Nobel: A weeklong gastronomic preview to be offered in the MarketPlace

Posted on September 25th, 2010 by

The mission: Create seven menu items, each of which somehow evokes the life or work of one of our seven Nobel Speakers. Offer them to diners in the MarketPlace the week before the Nobel Conference. (Check out the day’s menu offering s at the Dining Service website

The creative team: Dining Service director Steve Kjellgren and Executive Chef,  Paul Jacobson, and the Dining Services cooks,  in consultation with our speakers and their on-campus faculty hosts.

The dishes:

Cary Fowler: Grass Pea stew. Grass Peas, also called Cicerchia (Lathyrus sativus), are similar to the widely-used chickpeas (garbanzo beans),  but are more flavorful, sweeter, and contain a much higher protein content.  Fowler chose grass peas as a way to highlight the need to utilize a wider array of plant foods, as one way to protect biodiversity.

In an interview with Western Farm Press, Fowler had this to say about the grass pea:  “We have a crop called grass pea, or lathyrus, a legume that’s extremely drought-tolerant, is also flood-tolerant with very high protein. However, it also contains a neurotoxin that causes paralysis if someone eats too much. It’s a life-giving crop but also has obvious problems. Grass pea is used in Ethiopia, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. The wonderful thing about the diversity we’ve collected in the crop is we believe it contains low-toxin variants. In the future, we might be able to breed a variety of this that would survive droughts and thus save lives in famine situation, without causing paralysis. It’s a fantastic crop.”

Marion Nestle: Cage Free Egg Bake with local organic veggies from our own Big Hill Farm and with free range smoked turkey.  This menu respects Marion’s passion for support of local farmers, organic methods, ad humanely raised animals and birds. The author of a book with the title What To Eat, Nestle notes that “as long as foods are real and relatively unprocessed, and the menu has plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and everything tastes absolutely delicious, I’ll be more than satisfied.”

Frances Moore Lappe: Feijoada (a Brazilian black bean dish) wth rice and green chili sauce and a harvest fruit crisp dessert. The Brazilian recipes are featured in Lappe’s book Diet for a Small Planet and the crisp gives a nod to farmers all over the globe who bring their fall harvests to markets large and small in cities and along rural byways.

Linda Bartoshuk: 5 Alarm Chili with grass fed beef and creamy white vegetarian chili with Big Hill Farm peppers and chilies.  Bartoshuk’s studies of taste and tactile sensations influences this menu of hot spice and smooth, silky cream. (See Bartoshuk’s answer to the question “why are peppers hot?” at the PBS website.)

Paul Thompson: local, ripe, juicy, heirloom tomatoes, topped with creamy cottage cheese and freshly ground black pepper.  Paul sings the praises of this dish on the blog he writes for Thornapple CSA Farm, a community supported agriculture endeavor in Michigan, and the source of Paul’s tomatoes. There, he also confesses his secret desire to open a chain of restaurants under the name “Fat Elvis.” 

Bina Agarwal: authentic Indian curry with fresh local vegetables.  When we asked Agarwal for her ideas, she replied, “I can share what I eat rather than what I research. I am a vegetarian. I love both Indian and Thai food, but eat mostly Indian vegetarian that is low on carbs and fat. I eat a lot of greens, veggies – spinach, broccoli, eggplant, green beans, lentils/pulses, tomatoes, fresh sprouts, Indian bread made of whole wheat mixed with soya flour,  tandoori roti (crisp) etc.  But will share secret wicked taste (although rarely indulged): I love light non-creamy (dryish) dark chocolate cake and brownies!

Jeffery Friedman: Duck Confit with Minnesota hand harvested wild rice.  Steve Kjellgren writes: “Dr. Friedman’s studies of fat tissue at the molecular level begged us to highlight the confit method of slow cooking meat in its own fat.  We must note that Dr. Friedman did not do the begging. In fact, our own playful imaginations came up with this menu item,  and what better to serve with tasty duck confit than nutty, native, healthy, hand harvested and hardwood roasted wild rice from the marshes of Northern Minnesota?  As Minnesota’s state grain and the only native grain in North America, its extremely low fat content, its high quality protein and dietary fiber and antioxidant properties, make us confident that Jeffery Friedman would approve of our choice.


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