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.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Back from the Weekend

No, I wasn't too drunk from St. Paddy's to write anything.  (I actually didn't have anything at all, for what it's worth.)  But I was quite busy, and I simply failed to write anything.  Catching up now, this was yesterday's piece on the Marcus blog, and here is today's!.

Friday, March 16, 2012

On Seattle Gardens and Rye Beer

The once-a-day diet on the Marcus blog continues.
Yesterday's piece was on a public garden in downtown Seattle.  Today's is on rye beer.  I was surprised to learn how recently rye beers were "invented."  In fact, when I saw Ari Hoenig's trio at CSC, I sampled a rye ale--specifically, the Righteous (haha, get it?) Ale from Sixpoint.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

It's shorter than I remember...

Nope, that's not what she said.  In the world of journalism, pieces are occasionally truncated.  It certainly doesn't feel good to see my work shortened, but it isn't a slap in the face either.  Either way, it's my credited hard work, and editors have final say regardless.  (It's their blog!)  That being said, I wish I had "director's cuts" on hand.  (For Marcus, I write in WordPress and later grant my editor access to review and publish my pieces.  If I were to have written my articles in Gmail or MS Word, then I would have maintained my work.)
Anyway, here is today's article.  Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Catching up on Marcus entries

Last Monday, I attended a fundraiser at Red Rooster, representing the Marcus blog.  The event was for the Northside Center for Child Development, but mainly for its library.  Good jazz band, good food, good turnout--by all indications, I should be happy for the library's success.  So as a result, I have to play catch-up for this blog.
Monday's entry for the Marcus blog was my report on the USDA's new Twitter initiative to communicate food recalls.  The day after that (Tuesday), I showcased a piece on one of my favorite late-night snacks from my university days.
Hope you enjoy!
PS: Last Sunday, I referenced a forthcoming editorial piece, of which I am fairly proud.  Neither of these two links is that.  (What can I say?  My editor runs a shifty schedule at times.  I'm proud to be published once a day, but I will no longer predict when my pieces will run, because I, apparently, cannot.)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Trip to the Galapagos

Nope, not in Ecuador.  Thanks to Feast of Music, I had the pleasure of visiting the DUMBO Art Space, in order to review the Darcy James Argue Secret Society concert.  Read it here!  It was a great show, and hopefully, my review does it justice.
Galapagos is one of the most unique venues I have ever seen.  It is a "green" building, with recycled materials, efficient hot water heaters, and eco-friendly paint.  Even more, there is a lake in the middle of the floor.  Yes, a lake.  This is an environmental feature too, as it naturally helps regulate the internal temperature.  How cool is that?
I also had the pleasure of trying two excellent beers there.  Peak Organic winter ale was a delicious grapefruit beer, and Kelso of Brooklyn pilsner tasted like smoked gouda--how unexpected!
Can't wait until tomorrow.  I have a good editorial on tap for Marcus.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Five Dollar Food Challenge II

Thanks to my internship for the Samuelsson Group and my uncanny ability to spend money specifically reserved for spending, I've developed a bit of a mini-series on the Marcus blog.  The second installment can be found here.
My second review for Feast of Music should be up soon.  I will post that separately, so no need to check this entry again to see if I've updated it.
By the way, you can always follow me on Twitter, if you'd like.  My handle is @mbe0027.  I'll try to find a good place on my "dashboard" (or whatever it's called) to link to that.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Speaking of Trades...

My latest article, as originally published on the Marcus blog, highlights the renewable-vs-non-renewable commodity debate in Alaska, between fishing and mining.  Where do you stand?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

When Trades Become Legalized

Nope, sorry stoners.  Today's Marcus article is NOT about marijuana, but about the new microdistillery business, which is emerging county-by-county in Tennessee.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Reconstructing the Family Past Through Food

Today's article, from the Marcus blog, is all about family traditions on a plate.  It was a heartwarming piece to research and to write; these emotional connections to food are my favorite aspects of eating, and why I love my internship.  Plus, it is rare to be able to legitimately enclose a link to Grantland in my work, so that was a nice and quirky little bonus.
Anyway, thanks for reading.  If you liked it, please declare your "like" on Facebook, share the article, give it a "+1," or a retweet.  Sharing is caring, whether in your family kitchen or online.
Scheduling note: I should have an article a day, for the rest of the week, to post here.  After the week's worth of Marcus articles, Saturday should feature my next Feast of Music article.  (I will be reviewing the Darcy James Argue Secret Society at the Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn.)  The day after (Sunday), I will probably pull an old article out of the vault, as well as write a spontaneous piece on a random subject.

Monday, March 5, 2012

About food allergies

Today's article from The Marcus Samuelsson blog is about food allergies, an increasing number of diagnoses (as well as misdiagnoses, because intolerances are commonly assumed to be allergies), and a growing awareness of them.  Allergies can be deadly, so it is always comforting to know that it is a growing concern among the general population.
Thanks for reading!  Please "like," share, "+1," and/or re-tweet, because sharing is caring!  (The web page itself was not created in a facility containing any known allergens, including peanuts, dairy, eggs, or soy.  It should be safe to read.) ;-)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Inspired by Uni Watch: Sacred Uniform Numbers by City

