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We’ve Only Been Roasting Veggies Since the 80s

According to this 2014 article in Slate, roasting vegetables is a cooking technique popularized only in the 80s/90s.

The concept of roasting as a general vegetable technique seems to have originated in a famous Italian restaurant: Johanne Killeen and George Germon’s Al Forno, which opened in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1980. Forno means oven in Italian, and the critically acclaimed chefs made ample use of that apparatus.

This is a fact, which makes me feel old because I lived through it and makes me feel young because I lived through it. Old because I can remember a time before roasting vegetables was how anyone who is anyone prepared them, and young because what other cooking techniques are we going to invent during my lifetime? It’s a little like watching cities develop. For example, I used to work down in Fort Point in Boston and there were a ton of parking lots and then the guy who owned the parking lots sold them, bought the Los Angeles Baseball Dodgers and those parking lots have become a huge and glitzy neighborhood (?) with condos and offices and commerce

As another aside, there’s a 1993 NYT article quoted in the Slate piece and I’m quoting the first three sentences here for reasons I will expound upon afterward.

Roasting wafts through the senses. In culinary terms it is freighted with mouthwatering aroma, comforting warmth, a crisping sizzle and anticipated succulence. And lately it is more appreciated than ever.

Anyway, the use of “freighted” just reminded me of the Emily Dickinson quotation, “The freight should be proportioned to the groove” from the poem That Love is all there is. It’s a delightful poem and you can read it in about 3 seconds and think about it for the rest of your life.

Discussion  6 comments

Meg Hourihan

Or 170,000 years. 🤷‍♀️

Aaron CohenMOD

Well, everyone seemed to forget about it for a long time, MEG.

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Lorem Ipsum

Frank McCourt used the parking lot property as collateral to finance the purchase of the LA Dodgers in 2004. In 2006 he agreed to turn the land over to NewsCorp to cancel the debt. NewsCorp turned around and sold the land to Morgan Stanley for $200 million.

Lucy Orloski

I used to live in the Seaport in 2008, when it was all parking lots, and I had a mechanic in Southie at the time who asked me, in all seriousness, what hotel I lived in, since it seemed like there were only hotels there. I couldn't blame him. (I lived in the kind of building I refer to as a luxury dorm that was built by one of the hotels at the same time.)

The parking lot to neighborhood transition was something else. There are entire grids of roads that weren't there before. I live in Jamaica Plain now, much better.

Aaron CohenMOD

I used to park where all the construction workers parked while they were building the convention center until I got a note on my windshield that said, "Stop parking here, you're not a construction worker." How did they know!

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Paolo Palombo

Maybe there was a resurgence in the 80s in the US.
I grew up in Italy, and roasted vegetables were a staple in most kitchens - not in a ‘let's try this new fashion’ way, more in a ‘this is how my great-great-grandmother used to do it’ way.

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