmer and farmworker resistance that have been fighting big agriculture all along. Some in the US, lots in the third world.  A lot of these are led by women, racialized and colonized peoples, and poor farmworkers.  Very few of them are the awkward myth of the old white american farmer--generally they have already assimilated into the system.

There are ways to do this better. This doesn't mean empty labels like 'organic' and 'fair trade'--this is about an overhaul of a system that is led by the women and gender-nonconforming farmers of color who bear the burden of the labor but reap none of the profits.

 

 

 

Deep fried corn kernels (corn, gram flour, sugar, salt)
in a chilled kiwi tamarind soup (onions, ginger, garlic, tamarind, lime juice, bird’s eye chili, lemon grass, rice vinegar, honey, kiwi, cumin, coriander)

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Opened this meal with the familiar structure of milk and cereal (a spoonful of cold liquid with something crunchy) while completely changing the content.  Toss corn kernels in a gram flour batter, and then in hot oil. After a kiwi tamarind soup has simmered for two hours, chill, and serve in a glass.

 


 

A stack of zucchini, pan fried haloumi, purple potatoes and wanton skin rounds
held together by a sundried tomato paste (sundried tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, sour cream, chili powder, lemon juice)
with balsamic reduction (balsamic vinegar)

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Went with the idea of “building” for this course, as in building strong bones, with coins making a (very) loose connection with money. This was a basic construction of a bite.

Texture - crunch (wanton), tender (zucchini), grainy/crispy (cheese), soft/dry (potato)

Flavor - salt/acid (sundried tomato paste), sour/bitter (cheese), sweet (balsamic)

 

 

 


Dosa (jasmine rice, urad dahl)
with a peanut and tamarind black bean puree (black beans, soy sauce, rice vinegar, shallots, garlic, ginger, tangerines, tamarind, peanut butter, red chili, honey, ketchup, worcestershire sauce, almond milk, lime juice)
pickled purple cabbage (purple cabbage, apple cider vinegar, sugar)
caramelized onion, almond and paprika blend (onions, almonds, paprika, pepper, soy sauce)
pan fried kale with lemon (kale, lemon juice)
diced mangoes (mangoes, lime juice)
served with a white curry (ginger, garlic, shallots, lemon grass, white pepper, cardamom, coriander, cumin, green chili, coconut milk, lime juice, heavy cream)

This dosa is inspired by images of bone structure, that when dipped in the white curry, it starts to break down. The side dishes sit in the middle, as if they were the bone marrow. I picked foods that are actually calcium-rich, like almonds, black beans and kale.  The white curry was a fun challenge - I tried replacing the brightly colored ingredients I would typically put in a curry (like cayenne, red chili, turmeric, etc) with others. If you look closely, the curry I ended up with was a… light tan, so I’m not sure that I succeeded entirely, but after a spin in the blender it was a lovely velvety texture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Syringe filled with seltzer and white balsamic vinegar

After a rich entrée, I like to hit folks with something bright (and usually cold) to shake them out of food slumber and get them ready for dessert.  I’ve been drawn to syringes as a serving method lately. You know exactly how much you’re going to get, and it controls the order in which flavors meet your tongue.






Phyllo wrapped blueberries (phyllo, blueberries, sugar)dipped in lemon caramel (lemon juice, sugar, butter)
and covered in ginger snap dust and fresh mint

Here’s a field with tilled soil to honor the folks who are resisting agricultural corporation evils.