by Dave Kellam

The chicken of tomorrow

Apparently, most of the chickens that we eat today are derived from the winners of A&P’s 1948 Chicken of Tomorrow contest. They worked with the USDA to increase the growth of the poultry industry.

It was an alliance with a specific goal: The “development of superior meat-type chickens.” The winning chicken would have broader-breasts, bigger drumsticks, plumper thighs, and above all, more white meat. And they would grow faster, too, so that the consumer would eventually come to depend on the bird as a reliable kitchen staple.

So who won? Arbor Acres White Rocks’ white feathered birds beat the competition in the purebred category, but Red Cornish crosses from the Vantress Hatchery definitely outperformed them. And as it happens, those two breeds would eventually be crossed and become the Arbor Acre breed — whose genetics now dominate poultry farms worldwide.

Makes me think I should make an effort to find places that produce some of the heritage breeds.

November 30, 2014 ·

Making perfect coffee

Brewing Control Chart

Michael Haft and Harrison Suarez explore How to Make Perfect Coffee for The Atlantic.

The Percentage Extraction is the amount of coffee particles extracted from the original dry grounds. The Percentage of Total Dissolved Solids is the percentage of coffee solids actually in your cup of coffee (commonly known as “brew strength”). When you correlate these, the result is a Coffee Brewing Control Chart, with a target area in the center that highlights the optimal brew strength and extraction percentage.

When you’re brewing coffee, the goal is to get into that center square of perfection. Everyone seems to advocate their own sort of mystical process for achieving the right extraction, but we’re here to tell you it’s not that crazy.

September 1, 2013 ·

Ansari, Murphy and Chang in Tokyo

The Hangover Pt III chronicles Brett Martin’s journey through Tokyo with with Aziz Ansari, David Chang and James Murphy (from LCD Soundsystem). Crack a beer and take some time to follow the escapades of a true wolfpack.

We are not accustomed, here at GQ, to acting as a celebrity Make-A-Wish Foundation. But something about this tweet captured our attention. The grouping was unlikely, yet it made an instant kind of cosmic sense, as though you had been waiting for the picture long before it appeared. The Venn diagram of their fame might have a small overlap—I found that most people knew two of the three—but that intersection was a particular pocket of smart, inventive, forward-looking cool. The destination, too, made a certain intuitive sense, Tokyo being both a fun-house mirror of pop-culture iconography and a place where generations of Western seekers have gone to feel both reverently awed and gloriously disoriented.

The perfect omelette

From Chasing Perfection by Francis Lam.

It was astounding how something so commonplace, so elemental, could have so many variables. You just have to learn to see all those variables, to recognize what effect every moment of heat, every motion of the hands has. To get back to that thing I tasted, I would have to know exactly what to look for and nail it every step of the way.

Three eggs, salt, pepper, and a little butter. That’s all there is in a classic French omelet, but it’s enough to keep reteaching me this vital lesson: Things are only simple when you’ve stopped asking the right questions of them, when you’ve stopped finding new ways to see them. Because what you find, when you learn how to find it, is that even simple things can be wonderfully, frustratingly, world-openingly complex.

July 21, 2011 ·

Making oatmeal wrong

McDonald’s has somehow managed to screw-up oatmeal.

Others will argue that the McDonald’s version is more “convenient.” This is nonsense; in the time it takes to go into a McDonald’s, stand in line, order, wait, pay and leave, you could make oatmeal for four while taking your vitamins, brushing your teeth and half-unloading the dishwasher. […] Incredibly, the McDonald’s product contains more sugar than a Snickers bar and only 10 fewer calories than a McDonald’s cheeseburger or Egg McMuffin.

Take a fast and healthy staple, pump it full of sugar and chemicals, serve. Sounds like the rest of the breakfast cereal industry, or just pre-processed food in general.

March 8, 2011 ·