Straight croissants

Even to me, this title seems to refer to the sexual preference of breakfast pastries, rather than its real subject, their shape. This is because “croissant” is French for “crescent,” and who ever heard of a straight crescent outside of higher mathematics?

straight croissant 2
Well, our cousins across the water are embroiled in a debate on this very subject.

Tesco, the largest supermarket chain in Britain, will no longer sell curved croissants. Tesco croissant buyer, Harry Jones, spoke of “the spreadability factor.” Curved croissants typically require three strokes to cover their surface with jam, the preferred topping of most Brits, while a straight croissant can be covered by a single sweeping stroke, thus cutting the risk of sticky fingers or table cloths. (1)

As a veteran of many sticky finger incidents involving restaurant marmalade containers, I can attest a Daily Telegraph editorial is wrong: it is not necessarily safer to eat toast!

Discussions of ease of use and symbolism fail to consider health implications. French law declares that straight croissants must be made with butter, while the curved varieties can use margarine.

In a world where so many familiar structures are in flux, curved croissants are now one less thing we can count on.

I guess there’s no help for it. Benjamin Turquier, last year’s champion Parisian butter croissant maker, said “I can understand the importance of symbolism and tradition, but straight croissants are more practical to make.”

Sigh…we’ll just have to learn to deal…

More good news on the food front

Last week, two posts on opened a startling window on the capacity of well tended small gardens. The first article, “Why Micro-Gardening Could Go Big,” discussed the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as a large supporter of micro-gardens, defined as “intensely cultivated small spaces.”  They claim that an 11 square foot garden can produce “as much as 200 tomatoes a year, 36 heads of lettuce every 60 days, 10 cabbages every 90 days, and 100 onions every 120 days.”

Micro-garden by Nick Saltmarsh, 2009.  CC-by-3.0

Micro-garden by Nick Saltmarsh, 2009. CC-by-3.0

The post features a number of links to other sites with numerous links of their own, and it soon becomes clear that many groups and individuals are finding new ways of boosting yields.  As I discussed recently (Good news on the food front), unless agriculture finds ways of keeping pace with population growth, disaster is a mathematical certainty.

These articles show that there are far more efficient configurations than traditional, single row gardens. Raised beds and containers are common features of the gardens pictured online.

Rooftop garden, Senegal, CC-by-2.0

Rooftop garden, Senegal, CC-by-2.0

One nice thing about these photos is that they make you want to get your hands dirty! Maybe not this afternoon, with temps in the mid 90’s, but I’ve already got a spot in mind for the fall and spring.  We used to have a veggie garden when we lived north of here and had more time and far better soil.  With micro-gardens you don’t need large amounts of time or good soil to get started.

Photo by USDA.  CC-by-2.0

Photo by USDA. CC-by-2.0

NPR’s second post, Micro-Garden Madness, has additional photos of places where people are growing things.  Unlike the ambitious plots at the local community gardens, where you often see couples and families work long hours on weekends and evenings, the smaller gardens can work for people who spend their evenings and weekends in strange pursuits like blogging.

Phil Weiner co-founded a company that makes products aimed at micro-gardeners.  “Everyone in the world should have a victory garden,” he says.

Can we even begin to imagine what such a world would be like?  With these articles and photos, we can begin to envision such a transformation.

Nerds with time on their hands: The Popinator

The Popinator prototype – under development at Popcorn Indiana

An article in the Huffington Post food section puts it like this: “The problem with popcorn these days, is that it doesn’t pop directly into your mouth as nature intended.”

No more! Intrepid engineers at Popcorn Indiana have a working prototype of a voice activated popcorn cannon that calculates the trajectory to your mouth and launches a kernel when you say, “Pop.”

I am seriously encouraged by the Popinator.  Who says America has lost its edge?  Creativity, engineering prowess, and humor – a potent combination!