food

After Blue Bell ice cream’s recent recall because of listeria contaminations, the University Divi- sion of Housing and Food Services is looking to replenish the campus ice cream supply. DHFS is contacting interested vendors about expanding their ice cream brands across campus.
Photo Credit: Xintong Guo | Daily Texan Staff

After the recall of all Blue Bell Creameries ice cream on April 20, students are finding empty freezers where the Dutch Chocolate and Homemade Vanilla cartons used to be.

Following the announcement of the voluntary recall of Blue Bell products, the Division of Housing and Food Services (DHFS) removed all Blue Bell from campus stores in case of possible contamination of listeria, and DFHS is now considering different brands to fill the ice cream void. 

“One of the ice cream companies that comes straight to mind is Blue Bunny,” said Rene Rodriguez, DHFS food service director. “Ben & Jerry’s would also like to expand their brands [on campus].”

Civil engineering freshman Matthew Yu said he would embrace the expansion of Ben & Jerry’s on campus.

“The Ben & Jerry’s products in [Jester City Limits] are already delicious,” Yu said. “I can only imagine how much better JCL will become when there are new Ben & Jerry’s flavors.”

Rodriguez said there is no timetable for the new ice cream supply because food services has to consider many variables, including cost and student feedback.

“Anytime we bring in new products, we like to get student feedback in samplings and telling [students] this is what we are going to have to charge,” Rodriguez said.

According to Rodriguez, DHFS may not bring back Blue Bell products, even if the company ends its current recall of products. Rodriguez said DHFS did not appreciate Blue Bell’s initial response after DHFS recalled all Blue Bell products even though Blue Bell first recalled only select products.  

“[Blue Bell] was only going to credit us [financially] for the items that were affected in the recall,” Rodriguez said. “And we pulled everything because we did not want to take a chance.”

Rodriguez said DHFS understands Blue Bell was making a strategic business decision to not fully reimburse food services for the initial recall. Once the recall expanded to all Blue Bell products, Blue Bell reimbursed food services for all of the items.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of listeriosis include fever, muscle aches, headaches, confusion, loss of balance and possible intestinal problems.

Biochemistry freshman Evan Gabriel said he anticipates the incoming freshman class to feel the effect of the possible permanent removal of Blue Bell products from on-campus markets.

“I think a lot of incoming freshman would be disappointed to not see Blue Bell as one of their late-night snacking options,” Gabriel said.

On a typical night at  Mala Sichuan Bistro, customers dab their watering eyes over dishes of live tilapia or rabbit meat soaked in flaming red chili oil.

The restaurant, located in Houston’s Chinatown, is owned by UT alumni Cori Xiong and Heng Chen. Xiong moved to Texas from the Sichuan province of China when she was 12 years old. Chen left his home city of Shenyang, China, for the U.S. when he was 16 years old. When the now-husband-and-wife met at UT, they discovered a shared passion for Sichuan Chinese food.

After Xiong and Chen graduated in 2009 with economics degrees, they decided to take a leap of faith and jump into the restaurant business. They set up a shop in Houston’s bustling Chinatown, offering lunch plates and Sichuan staples. They lacked experience in the business, which at times made the work challenging.

“We pretty much had to cross the river by feeling the stones,” Chen said. “Hiring the right people, keeping the good people and leading these people has always been a challenge.”

On Friday, Xiong presented some of her restaurant’s signature dishes at Taste of Texas, a part of the Austin Food and Wine Festival.

“I’ve loved seeing so many non-Chinese people enjoying our food and not taking it as something weird and exotic,” Xiong said. “I feel like I’ve bridged some gap between different cultures.”

Xiong and Chen named Mala Sichuan Bistro after the restaurant’s signature flavors. In Mandarin Chinese, ma refers to the numbing sensation caused by peppercorns native to the Sichuan province, and la refers to the spicy flavor of red chili peppers.

“Numbing is a flavor — or more of a sensation — that most people do not know humans are able to taste,” Xiong said. “Our spices activate the touch sensory receptors and make each one of the nerve endings in the tongue and the mouth area think that they’ve been repeatedly lightly touched, like a constant light buzz.”

To set their restaurant apart from the several traditional spicy Sichuan restaurants in Houston’s Chinatown, Xiong and Chen added an alcohol menu and prioritized establishing a friendly ambience.

