Today's notes on national stories, local trends, random tastes, and other bycatch dredged up from the food media.
1. Healthful chain meals take off. I've scoffed off the "healthy" options on the menus of chain restaurants as the dietetics equivalent of greenwashing. But USA Today just reported that these options are beginning to catch on with customers of places like Applebee's, Carl's Jr., and Denny's:
For years, consumers told Denny's they wanted healthier options but wouldn't actually buy them, says Chief Marketing Officer Frances Allen. Now, Allen says, "It finally makes sense to carry them."What do you know? It's good to see that my parents, who live in the Chicago suburbs, where decent non-chain restaurants are scarce, can find more healthful options when they go out. Belying the optimistic picture the USA Today article paints of America's changing tastes, restaurant industry analyst Technomic just reported that two of 2010's fastest-growing chains were Dunkin' Donuts and Pizza Hut.
2. Time for another audio pronunciation guide to pasta types. Over at Grub Street, Jay Barmann pulls together a list of his favorite 21 (Western) pasta dishes in San Francisco. My, my, it's a good-looking list, and I'm envious that Birdsall and I didn't get to the Bar Bambino malfatti before he did.
3. Admit it: You were curious. Yesterday, the Atlantic published Heather Horn's very thorough, thoughtful review of Gwyneth Paltrow's new cookbook, My Father's Daughter. Evaluating the book involved e-mailing nutrition experts and cookbook authors to get their opinion of Paltrow's recipes and nutritional claims. (Quick aside: You can buy white spelt flour? And why?)
Horn's opinion of the book can be summed up in this sentence: "Though there's nothing like walking out of Whole Foods laden down with agave nectar and spelt to make all but the most determined of yuppies question their purpose in life, this conflicted urbanite wound up at the end of the night two-for-two on recipe tests." Bonus: Martha Stewart is apparently feeling the actress's breath on the back of her neck.