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from The Great Debate:

Pity Moscow’s foodies as Putin’s sanctions bite deep

Dairy-Section-closed-for-Technical-Reasons.jpg

I find Vladimir Putin annoying at the best of times, but this month my distaste has blossomed into unbridled loathing. By imposing sanctions on food imports from the United States, European Union, Canada and Japan, Russia’s kefir-drinking head of state scuppered my chances of making a decent plate of cacio i pepe or a batch of brownies for the next calendar year. The specter of Soviet-era scarcity is already making itself felt in eerie ways in supermarkets all over Moscow.

An entire section of the once expansive dairy aisle at one market is empty and shuttered with a sign citing “technical difficulties” where once Irish butter, French creme fraiche and Finnish skim milk stood proudly alongside Russian sour cream, kefir and milk. The Indian host of a sushi restaurant in my neighborhood, hugely popular with Japanese businessmen and diplomats, shook his head in despair, as he relies heavily on fish imports from Norway for his delectable sashimi and sushi. Heading back to Moscow from Italy yesterday, I loaded up my suitcase with 10 pounds of parmesan, vacuum-packed smoked ham and elegant jars of sage, rosemary, basil and mushroom pesto. Less than a week ago, they were all available at select grocery stores and wholesalers. Now, everyone is scrambling.

"Uh…uh..agh…aghhhhhhhh….?” was all my buddy, Michelle, who is a chef at the American Embassy, could spurt when she heard the news. She couldn’t stop long to chat; she was on her way to loop through all the upscale supermarkets to stockpile the Belgian baking chocolate she relies upon to make her legendary cakes and cookies.

With the food ban, Putin has also hammered the final nail into my professional coffin. I write about two things: humor and food in Russia. 2014 hasn’t been a bumper year for humor in Russia, and now the foodie story is all but pipped at the post.

from Photographers' Blog:

‘Till the cows come home

Gruyeres, western Switzerland

By Denis Balibouse

In summer, some go to the seaside or countryside, visit a new city or country, but some choose to live a different way. The Murith family will not have a day off: they will work 15 hours a day, seven days a week from mid-May to mid-October.

I've known the Muriths for more than 10 years. Last December I called them to discuss the idea that I would photograph them over the 2013 summer. We met for lunch and over a meal I found out that Jacques, who is turning 65 (the official retirement age in Switzerland) was in the process of handing down his farm and its cheese-making business to the sixth generation: his 23-year-old son Alexandre. I was intrigued by this news, as I've been thinking a lot about agriculture in Switzerland, and how it faces a somewhat uncertain future, partly because the country is surrounded by EU nations with lower production and land costs, making it a tough way to earn a living. Despite this, exports have grown over the last 10 years and production has focused on quality.

from Photographers' Blog:

Angels of Parmesan

By Stefano Rellandini

It all started one night as I looked for some Parmesan cheese to add to my pasta at home. I wondered what the situation was two weeks after an earthquake struck the area of Emilia, the home of Parmesan cheese. After dinner I searched online for some news on the subject and found a lovely story about a team of firefighters who went to the affected areas to help recover the damaged cheese.

Around Finale Emilia, the epicenter of the latest earthquake, there are many factories producing Parmesan which, alongside agriculture, is the core business of the region.

from Oddly Enough Blog:

What’s in your artisanal arsenel?

Blog Guy, I'm confused. Suddenly I'm seeing the words "artisan" and "artisanal" attached to all kinds of products. Cheeses, chocolates, liquors, soaps... What does it all mean?

That's easy. It means they can get by with charging a lot more money for that stuff.

from Oddly Enough Blog:

Oscars for the arty Havarti movie?

avatar combo verticalLooking through our photo files, I keep seeing pictures of people wearing special glasses. I should check that out.

Where have you been, Blog Guy? They're watching "Avatar" in 3D. It's a blockbuster Oscars contender!

from Oddly Enough Blog:

Bleu video: a sexy homage to fromage?

Bob, it's me. Your boss. Remember we discussed increasing traffic to your blog? Huh?

Sure, Boss. I'm supposed to blog on Saturdays and Sundays too, 365 days a year, and never take a day off because "days off are for losers," right?

from Funds Hub:

Regulated are the cheesemakers

Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, seen by many as the bane of the UK's hedge funds industry for his input into the highly controversial EU directive on Alternative Investment Fund Managers, no doubt expected a hostile reception today at the Guildhall when he appeared at a debate hosted by Open Europe on the directive.

Whilst widely welcomed for his bravery in appearing, Rasmussen nevertheless came in for heavy criticism from City Minister Paul Myners, fellow panellists and an audience full of hedge fund and private equity representatives, making what was probably an uncomfortable lunchtime for the president of the EU assembly's socialist bloc.

from Oddly Enough Blog:

I say, Camilla, do we have a COUPON?

Ever since my readers voted Prince Charles the "Coolest Leader Dude," it seems to me he's doing more "normal" stuff in public.

Like yesterday Charles the Prince of Wales and his typical average wife, Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall, visited a grocery.

from Oddly Enough Blog:

Abe Lincoln, the Big Cheese!

Happy July 4th, Blog Guy. I just saw an Abe Lincoln statue made of cheese. Isn't that disrespectful?

No. If you know your history, you know Lincoln was a passionate cheese enthusiast.

from Oddly Enough Blog:

Mess hall food no Dutch treat?

Blog Guy, I read that Australia's troops in Afghanistan are unhappy with their food. Apparently they don't like the stuff that the Dutch-run mess hall is serving. Could Dutch food really be that bad?

No. The Dutch eat lots of great cheeses, and all kinds of chocolate and stuff.

That sounds yummy. Have you been to Australia? What do they eat there?

Yes, I have. They eat Vegemite, this dark brown food paste that they spread on everything.

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