“I want to excite the diners with the bold flavors of food and perfect pairings of beer and wine that they don’t usually see in ethnic restaurants,” Xiong said. “But I also want to give them some bits and pieces of impressions on Sichuan culture and my hometown.”

The duo will soon open a Mala Sichuan Bistro location in Montrose, a trendy neighborhood of Houston. The restaurant’s new location will be across from the restaurant Underbelly, a critically acclaimed mainstay of Houston’s food scene. Chris Shepherd, Underbelly owner and executive chef, said he looks forward to his new neighbors.

“Mala has become a destination restaurant in Chinatown,” Shepherd said. “People who weren’t previously familiar with Chinatown have now experienced Houston’s incredible Asian cuisine as a result of Mala’s influence. The Montrose location will touch an even larger group of inner-loop Houstonians, and I hope it opens the door for even more exploration.”

Although Xiong and Chen have specifically reached out to non-Chinese customers, they said their priority is to serve up authentic Chinese food.

“I want to offer an experience that is different from other Chinese restaurants,” Chen said. “But I still want to let diners know that this is the real, traditional Chinese food — that this is what people eat in China — not egg rolls or orange chicken.”

On a typical night at  Mala Sichuan Bistro, customers dab their watering eyes over dishes of live tilapia or rabbit meat soaked in flaming red chili oil.

The restaurant, in Houston’s Chinatown, is owned by UT alumni Cori Xiong and Heng Chen. Xiong moved to Texas from the Sichuan province of China when she was 12. Chen left his home city of Shenyang, China, for the U.S. when he was 16 years old. When the now-husband-and-wife met at UT, they discovered a shared passion for Sichuan Chinese food, which involves spicy meat dishes and noodles.

After Xiong and Chen graduated in 2009 with economics degrees, they decided to take a leap of faith and jump into the restaurant business. They set up a shop in Houston’s bustling Chinatown, offering lunch plates and Sichuan staples at reasonable prices. They lacked experience in the business, which at times made the work challenging.

“We pretty much had to cross the river by feeling the stones,” Chen said. “Hiring the right people, keeping the good people and leading these people has always been a challenge.”

On Friday, Xiong presented some of her restaurant’s signature dishes at the Austin Food and Wine Festival. At the Taste of Texas event, Xiong formally introduced her authentic, Chinatown-honed Sichuan cuisine to the Austin food scene.

“I’ve loved seeing so many non-Chinese people enjoying our food and not taking it as something weird and exotic,” Xiong said. “I feel like I’ve bridged some gap between different cultures.”

Xiong and Chen named Mala Sichuan Bistro after the restaurant’s signature flavors. In Mandarin Chinese, ma refers to the numbing sensation caused by peppercorns native to the Sichuan province, and la refers to the spicy flavor of red chili peppers.

“Numbing is a flavor or more of a sensation that most people do not know humans are able to taste,” Xiong said. “Our spices activate the touch sensory receptors and make each one of the nerve endings in the tongue, and the mouth area think that they’ve been repeatedly lightly touched, like a constant light buzz.”

Xiong and Cheng found that several traditional spicy Sichuan shops already called Chinatown home. To set their restaurant apart, they incorporating aspects of contemporary American dining, added an alcohol menu and prioritized establishing a friendly ambience.

“I want to excite the diners with the bold flavors of food and perfect pairings of beer and wine that they don’t usually see in ethnic restaurants,” Xiong said. “But I also want to give them some bits and pieces of impressions on Sichuan culture and my hometown.”

The duo plans to continue their efforts to expand their customer base to non-Chinese people. They will soon open a Mala Sichuan Bistro location in Montrose, a trendy neighborhood of Houston. The restaurant’s new location will be across from the restaurant Underbelly, a critically acclaimed mainstay of Houston’s food scene. Chris Shepherd, Underbelly owner and executive chef, said he looks forward to his new neighbors.

“Mala has become a destination restaurant in Chinatown,” Shepherd said. “People who weren’t previously familiar with Chinatown have now experienced Houston’s incredible Asian cuisine as a result of Mala’s influence. The Montrose location will touch an even larger group of inner-loop Houstonians, and I hope it opens the door for even more exploration.”

Although Xiong and Chen have specifically reached out to non-Chinese customers, they said their priority is to serve up authentic Chinese food.

“I want to offer an experience that is different from other Chinese restaurants,” Chen said. “But I still want to let diners know that this is the real traditional Chinese food, that this is what people eat in China — not egg rolls or orange chicken.”

Rodolfo Lujan, display cook at the Division of Housing and Food Service, inspects brisket Thursday afternoon. The brisket, although not locally raised, was served during the Homegrown Local event, which highlighted Texas food, at Kinsolving Dining Hall.
Photo Credit: Mariana Munoz | Daily Texan Staff

Heaps of brisket, chicken-fried portobello mushrooms, cowboy beans, cornbread, and macaroni and cheese filled Kinsolving and J2 dining halls Thursday for Homegrown Local. 

The Division of Housing and Food Service hosted the event, during which dining halls showcased locally grown, organic and sustainable food. Guests listened to a live bluegrass band while eating a Texas-themed meal, most of which was grown within state borders.

Since 2009, DHFS has worked to increase the amount of local food served on campus. The University allocates $8 million to DFHS for food each year. DHFS sustainability coordinator Hunter Mangrum said DHFS has increased the amount of money spent on these foods from 9 percent in 2009 to 23 percent today.

“We still have major goals to increase [the percentage] as much as we can as long as it makes economic sense for us and for our customers,” Mangrum said. 

DHFS has made changes to afford more of these food options because purchasing these types of food costs more than buying commercial products. 

In an effort to save money, dining halls now offer plastic wrap for leftovers instead of the more expensive coverings previously offered. Reusable metal utensils have replaced disposable, more expensive ones.

“We’re always looking for ways that we can reasonably change things from the status quo to move things more towards that sustainable goal,” executive chef Robert Mayberry said. 

DHFS hosts special dinners, often complete with music and a unique name, such as “Homegrown Local,” about once per semester. Dining halls serve local, organic and sustainable food options throughout the year as they are available, but DHFS hosts meals like Homegrown Local to educate students about the benefits from eating these types of food.

“A big part of what we are trying to do is educational,” Mayberry said. “We’re here to supply food and housing, but part of our mission is to assist in the educational process.”

DHFS considers locally grown food to be food grown within 300 miles. Buying this food supports the local economy and reduces the environmental effects of shipping food across long distances. Sustainable and organic food are also beneficial for the environment. Sustainable food is grown in a way that does not damage the natural resources needed to grow the food, and organic food is grown without being sprayed with chemical fertilizers or pesticides.

At Homegrown Local, pitchers of horchata, cartons of vanilla ice cream and pans of warm peach cobbler greeted students. While they weaved through the all-you-care-to-eat buffet lines, patrons could read the black square placecards that sat beside each meal option, explaining where in Texas the food item came from. Some of the options included mushrooms from Gonzales, corn meal from San Antonio, honey from Burleson and sausage from Austin.

“When we receive local products, it may have been picked the day before at most,” Mayberry said. “If we get it from California, it’s a week old at the least.”

Some of the locally grown food served in dining halls that night and throughout the year come from campus itself. Herbs from the campus gardens behind Jester and in Kinsolving were used in salad dressings at Homegrown Local. 

A group of students called Green Corps maintains the two gardens. Stacey Thomas, human development and family sciences senior, said joining Green Corps in 2014 changed her perspective on food.

“It’s really cool growing your own food and seeing other people eat what you’ve grown and it being the same or better than what you buy at a grocery store,” Thomas said. “I’ve been more conscious of what I put in my body.”

 

Photo Credit: Tiffany Hinojosa | Daily Texan Staff

Blue Bell Ice Cream and Sabra have issued recalls for many of their products because of a possible contamination with Listeria Monocytogens, a food bacterium. The Division of Housing and Food Service said it removed all possibly contaminated food items from campus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, listeriosis is a serious infection usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium commonly known as listeria. Common symptoms of listeriosis include fever and muscle aches, headaches, stiff necks, confusion, loss of balance and possible
intestinal problems.

University Health Services medical director David Vander Straten said students should not become worried if they recently ate any Blue Bell or Sabra products.

“Students might have listeria, but if [they] don’t have any symptoms, there’s no need to worry about it,” Straten said.

All Blue Bell products have been recalled from the main markets on campus, including Jester City Market and Cypress Café, according to DHFS food service director Rene Rodriguez.

The CDC encourages individuals to check the code date on the bottom of Blue Bell ice creams in order to find out where the ice cream was produced. If the code date ends in an S, T, O, P, Q or R, the CDC recommends placing the ice cream in a sealed plastic bag and throwing it away.

Sabra hummus products remain in markets on campus because the recall did not include any of the products in the University’s inventory.

“At no point were any of the affected hummus products stocked in Housing and Food Service outlets on campus,” Rodriguez said. “The lot numbers and package sizes affected were not a match to our purchased products.”

Undeclared freshman Quoc Le said he continued to eat Sabra products, even though he read on his Twitter feed that the products had been recalled.

“I just assumed that the Sabra packages at Jester Market [were] not part of the ones that had been recalled,” Le said.

There have been eight confirmed cases of listeriosis linked to the contamination of Blue Bell products, with five of the cases reported from Kansas and three cases from Texas. Three individuals from Kansas have died from listeriosis.

The most recent major listeria outbreak involved prepackaged caramel apples made with Bidart Bros. Apples in December 2014. The outbreak resulted in 35 reported cases across the nation and seven deaths. 

According to the CDC, the 2014 outbreak seems to be over, although people who continue to eat the recalled products may be at risk of contamination.

Editor’s note: In this recurring column, science writer Robert Starr rounds up the previous week’s top science stories. Have a suggestion? Send a tweet to @RobertKStarr, and your link might appear in next week’s Science Buzz.

It’s been an exciting week for dinosaurs. Children love the Brontosaurus, but they soon grow up to learn that it’s not a real dinosaur. Scientists didn’t consider the dinosaur we usually call Brontosaurus as a distinct genus from another group already labeled Apatosaurus. But now we do. A group of scientists spent five years looking at specimens across 20 museums in the United States and Europe to determine that, yes, Virginia, Brontosaurus is a distinct group from Apatosaurus.

So keep your smart-aleck comments to yourself because Brontosaurus is real. 

A different group of dinosaur hunters found a skull of a Daspletosaurus — a cousin species to Tyrannosaurus rex — with bite marks on it. Bite marks in fossils are rare but important because they provide insight into the behavior and diets of prehistoric animals. In this case, the bite marks appear to match the teeth of another Daspletosaurus, suggesting these animals fought viciously with each other.

Were these kissing cousins or biting cousins? 

Love, security, money, a green card — these are all great reasons to get married. And now science has found another one: personal fitness. While previous research showed that people are more likely to drink or smoke if their partner does the same, a new study looked at whether spouses can encourage positive habits, such as weekly exercise routines. The results suggest they can.

The study looked at behavior over time and found that if a wife reported 150 minutes of weekly physical activity — as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends — in her first checkup, her husband would be 70 percent more likely to meet the requirement on a future visit. The influence of husbands on wives was lower — at only 40 percent — but still very promising.

Don’t just do it for yourself; do it for your spouse. 

Do you reach for a Gatorade after the morning bicycle ride with your significant other? Or do you prefer water and a Powerbar? How about Whataburger? While most don’t consider fast food an appropriate option for post-workout recovery, new research suggests it may not be a bad idea. The study looked at cyclists who completed a workout and then followed it up with either a sports supplement designed for recovery or a small fast-food meal. There was no difference in blood glucose, insulin levels or glycogen response between the two groups.

But that’s just science mumbo jumbo.

The more important part is that, four hours later, cyclists rode for another 20 kilometers, and there was no difference in performance between the group that recovered with the sports supplements versus those that recovered with the fast food.

So after your next three-mile jog, treat yourself to a honey butter chicken biscuit. 

Or maybe not.

A study out of Duke University found that college students who ate out were at a higher risk for high blood pressure. They also found that elevated blood pressure correlated with  high body mass indicies, older ages and low physical activity. Male students were also more likely to have high blood pressure than their female counterparts.

But surely five minutes on the treadmill is enough to counteract lunch at DoubleDave’s. 

Thanks for reading Science Buzz. Check back next Monday or check out last week's article for more!

