Recently Campanile--one of my favorite restaurants--played host to a pseudo-scientific taste test of cloned beef. Here's how the event played out:
The steaks and ground beef were taken to Huntington Meats in the Farmers Market, where they were matched with conventional meat. The two sets of beef were delivered to Campanile in identical plastic packaging with only the labels "A" or "B." Both sets of meat were identically prepared by executive chef Mark Peel. The cloned meat was revealed at the end of the meal.
Barry Glassner, USC sociologist and author of "The Gospel of Food: Everything You Think You Know About Food Is Wrong"
Huell Howser, host of "California's Gold" on public television
Greg Jaffe, director of the project on biotechnology at the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington, D.C.
Evan Kleiman, host of "Good Food" on KCRW and executive chef of Angeli Caffe in Los Angeles
Mark Peel, executive chef of Campanile
Alison Van Eenennaam, UC Davis animal geneticist
Leslie Brenner, Times Food editor
Ashley Dunn, Times Science editor
Betty Hallock, Times assistant Food editor
Karen Kaplan, Times staff writer
Caramelized onion tart with feta cheese
Roasted fingerling potatoes
Sauteed hedgehog and blue-footed mushrooms
Early-spring English peas with pea tendrils
Chocolate tart with chocolate-cocoa-nib ice cream and chocolate sauce
Daphne Malvasia prosecco-style sparkling wine from Medici Ermete
Domaine Tempier Bandol 2003
As most of us know, clones are genetically identical to each other; they share the same DNA. By that definition, we've had human clones among us since the Descent of Man: they're called twins.
Or as The Times explains:
Identical twins are clones of each other, and scientists have been fertilizing eggs in test tubes and splitting them manually to make twins, triplets and quadruplets for more than 20 years. They also have been making clones of animal embryos created through in vitro fertilization for nearly as long.
"They are in the food supply, and no one's worried at all about them," Van Eenennaam said.
Public television personality Huell Howser leaned across the table. "So cloning actually has many definitions?" he asked.
No Huell. Cloning has many routes, but only one definition. It just that you don't understand it.
I expect that if I seared a haunch of each of the Bush twins in canola oil sprinkled with fleur de sel, even Mark Peel would be hard pressed to tell the difference.
So what's the problem with cloned beef? In a word, genetic diversity. Could the cow cloned for flavor, also be more susceptible to a future strain of mad cow disease or more readily pass along hoof and mouth to human consumers?
We'll just have to eat, wait, and see.
March 4, 2007
Sent into cyberspace by mbuitron at 11:43 AM