Friday, April 20, 2012

Deleted Scene from Marcus Samuelsson

This is an article that I wrote for Marcus's blog, but because it was deemed too "brand-specific," it was not published.  Frankly, I'm a little too proud of it, so instead of letting it wither in a cyber recycle bin, I'll publish it here.  Consider it "bonus material!"

Do You, or Can You, Count Calories?

Credit: Ben Popken
Since 2006, all fast food menu items sold in the five boroughs of New York City have been required to list their respective caloric contents.  This initiative has proven to be popular, as it has been adopted by many other states and cities throughout the United States.  The purpose--to educate patrons on relative nutrition among food choices--is admirable, but the results have been mixed.  Some menus, while legally displaying all necessary calorie counts to comply with the law, have proven to be inadequate in curbing obesity.  It is clear that more action is needed, including, but not limited to, making calorie counts easier to tabulate, launching parallel advertising campaigns, and educating diners outside of the restaurants.

Although Chipotle's practices have yielded national acclaim, its menus, like many in New York City, leave certain nutritional questions unanswered.  As an occasional Chipotle customer, I can confirm that even though I do not actively seek low-calorie meals, I will attempt to estimate how many calories are in my burrito.  This task is, in my opinion, much harder than is necessary.  As a result, this unfortunate trend in caloric guess work makes it nearly impossible to make well-educated nutritional decisions, no matter how noble the parties' intentions may be.

Looking at the menu, one can see that the burrito ranges from 450 to 930 calories.  Clearly, these variations manifest themselves in the choice of filling, whether vegetarian, chicken, steak, carnitas (Chipotle's shredded pork), or barbacoa (shredded beef, using the same recipe and preparation as the carnitas).  In my opinion, there should be more information with respect to how many calories are associated with each protein.  As it currently stands, I have no insight as to which beef is "healthier;" I rarely order the steak filling because I prefer the taste and texture of barbacoa, but I would certainly use improved nutritional information to my advantage.

Meanwhile, I find it hard to believe that the black beans (which are vegetarian) and the pinto beans (which are bacon-flavored) are actually equivalent in caloric value.  Similarly, it is implausible that three "soft" flour taco tortillas have the same number of calories as three crispy taco shells.  Yet Chipotle's menu only mentions a range of caloric values for all taco iterations.  It is clear that many concerned dieters would be forced to do further research on their meals, thereby defeating the original purpose of posting the caloric information on the wall-mounted menu.

As Chipotle's menu currently informs its customers, there is certainly a caloric difference among the burritos, bowls, tacos, and salads.  No matter how many more calories one flour tortilla, or three crispy taco shells, may have than a cardboard dish, there are many important nutritional questions that the menu fails to answer.  If Chipotle were to rewrite its menus to clarify these ambiguities, then, hopefully, more restaurants would follow suit.  Meanwhile, Chipotle could maintain its reputation as a trail blazing, unconventional, and "anti-fast food" fast food establishment, without changing any recipes.  It is my hope that all food menus will become more diet-friendly by more clearly disclosing necessary nutritional information.

Photo licensed under Creative Commons by Ben Popken.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cleaning out the Marcus closet

Last Tuesday was Tax Day, which I commemorated with a fun little article on cheap eats within the NYC area.  I followed that up with an article that surely could have been inspired by one of my geography classes at McGill.  Did you ever think that Greece, the home of the Mediterranean diet, could be such an obese country?  Me neither.
I may have one or two more articles still in the Marcus pipeline, but in addition, I have a deleted scene to present tomorrow!  Happy reading!

Friday, April 13, 2012

I resigned from the Marcus group today.

There will be a few more articles that will be published under my name, as I have already written them. I also have an article that was green-lit and was completed, but will not be published. I will post it here, at a random date in the near future. Thank you to everybody who has ever read, "liked," and/or shared my work. In the meantime, all my Marcus work will still be online (so the links will always work), and I will continue to review concerts for Feast of Music.
The master Marcus link is as follows:

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Another Feast of Music; Another Marcus

My review of last Wednesday's Carnegie Hall concert is available on Feast of Music here.  What a cool show that was!  I can't say enough good things about it.  I couldn't tell whether I was at a classical concert (with Mika Yoshida and Richard Stoltzman) or a jazz gig (with Eddie Gomez and Steve Gadd)!  In the end, I didn't care, because it was just awesome.  That was my first time at Carnegie Hall, and I certainly will remember it.  Two hours prior, I also went to the Carnegie Deli for the first time.  Equally unforgettable!  I mean, you don't ever forget a four-inch TALL sandwich.  Holy cow.
My last Marcus article is here.  It always amuses me when any given link of mine goes relatively viral.  At last count, this article has been tweeted 28 times, which I think is a record.  (A different article of mine was Facebook-liked 97 times, which seems to be as "out of reach" as Wayne Gretzky's career point total record.)  As I've said many times, I don't write for stats, but when the stats do come, it's a pleasant surprise.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Feast of Music update + more Marcus

Last Sunday, I went to Jazz Standard to see Patricia Barber.  As a result, not only did I turn my experience into a Feast of Music blog post, but I gained an appreciation for how terrible my phone's camera really is.  Seriously, look at the enclosed picture in that article.  The backdrop is red, and Barber (at the piano) is wearing all black.  You would never guess that from the picture, but trust me--I was there, and it's true.  (To be fair, maybe it's just a setting that I don't know how to change.)
Since my last posting here, I have inexplicably neglected this blog.  Since it truly would be a Sisyphean task to list every single link, I will simply wish everybody a Happy Passover instead.  As always, you can neatly access my MS repertoire here.  (Wish I could do the same for the FoM stuff!)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Four More for the Road

I've really been lax with posting my new works on this blog...sorry!  My next music review will be this Sunday; I'll be checking out Patricia Barber at the Jazz Standard.  Earlier today, I picked up a copy of Steve Jobs, the authoritative biography by Walter Isaacson.  So far, it's a great read!
  1. Last Friday: Strong (not necessarily obnoxious) smells may subconsciously curb hunger.  So, if you're trying to watch your diet, stay away from the bland stuff?  Sounds good to me!
  2. Last Monday: How to keep tabs on your favorite NYC food trucks, thanks to the internet and smartphones.
  3. Today: Heard of the seven deadly sins?  Soda doesn't quite have all seven to a tee, but here are seven really terrifying facts about soda.  (Yes, I will definitely be drinking less soda thanks to this bit of research, and I hope to eliminate cans from my diet.)
  4. Today DAILY DOUBLE: My favorite part of being a Marcus Samuelsson blogger.  $5 Food Challenges.  This is my third one in this series.