The concept of giving back to the community has been reiterated so much that it has become redundant to the point of triteness. We are rarely reminded that “only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile,” to use Albert Einstein’s words, as we cross through the West Mall with rushed footsteps and lowered eyes. A chunk of UT’s 1,276 organizations, from Lions Club to GlobeMed, are dedicated to relief and service to the less fortunate either locally or abroad. Members of the United Muslim Relief Texas Chapter, for example, hand out food to the homeless in downtown Austin at least once a month. 

On March 29, the team hosted a game day and distributed baked goods at Front Steps Shelter, a homeless shelter in downtown Austin, making this a more interactive event than monthly food distributions. 

As one of the volunteers, this was the first service event of my freshman year. The initial nervousness and the dreadful feeling of stepping out of my comfort zone gradually disappeared as I served muffins, chatted with my teammates, played games and learned card tricks from one of the men at the shelter. It was rewarding to see that we offered help to people who just need someone to talk to, someone who could listen to their stories. They all had their own unique paths and aspirations, hopes of becoming stable and independent, and I felt like our brief presence made them feel like they weren’t completely alone. 

The organization has committed to end this spring semester strong on April 12 with its last Project Downtown, where members make and distribute sandwiches to the homeless. 

“The volunteer coordinator at Front Steps Volunteering stated that what shelter inhabitants need more than food is hygiene kits and company,” Project Downtown Coordinator Sidrah Shah said. Because of this suggestion, UMR has incorporated the distribution of hygiene kits along with sandwiches at their upcoming Project Downtown.  

To me, leaving an impact is a gradual process. Although I am only at the beginning of my journey at UT, at the end of my undergraduate career, what I’ll leave behind is the impact I left by distributing food as well as the number of people I helped who were in need.   

What sets UMR apart is its focus on fundraising and directly helping the local community with clothing drives, canned food drives and monthly Project Downtowns.  

UMR publicity director Saleha Ali emphasizes the importance of being part of a service organization in college. 

“In college we’re so busy acquiring knowledge and taking advantage of resources, and it’s important to stop and think about what impact we want to make on our community,” Ali said. “It’s also important for self-development because we’re acquiring so many resources from this school that it only makes sense to distribute resources ourselves.”

Saifullah is a neuroscience sophomore from Richardson.

What food says about us in an age of global elites

In his most recent column, Suri examined the divide between local citizens and global elites, characterizing politics in a global age as “intensely local.”

Food, to take just one example of the difference between haves and have-nots, is inherently political. There are several steps in between the seed and the meal, including production, distribution and consumption. A lot of people outside Austin dictate how Austinites eat. Food is governed by markets, trade, laws, lobbyists, climate change, Congress, the executive and the courts.

At the same time, the broader politics of food are intensely local. The movement for organic, sustainable foods has become one of the upper middle class. Austin is home to a number of healthy, organic food vendors. But eating “real food” is expensive. Fresh vegetables are healthier than canned ones but come at a higher price. Shopping at Wheatsville is more expensive than shopping at Walmart. Because of these prices, sustainable foods are not accessible to everyone. Whole Foods has no Dollar Menu. Cheap junk food is readily available. This means that lower-income households are subjected to lower-quality foods.

What makes this paradox dangerous is that food is an integral part of the local experience. Everyone eats food. The prices of food affect everyone. But not everyone can eat quality food and live “sustainably.” Quality food shouldn’t be a luxury for some and a lifestyle for others. This is a fundamental inequality that is present at each dinner table, grocery store and in each dining hall. Suri says that global politics reflect “local expression.” What do the divisions in our access to quality food say about us?

Shah is a business and government sophomore from Temple.

Photo Credit: Melanie Westfall | Daily Texan Staff

Birthday shoutout posts and “Throwback Thursday” pictures often clutter social media newsfeeds. Separate yourself from the monotony with high-quality pictures of Austin landmarks and event updates. Social media is a convenient way to stay in the know about quirky and inexpensive opportunities that commonly pop up in the Austin area.  

Restaurants, stores and companies have created Instagram and Twitter accounts to advertise special deals and events. While an abundance of these Austin-esque accounts continue to form on social media, here are The Daily Texan’s top five Twitter and Instagram handles to follow for becoming a social-media-savvy Austinite. 

