In Orange County, Calif., there's no shortage of restaurants selling bánh mì, that delicious Vietnamese sandwich of meat, pate, fresh and pickled vegetables on a crunchy baguette. The OC's Little Saigon is home to the largest Vietnamese population outside of Vietnam. One shop in the town of Westminster stands out from the rest: It's got an actual pop star behind the counter, a woman known as the Vietnamese Madonna.

Lynda Trang Dai is certainly glamorous for a sandwich maven. She sports stiletto heels, a short skirt, and perfect make-up — including false eyelashes.

So if I say Aunt Jemima, you think what? Fluffy pancakes and waffles?

For sure.

Loving hospitality?


But for some, the title, the image, even the updated version sans headwrap, evokes other feelings, including anger, over a racial stereotype of a black woman with no apparent life of her own. One who is happiest in the kitchen getting ready to serve her white folks.

Well, just who were the real Aunt Jemimas, the real black cooks and chefs whose craft and skill did so much to define American cuisine?

Like all business owners, farmers want to get paid for their work. Sometimes, that work creates problems for the environment, so regulators are advancing the idea of creating environmental markets to allow farmers to make money off of their conservation practices.

Under plans in development, farmers could generate environmental credits by farming in ways that store carbon, filter out water pollution, or preserve wildlife habitat. Those credits could be bought, sold, and traded by companies that need to balance out their own emissions or pollution.

In mid-November, diners at the New York restaurants Gramercy Tavern and The Modern may notice something new on their menus: higher prices, across the board.

Weeknight Kitchen: Carrot Soup with Anise

Oct 9, 2015

Serves 6

· 2 teaspoons anise seeds
· 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
· 1 large yellow onion, chopped
· 2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into pieces
· 6 cups vegetable stock (below), chicken stock (below), or water
· Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
· 1 cup heavy whipping cream
· 5 tablespoons anise-flavored liqueur, such as sambuca, ouzo, or Pernod
· 1/4 cup crème fraîche
· 2 tablespoons chopped chives

"Man, in New Orleans we really are fortunate — we got some of the best things in the world," Chef Paul Prudhomme once said. "And one of those things is the muffuletta sandwich."

And one of the best things about New Orleans was Prudhomme himself.

He was known for introducing blackened redfish to the rest of us, for his cooking demos and for his line of magic spices. Needless to say, Prudhomme changed the way the world saw Louisiana cooking.

He has died at the age of 75.

In Napa, Calif., a company called Free Flow Wines fills and dispenses reusable wine kegs, which are used by restaurants and bars for serving wine on draft. Every month, the company rinses and refills about 10,000 of the stainless steel casks, each of which eliminates the need for 26 clunky wine bottles.

This is a small win for the environment, since glass bottles are heavy and require energy to ship.

Updated at 10:52 a.m.

When it comes to eating well, should we consider the health of both our bodies and the planet?

Michael Solomonov has built a reputation for his unique take on the cuisine of Israel. He's won a James Beard Award for Best Chef for his restaurants in Philadelphia.

But he says awards aren't what inspire him to keep cooking.

"It's the pots of rice," he tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies. "It's the savory pastries that my grandmother made that if I can close my eyes right now I can still taste."

In ancient China, black rice was considered so superior and rare, it was reserved exclusively for the emperor and royalty. These days the grain, also known as forbidden rice, has become the darling of gourmets and people seeking superior nutrition.

Back in the 1800s, sour and sweet were a hot item. Americans drank shrubs and switchels — refreshing mixes of vinegar, water, spices lightly sweetened with honey, sugar or molasses. Southern households preserved their fruits in vinegar. And some of the nation's most popular berries were tangy — like the famed Klondike strawberry and tart cherries that came in eight different varieties. But by the middle of the 20th century, these tart-sweet delights had all but vanished.

Ruth Reichl is in her green-tiled kitchen on the Upper West Side, stirring pungent fish sauce into a wok of sizzling pork. Perhaps you remember her as a highly influential restaurant critic for the LA Times and the New York Times (15 years), or from her best-selling books about food (three, including her memoir Tender At The Bone) or that she ran Gourmet magazine for 10 years.

Serves 8-10
· 6 skin-on, bone-in chicken drumsticks or other pieces of your choice, about 1 1/2 lb (750 g)
· 2 yellow onions, cut into chunks
· 1 large Garnet yam, peeled and cut into chunks
· 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and cut into chunks
· 1 bunch fresh dill, roughly chopped
· Splash of white wine (optional)
· Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

One man's trash is another man's treasure.

As we show in the video above, this is what chef Dan Barber demonstrated earlier this year, when he temporarily turned Blue Hill, his Michelin-starred restaurant in New York City, into an incubator for garbage-to-plate dining.

We're welcoming an unseen guest to our Jewish holiday celebrations this fall: My mother-in-law, Jan Dale, who died in 2005.

Since her passing, I've tried to keep Jan a presence at our festive meals with my attempts to bake some of her favorite recipes. For instance, to mark the start of Yom Kippur Tuesday night, I've made a batch of Jan's crumbly, cinnamon-scented mandelbread — that's Yiddish for "almond bread," a twice-baked cookie that's the Jewish version of biscotti.

But getting here has taken a bit of detective work.

In Florida, federal and state officials have quarantined 85 square miles of farmland to combat a destructive pest: the Oriental fruit fly, which attacks hundreds of varieties of fruits and vegetables.

If you are looking for proof that Americans' vegetable habits lean towards french fries and ketchup, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has it: Nearly 50 percent of vegetables and legumes available in the U.S. in 2013 were either tomatoes or potatoes. Lettuce came in third as the most available vegetable, according to new data out this week.

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The wealth gap in America manifests itself not just in our pocketbooks but also in our bellies: The poor are eating less nutritious food than everyone else.

So concludes a new review of 25 studies published between 2003 and 2014 that looked at the food spending and quality of diets of participants in SNAP, the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps.