The Oldways Table Blog

Celebrating health,
happiness, heritage,
and delicious,
nutritious food.

October 8, 2015 | Oldways Table


Oldways “Culinarias” are extraordinary culinary tours, planned with our firm belief that the heart of any culture can be illuminated by exploring its food, wine, and culinary traditions. Our respected place in the culinary world and our long-standing relationships with international chefs, restaurateurs, food and wine producers, as well as food, wine, and art experts, means that the Oldways Culinarias have unprecedented reach and depth that embrace traditional food and wine customs, educational programs, and elegant culinary activities.

Oldways' founder K. Dun Gifford liked to call these trips “Travel, Study, Learn!”  And learn we do. Of course, we learn from the local producers of wine, olive oil, cheeses, capers, and many other great traditional foods and drinks. We also learn from the amazing experts who join us — chefs like Ana Sortun or Barbara Lynch, cookbook authors like Paula Wolfert or Susan Herrmann Loomis, or art experts like Ronni Baer. For instance, to learn how to make kisir or lamejun from Ana Sortun while traveling in Turkey is a one-of-a-kind experience, just as is traveling with Paula Wolfert around Southwest France or Morocco — places she put on the culinary map with her cookbooks.

In May of 2016 we're embarking on a new Travel, Study, Learn experience — a Culinaria in Italy's Emilia Romagna region. Often called Italy's food region, it is the home turf of a few of Italy's true signature ingredients — Parmigiano-Reggiano, Prosciutto di Parma, and Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale.Ronni Baer

Joining us for this Emilia Romagna Culinaria — to heighten the learning experience — are Ronni Baer (top photo) and Barbara Lynch (bottom photo), each huge stars in their fields. Ronni is a senior curator of European Paintings at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, and is a teacher beyond compare. Ronni's tour at Madrid's Prado Museum, explaining and connecting El Greco, Velasquez and Goya was a true "pinch-me" moment, inspiring and educational, all at the same time.

The chef-owner of 7 restaurants, a catering company and a cooking school in Boston, Barbara Lynch is America's only female Relais & Chateaux Chef and a two-time James Beard Award winner. She loves Emilia Romagna and is excited to be traveling, studying ,and learning along with the group. We are incredibly fortunate to have the chance to travel with Barbara and to learn to cook a pasta dish or two with her.Barbara Lynch

While each Culinaria is a great vacation, what's also important to us at Oldways (in addition to showing everyone a great time) is the Travel, Study, Learn part of it. It's important that studying and learning the practical old ways of enjoying the foods, drinks, and culture in any place can enable the participants to incorporate the best of the old ways in their everyday lives.

For more information or to register, please call or email Abby Sloane ( or (617) 896-4875). 

Sara, Oldways President

Travel, Study, and Learn with Oldways!

October 6, 2015 | Oldways Table

Peanuts are one of the ultimate snack foods. They satisfy cravings, they have a long shelf life, and they are budget-friendly. Health-wise, they provide good fats, vitamin E, folate, magnesium, and phosphorus. They are also a good source of protein.

A truly global food, peanuts are popular almost everywhere, from Southeast Asia where they are crumbled on top of salads and noodle dishes, to South America where they are made into sauce for potatoes and meat. In West Africa, peanuts are roasted and added to soups and stews. And let’s not forget the All-American peanut butter.

Peanuts are technically legumes, in the same family as peas and lentils. A diet rich in legumes has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some cancers. As they grow, they also benefit the environment by cycling nitrogen back into the soil. In fact, struggling farmers have long been encouraged to raise peanuts for the health of their soil, the health of their communities, and a steady source of income.

If you’re interested in learning more, here are a few fun facts about this lovable legume:

  • Peanuts grow underground! The top peanut producers are China, India, and the U.S.
  • Peruvian archaeologists discovered peanut shells on South American ceremonial sites dating back to 3000 B.C. They also found solid gold peanut necklaces made by the Incas.
  • Peanuts go by a few other names, including earth nuts, groundnuts, monkey nuts, and goober nuts.
  • A landmark study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in February 2015 found that regularly feeding peanuts to babies at high risk for allergies significantly decreases their risk of developing a peanut allergy.
  • Peanut butter was developed in the late 1800s, when a St. Louis doctor ground up peanuts to add protein to the diets of his toothless patients.
  • More than 80 percent of U.S. households have a jar or two of peanut butter in their pantries.

12 Great Ways to Use…

Explore our collection of one-page resources designed to help cooks of all abilities discover new and easy ways to use popular Mediterranean Diet ingredients, such as avocado, Greek yogurt, hummus, eggplant, and more.

► Learn more

12 Great Ways to Use Peanuts

October 1, 2015 | Oldways Table

Eat Chocolate for breakfast.  Don't Eat Pasta after 4 pm.  Drink Wine at Bedtime to Help You Lose Weight.  Butter is Back.  

These are just a few of the headlines consumers have seen in newspapers, blogs, magazines, websites and television shows in the last year. No wonder people say they are confused and have no idea how they should eat—and therefore—just give up. Adding to the confusion, public perception is that nutrition advice changes every day, leaving many of us scratching our heads at the ongoing food fight, and saying, “Can’t those experts agree on anything??

