Summer Food Spectacular

By Emily Rooney

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Jul. 14, 2011

LobsterIt's the middle of July: 'Tis the season for grilling, lobster, fresh produce and more. Senior Atlantic Editor Corby Kummer joined WGBH's Emily Rooney for a rollicking romp through summer cuisine.

The two talked shore food with Boston’s renowned seafood chef Jasper White. They also discuss that summer staple, the tomato, and how modern industrial agriculture is robbing them of any flavor. And finally, in a Bastille Day nod to our allies in democracy, the French, we offer up some suggestions for eating in and eating out, French style.

Summer Shore Food With The Man Behind The Summer Shack

Perhaps nobody knows New England shore food like Jasper White. In May 2000, White surprised people who thought he was inextricably linked to fine dining when he opened Jasper White's Summer Shack in Cambridge, Massachusetts. A loud, energetic clam shack with lobster tanks and steam kettles as a focal point in a central big, open space. Lobsters, clams, oysters and many other varieties of seafood dominate the menu that features everything from corn dogs and fried clams to traditional favorites like cod cakes and baked beans. The success of the Cambridge restaurant has spawned two more Summer Shacks and the Summer Shack Cookbook, which Jasper joined Emily and Corby to discuss.

 Listen to this segment here.

The Tomato’s Fall From Grace

Second only to lettuce in produce popularity, the tomato is one of our most alluring fruits - not to mention one of the most profitable. In 2009, Americans spent $5 billion on commercially-grown fresh tomatoes. But of all the fruits and vegetables we eat, none suffers at the hand of factory farming more than a tomato grown in the winter fields of Florida. And if you bite into a tomato between the months of October and June, chances are it hails from the Sunshine state, which accounts for one-third of the fresh tomatoes grown in the United States.

Modern agribusiness can’t deliver a decent-tasting tomato in large part because it’s essentially against the law: Regulations set by the Florida Tomato Committee determine what a tomato should look like, and the older, tasty varieties don’t conform to the rules of color and shape. In his new book "Tomatoland," based on his James Beard-Award-winning article, investigative food journalist Barry Estabrook reveals how industrial agriculture has ruined the tomato in all ways–gastronomic, environmental, and in terms of labor abuse.

 Listen to this segment here.

Check out Barry Easterbrook's blog, Politics of the Plate

 Read an excerpt from Tomatoland

Le Summer: Picnicking, French-Style

The French Revolution began with one infamous act: The storming of the Bastille. The historic revolt at the Parisian prison sparked the chain of events that dissolved the French monarchy and led to the evolution of the French republic. In France, “La Fête Nationale,” is celebrated with parades, dances, parties, fireworks and, of course, food. On le quatorze juillet (July 14th), the French and Francophiles the world over celebrate freedom by taking the party outside and picnicking, anywhere and everywhere. Others attempt their favorite French treats in their own kitchens at home. Others still leave the cooking and the wine pairing to professionals and hit up their favorite French restaurants. Whatever your plaisir (pleasure), Chris Campbell has you covered. Chris is a sommelier and part owner of Troquet,  located on Boyston St. right off the Boston Common. This classic French-inspired restaurant has been named one of Wine Enthusiast's Top 100 Wine Restaurants in the nation.

 Listen to this segment here.

  Check out Chris's recipe for grilled radicchio salad

  Want to go out and celebrate Bastille Day? There are plenty of options around town


The Emily Rooney Show is hosted by WGBH's Emily Rooney and produced by Frannie Carr, Edgar Herwick and Jeff Keating.

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