Yesterday, I shared a thought in the Uni Watch comments section.  Today, it became the basis of a column.  Here it is in the Uni Watch context.  Instead of reprinting all of Phil's text here, why don't you check it out over there?
OK, now that you're back, here is what I had in mind for "sacred uniform numbers by city."
  • First off, you have to consider the whole city.  Yes, Wayne Gretzky has the most sacred uniform number in professional sports history, and he happened to wear it in St. Louis (brief stint with the Blues in between the Kings and the Rangers), but there is no way his #99 is more sacred to St. Louis than #1 (Ozzie Smith and Mike Liut) or #2 (Red Schoendeinst and Al MacInnis).  In other words, longevity and "range" are key factors.
  • In general, the number should be retired at least once, while having been worn by notable athletes in other sports within the city.  (It's OK to consider "imminent" retired numbers, like Nicklas Lidstrom's #5 that the Red Wings will surely retire.)
  • Don't even bother with one-team towns.  Makes for an incredibly boring exercise.  Three-sport cities need one significant number in two sports, while four-sport cities should have one number in three sports.
  • In addition, I only consider university numbers on a case-by-case basis, and as "bonus" consideration.  Obviously, those who follow the NCAA more passionately than I do will give more merit to the collegiate numbers.
So, in no particular order, this is what I (unless otherwise credited) came up with:
  • Boston: I settled on #33.  I considered #4, but I figured that since Larry Bird and Bobby Orr cancel out as Mt. Rushmore players, #33 had more "reach" across all sports than #4.
    • NBA (Celtics): Retired for Larry Bird.
    • MLB (Red Sox): Jason Varitek, team captain, two World Series
    • NHL (Bruins): Zdeno Chara, team captain, one Stanley Cup
    • NFL (Patriots): Kevin Faulk, key player
      • Honorable mention to Boston #4.
        • MLB (Red Sox): Retired for Joe Cronin
        • NHL (Bruins): Retired for Bobby Orr
        • NFL (Patriots): Adam Vinatieri, Super Bowl-winning kicker.
  • Seattle: #24
    • NBA (Sonics): Was retired for Dennis Johnson.
    • MLB (Mariners): Was unofficially retired for Ken Griffey, Jr. the minute he left.  Should be officially retired at any moment.
    • NFL (Seahawks): Shawn Springs.  He's not Zorn or Largent, but he was definitely a longtime contributor to the Seahawks, and was generally the best player on his team.
  • Montreal: #10 (despite #9's lofty status on Rocket Richard's legacy alone)
    • MLB (Expos): Was retired TWICE for AndrĂ© Dawson and Rusty Staub
    • NHL (Canadiens): Retired for Guy LaFleur, who, as evidenced by his hero's return to the Quebec Nordiques, had some provincial reach, just like Rocket.
  • Houston: #34 (this was a slam dunk)
    • MLB (Astros): Retired for Nolan Ryan
    • NFL (Oilers): Retired for Earl Campbell, albeit for the Tennessee Titans now.
    • NBA (Rockets): Retired for Hakeem Olajuwon
  • Los Angeles: #32 (Another slam dunk)
    • MLB (Dodgers): Retired for Sandy Koufax
    • NFL (Raiders): Worn famously by Super Bowl MVP Marcus Allen.  (The Raiders do not retire numbers).
    • NBA (Lakers): Retired for Magic Johnson
    • NBA (Clippers): Currently worn by Blake Griffin.
    • NHL (Kings): Once worn by Kelly Hrudey, currently being worn by Jonathan Quick.  Two talented goalies.
    • Bonus points of NCAA consideration: Bill Walton (UCLA basketball); O.J. Simpson (USC football)
The discussion continues on that Uni Watch page.  Who do you have?

Introduction, and Ari Hoenig concert review

Greetings!  If you are reading this, then you are likely (a) a friend of mine already, or (b) a prospective future employer of mine.  I am Mike Engle, originally of New Orleans, LA, but currently living in the New York area.  I was a music major at McGill University (and yes, I still play), and I plan to enroll in an accredited law school in New York City, starting this fall.  (I do not know which one yet, but when I finalize that decision, I will certainly blog about it!)
In the meantime, I am a blogger.  I have been a writer, in some form, shape, or capacity, for as long as I can remember.  My elementary school had a literary magazine, The Kaleidoscope, which accepted submissions from the students.  In retrospect, I think that every submission was accepted (can't hurt anybody's feelings at such a young age); however, I am fortunate to have had great teachers (in both English and French) who required us to write for The Kaleidoscope.  My first validation of my writing talents came in Grade 11, when I was recognized as a NCTE award winner from New York State.
After my NCTE recognition, I began to appreciate my writing abilities.  While I produced my fair share of essays for high school and McGill, I also enrolled in my local community college's creative writing courses during select summers.  Meanwhile, I periodically wrote contributing pieces to several of my favorite blogs, on a casual basis.  Finally, after enough formal and informal practice, I earned my first journalistic internship at the Marcus Samuelsson Group, where I have worked since 14 February 2012.
Now that I am, legitimately, a regular writer, I have decided to keep this blog.  Whenever an article of mine is published, I will place a link here.  When I do not have anything to publish, I may choose to post an old article of mine, and then react to it (or not).  Of course, I also plan on writing short articles here, or maybe just little snippets of thought.  Either way, I hope that this blog will serve as a complete archive of my works, because it is already hard enough to remember every website where I have been featured!  If I were to develop this blog any further, then that would be wonderful.
So without further ado, I would like to share my debut article for the Feast of Music blog.  This Friday, I will be at Brooklyn's Galapagos Art Space, where I will be covering the Darcy James Argue's Secret Society concert for FoM.  Aside from that, thanks for reading, and enjoy the ride.