Oldways figured there was only one way to answer that question: Gather some of the world’s top nutrition science experts in one room, let them have their say, then ask them to reach consensus—to find common ground—on what we really know about eating well.

So, on November 17 and 18, Oldways will bring together the best of the world's top nutrition scientists, with a range of differing views (from paleo to vegan), and ask them to listen to one another and come to a meeting of the minds about what is a healthy and sustainable way of eating, and to make clear recommendations so consumers will understand that it's not chocolate for breakfast and wine at bedtime that will help them lose weight and live a healthy, long life.

Joining Oldways as scientific co-chairs of the Finding Common Ground conference are Walter Willett, MD and David Katz, MD – two of America’s most respected voices in nutrition. They’ll be joined by a host of experts with a wide range of perspectives, including advocates for vegetarian diets (Dean Ornish, MD and Joan Sabaté, MD), the Mediterranean Diet (Antonia Trichopoulou, MD and Miguel Angel Martinez, MD), the Paleo Diet (Boyd Eaton, MD), Low Glycemic Diets (David Jenkins, MD and David Ludwig, MD), and the new American Paradigm (Christopher Gardner, PhD). Also participating will be experts on often-demonized dietary components like gluten (Alessio Fasano, MD) and saturated fat (Frank Hu, MD), and specialists on diet and the environment (Mal Nesheim, PhD and Tom Kelly, PhD) and the food environment (Dariush Mozaffarian, MD). Also joining are Meir Stampfer, MD, Eric Rimm, ScD, Neal Barnard, MD and T. Colin Campbell, PhD.

Because every good message needs dependable messengers to help spread the word, Oldways is inviting many of the media’s top journalists to witness and participate in this unprecedented summit meeting. Writers for newspapers, magazines and websites have an important complementary role to play in helping the public realize that we know how to eat well; by bringing both journalists and scientists together in one place, Oldways will ensure that more consumers hear the consistent message of the Finding Common Ground Consensus, and that journalists have the opportunity to network with researchers who can act as their reliable sources for future stories. In fact, exploring how nutrition information gets miscommunicated—and how we can all do better in the future—is an important component of this event.

Oldways’ goals for the Finding Common Ground conference are ambitious:

  • to craft a unified, clear message about eating well
  • to examine the ways that nutrition messages get distorted – and why
  • to unite scientists and journalists in a positive campaign for better public health

Our aim is to make an impact on the way Americans eat, and improve public health in the U.S. by uniting scientists, journalists and food experts. 

Stay tuned!  There’s lots of excitement ahead. Watch for conference videos, a follow-up blog post with the conference conclusions, and continuing programming. We sincerely hope you, our readers, will share our journey to Find Common Ground. 

~ Sara Baer-Sinnott, President, Oldways




Oldways Finding Common Ground

September 29, 2015 | Oldways Table

During the summer months there are a number of international cheese festivals. Every two years, the biggest festival is held in the tiny town of Bra in northwestern Italy. The event is known simply as “Cheese” and it brings producers from all over the world. For this year’s festival the theme was “A Journey to Mountain Pastures” and it highlighted cheeses and the producers who maintain mountain traditions.

During the festival we had the opportunity to sample some unique raw milk cheeses that are not available in the U.S., and also cheeses from places as diverse as South Africa and Iceland. This reminded me that cheese is key in millions of people’s diets and the diversity responds to the unique capacity of cheese to be many things.

Displays included fresh, hard, aged, small, and very large cheeses from all over the world. This variety was exhilarating, but it was even more interesting to notice that over 70% of the producers choose to use unpasteurized milk. Raw milk is what sustains the diversity and at times prevents the commodification of many styles.

We are lucky to still have this diversity, especially when in other parts of the food system we are quickly losing heirloom varieties. Cheese producers worldwide are resisting the push to make more commercial styles. However, economic pressures are intensifying and soon, if the market does not demand raw milk cheeses and if regulators force pasteurization on us, many producers may have to make the hard decision to break with tradition.

If  you, like me, care about this diversity and rural livelihoods, I invite you to take our 2015 Raw Milk Cheese Consumption and Attitudes Survey. We will use the results to address the FDA request for comments on raw milk cheese. It will also help us understand how to better educate people about the benefits of traditional cheesemaking techniques.

If you are interested in other cheese festivals you can check out our page in Facebook to learn about upcoming events. October is American Cheese Month and there are three fantastic events in Boston:

October 3 – Let’s Talk About Cheese

October 11 – Massachusetts Cheese Festival

October 12 / 17 – Curds | Cultures | Communities Restaurant Week

Photos: Top (clockwise from top left) Cave aged cheese by Marayn de Bastassac (France), Semi-hard and Hard cheeses from France, Parmigiano Reggiano wheels produced by the Consorzio Vacche Rosse, Irish selection from Sheridans Cheesemongers. Side: Two types of Robiola di Roccaverano DOP made in Italy, the famous Gjetost from Norway with its caramel color.

~ Carlos Yescas, Oldways Cheese Coalition


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