January 2, 2013

Soup to Nuts: Artisanal schmizanal

By Meredith Goad mgoad@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

Tostitos has a line of "Artisan Recipes" that feature chips in flavors like "Fire-Roasted Chipotle" and "Roasted Garlic and Black Bean." They are made with nine grains and "100 percent natural ingredients." What did I just say about the word natural?

Even real artisans need to lay off the word artisanal for a while. Don't get me wrong, it's great that you are trying to do the right thing, and we do appreciate your craftsmanship. But do we really need to know that the bread you just made came from wheat sown by your great-great-grandmother Clara and was made with a recipe passed down from generation to generation in a Mason jar stored under the floorboards of your Uncle Ned's log cabin? (Was that an artisanal log cabin?)

Sometimes reading product information from local food purveyors is like falling into that episode of Portlandia where the restaurant has a complete dossier on each chicken it serves, and you find out the next bird in line to be cooked is named Colin. (Yes, he ate local, certified organic grains on a farm just 30 minutes from the restaurant, but did he have any friends?)

Maine is fortunate to have so many you-know-what food products at our fingertips. When Portland chef Rob Evans was on the Martha Stewart Show in 2010, he brought along some of his favorite "Maine Artisanal Foods," and there wasn't an imposter in the bunch. He introduced Stewart to Coffee By Design, Maine Beer Company, Maine Mead Works, Morse's Sauerkraut, Raye's Mustard, Sweet Marguerites chocolates, Tibbetts Mushrooms and potatoes from Wood Prairie Farm.

Wait, can sauerkraut really be artisanal? Wouldn't a better word just be homemade? Or, if you want to get really fancy, maybe hand-crafted?

Here's the description of Morse's on Stewart's website: "The company produces fresh sauerkraut that is made with Maine-grown cabbage, has no preservatives, and is hand packed with its own brine straight from the same barrel in which the raw cabbage fermented."

Hand packed with its own brine.

Oh, well, alrighty then.

Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:


Twitter: MeredithGoad


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