365 Things Austin (@365ThingsAustin) 

An extension of the 365 Things Austin blog, this account is a Twitter and Instagram staple. The account captures Austin’s spirit by posting pictures of the city, food and events from around town. Committed to posting daily, 365 Things Austin often features an appetizing meal from different restaurants, such Chi’Lantro BBQ and Pinthouse Pizza. High-quality photos of the Frost Bank, the Capitol and other Austin landmarks also fill the accounts. When events such as Austin City Limits Music Festival and South By Southwest come around, you can expect plenty of event photos and information.

Twitter

Instagram

Austin Texas (@VisitAustinTX) 

This account keeps followers informed about goings-on around town. The Twitter account posts links to ticket information for upcoming concerts and festivals. The Instagram supplement scouts out random, interesting places in Austin, such as the Living Room at W Hotel and the “Night Wing” bat sculpture. 

The account managers often accept and post photos from random people in the city that capture the Austin experience.

Twitter

Instagram

Austin On Budget (@AustinOnBudget) 

This account does exactly as what the name implies: finds deals in Austin. Austin On Budget posts about discounts on food and drink at restaurants such as Kerbey Lane Cafe and Taco Deli. Its motto — “everything tastes better when it’s a deal.” 

It also posts contest information, so followers can retweet posts to enter to win gift cards to different restaurants in Austin. 

Twitter

Instagram

ACLFestival (@aclfestival) 

Even though ACL is an annual event, the festival releases updates throughout the year. In addition to posting ACL news, the account also posts throwback photos to past performances, so followers can reminisce on Kanye West’s 2011 performance. During the festival, the account also features different food available and photographs of some ACL-goers dressed in festival garb. 

Twitter

Instagram

The Daily Texan (@thedailytexan)

This article would not be complete without mentioning our very own Twitter account. The Daily Texan Twitter is regularly updated with the day’s content and is an easy way to stay updated on what’s happening around campus. We’re more reliable than Yik Yak.

The Instagram counterpart gives followers a look at the best art from the day’s paper, occasionally including unpublished content.

Twitter

Instagram

Photo Credit: Isabella Palacios | Daily Texan Staff

You know the scene. There’s that one person on the bus chomping on some green sludge that looks semi-expired, and it’s in a mason jar. Always a mason jar. You scoff on the inside while they happily munch along. But it’s time for the glares and judgment to end. 

In the munch-debated war on “hipsterdom,” mason jars have been a casualty, and it’s time they re-enter  positive mainstream consciousness. Mason jars have suffered through association, but, in reality, they’re actually about the coolest vessel to eat or drink out of. It’s not fair they get such a bad rap because they’re really so convenient, economical and classic.

They don’t crush your food as a Ziploc bag or plastic Tupperware might. The jar’s hard glass exterior prevents your layered salad from wilting.

Plus, you can buy any sized jar to suit your needs, whether it be to fit into a side backpack pocket or in a huge purse littered with months-old Whole Foods Market receipts. 

Don’t want your in-class crush to see your blobby chia pudding? There’s a jar for that.

Make your chia pudding the night before class by mixing one cup of unsweetened almond milk with one-quarter cup of chia seeds straight in your mason jar of choice. When you wake up, add some berries for good measure and cruise to class with the ultimate cool factor in hand. 

Mason jars are the George Clooney of drinkware — classic, timeless and always foxy. Forget about your weird protein shake jugs because they do not look good.

Coffee shop-chic glassware is literally at your fingertips when you own your own set of mason jars, and your Instagram game is bound to go up a few points. Ever been to Vintage Heart Coffee on East 7th? They know what’s up and serve their brews in mason jars. 

Like I said, coffee shop chic. Although mason jars were invented in 1858, they’re still being used today. 

And, of course, with mason jars there is no chance of littering gross paper bags and plastic wrappers on the Main Mall lawn in between classes. Mason jars are beautiful, economical and reusable all in one sleek vessel. 

When John Legend sings “All of Me,” he might as well be serenading a mason jar. Sorry, Chrissy. 

Are you convinced yet? Do you get that it’s not right to hate on people for their serving choices? The much-maligned mason jars need more love beyond Pinterest or a Buzzfeed list.

So, stop hating. Let the hipsters eat their food in mason jar peace. In fact, join them. Sure, it’s hip to be square. But it’s even hipper to be cylindrical.